From an action-packed season opener at Daytona to a finalist-clinching walk-off, Season 10 of the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series has been one to remember. (Maybe it’s the $100,000 in prizes on the line — just a thought.) Before crowning a champion on national television Thursday, we’re counting down the best five moments of the season — and trust us, it was tough to pick just five.
And, yeah, we’ll probably have to add to this list following Thursday’s championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which airs live at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
No. 5: Bobby Zalenski advances to Championship 4 with a clutch win at the Charlotte Roval
Heading into the Charlotte Roval — the last chance for a playoff driver to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a win — Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Zalenski found himself mired eighth of eight in playoff standings. His only hope was to win at the difficult 17-turn road course — and that’s exactly what he did, in dominant fashion, leading every single lap from the pole and solidifying himself as one of the four championship finalists.
Ice water in his veins! ❄️
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 25, 2019
No. 4: Blake Reynolds makes an impossible save at Las Vegas
You probably won’t see something like this again. After contact racing in a cluster at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Blake Reynolds’ car nearly hooked nose-first into the wall, until the now-championship-finalist Reynolds somehow regained control of the car and continued racing without further incident.
Shortly after, Team Dillon Esports joined the PEAK iRacing Series and drafted Reynolds. Probably no coincidence there.
No. 3: Eric J. Smith, an unlikely winner at Auto Club
Undrafted series rookie Eric J. Smith was probably not considered a favorite by most heading into an early-season race at Auto Club Speedway, but, following a last-lap spin up front, he bested the entire field — including series heavyweights Keegan Leahy and Bobby Zalenski — in the debut of iRacing’s new NASCAR-mimicking aero rules in a thrilling side-by-side finish.
When Car No. 51 took the checkered flag on the final lap, it was his first lap led in his PEAK iRacing Series career. Not a bad way to start.
No. 2: A wild finish at Talladega
At a track famous for its wild finishes, the PEAK iRacing Series’ visit to Talladega Superspeedway lived up to the hype. Nick Ottinger cruised past leader Brad Davies on the final stretch, while Garrett Lowe ducked to Davies’ inside. With slowed momentum and the finish line in sight, Davies’ JR Motorsports machine was swallowed up by faster cars behind, setting up for a wild pack of spinning cars for the race win. Ultimately, JTG Daugherty Motorsports claimed its first win in the PEAK iRacing Series with series veteran and superspeedway ace Nick Ottinger.
No. 1: Blake Reynolds and Garrett Lowe battle for the final transfer spot at the Charlotte Roval
With a shot at the Championship 4 (read: a $40,000 top prize) within sight, the final transfer spot came down to Blake Reynolds and rookie Garrett Lowe at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Heading into the race, both drivers were tied for third in points — and, with Bobby Zalenski poised to snag one of the top-four spots for himself, it meant the higher finisher between Reynolds and Lowe would advance (of course, assuming second-place driver and fellow championship hopeful Michael Conti didn’t make up more points than the two).
For most of the race, the two drivers battled nose-to-tail, but action heated up in the closing laps as desperation grew. Reynolds and Lowe turned the play-it-safe, follow-the-leader battle into a side-by-side, crossover-over-crossover fight that lasted several laps.
Lowe’s hopes came to an end when his out-of-control car skidded through the final chicane on Lap 52 following contact with Reynolds, earning the No. 28 a time penalty that was insurmountable in the closing laps.
How many times can @evanposocco say "SIDE BY SIDE" in one lap?@breynolds_66 and @GarrettLowe_6 battle for the final ticket to Homestead in an action packed lap of the @CLTMotorSpdwy #ROVAL! pic.twitter.com/FigKhFUz1W
— iRacing.com (@iRacing) September 26, 2019
Though Reynolds walked away with the better finish, advancing to the Championship 4, Garrett Lowe proved throughout his rookie-season effort he’s no slouch.
Catch the winner-takes-all finale for the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series Thursday, October 10 on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET.