Jim Beaver eSports driver Garrett Lowe delivered the team its first-ever eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory on Tuesday night, scoring a statement win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in overtime in the #15 Big Green Egg Ford Mustang. Two weeks after being denied a win at Nashville Superspeedway while a driver on older tires put him into the wall, Lowe led 32 laps and survived multiple late-race restarts for wrecks in the back of the pack to lock himself into the 2023 playoffs.
Upset by the level of aggression in the finish at Nashville, both Lowe and teammate Malik Ray carried protest paint schemes in the race that harkened back to a moment in the 1996 NASCAR Cup Series. After driver Kyle Petty received a five-lap penalty for rough driving for an accident in Charlotte, SABCO Racing owner Felix Sabates, who felt that Dale Earnhardt wouldn’t have been penalized for the same move, reskinned Petty’s car for the next race at Dover to match Earnhardt’s colors. He also added the message “TODO ES JUSTO EN AMOR Y CARRERAS” (roughly, “all is fair in love and racing”) to the car.
Sabates’ refusal to feel pushed around sent a message throughout the sport, and the new look was just as impactful for JBE for the same reasons. Lowe was a factor all race long, finally taking the lead on Lap 74. While a flurry of late cautions kept the field bunched up, Lowe was masterful on restarts, always pulling out to a clear lead and leaving the field behind him. That was no more apparent than on the final restart, when the driver starting directly behind him had fresher tires—just as Lowe had in Nashville—but couldn’t come close to challenging for the victory.
“Congratulations to Garrett for earning the win that he deserved two weeks earlier and getting us into the playoffs for the first time,” said team owner Jim Beaver. “We made our statement to the eNASCAR community: it’s possible to get people talking a lot about a big win without having to put somebody in the wall to do it. It’s great to finally have an eNASCAR win under our belt after four years of trying, but I’m happiest that we did it by racing in a way that we as a team can be proud of. Now, we’re looking forward to trying to put Malik into the playoffs too at Pocono.”
Lowe is locked into the playoffs with his victory and a certain top-20 spot in points at the end of the regular season, while Ray and the #7 Jim Beaver’s Misadventure IPA Ford Mustang are fighting for one of the final remaining playoff spots. After a wreck late in the running at NHMS, Ray is ninth in the current standings with five top-fives and seven top-10s, but ranks third among drivers who have yet to win, and with eight winners so far, is currently the first driver on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Always a threat on big, fast tracks, he’ll look to make the most of the fixed-setup regular season finale at the wide-open Pocono Raceway next week. That race will air on Tuesday, August 1 at 9PM ET on eNASCAR.com/live.
Image via Nate Stewart/Apex Action Photography