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eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

Ryan Luza was able to score his 17th career victory on Tuesday night (13th September) as he played spoiler to the playoff field at Bristol.

Ten drivers entered The Last Great Colosseum at Bristol Motor Speedway with a chance to lock in their spot in the Championship 4 battle. After 175 wild laps on Tuesday night (13th September 2022), none of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoff drivers were able to manage winning the free pass to the title race.

Instead, Ryan Luza (XSET) made the perfect strategy call on the final caution to take tires. On the ensuing restart, Luza was able to make easy work of Kollin Keister (Charlotte Phoenix) who had stayed out. Luza took the victory, the first of the season and the 17th of his storied career.

The win doesn’t retroactively get him into the 2022 Playoff field, but it did help the 2017 Champion find his way back inside the Top 20 in the points, avoiding the relegation line for now. Only three races remain in the 2022 season, two races in this Round of 10, and not one driver is safe entering Talladega in two weeks.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS MAKING STATEMENTS

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

From the get-go, it looked to be a night for the spoilers. While ten drivers are trying their best to get the 2022 Championship, 30 others are trying to make the best of the rest of their seasons, looking to avoid relegation, if possible, and also pickup any wins along the way.

2021 Series Champion Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) didn’t make this season’s playoffs, but that didn’t stop him from trying to take a dominant win on Tuesday night. Leahy qualified on the pole and for the first 101 laps, it looked to be completely in his favor.

A caution at lap 76 slowed the field for the first time and allowed the majority of the field to pit for service. As some say, however, cautions can breed cautions, and that’s just what happened as the race passed halfway.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

Before that caution, Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) was making absolute strides through the pack. Alfalla started in 31st and before too long, he was up on the podium in third place. His tires started to wear quick, but it was truly impressive to see the 4-Time champion cut through the field like butter.

Of course, the top previous champion of the series was Luza, as he played it right to take the win.

BAD NIGHT TO BE A PLAYOFF DRIVER (FOR MOST)

The first caution of the night was without issue for all ten of the playoff drivers. After that, it got a bit messy. The second caution flew just before the 100th lap and this time, at least four of the title contenders were involved.

Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing) and Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) made contact, sending deJong spinning up into Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports) who would collect Casey Kirwan (XSET) and more. It was a proper pileup that cost Kirwan and Bussa laps off of the lead pack for one reason or another.

The next caution wasn’t any better, as Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) went around in the middle of traffic following a bump from Kaden Honeycutt (RFK Racing). Almost immediately after that, Blake Reynolds (Jim Beaver Esports) got spun into Bussa again after a tap from Dylan Ault (LETARTE Esports).

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

By this time, Leahy had lost out and Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) was the new leader on an alternate strategy. However, with so many cautions, the strategies were all over the place, which allowed Keister to snooker Zalenski for the lead before the final caution with just under 30 laps to go.

THE BIG ONE LEADS TO BIG STRATEGY CALLS LATE

Even at a short track, the big one is still a possibility. The big one at Bristol would sweep up multiple playoff hopefuls, including Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Esports), deJong, Kirwan, and so many other hopefuls such as Leahy.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

An ensuing pit stop brought a good chunk of the field in for the final time, which at this point, who knew it would be the last chance for fresh virtual rubber. Zalenski, Wilson, a battered Bowlin and Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) all opted to stay out on what they had, some on older stuff than others.

Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing) was the only non-damaged playoff driver to opt for the tires. Lowe, along with Luza, Cody Byus (Mode Motorsports), Alfalla and more would be in the prime position for the final restart.

Luza made his way through it faster than anyone else, and that led to his second win at the concrete venue in his fourth attempt.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

NEXT UP: SWEET HOME TALLADEGA

Nobody is safe leaving Bristol. Wilson leads by only a single point over Lowe with Bowlin and Conti filling out the final spots for now. Zalenski, who fell back to finish 16th after the no-pit call, is five points out of it with Talladega and Homestead-Miami still to go.

Talladega, a true wild card race to contend with, could be a total guess as to who wins when we head there in two weeks. Ottinger won there last year. 13 points out leaving Bristol down in eighth isn’t necessarily a must-win spot, but going back-to-back could help his quest for a second title.

Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 27th September to see the middle battle of the 2022 Playoffs. The event will kick off with the Countdown to Green for a half-hour before the main cast starts at 9:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing Social Channels.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

RACE #15 – BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPOINTS
1144Ryan LuzaXSET175 LAPS2440
23524Cody ByusMode Motorsports +1.324 secs035
33151Ray AlfallaJoe Gibbs Racing+1.359 secs034
42415Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver Esports+1.444 secs033
51821Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing+1.844 secs032
62636Brian MercurioLETARTE Esports+1.921 secs031
7333Corey VincentTeam Dillon Esports+3.328 secs030
82840Dylan AultLETARTE Esports+3.452 secs029
93612Derek JustisiRacing Motorsports+5.242 secs028
10210Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports+11.432 secs027
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER RACE #15 – BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMWINSPOINTST5’sT10’s
110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports32036710
221Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing1-125
348Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix1-766
48Michael ContiJR Motorsports2-1046
518Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing0-1536
679Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing1-1736
795Casey KirwanXSET1-1859
825Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports2-2358
975Matt BussaMode Motorsports1-2428
1023Mitchell deJong23XI Racing1-2934
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #15 – BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

POSCAR #’sTEAMMANUF.POINTSBEHINDTEAM WINS
110 | 41Stewart-Haas EsportsFORD694LEADER3
29 | 15Jim Beaver EsportsFORD660-340
34 | 95XSETCHEVY658-362
45 | 46Rise eSportsCHEVY597-970
518 | 51Joe Gibbs RacingTOYOTA594-1001
624 | 75Mode MotorsportsFORD582-1121
723 | 4523XI RacingTOYOTA559-1351
843 | 48Charlotte PhoenixTOYOTA549-1451
93 | 33Team Dillon EsportsCHEVY538-1560
108 | 88JR MotorsportsCHEVY536-1582
William Byron Esports has two wins, Wood Brothers Racing and Clint Bowyer Racing both have a win this season.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

RACE #15 – BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY – BOX SCORE:

  • Five cautions for 25 laps
  • Three lead changes among four drivers (Leahy, Zalenski, Keister, Luza)
  • Most laps led: #45 Keegan Leahy (101 laps)
  • Fastest lap: Lap 151, #4 Ryan Luza (14.765 seconds)
  • Rookie of the race: #36 Brian Mercurio (6th)
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Ryan Luza plays Playoff Spoiler at Bristol

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA ColiseumCasey Kirwan25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l SpeedwayFemi Olatunbosun80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayMichael Conti100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor SpeedwaySteven Wilson100
29-Mar-224Richmond RacewayMichael Conti130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRTNick Ottinger25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor SpeedwayNick Ottinger120
10-May-227Kansas SpeedwayGarrett Lowe100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor SpeedwayMatt Bussa100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway Graham A. Bowlin120
21-Jun-2210Nashville SuperspeedwayRay Alfalla100
05-Jul-2211Road AmericaSteven Wilson25
19-Jul-2212Pocono RacewayCasey Kirwan60
02-Aug-22~All-Star~Chicago Street CourseSteven Wilson12-8-16
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen Int’lMitchell deJong45
30-Aug-2214Darlington RacewaySteven Wilson120
13-Sep-22PO1 | 15Bristol Motor SpeedwayRyan Luza175
27-Sep-22PO2 | 16Talladega Superspeedway70
11-Oct-22PO3 | 17Homestead-Miami Speedway100
25-Oct-22C4F | 18Phoenix Raceway110
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