The second event of the inaugural Winter Heat Series on NASCAR Heat 5 saw competitors hit the virtual 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Holiday 60 on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
The event saw a total of six drivers advance to the Winter Heat Series Championship Finale in February, while eNASCAR Heat Pro League veterans Justin Brooks and Cody Giles earned the victory on Xbox and PlayStation, respectively, and took home $1,500 in prize money.
Wearing their holiday-themed best, the 48 Winter Heat Series competitors had 60 laps to do battle around the multi-groove track that puts on some of the fiercest action on NASCAR Heat 5.
Xbox: Brooks Goes Back-to-Back, Open Qualifiers Shine
On the Xbox platform, JTG Daugherty Throttlers driver Justin Brooks started on pole in his No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet with fellow eNHPL driver, Chip Ganassi Gaming’s Luis Zaiter, starting to his outside in the No. 42 Credit One Chevrolet.
While Brooks took the early lead, JR Motorsports driver Tyler Dohar pressured for the top spot and took command of the race on Lap 3. As Brooks slipped back, the field stacked up and brought out the first caution just four laps into the event.
eNHPL regulars Casey Masser, Matthew Heale and Jordan McGraw were among those involved in the first caution on the day.
Pit stops and varying strategies shuffled the leaderboard for the restart with 49 laps to go. Stewart-Haas eSports driver Matthew Selby put his No. 4 Haas Automation Ford out front with a group of hungry drivers from the open qualifiers behind him.
Brad Herman, Jeff Noe and Elijah White earned positions in the 24-car field by advancing through the open qualifiers, but they clearly put the pressure on the eNHPL regulars.
Herman was able to get around Selby for the top spot but could not hold off Noe in the No. 66 Toyota, who took the lead with 47 laps to go.
Behind the leaders, the field got together on the exit of Turn 4 to bring out the second caution of the event.
The order remained the same for the restart, with Noe, Herman and White leading the way with 42 laps to go. Dressed in a full Santa Claus outfit to celebrate the Holiday 60 theme, Noe took command of the race as drivers from the open qualifiers made up four of the top-five cars with 35 laps to go.
Noe gave up the lead with 23 laps to go as green flag pit stops got underway for the entire field.
With pit stops cycled through and less than 20 laps remaining, Noe resumed the race lead, but Brooks was back up to fourth and charging hard.
White took the lead from Noe with 16 laps to go but a big slide off Turn 4 the following lap dropped him to fifth and gave Brooks the lead for the first time since the beginning of the race.
Josh Taylor, another driver from the open qualifiers, pressured Brooks for the top spot and worked hard to keep Petty eSports driver Diego Alvarado, White, Tim Moore and Wood Brothers Gaming driver Slade Gravitt behind him.
Alvarado was forced to pit road in the closing laps after trying a different strategy, meaning the battle was on for the final transfer positions. Showing his experience as a tenured eNHPL driver, Gravitt was able to get by Moore and White on the final lap to move into third.
Earning his second consecutive Winter Heat Series victory, Brooks took home the $1,500 top prize. Taylor, Gravitt, White and Moore rounded out the top five.
Since Brooks locked into the Winter Heat Series finale via the Movember 50, the three drivers that locked themselves into the Valentine’s 80 were Taylor, Gravitt and White.
PS4: Giles and Stone Battle for Big Win in Caution-Filled Event
eNHPL veterans Kyle Arnold and Mike Brass led the field to the green flag, but it did not take long before the first caution of the event came out just three laps in. Cautions would be a theme throughout the PS4 event, as the race was slowed six times by the yellow flag.
The ensuing restart saw even more carnage as Arnold’s No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet caught the wall of Turn 4 and caused a massive pile-up behind him, allowing Roush Fenway Gaming’s Brandon Hanna to take the lead. Another incident occurred on the following restart, leading to three caution flags in the first 12 laps of the race.
Petty eSports driver Mike Braas, RCR eSports driver Joey Stone, Wood Brothers Gaming’s Cody Giles and open driver Dylan Peninger did battle at the front of the field until another incident slowed the race with 26 laps to go.
The restart that followed saw a familiar face enter the fray as Chip Ganassi Gaming driver Maxwell Castro moved into the third position and began to pressure the leaders.
After five laps of green flag racing, Matt Smith got loose off Turn 4 and caused a major incident on the backstretch that collected several cars toward the rear of the field.
With less than 20 laps to go, Giles and Stone rekindled their battle for the lead, while Chase Williamson – winner of the NASCAR Heat $10K event – moved into third ahead of Peninger and eNHPL veteran Josh Harbin.
Harbin’s charge would be short-lived, however. With just six laps to go he would be involved in the sixth and final incident of the event, eliminating him from contention for the victory and setting up a Green-White-Checkered shootout for the win.
Despite a hard charge by Stone on the final lap, Giles was able to hang on to score the win by just 0.043 seconds. The victory earned Giles $1,500 in prize money, as well as locking him into the Winter Heat Series finale in February.
Stone, Arnold, Isaac Smallwood and Braas rounded out the top-five finishing positions, with Stone and Arnold joining Giles in locking themselves into the Valentine’s 80 at virtual Daytona.
Full Race Results:
|Xbox Race Results|
|Position||Name||Car Number||Gamertag||Laps Led|
|1||Justin Brooks||37 – Justin Brooks||mrTRACKBAR33||19|
|2||Josh Taylor||41 – Cole Custer||Amour Smoke|
|3||Slade Gravitt||21 – Slade Gravitt||SladeG84||2|
|4||Elijah White||12 – Ryan Blaney||TheAviator1024||4|
|5||Timothy Moore||77 – Ross Chastain||Word Burton|
|6||Brad Herman||62 – Brendan Gaughan||xFlNESSED||3|
|7||Tyler Dohar||88 – Tyler Dohar||JRM Dohar88||5|
|8||James Holtzer||00 – Quin Houff||BIGJAWNxPA|
|9||Luis Zaiter||42 – Luis Zaiter||CGM x Rose|
|10||Matthew Selby||4 – Matthew Selby||SHRe Slick 4||4|
|11||Jordan Bane||51 – Joey Gase||baner9588|
|12||DJ Stagner||32 – Corey LaJoie||Ncarracing64|
|13||Daniel Buttafuoco||13 – Daniel Buttafuoco||LuckyDog385|
|14||Casey Masser||6 – Casey Masser||l Asylumzs l|
|15||Matthew Heale||51 – Matthew Heale||RowdyMatt51|
|16||Brian Tedeschi||22 – Brian Tedeschi||ShellVPower22|
|17||Jordan McGraw||3 – Jordan McGraw||TheJMacAttack34|
|18||Justin Everett||20 – Erik Jones||Leafsjustin24|
|19||Jeff Noe||66 – Timmy Hill||STOUT WHISKEY||25|
|20||Diego Alvarado||43 – Diego Alvarado||DiegoxAlv|
|21||Justin Anasogak||7 – Josh Bilick||NNR Rowdy|
|22||Nick Walker||11 – Denny Hamlin||wowTHATSgarbage|
|23||Cody Kelley||16 – Justin Haley||Rocket5x|
|24||Casey Kelley||49 – Chad Finchum||TheBandit505|
|PS4 Race Results|
|Position||Name||Car Number||Gamertag||Laps Led|
|1||Cody Giles||16 – Cody Giles||xX_Fluffy_Xx2||31|
|2||Joey Stone||8 – Joey Stone||Sloppy_Joe_YT||5|
|3||Kyle Arnold||13 – Kyle Arnold||Red4424||8|
|4||Isaac Smallwood||38 – John H. Nemechek||ColaMotorsports|
|5||Mike Braas||44 – Mike Braas||MikeRPM44||13|
|6||Chase Williamson||78 – BJ McLeod||Itsyourbrochase6|
|7||Maxwell Castro||1 – Maxwell Castro||MaxBoost27|
|8||Matt Smith||36 – David Ragan||FlashNine|
|9||Jordan Dworaczyk||00 – Quin Houff||JCR_JWOWisBACK|
|10||Chris Perkey||21 – Matt DiBenedetto||ThatManPerkey|
|11||Josh Parker||18 – Josh Parker||TheBolt_Parker18|
|12||Corey Rothgeb||2 – Corey Rothgeb||Wurth_2|
|13||TJ McGowan||47 – TJ McGowan||Bags475|
|14||Avery Jarrett||16 – Justin Haley||ajstormX2|
|15||George Taylor||41 – Cole Custer||racehead8|
|16||Joe Gornick||7 – Joe Gornick||JRM_Gornick7|
|17||Brandon Hanna||17 – Brandon Hanna||cheezuh||5|
|18||Thomas Cohick||12 – Ryan Blaney||JCR_Clashin04|
|19||Jason Mitchell||32 – Jason Mitchell||GoFasJason_32|
|20||Dylan Peninger||96 – Daniel Suarez||xXBigD_StroyerXx|
|21||Josh Harbin||95 – Josh Harbin||ThAbEaR_95|
|22||Brandyn Gritton||14 – Brandyn Gritton||SHRe_HotRod_14|
|23||Scott Brown||77 – Ross Chastain||scottyb8833_FRR|
|24||Joe West||19 – Martin Truex Jr||jaw2131|