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Luza Scores Podium Finish on Backup Power Supply

Photo by Justin Melillo

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

A third-place finish for Ryan Luza at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway almost didn’t happen if it wasn’t for a generator and an emergency power supply.

The driver of the virtual No. 4 XSET Gaming Ford Mustang started the 250-lap eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event in seventh. However, the veteran iRacing driver and real-life Late Model driver was forced to compete using power from a backup generator. The race on Tuesday, September 14 came just days after Hurricane Nicholas made landfall. Although Luza’s Cypress, TX home was relatively unscathed, a blown transformer knocked out power to his community.

The generator that Luza relied on was from his Late Model racing days. With help from his father, he was able to run off of the backup power supply. Without power, Luza had to deal with constant heat, sim racing in the dark, with the emergency power pack beeping every few minutes. Despite the obstacles, Luza finished the eNASCAR race unscathed after avoiding several accidents in third.

“We lost power at 3:00 a.m. (Tuesday) night, and I figured it would be back on by now,” admitted Luza. “The storm (Hurricane Nicholas) really missed us. I’m not really sure what happened. I heard the transformer blow last night. We thought it was going the be really bad because the eye of the storm was supposed to come through here. 

“We’re just always prepared, and we had the generator from when we used to race Late Models. It always went with us to the track. Very thankful we have this setup. If it wasn’t for my dad didn’t setup all of this, I wouldn’t be racing tonight, let alone top-three. Definitely worth it.” 

Despite a win earlier in the season, Luza just missed the eNASCAR playoffs. He was bounced out of the playoffs after a run of bad luck that culminated with Matt Bussa earning the last spot on the playoff grid with a win at the virtual Michigan International Speedway.

“We get these finishes that we deserve,” explained Luza. “It’s nice to finally get away from that top-20 bubble, especially going into Talladega. If we get a top-20 at ‘Dega we’ll be in the series next year.”

The top-five finish at Bristol launched Luza up the points standings. He is tied with Corey Vincent for 14th in the standings. Before the one-race drop, Luza has a 45-point gap over the relegation bubble, currently held by Ray Alfalla. 

Luza’s third-place finish, along with his XSET teammate Casey Kirwan finishing sixth, leaves the team 57-points behind 23XI Racing in the points standings. With two races to go, there is still a chance mathematically that the duo can pull off the upset, despite not being in the eNASCAR playoffs, and bring XSET the team title in their first season as a team.

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