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Luza Spoils Playoff Party in eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Action at Bristol

When the green flag falls on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs each year, attention inevitably shifts to the 10 drivers who make the cut. Each fall, that group has three opportunities to secure a race win—something most of them have already done to earn their playoff spot anyway—and clinch a Championship 4 spot heading into the final round.

Somebody forgot to remind XSET’s Ryan Luza of all that on Tuesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The former series champion missed this year’s playoff cut, but he ensured that he won’t have a winless season for the first time in his eNASCAR career after scoring his 17th career victory under the lights thanks to the right pit strategy in the closing laps. On four fresh tires, Luza made quick work of those who stayed out for track position after the final green flag flew, and came home ahead of Cody Byus for Kyle Long’s Mode Motorsports and four-time series champion Ray Alfalla of Joe Gibbs Racing for the win.

Defending eNASCAR champion Keegan Leahy of 23XI led every lap at Bristol last year to punch his Championship 4 ticket, and qualified on pole again on Tuesday before leading the first 101 laps. It wasn’t until the second caution of the race, one that included multiple playoff drivers, that Leahy finally gave up the top spot to playoff driver Bobby Zalenski of Joe Gibbs Racing. Zalenski would lead through multiple cautions as well before Charlotte Phoenix driver Kollin Keister took the lead on Lap 139.

The fifth and final caution was the biggest one of the night, collecting most of the playoff drivers who hadn’t already taken damage and even putting a few others through their second wreck of the night. Keister, Zalenski, and Williams Esports’ Vicente Salas led those who stayed out, while Byus took two tires and Luza led those who took four. It took Luza less than 10 laps from the green flag to pass the nine cars ahead of him, with Byus and Alfalla settling into second and third soon after. Jim Beaver eSports driver Blake Reynolds made a late pass on Wood Brothers Racing driver Garrett Lowe for fourth, but Lowe remained the top playoff driver in the results as he came home fifth. Only Lowe and points leader Steven Wilson of Stewart-Haas eSports scored top 10s among the playoff drivers in the field.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Bristol Motor Speedway were as follows:

FIN. ST. NO. NAME TEAM LAPS INTERVAL LED BEST PTS
1 14 4 Ryan Luza XSET 175 0.000 24 14.766 40
2 35 24 Cody Byus Mode Motorsports 175 -1.303 0 14.878 35
3 31 51 Ray Alfalla Joe Gibbs Racing 175 -1.343 0 14.915 34
4 24 15 Blake Reynolds Jim Beaver eSports 175 -1.434 0 14.832 33
5 18 21 Garrett Lowe Wood Brothers Racing 175 -1.841 0 14.916 32
6 26 36 Brian Mercurio Letarte Esports 175 -1.909 0 14.957 31
7 33 3 Corey Vincent Team Dillon Esports 175 -3.309 0 14.964 30
8 28 40 Dylan Ault Letarte Esports 175 -3.438 0 14.906 29
9 36 12 Derek Justis iRacing Motorsports 175 -5.220 0 15.016 28
10 2 10 Steven Wilson Stewart Haas Racing 175 -11.444 0 14.868 27
11 5 48 Graham A. Bowlin Charlotte Phoenix 175 -11.520 0 14.970 26
12 15 41 Dylan Duval Stewart Haas Racing 175 -11.880 0 14.833 25
13 38 14 Nickolas Shelton Clint Bowyer Racing 175 -12.409 0 15.022 24
14 12 43 Kollin Keister Charlotte Phoenix 175 -12.756 13 14.827 23
15 37 20 Donovan Strauss Williams eSports 175 -13.937 0 14.918 22
16 3 18 Bobby Zalenski Joe Gibbs Racing 175 -14.086 37 14.843 21
17 4 8 Michael Conti JR Motorsports 175 -14.237 0 14.862 20
18 23 88 Briar LaPradd JR Motorsports 175 -14.385 0 14.927 19
19 11 31 Garrett Manes Elliot Sadler eSports 174 -1L 0 14.900 18
20 30 19 Vicente Salas Williams eSports 174 -1L 0 14.845 17
21 27 79 Femi Olatunbosun Clint Bowyer Racing 174 -1L 0 14.931 16
22 29 95 Casey Kirwan XSET 174 -1L 0 15.004 15
23 1 45 Keegan Leahy 23XI 173 -2L 101 14.873 14
24 13 5 Zack Novak Rise eSports 172 -3L 0 14.898 13
25 10 6 Parker Retzlaff Roush Fenway Keselowski 172 -3L 0 14.962 12
26 32 97 Logan Clampitt William Byron eSports 169 -6L 0 14.968 11
27 39 46 Jimmy Mullis Rise eSports 168 -7L 0 15.014 10
28 7 75 Matt Bussa Mode Motorsports 159 -16L 0 14.896 9
29 19 42 Darik Bourdeau eRacr 158 -17L 0 14.885 8
30 9 25 Nick Ottinger William Byron eSports 150 -25L 0 14.974 7
31 8 17 Kaden Honeycutt Roush Fenway Keselowski 146 -29L 0 14.895 6
32 17 9 Michael Guest Jim Beaver eSports 144 -31L 0 14.931 5
33 6 23 Mitchell deJong 23XI 144 -31L 0 14.915 4
34 16 7 Malik Ray iRacing Motorsports 142 DNF 0 14.890 3
35 34 69 Collin Bowden eRacr 142 -33L 0 14.968 2
36 22 16 Blade Whitt Wood Brothers Racing 142 Disqualified 0 14.951 1
37 21 2 Liam Brotherton Elliot Sadler eSports 134 -41L 0 15.091 1
38 25 55 Allen Boes Space Station Gaming 100 DNF 0 15.065 1
39 20 33 Taylor Hurst Team Dillon Esports 79 DNF 0 15.379 1

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points after 15 rounds are as follows:

  1. Steven Wilson, 2036
  2. Garrett Lowe, 2035
  3. Graham Bowlin, 2029
  4. Michael Conti, 2026
  5. Bobby Zalenski, 2021
  6. Femi Olatunbosun, 2019
  7. Casey Kirwan, 2018
  8. Nick Ottinger, 2013
  9. Matt Bussa, 2012
  10. Mitchell deJong, 2007

The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs continue in two weeks with a visit to Talladega Superspeedway. Broadcast coverage begins on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green before the 9 p.m. ET green flag. Live coverage of all the action can be seen at enascar.com/live. The season will culminate with a live, in-person event from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte on Oct. 25, with the Championship 4, commentary team, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all in attendance.

For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.enascar.com or www.iracing.com/enascar. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.

Images via Justin Melillo