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Leahy Dominates Bristol Enascar Coke Series 2021 Playoffs

Keegan Leahy leads wire-to-wire for Coca-Cola Series playoff win

A perfect night in Thunder Valley just brought Keegan Leahy one step closer to $100,000.

Leahy led wire-to-wire in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway Tuesday night, surviving two late restarts at the short track known for short tempers and plenty of bumping and banging. The win advanced him to the Championship 4, where he’ll compete against three other championship finalists Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was undoubtedly Leahy’s night from start to finish. The 27-year-old Nova Scotian started from pole position for the fourth time in 2021, marking the ninth pole in 16 races for 23XI Racing along with teammate Mitchell deJong. In the opening 101-lap green-flag run, Leahy controlled the race unchallenged, even as he made his way through lapped traffic in the 40-car field.

Trouble was the theme for some playoff drivers, as is typical for any Bristol race. Contender Bob Bryant went for a spin after contact with Blade Whitt, bringing out the first caution just before the halfway point in the race. A second caution later in the race flew when Vicente Salas bowled over Graham Bowlin.

But the incident with the most serious playoff implications came with 10 to go. After working his way up to the top five despite a 32nd-place starting position, Roush Fenway Racing’s Steven Wilson made contact with Bobby Zalenski, sending Wilson’s car spinning, collecting a host of other drivers, namely Michael Conti, who was running in the top 10 in hopes of earning some points to stay alive in the playoffs. The crash destroyed Conti’s car, and the JR Motorsports driver placed 38th. He’ll need to win at Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks if he wants a second championship trophy to accompany his 2014 crown.

Leahy took advantage of his position as leader following the Conti incident to speed ahead on the restart and never looked back, picking up his second victory of 2021, his first since Homestead-Miami Speedway in February. Driver No. 32 led all 250 laps of the race, joining Vicente Salas (Apr. 13 at Richmond) as the only driver in series history to lead every lap of an oval race.

Logan Clampitt showed strength all night, finishing second. Ryan Luza came home third, racing on generator power due to a power outage at home. Mitchell deJong finished fourth and Ray Alfalla rounded out the top five.

The win was the 10th of Leahy’s career, tying him for fifth-most all-time with Kenny Humpe and Bobby Zalenski, who won at Darlington Aug. 31. Leahy joins Zalenski as a Championship 4 contender. Currently, Mitchell deJong and Logan Clampitt are the other two drivers in position to advance, though their spots haven’t been secured.

Leahy last competed for a championship in 2019, where a last-lap effort wasn’t enough to overtake Zack Novak to win the title. He’ll look to finish one position better this year to become the first Canadian champion of the series.

One final shot remains for eight playoff drivers to make the Championship 4—and it’s at the most unpredictable of tracks, Talladega Superspeedway. The green flag flies next Sept. 28.

Race Results

Enascar Coca Cola Series Results Bristol Playoffs 2021