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Preview: Coca-Cola Series takes on high-speed Michigan oval

It’s time to go fast! The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series makes its way to the high-speed, high-banked 2-mile oval in the virtual Irish Hills of Michigan Tuesday.

Race info

Race 11 of 20
Michigan International Speedway (2018 release)
Brooklyn, Michigan
2-mile oval
100 laps

Previous winners at Michigan

With 10 different winners in 11 races, Michigan is hardly predictable. The only driver to win more than once is Ray Alfalla, who picked up victories in 2013 and 2016. Some argue iRacing’s 2018-upgraded Michigan makes the track a different beast than the old track, though.

2019: Garrett Lowe
2018: Ryan Luza
2017: Michael Conti
2016: Ray Alfalla
2015: Kenny Humpe
2014: Chad Laughton
2013: Ray Alfalla
2012: Jason Karlavige
2011: Steve Sheehan
2010-2: Derek Wood
2010-1: Richard Towler

Last time at Michigan: Garrett Lowe’s first-career victory

Garrett Lowe’s first career victory was an unforgettable one. Last year at Michigan, the then-rookie bested Chris Overland and Blake Reynolds to take the checkered flag in a three-wide finish in a race led mostly by Ray Alfalla and Brandon Kettelle.

Last race: ‘Jimmy July’ returns to Victory Lane at New Hampshire

Two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Jimmy Mullis picked up career victory No. 3 in dominating fashion, surviving seemingly endless cautions in the second half of the race. Coincidentally, all three Mullis wins have come in the month of July, including New Hampshire in 2018 and Pocono Raceway in 2019.

Points picture after 10 races

With six races remaining until the playoffs begin, the picture is beginning to form.

1) Keegan Leahy, 327 points
2) Ryan Luza, -4
3) Garrett Lowe, -8
4) Bobby Zalenski, -24
5) Michael Conti, -27
6) Nick Ottinger, -44
7) Ray Alfalla, -47
8) Graham Bowlin, -63
9) Jimmy Mullis, -82 (19 points from eighth)
10) Logan Clampitt, -87 (24 points from eighth)

The top eight drivers in points after the regular-season finale on Oct. 1 at Talladega Superspeedway will make the playoffs. The series champion will win $100,000.

What to expect

We’ve got a new name atop our Power Rankings heading into Michigan. We’re thinking it’s time Garrett Lowe breaks through to score a victory at the same place he earned his first checkered flag last year. He has scored an impressive four runner-up finishes this year and finds himself just eight markers shy of the points lead; one slip-up by Keegan Leahy and Ryan Luza puts Lowe on top of the heap.

Still, it would be foolish to ignore Ray Alfalla Tuesday. The four-time champ is the only multi-time winner in the Irish Hills, and he led the most laps in last year’s race. His 2020 resurgence is undeniable, too, and he finds himself safely within the playoffs, maintaining a 35-point cushion.

Of course, the usual suspects of Leahy and Luza are never bad picks at fast tracks like Michigan, too.

Whatever happens, we expect the racing to feel a little cleaner than the New Hampshire slugfest — the last Michigan race was slowed just four times for caution.

How to watch

Round 11 of the season airs live Tuesday, July 28 at 9 p.m. ET.

Catch the racing action streamed live: