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Bowlin steals win in dramatic All-Star Race finish

Sometimes, it’s best to be lucky.

Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Graham Bowlin stole the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series All-Star Race victory Tuesday from North Wilkesboro Speedway after race leaders Logan Clampitt and Blake Reynolds made contact in the race’s final turn.

Tuesday’s event was one to remember, perhaps in part due to the unique race format: racing in NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series-style trucks, a new (to the series) track, identically-configured cars, an elimination qualifying format, and limited sets of tires.

The evening started out with two heat races, won by Christian Challiner and Zack Novak, determining who’d advance to the 26-truck main event. Casey Kirwan won a last-chance qualifier race that caused a stir among Ryan Luza, Nick Ottinger and Brandon Kettelle for the final transfer spot — which Ottinger claimed.

With only one fresh set of tires available in the main event, drivers were faced with the decision of when to take on the fresh rubber and a faster car. Most drivers opted to save their tires for the late-race charge to the finish, but Christian Challiner opted to change tires midway through the race. With the only truck on fresh tires, Challiner looked unstoppable; some thought he might even lap the field and win the race with his contrarian strategy.

It was all for naught, though, as a caution with 30 laps to go bunched the field together, eliminating Challiner’s fresh-tire advantage.

In the final stages of the race, it looked like Logan Clampitt’s name would be etched onto the winner’s trophy. Clampitt’s Burton-Kligerman Esports car paced the field and maintained control through a handful of late-race restarts, after all, and seemed untouchable in terms of speed and tire management. But racing to the finish at a short track can’t be that easy, right?

With the checkered flag in sight — and with no points on the line — a hard-charging Blake Reynolds put the bumper of his Team Dillon eSports Chevrolet to the rear of Clampitt’s truck, sending both drivers sideways and into the wall.

Graham Bowlin, who followed behind the leaders, slipped past the melee to take the checkered flag and a $500 season-ending bonus.

Clampitt, needless to say, wasn’t thrilled with the outcome — nor was team owner Parker Kligerman.

Reynolds, on the other hand, felt differently.

Crash or no crash, it was Bowlin’s night to celebrate, despite the fireworks. The series rookie has no official series wins yet, but an All-Star Race victory builds positive momentum — especially important as the series is now set to begin its second half of the regular season.

Is the drama over between Clampitt and Reynolds? Will Bowlin score a points-paying victory? Who will make the top eight as the playoffs cutoff inches closer? Catch the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series from Indianapolis on June 30 to find out.

All-Star Race Results

All Star Race Results Enascar 2020 Coke Series