Race Weekend Central

Garrett Lowe Makes Last Lap Pass for Photo-Finish Win in eNCCiS Coca-Cola 160

In the longest race of the 2024 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season, it took a last lap pass to get the job done.

Garrett Lowe executed a bump-and-run in turn three of the white-flag lap to get alongside Jimmy Mullis and edge him at the line by one one-thousandth of a second for a victory in the Coca-Cola 160 at the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It was Lowe’s first win of the 2024 eNCCiS season and the fourth of his career. With the victory, Lowe also got a small dose of revenge, turning the tables on Mullis after he moved Lowe out of the way for a win at Nashville last season.

“To be honest, all I could think about was Nashville,” Lowe said on the Sunoco Post Race Report. “We had a great car tonight. We got bit by that one caution and cycled back on the green run. Yeah, [the finish] was probably a little dirty, but if you are going for a win in the Coke Series, what are you going to do?”

Mullis was disappointed to come so close to victory lane but also relieved to come away with a runner-up finish.

“I feel like I made all the right moves,” Mullis said in his postrace interview. “Can’t be too mad, obviously with the way Nashville went last year between me and [Lowe].”

Parker White came home in third place, Malik Ray finished fourth, and Zack Novak completed the top five.

See also
Entry List: 2024 Coca-Cola 600

TONIGHT’S ACTION

Tucker Minter led the field to green in his No. 97 Chevrolet. However, he did not hold the top spot for long as Steven Wilson passed him just before an early caution on lap 4 when Dylan Ault got into the back of Keegan Leahy, putting Leahy in the wall.

The race then settled into a long green-flag run, with Wilson leading the way. White hounded Wilson for a while before making the pass on lap 37 in his No. 53 Chevrolet. White’s Williams eSports teammate Donovan Strauss followed him past Wilson into second place.

Green flag pit stops began in earnest around lap 55, with several big names coming down for four tires and a full tank of fuel. Before the pit cycle could finish, a chain reaction led to Casey Kirwan spinning out on the front stretch to bring out the race’s second caution, shaking up the running order. All the drivers who had not pitted came down under caution for service, and almost half the field took the wave around to get back on the lead lap.

Lowe led the field back to green on lap 63, and he stayed out front until Wilson reassumed the point on lap 78 to lead at the halfway point. 15 laps later, Wilson lost the lead himself to Daytona winner Wyatt Tinsley, only for Tinsley’s Pioneers teammate Graham Bowlin to wrest away the lead a few laps later.

With 55 laps remaining, White navigated his way back to the front. Meanwhile, drivers started to come down pit road as the window opened to make it to the end of the race on fuel. Coming to 50 laps to go, White surrendered the lead to get four tires and fuel.

Tinsley cycled back to the lead following the end of the green-flag pit cycle. Then, with 36 laps left, the race’s third caution came out for a Kaden Honeycutt spin on the front stretch, prompting most of the field to come down pit road and put on either two or four Goodyear tires.

Rookie driver Seth DeMerchant, who stayed out under the caution, led the field to the restart with 31 laps remaining, sailing away after Tinsley spun his tires on the outside lane. However, DeMerchant did not stay up front for long as Wilson passed him to the inside three laps later to take back the top spot.

At 19 laps to go, Wilson and Minter battled side-by-side for the lead off of turn 2 when the two made contact, sending Minter hard into the wall. Two laps later, Collin Bowden wound up backwards after smacking the wall by the start/finish line, bringing out the fourth yellow flag.

Wilson got a great restart with 12 laps remaining, but it was for all naught as a big wreck broke out the front stretch to slow the field down for the fifth caution of the evening.

On the final restart with seven laps left, Wilson opened up a lead of about two or three car lengths, but he was soon under pressure from White. Coming off of turn two with two laps to go, Wilson got wide and scraped the wall, opening the door for Lowe to pass him for the lead and Mullis to follow him to second.

Shortly after taking the white, Mullis passed Lowe for the lead. Through turns three and four, Lowe got in the back of Mullis, getting him loose and up the racetrack. Lowe and Mullis then rubbed fenders all the way to the line, with Lowe’s front bumper just a few inches in front of Mullis to pick up the win.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS (SIX RACES LEFT IN REGULAR SEASON)

Steven Wilson2 Wins
Bobby Zalenski1 Win
Garrett Lowe1 Win
Malik Ray1 Win
Dylan Duval1 Win
Vincente Salas+34
Nick Ottinger+31
Parker White+31
Kaden Honeycutt+5
Tucker Minter+4
Casey Kirwan-4
Jimmy Mullis-6
Zack Novak-14
Tinsley and Leahy have both won races but are currently ineligible for the playoffs due to being outside the top 20 in points.

Also, the next race will mark the end of the second segment of the regular season, after which the segment two points leader will receive $3,000 and three playoff points.

NEXT UP

The drivers of the eNCCiS will be right back in action next Tuesday, May 28, at the virtual Darlington Raceway. Race coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green, followed by the green flag for 120 laps around The Lady in Black shortly after 8 p.m. on enascar.com/live, youtube.com/iracingofficial, and twitch.tv/iracing.

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He works as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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