After a thrilling finish, Malik Ray scored the victory in the eTruck Series Night in America Rumble at Richmond. Ray held off fellow eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series campaigners Zack Novak and Jimmy Mullis during a frenetic run to the checkered flag to take the win.
Ray had cycled to the front of the field using pit strategy, then held off advances by the likes of eNASCAR champions Novak and Ray Alfalla in the closing laps to secure the victory in his Rowdy Energy No. 54.
Having to fight for the lead over several late restarts, Ray tried to change up his strategies with each race reset to maintain the lead.
“I just kept going late. I was trying to make sure, when we’d have those yellows, I'd change when I was going," said Ray on the broadcast. "At the end, I was side-by-side with Zack and he got hit into three. That allowed me to get the run off the exit because he got sent.”
While he was able to maintain control of the top spot throughout the final stretch, the nerves were definitely high for Ray as he inched closer to the finish.
“I was pretty nervous the entire time. I would tell myself going into the turns not to overdrive and do anything dumb to make it easy for them. I just kept telling myself to be smooth, and it paid off in the end.”
Going against a field stacked with both eNASCAR stars as well as real-world racers such of great acclaim, it was a big win on a major platform for Ray.
“Huge, huge, huge. It means a lot. There were a lot of big names in this event, so to come out on top, it means a lot.”
Novak, the winner of the first eTruck Series Night in America event at Atlanta, finished second, closing in on Ray but ultimately coming up just short as the checkered flag flew.
“I just ran out of time," said Novak. "I got really close there on the last lap. If I had one or two more laps, I think it would have been able to make it happen."
Novak had pulled alongside Ray for the lead with six laps to go, but contact with Alfalla led to Novak sliding out of turn four and losing ground on Ray. That proved crucial in the finish, as Novak was unable to close the gap on Ray a second time.
"Unfortunately, I got sent there and it just takes too long to recover from that," said Novak. "It took me a few laps to even be able to get single file and start chasing Malik down. There just wasn’t enough time.”
Jimmy Mullis finished third, a benefactor of some of the late-race chaos.
“Everybody just started stacking up like crazy," said Mullis. "I have no idea what they were doing, people were just going everywhere on restarts. Fortunately I was able to capitalize on that and get close to the front at the end.
“It gets really nerve-wracking, especially when you’re racing against guys who are successful on this service, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Casey Kirwan finished fourth in the race, while Ryan Doucette rounded out the top five.
Fans who missed the eTruck Series Night in America Rumble at Richmond can click here to watch a replay of the race.
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor - Twitter: @ztevans