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PEAK iRacing Series Playoffs Watch: Indianapolis fuel strategy scrambles playoff grid

Eight esports drivers vying for more than $100,000 in cash prizes visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday night for the second round of the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series playoffs. With a non-playoff driver winning for the second consecutive week, it means there’s even more emphasis on points heading into the Charlotte Road Course. But, first, let’s break down what happened at the Brickyard.

WINNER:
Corey Vincent led not much more than 100 feet of Tuesday’s race, but those 100 feet included the famous row of bricks at the IMS start/finish line. Team Dillon Esports driver Blake Reynolds was in pursuit of his first series victory – one which would have sent the championship contender to the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale – but ran out of fuel on the frontstretch of the final lap, collecting Casey Kirwan in an incident when Reynolds’ No. 30 Chevrolet ran dry.

Another notable driver running out of fuel late was Bobby Zalenski, who led 22 laps and looked poised for a top-five finish. Instead, Zalenski ended up 36th and fell to the bottom of the playoff grid.

Vincent’s win was the second of the season for Team Renegades, just a few weeks after teammate Garrett Lowe won at Michigan. Team Renegades is the first team to place both its drivers in Victory Lane in 2019. It was Vincent’s first win in the PEAK iRacing Series since Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2016.

WHO’S HOT:
– G2 Motorsports’ Keegan Leahy again showed impressive speed, leading half the race and ultimately charging back to finish third – on fumes – after losing the lead in the second half. It’s clear Leahy has figured something out and he’s nearly untouchable when it comes to raw speed.

Leahy isn’t officially safe yet, mathematically speaking, but with a 39-point cushion heading into the Charlotte Road Course in two weeks, he’s basically a lock.

– Bobby Zalenski deserves an honorable mention after leading laps late, but running out of fuel and finishing as the last car running. Had the race ended with a green-white-checkered finish, forcing much of the field to pit, it would have been a different story for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18. Instead, he finds himself in essentially a must-win situation – though he’s far and away the favorite to win at the Charlotte Roval.

WHO’S NOT:
– Despite starting the season in an unstoppable fashion, winning three of the first five races, FlipSid3 Tactics driver Ryan Luza has found himself in an uncharacteristic drought since then. His 24th-place finish at Indy follows a 23rd-place result from Darlington, making for a dreadful start to the playoffs for the Texan. The 2017 champ’s last top five came in June at Chicagoland.

With the Charlotte Road Course serving as Luza’s last hope at making up 13 points to climb into the top four – and turning right isn’t exactly Luza’s statistical strong suit – the odds are stacked against the early-season championship favorite.

– In addition, Jimmy Mullis finished 26th to follow his disappointing ending at Darlington, placing Richmond Raceway eSports’ No. 46 entry in a go-for-broke situation, 25 points out of the top four with one race left before the cutoff.

BUBBLE WATCH:
For the second week in a row, a non-playoff driver took home the victory, meaning no playoff drivers have locked into the Homestead-Miami Speedway championship race yet. At least three drivers will make it on points alone.

1. Keegan Leahy (2,084 points)
2. Zack Novak -11
3. Garrett Lowe -26
4. Blake Reynolds -26
5. Ryan Luza -39 (-13 from fourth)
6. Michael Conti -43 (-17)
7. Jimmy Mullis -51 (-25)
8. Bobby Zalenski -54 (-28)

One opportunity remains for a playoff driver to lock into the championship race and have a shot at their share of the $100,000 cash prize. Catch the action Sept. 24 on eNASCAR.com.