Jimmy Mullis won—no, survived—Tuesday night’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, earning his fourth career victory and second of the season by holding off Phil Diaz in the final stages of the race.
The win allowed the Richmond Raceway Esports driver to climb to ninth in series points, with just one race remaining in the regular season to get into the eight-driver playoff bubble.
“It’s been a rollercoaster season for us,” said Mullis. “You look at three or four races earlier in the season, if I don’t get wrecked, we’re well inside the top eight, I believe. But everything happens for a reason, and to come in here tonight and get my first on a mile and a half, we head to Talladega with a really good shot of making (the playoffs). We’re going to go try to win that race too, and see where we come out.”
In a season where most races have either gone flag-to-flag with no more than a single caution or been high-attrition from green to checkered, Tuesday’s race found a way to be both. The first half of the race was so clean that a handful of drivers, led by Michael Guariglia and Jarl Teien, stretched all the way into the 60-lap range with their first green-flag runs in hopes of playing alternate pit strategies for the win.
Shortly after the final green flag pit stops of the run, Graham Bowlin spun to create the first caution, and the complexion of the race began to shift completely. From playoff contenders like Bobby Zalenski and Ryan Luza to drivers like Christian Challiner and Michael Guest who were fighting just to get back into the top 20.
There was a lot more bad luck to go around than good in the middle stages of the race.No caution was more spectacular than a massive Lap 96 incident that might have felt more in place in next week’s regular season finale at Talladega.
With all the cautions, the final playoff spot got passed around like a hot potato. Four-time series champion Ray Alfalla came into the night with a comfortable 20-point lead on ninth, but getting involved in one of the earlier cautions bounced him to the outside looking in, with Brad Davies inheriting the spot.
Then, Davies got caught up in the biggest wreck of the night, plummeting to 13th. Alfalla eventually recovered to regain the spot by race’s end, but with Mullis now just 16 points back. Joining Zalenski and Keegan Leahy in punching their playoff ticket were polesitter Michael Conti, third place finisher Nick Ottinger, and Garrett Lowe.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Las Vegas Motor Speedway were as follows:
|6||13||14||Brandon Hayse Kettelle||Ford||134||27||-1.907||29.346||36|
|16||6||18||Graham A. Bowlin||Toyota||134||0||-8.353||29.532||25|
|23||15||23||Casey Kirwan||Toyota||133||0||-1 L||29.678||18|
|24||22||27||Corey Vincent||Ford||133||0||-1 L||29.531||17|
|25||36||9||Eric J. Smith||Ford||132||0||-2 L||29.585||16|
|26||16||83||Bobby Zalenski||Chevrolet||110||0||-24 L||29.620||15|
|27||8||6||Nathan Lyon||Ford||109||1||-25 L||29.525||15|
|28||9||10||Justin Bolton||Ford||109||0||-25 L||29.591||13|
|29||12||5||Matt Bussa||Ford||109||0||-25 L||29.555||12|
|30||35||66||Jarl Teien||Chevrolet||109||0||-25 L||29.746||11|
|31||37||90||Zack Novak||Toyota||108||1||-26 L||29.608||11|
|32||38||47||Steve Sheehan||Chevrolet||106||0||-28 L||29.638||9|
|33||31||4||Santiago Tirres||Chevrolet||105||0||-29 L||29.483||8|
|34||4||53||Ryan Michael Luza||Ford||104||39||-30 L||29.477||9|
|35||28||51||Malik Ray||Toyota||96||0||-38 L||29.470||6|
|36||30||54||Alex McCollum||Chevrolet||89||0||-45 L||29.577||5|
|37||10||33||Michael Guest||Chevrolet||89||0||-45 L||29.480||4|
|38||26||37||Christian Challiner||Chevrolet||79||0||-55 L||29.727||3|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points after 15 races are as follows:
- Keegan Leahy, 468
- Bobby Zalenski, 461
- Michael Conti, 442
- Nick Ottinger, 438
- Garrett Lowe, 436
- Ryan Luza, 413
- Logan Clampitt, 408
- Ray Alfalla, 399
- Jimmy Mullis, 384
- Graham Bowlin, 368
Unlike most eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series events, there won’t be an off week between the Las Vegas round and the next race, as the regular season finale from Talladega Superspeedway settles the playoff grid next Tuesday.