The first ever Speed51 Elite Street Stock Nationals pitted a great mix of sim racers against each other at the virtual version of one of America’s great short tracks on Tuesday night, New Smyrna Speedway. After four qualifying heats and 75 laps of feature racing, there was just one driver who could claim a near perfect night.
After winning his heat race, starting up front, and controlling all the restarts just right, it was Long Island driver Ryan Lutz who took home the victory after leading flag to flag on the half-mile oval.
For nearly all the restarts in the yellow flag filled event, Lutz had chosen the faster outside line, taking the chance of a possible hip check from multiple drivers who restarted second over the event. When it was all said and done, the risk had been worth it.
“It’s certainly something to keep in the back of your mind, you just got protect the bottom, and make sure they don’t get an opportunity. I think it was a gutsy call to pick the outside every time, but I knew that going down into one on those bumps on warm tires on a restart, you can’t hold the bottom, and it’s tough to get the run off of two. I was just waiting for the next person to put me in third lane, but luckily it never came,” Lutz said after the race.
Casey Tillman would be the one to get the final shot at Lutz on a restart with two laps to go on the inside. When it was all said and done, he ended up racing Lutz as cleanly as he had raced him.
“I guess if I wanted to be that kind of a driver I could have gotten in there a little deeper and gave him a little bit of a door maybe. Slowed up his momentum a little bit, but I try to race everyone as clean as they race me, and he was spot on all night. He raced me clean on all those restarts and I wasn’t going to take a win for that.”
As for Ryan Lutz, the 51 Elite Street Stock Nationals win is the latest in what has been a strong winter, gaining momentum he wants to carry into the start of the first full season of 2020 for the Elite Racing League classes.
“We’re feeling a lot of momentum, we ended last season really strong, in the Xfinity car we ended with those two wins, even though in the Cup car we didn’t participate the last half of the year. But, Modifieds we ended up with a win, yesterday in the dirt race we finished second, and today we won. Just high momentum going into everything, I think this will be a killer season for me, hopefully we’ll have a lot of victories.”
Behind Lutz and Tillman were Kenny Kibbey, Gerald Lawrence, and Robert Arch in the Top 5. While Andrew Rucker, Jake Silva, Tate Lightle, Jimmy Pierce, and Tyler Jalbert rounded the Top 10.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT