Bowman makes it 3 straight for Hendrick with virtual victory

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2020, file photo, Alex Bowman waves to fans during driver introductions before the first of two Daytona 500 qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Bowman scored his first iRacing victory of NASCAR's invitational series by holding off Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish at virtual Talladega Superspeedway. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2020, file photo, Alex Bowman waves to fans during driver introductions before the first of two Daytona 500 qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Bowman scored his first iRacing victory of NASCAR's invitational series by holding off Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish at virtual Talladega Superspeedway. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Talladega Superspeedway wasn't immune from “The Big One” or a typical overtime finish, even in virtual racing.

Alex Bowman scored his first iRacing victory of NASCAR's invitational series by holding off Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish at virtual Talladega in Alabama. The victory is the third consecutive for Hendrick Motorsports, which got back-to-back wins from William Byron headed into Sunday's esports event.

“I’m legitimately confused how this happened,” Bowman quipped on Twitter. Since the league launched in late March, Bowman has used his Twitter feed to entertain followers with witty remarks about the racing. He sometimes allows his dog to sit in the seat of his simulator.

Garrett Smithley finished fourth and Landon Cassill fifth as less-heralded drivers continue to use the iRacing platform to gain attention. Byron and Brennan Poole were sixth and seventh as Chevrolet drivers claimed six of the top seven spots.

It took just 16 laps for the multicar accident that is a trademark of Talladega racing. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was leading — not all that unusual for superspeedway racing — when he misjudged a block on Ty Dillon. That happens frequently because of Stenhouse's aggressive style when live racing at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, and his block misfired and triggered a massive crash.

The race was the virtual debut for Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who raced on a rig he borrowed from Clint Bowyer's son, Cash. Gordon was part of the crash but was able to use his one allotted reset to resume competing. He needed the quick fix after his famous No. 24 Chevrolet sailed into the fence.

Because Gordon typically calls the races alongside Mike Joy, he was replaced in the Fox booth this week by Michael Waltrip.

Fox's in-race reporter Bowyer had his race ended by a blown engine for the second consecutive week. He was racing for the lead, pushing Bowman, when the engine virtually overheated.