It was a wild fourth round at virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the eNASCAR Heat Pro League Wednesday (May 13). At the end of the night, Josh Harbin and Slade Gravitt took the victories while Maxwell Castro and Justin Brooks locked themselves into the championship race.
Leavine Family Gaming’s Harbin won the first race on the PlayStation 4 platform. He was in the mix for the lead all night, though he only led the final seven laps.
Harbin took care of his tires and made an aggressive move around pole winner Brandyn Gritton to take the lead in the closing laps. Others behind him were battling for positions, but he held on at the Magic Mile.
“We knew we had a good car from the green flag,” Harbin said after the race. “We just tried our best to keep track position and stay out front there at the end and got that caution. A little bit of mechanical grip there at the end won that race for us.”
Gritton took second behind Harbin, while Castro secured his spot into the championship with a third-place finish. Gibbs Gaming’s Josh Parker and Richard Childress Racing eSports’ Joey Stone rounded out the top five.
The race began with Gritton well ahead for a few laps, but Gritton used his tires early and dropped back in the leaderboard. Joe Gornick led for awhile until after the field made its pit stops with 28 laps to go. Gornick and Gritton made contact with each other while battling for the lead, with Gornick getting some damage to his No. 7 JR Motorsports car. The caution waved and the field pitted again for tires and fuel. However, Stone and Nick Jobes, who led on the restart, quickly dropped back after their two-tire strategy backfired.
Gritton resumed the lead with less than 20 to go, but only had a good short-run car. Harbin and Castro got around him within the final 10 circuits, but Gritton retook second soon after.
That's it for the First Segment for the PS4 side of the eNASCAR Heat Pro League.
Results and Standings following race #4 at the virtual @NHMS #eNASCARHeat pic.twitter.com/v6r1riNdXh
— Justin Melillo (@justinmelillo) May 14, 2020
The Xbox race was the opposite from PS4, as there were several cautions in the first half of the race. The entire field was slicing and dicing for track positions, especially Brooks and Daniel Buttafuoco. These two battled for not only the lead, but also to claim their spot in the championship.
Brooks, the No. 37 JTG Daugherty Throttlers driver, attempted to thread the needle with 38 to go between Matthew Heale and Diego Alvarado. Heale and Alvarado got into the sides of Brooks, which made him upset and used a hand gesture toward the camera during a caution. Brooks later told the booth that “some of those guys aren’t going to be on my Christmas cards this year.”
Things finally seemed to settle down, but varying pit strategies came into play as both Buttafuoco and Brooks had to pit with nine laps to go. Gravitt ended up taking the lead and never looked back for his first win of the year. Luis Zaiter finished where he started in second, while Tyler Dohar took third. Jose Ruiz and Nick Walker completed the top five.
Buttafuoco finished sixth, well outside the place he needed to catch up to Brooks in the standings.
“It’s great knowing I’m locked into the championship finale, I just wish we had a better result today,” Brooks said. “Our finish did not show up the performance, we had rear damage from getting rear ended on the restarts. Trying to run down Dan was a task already itself because he’s been super fast here all week, but with rear-end damage we were just sliding all over the place.
“I was just sitting there wheeling the car, wheeling the car. Next thing I know everybody’s just like ‘we’re saving gas saving gas.’ By the time I realized this it was just too late to save. Me and Dan just went all out. I ended up taking two tires, I almost spun off pit road because I’ve never taken two tires here before. I might as well have taken no tires at all because it was junk, literally just junk. It felt like I was on straight ice out there.”
It came down to fuel strategy, but @Slade_G84 takes the win at the virtual @NHMS, while @j_brooks92 takes the segment 1 title on the XBOX side!
Results and Standings:#eNASCARHeat pic.twitter.com/A3bxC00AsE
— Justin Melillo (@justinmelillo) May 14, 2020
The Heat Pro League goes to the virtual Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next Thursday, May 21 for the start of the next segment.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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