The NASCAR Heat Pro League Championship consists of 14 teams of two competitors, one driver competing on an XBOX One console, a second competing on a Playstation 4. Both drivers contribute points to their team during the eight-race regular season and a four-race playoff.
Eight teams entered Wednesday night’s race at Kansas Speedway looking to advance to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Penske eSports led the teams into the second round of the playoffs, followed closely by Roush-Fenway Gaming, and Stewart-Haas Gaming. Levine Family Racing and Gibbs Gaming sat seven and six points ahead of JR Motorsports, the bubble team in the sixth position.
Sony Playstation 4 Race
It was a rough start for Stewart-Haas Gaming’s Bradyn Gritton (HotRod), who scored the pole for the Playstation 4 half of competition. After starting from the pole, he dropped back through the field and was involved in the race’s first caution. With a bunched-up field on the restart, Gritton was quickly able to race back to sixth by the halfway mark.
Leavine Family Racing’s PS4 representative, Josh Harbin (ThAbEaR) took over the lead from Gritton early and used the high line to hold off all challengers for much of the race. The groove favored the high side, forcing competitors to use slide jobs to make pass attempts. After a late-race restart, Josh Parker (Parker8171) took his Chip Ganassi Gaming Chevy to the point to earn his first-ever win in the NASCAR Heat Pro League.
Parker shared his motivation to score tonight’s win after not making the NASCAR Heat Pro League playoffs.
“I owe Elijah and Chip Ganassi and everybody this win,” he stated. “This season’s really not been what I’ve been looking forward to. I was feeling good about Vegas, just as good as Kansas. I owed them one; this is that one.”
On the NASCAR Heat Pro League stream, Parker seemed excited for the future.
“The new game (NASCAR Heat 4) fits my racing style from sim racing. I was going to show up to these last four races and give them my best. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. To be able to win in two different sim racing professional eSports is huge for me.”
Microsoft XBOX One Race
Stewart-Haas Gaming’s bad luck would continue in the XBOX One race, as polesitter Josh Shoemaker (Slick) was involved in an accident after falling back from the front row. Roush Fenway Gaming driver Nick Walker (WowTHATSgarbage) took the early lead, but was shuffled back following a caution, letting Leavine Family Racing’s Nicholas Vroman (HDMotorsports95) move to the point position. JTG Daugherty Throttlers racer Justin Brooks (mrTRACKBAR) used a slide job halfway through the feature to steal the lead from Vroman.
With 20 to go, JR Motorsports driver Tyler Dohar (Dohar88) and Brooks swapped the lead back and forth before pit strategy became a factor. Wood Brothers Gaming racer Casey Gromme (xCasey16x) kicked off green flag pit stops, short pitting before his competitors. Dohar stretched his run two laps longer than Brooks and was able to use his fresher tires to drive past Brooks for the lead.
A wreck with five laps to go reset the field for a race to the checkers. Dohar used a push from Gibbs Gaming driver Daniel Buttafuoco (TheBolt) on the restart to get ahead of Brooks and seal his first career NASCAR Heat Pro League win.
It was an emotional win for the JR Motorsports driver from Ohio.
“It’s been quite a season, quite a journey. We worked on this set up every single night after I qualified. I was so mad I qualified 11th, I was beating myself up. We put the work in, we put our heads together, we made it work.”
Dohar told the NASCAR Heat Pro League stream that he wanted to be more than a points racer.
“It’s surreal to finally win one of these things. I kept saying I wanted to be a points racer. Zane always tells me, ‘No, you’re like the Matt Kenseth of the Pro League, you’re going to point your way into the final four.’ I wanted to win one of these things so bad.”
Final Six Head to Homestead-Miami
Following the race at Kansas, the six teams that will compete at Homestead-Miami Speedway were finalized. Team Penske eSports leads the field on points, followed by Stewart-Haas Gaming. JR Motorsports moved up from the bubble with Dohar’s win at Kansas, securing third place. Roush Fenway Gaming, Leavine Familing Gaming, and Gibbs Gaming round out the top six. Missing out on their playoff opportunity is GoFas Gaming and Wood Brothers Gaming, who join the JTG Daugherty Throttlers and Germain Gaming, both of which were eliminated after the first-round Las Vegas race.
The six remaining teams will race to be one of the final four teams that will compete at a “wild card” track to be determined to win the inaugural NASCAR Heat Pro League Championship.
Tune in for the third round of the NASCAR Heat Pro League on October 9, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. ET to see who will race for the championship. Fans can tune in on Twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/704nascarheat, NASCAR’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NASCAR/, or at NASCAR.com.
To order your copy of NASCAR heat today, visit https://nascarheat.com/.
-Story by: Patrick Hahe, Speed51.com Regional Editor
-Photo credit: NASCAR Heat / 704Games