Alex Bowman held on in overtime to score a eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series victory in the GEICO 70 at virtual Talladega Superspeedway.
Bowman broke through in the fifth race of the simulation series, created last month in an effort to fill the sports-viewing void with real-world racing on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He held off all challengers in overtime, avoided a collision that stymied Ty Dillon and netted his first victory in the series.
Pole-starter Corey LaJoie grabbed second place with Ryan Preece a close third. Garrett Smithley wound up fourth and Landon Cassill completed the top five.
Jeff Gordon made his eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series debut, finishing 38th in the 39-car field after involvement in a pair of crashes. The first incident, on Lap 16, catapulted his throwback No. 24 Chevrolet into the catch fencing, forcing him to use a repair reset to continue. The four-time champion in NASCAR’s premier series also added commentary to the broadcast through his usual role as a FOX Sports analyst, offering plenty of back-and-forth with guest analyst Clint Bowyer, who slowed with engine failure while running second in the middle stages and later recovered for 33rd place.
William Byron led during the middle portions of the event, but his two-race win streak ended with a sixth-place effort. Byron had won the previous two events in the invitational series, prevailing April 5 at virtual Bristol Motor Speedway and adding another victory last weekend at virtual Richmond Raceway.
LaJoie started first after winning the Busch Pole Award in pre-race qualifying. A planned inversion of the top 10 starters was scrapped, but Byron, Timmy Hill and Parker Kligerman — last week’s top three finishers — were placed at the rear of the field for the initial green flag.