Malik Ray captures elusive eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series win in Atlanta photo finish

It’s been five years and 26 days since Malik Ray completed his first lap in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series back at Daytona in 2019. 94 races later, after years of close calls and near victories, the Spire Motorsports driver can finally call himself an eNASCAR winner.

On Tuesday night, in the second attempt at eNASCAR Overtime, Ray lined up in eighth for what would be the final restart. Taking the white flag, Ray was sixth behind a pack about to go four-wide. Going with the momentum, Ray pushed Collin Bowden (RFK Racing) in the second lane from the top and cleared Jimmy Mullis (Kevin Harvick Inc.), Garrett Lowe (BS+COMPETITION), and Kollin Keister (Kanaan Esports) before Turn 1.

Out of Turn 2, only Bowden and Michael Guest (23XI) were ahead. Ray chose to shove Bowden, clearing Guest out of the equation. Into Turn 3, Ray backed up to the car that had followed him through—Darik Bourdeau. The Front Row Motorsports driver connected with Ray and the two built a huge run exiting Turn 4. Bowden held his line as Ray and Bourdeau surrounded him. At the line, Ray was victorious, winning by 0.024 seconds. The three-wide finish resembled the real-world NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta finish from two weeks ago.

“I just finally put it together,” Ray said post-race. “It’s really special. I’ve been trying to put a race together and I was finally able to do it with the help of my teammates… I just can’t thank them enough.”

Later in the evening, Ray explained his mindset on the final lap, overcoming his instincts to put himself into a winning position. “I heard from a bunch of people that I need to stop being friendly at the end of the races. It was the perfect scenario… I had Mike (Guest), he’s my best friend on the game, and I wanted to go with him, but I knew if I went with him, I was not going to win the race, Bowden was going to side draft me. I had to physically tell myself to go with Bowden even though I wanted to go with Mike. I think that’s like the perfect scenario. I’ve started paying attention to what people are saying around me. They were right.”

Atlanta was scheduled for 100 laps, but it went an extra five in double eNASCAR Overtime. There were only three cautions, two of which flew in the last 10 laps. Ray only led three laps on the night. A total of 15 drivers in the field led a lap at some point, not to mention many others, like Bowden, who had their car in front of the field, but not at the line to be scored as a lap led. The other Spire Motorsports car, Casey Kirwan, led the most laps with 26, before ultimately finishing 16th after pushing his teammate into a spot to win.

M80’s Ryan Luza led the field to the green alongside rookie Matthew Zwack (Nitro Circus Sim Racing). The two virtually tied for the pole, but the tiebreaker was awarded to Luza. Zwack led the first lap, but by the sixth lap, he found himself outside the top 10. Before the first yellow on Lap 13, the lead swapped nearly every lap, with Williams Esports’ Parker White and the two BS+COMPETITION Zebras of Lowe and Jordy Lopez controlling the lines.

Ray Alfalla (eRacr) found himself caught up in the Lap 13 incident after contact with Graham Bowlin (QuikTrip Pioneers Gaming). Alfalla slid down the track out of Turn 2 into Steven Wilson’s M80 Dark Horse Mustang. Quami Scott (Letarte eSports), Tucker Minter (William Byron eSports), and Jonathon Dulaney (Team Dillon Esports) were also involved. Dulaney got the worst of the damage, losing 15 laps making repairs.

The racing never settled down after that. While the lead stopped switching hands nearly every lap, there were comers and goers through the night. Lowe, Kirwan, Kaden Honeycutt (JR Motorsports), and Tyler Garey (eRacr) did the majority of the leading until the pit cycle began at halfway. There were four takers on the initial green flag stop—Bowden, Guest, and Keister were three of them. Timmy Holmes (RFK Racing) was the fourth, but he was dealt a speeding penalty on entry.

On Lap 58, the field got jumbled up. Alfalla, Scott, Garrett Manes (fgrAccel eRacing), and Dylan Ault (Letarte eSports) all crashed without triggering a caution flag. This split the field into fragmented packs as the pit cycle continued on. Ray was in the second pack after the chaos, opting to pit on Lap 66, taking only two tires for a shorter stop.

With 10 laps to go, the field finally cycled together. The trio of undercut stoppers were caught, but still very much in the fight. Ray first hooked up with Kirwan, then after they got separated, Ray continued marching forward with the help of Guest. The two were nearly to the lead, but the caution flew for a stack up involving Bowlin, Garey, Vicente Salas (Kanaan Esports), and more.

Lowe barely held the lead over Ray heading into eNASCAR Overtime. On the restart, Lowe moved to the top, but Ray moved to the middle with help from Kirwan. The side forces were not in their favor, however, as the two Spire Motorsports Chevrolets were sucked backwards. Guest managed to take the lead as they nearly took the white flag, but another caution bunched the field up for one last attempt. Incredibly, Ray put himself in a position to win on the final lap and made every right move to pull off his first career win.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Race 3 at Atlanta results were as follows:

Fin.

St.

No.

Name

Team

Laps

Interval

Led

Best

Pts

1337Malik RaySpire Motorsports1050.000329.01740
23234Darik BourdeauFront Row Motorsports105-0.024028.83235
34017Collin BowdenRFK Racing105-0.042029.02934
42045Michael Guest23XI105-0.2171228.98733
52566Kollin KeisterKanaan Esports105-0.253029.06332
6553Parker WhiteWilliams Esports105-0.404528.85131
7341Dylan DuvalNitro Circus Sim Racing105-0.470128.83930
83188Briar LaPraddJR Motorsports105-0.674028.90229
91451Donovan StraussWilliams Esports105-0.704028.89028
102725Nick OttingerWilliam Byron eSports105-0.893029.27327
11420Wyatt TinsleyQuikTrip Pioneers Gaming105-1.488029.00226
12989Garrett LoweBS+COMPETITION105-1.5501829.03325
13790Jordy LopezBS+COMPETITION105-1.563828.74324
142129Jimmy MullisKevin Harvick Inc.105-1.558029.06723
15299Matthew ZwackNitro Circus Sim Racing105-1.732129.25922
161577Casey KirwanSpire Motorsports105-1.7602628.99421
173462Matt BussaKevin Harvick Inc.105-1.7711129.26220
18854Daniel FaulkinghamJoe Gibbs Racing105-1.920028.84019
19697Tucker MinterWilliam Byron eSports105-1.930229.16718
201314Seth DeMerchantfgrAccel eRacing105-1.957529.15417
211842Tyler GareyeRacr105-3.564528.97916
222911Vicente SalasKanaan Esports105-3.705029.00615
23175Zack NovakOXYGEN Esports105-3.784029.15214
24180Ryan LuzaM80105-4.960129.10613
253718Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing105-5.705029.11112
261938Michael Cosey JrFront Row Motorsports105-5.785029.16811
273548Graham A. BowlinQuikTrip Pioneers Gaming105-10.992028.89510
283822Femi OlatunbosunOXYGEN Esports105-11.570029.1909
292840Dylan AultLetarte eSports105-12.298029.1778
301133Taylor HurstTeam Dillon Esports105-13.133029.2017
31398Kaden HoneycuttJR Motorsports105-15.291629.1616
322610Steven WilsonM80105-28.474029.1665
333623Keegan Leahy23XI105-28.533029.1174
342312Garrett ManesfgrAccel eRacing104-1L029.1223
352255Ryan DoucettePittsburg Knights104-1L029.1032
362427Cody ByusPittsburg Knights98-7L129.0831
37106Timothy HolmesRFK Racing95-10L029.2901
38303Jonathon DulaneyTeam Dillon Esports90-15L029.1091
391636Quami ScottLetarte eSports87-18L029.1871
401269Ray AlfallaeRacr85-20L029.1021

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Driver’s Standings through Round 3 are as follows:

  1. Kollin Keister, 89
  2. Casey Kirwan, 85
  3. Parker White, 83
  4. Wyatt Tinsley, 82 (1 WIN)
  5. Donovan Strauss, 81
  6. Nick Ottinger, 80
  7. Keegan Leahy, 72 (1 WIN)
  8. Steven Wilson, 68
  9. Michael Guest, 67
  10. Briar LaPradd, 67
    13. Malik Ray, 60 (1 WIN)

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Segment 1 Standings through Round 3 of 4 are as follows:

  1. Kollin Keister, 89
  2. Casey Kirwan, 85
  3. Parker White, 83
  4. Wyatt Tinsley, 82
  5. Donovan Strauss, 81
  6. Nick Ottinger, 80
  7. Keegan Leahy, 72
  8. Steven Wilson, 68
  9. Michael Guest, 67
  10. Briar LaPradd, 67

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Team Standings through Round 3 are as follows:

  1. Spire Motorsports (#7/#77), 179
  2. Williams Esports (#51/#53), 164
  3. Kanaan Esports (#11/#66), 155
  4. 23XI (#23/#45), 139
  5. JR Motorsports (#8/#88), 133

If not for a 34-point penalty at Daytona, Ray would be leading the driver’s championship with 94 points. Instead, with only one race remaining in Segment 1 of the season, he sits 13th, 29 points behind new points leader Kollin Keister. Keister’s worst finish this season came at Daytona, 14th, and now has two top-five finishes to compliment. Casey Kirwan sits four points back in second while Parker White is third, two points behind that. Daytona winner Wyatt Tinsley (QuikTrip Pioneers Gaming) is fourth, Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports) is fifth, and sitting sixth with a chance at the Segment 1 win is Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports), only nine points behind.

23XI’s Keegan Leahy (23XI) falls to seventh after finishing 33rd at Atlanta. While 17 points isn’t insurmountable, Leahy on back likely won’t be in the conversation for the Segment 1 title. As for the Team Championship, Spire Motorsports continues to hold it. Williams Esports is closing in, however, only 15 points behind following a solid day at Atlanta for both Strauss and White. 

The 40 top-rated eNASCAR drivers return in two weeks for the conclusion to Segment 1 at Richmond Raceway. Last season, Bobby Zalenski dominated from the pole position to score his first of three wins on the year. Tune in on Tuesday, March 26th, at 7:30 p.m. ET for the Countdown to Green. Race coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET at eNASCAR.com/live and across iRacing social media channels.

For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.enascar.com or www.iracing.com/enascar. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.