Race Weekend Central

Justin Brooks, Josh Harbin Win Wild-Card Daytona Races in eNASCAR Heat Pro League, Harbin and Brian Tedeschi Claim Final Title Spots

The eNASCAR Heat Pro League held its Wild Card events at virtual Daytona International Speedway Wednesday night (July 29). The races were certainly wild, but in the end, Justin Brooks and Josh Harbin stood tall over the competition to win the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 races. Additionally, Brian Tedeschi and Harbin claimed the last two spots in the championship race.

Prior to this week’s races, it was announced that Nick Walker violated eNHPL rules and was suspended indefinitely. Earlier this week, Casey Masser announced on Twitter he would compete for Roush Fenway Gaming.

Xbox One

In the Xbox event, Justin Brooks again proved why he’ll race for the championship. After starting on the pole, Brooks led for much of the first segment until the caution came out. He ended up dropping back a bit on the restart but quickly got in line and locked up with Slade Gravitt.

Brooks then moved up ahead of Luis Zaiter with less than 20 laps remaining.

Meanwhile, the field settled down after the first caution and even began its second round of pit stops. Daniel Buttafuoco stayed out as long as he could but eventually had to pit with three laps left.

However, the caution came out just as Gravitt took the lead, and as is often the case, cautions breed cautions. Diego Alvarado had found himself near the front in the first green-white-checkered, but dropped back and ended up wrecking with Riley Ogle and several others.

Brooks then got back in front in the final two laps and held on to win the race. Gravitt was second and Tedeschi, who secured his spot in the championship, finished third. Buttafuoco finished fourth and Masser rounded out the top five.

“It’s just really tough,” Tedeschi said after the race. “You know it’s kind of ‘do or die,’ it’s like a typical Saturday night last chance race: winner moves on and everyone else goes home. You got to do what you got to do. I saw him [Jordan McGraw and Jose Ruiz] coming in the mirror, I saw him lay back in the run and it looked like the run died. Then the three, I know we got into it there at the end. I don’t like to race like that, I try to race people clean, but this is big, there’s a lot of money on the line, a lot of purse money, and at the end of the day it’s just, you’ve got to go for it.”

The Team Penske eSports driver joins Brooks, Buttafuoco and Gravitt as the four Xbox drivers in the championship race.

PlayStation 4

In the PS4 race, pit strategies were surprisingly the name of the game – at least, until the final 10 laps. Kyle Arnold began on the pole and led up until his group’s first pit stops. Unfortunately, Arnold sped on pit road and ended up dropping to the back of the field.

Harbin, though, claimed the lead after that round of stops, holding off all those around him until a competition yellow with 16 to go. Nick Jobes got into the lead on the restart, but then Harbin, Mike Braas and Arnold jumped together on the outside to take the lead, something that was rarely done in tonight’s race. Everyone jostled for positions in the final few laps, trying every way they could to claim the top spot.

Then, the Big One happened, and nearly the entire field was involved.

And, like the Xbox race, we were in overtime.

Another caution came out when Maxwell Castro got squirrelly and bounced off the outside wall, and the field again got set for its final green-white-checkered.

As everyone formed a cluster of cars in the final two laps, Harbin got some drafting help to narrowly take the win and lock himself into the championship. Brandyn Gritton came in second, Cody Giles was third, Josh Parker was fourth and Mike Braas rounded out the top five.

Harbin joins Castro, Gritton and Parker in the final race.

“It’s been a real tough season,” Harbin said. “We just haven’t had what we wanted there in segment three, and we got one taken away there in segment two. We were in the same spot last year coming to [Homestead-Miami Speedway]: one shot, one race to get in. I take care of business, we took care of it today.”

The championship race is scheduled to run on Aug. 19. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

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 and involved with photos, social media and news editing. 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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