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eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski snipes Talladega win, locks into Championship 4

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

Bobby Zalenski was able to steal the victory from both Collin Bowden and Casey Kirwan at the wire to clinch his spot in the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship 4.

Talladega Superspeedway provided another new winner for the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series campaign in the form of a Playoff driver now locked into the Championship 4.

Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) is our new winner, the only Playoff driver in the field previously without a win, and now he’s the only driver with a win that allows him to race for a title this season.

“Mr. Championship 4” has a nice ring to it. Zalenski is the only driver since the inception of the eNASCAR Playoffs to make what is now his fifth of six Championship 4 ballots. He’s looking for that win, however, and he’ll get yet another crack at it on stage in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on 25th October.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

The win itself, the 11th of his career and first at Talladega Superspeedway, came in absolutely dramatic form. Multiple tenths behind the duo of Collin Bowden (eRacr) and Casey Kirwan (XSET) exiting Turn 4, the two in front beat each other’s doors down coming to the line.

Zalenski would capitalize, stealing it from them both, winning by only 0.024 seconds over Bowden. Kirwan wound up third, the highest in the rest of the playoff field.

CONTROLLED CHAOS

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

The night started off in a chaotic, yet seemingly organized fashion. Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) took the pole position, but he never did get to lead a single lap.

Instead, Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing), Ryan Luza (XSET), Kirwan, Kollin Keister (Charlotte Phoenix) and finally Bowden would trade off the lead in the first 10 laps or so.

Logan Clampitt (William Byron Esports), Darik Bourdeau (eRacr), Liam Brotherton (Elliott Sadler Esports), Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing), Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports), Dylan Ault (LETARTE Esports), and Malik Ray (iRacing Motorsports) all found themselves leading at one point or another in the opening stint.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

The race was able to make it to green flag pit stops, caution free to that point. Kirwan led the first pack all the way until Cody Byus (Mode Motorsport) made his stop a few laps later, completing the cycle. Only Corey Vincent (Team Dillon Esports) went a lap down during the cycle.

New players were found in Allen Boes (Spacestation Racing), Michael Guest (Jim Beaver Esports), Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) and Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Esports), but when Kaden Honeycutt (RFK Racing) spun without a caution with 25 to go, the entropy became unpredicatable.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

UNCONTROLLED CHAOS

Soon after, Olatunbosun was moved into the wall, but he spectacularly saved it. Laps later, it all came undone as Brotherton, Ault, Olatunbosun and more were collected in the first caution of the night with just over 15 laps to go.

Cautions, or rather, chaos bred even more chaos, which led to more cautions. With the laps running down, the organization found in the first half was thrown out the window – it was go time, and all 40 wanted to go.

Caution no. 2 saw Nickolas Shelton (Clint Bowyer Racing) flip multiple times in the tri-oval ballfield. Olatunbosun and Mitchell deJong were also collected in the fracas. On the next restart, another caution, this time after Wilson had connection issues and the field around him, including Ottinger, Boes and more, were flung all around.

Zalenski, patiently waiting until it was time to go, finally went on the restart with three laps remaining. Off of Turn 4, he was clipped by a spinning Clampitt… and somehow Zalenski managed to keep it from hitting the wall, maintaining his position in the running order in the process.

The final restart came within eNASCAR Overtime. Ray, Guest, Bowden, Kirwan, Zalenski, Keister and Ault had managed to split the Top 7 away from Honeycutt and the rest of the field, eighth on back. Bowden made the move, Kirwan tucked right in behind, and they blew past and into the lead.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

Zalenski followed in the draft trail, taking third while the others were swallowed up by the Honeycutt pack. Off of Turn 4, Zalenski looked to be way too far behind. Then Kirwan and Bowden started slamming one another. It was enough that Zalenski was able capitalize and win.

…YOU MAY NEED A CALCULATOR

“Due to an issue with automated race control in the Bristol event, each driver will receive a drop race from within the first three playoff rounds. The worst score from Bristol, Talladega, or Homestead will be dropped for both playoff and non-playoff drivers.”

That’s what was explained in a release by iRacing on Monday night, which means that the points become a little more convoluted with one race left to decide the Championship 4.

Zalenski will race for a title no matter what happens in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The other nine, well, it’s complicated. If all nine drivers finished 32nd through 40th, it would basically stay unchanged from what the current standings are as the finale would become their drop week.

Between Bristol and Talladega though, each of the drivers have a race that they are looking to improve upon to make their way in as either one of two or three possible points entries into the title race.

For the guys around the line separated by one or two points assuming the drop, like Bowlin, Kirwan, Lowe and Wilson, they need to forget their lower finish ever existed and they need to all race straight up. For Conti and Ottinger, a points berth is not out of the question, but they’ll need some help to get there.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

As for Bussa, Olatunbosun and deJong, they’ll all likely need a win at Homestead-Miami. A point-in situation isn’t impossible for the trio, but it will be very unlikely given the level of competition.

NEXT UP: EXPECTED MIAMI VICES

The penultimate race of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season is the final race in the Playoff Round of 10. Nine drivers will enter, only three will move on with a chance to race at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to win the 2022 Championship.

Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 11th October to see how the final battle in the 2022 Playoffs plays out. The event will kick off with the Countdown to Green for a half-hour before the main cast starts at 9:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing Social Channels.

RACE #16 – TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPOINTS
12718Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing73 LAPS140
23469Collin BowdeneRacr+0.024 secs1335
31395Casey KirwanXSET+0.058 secs834
44017Kaden HoneycuttRFK Racing+0.383 secs133
5148Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix+0.414 secs032
62988Briar LaPraddJR Motorsports+0.436 secs031
7107Malik RayiRacing Motorsports+0.441 secs1130
83320Donovan StraussWilliams Esports+0.449 secs029
93236Brian MercurioLETARTE Esports+0.494 secs028
102415Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver Esports+0.496 secs227
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER RACE #16 – TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMWINSPOINTST5’sT10’s
118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing1LOCKED47
248Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix1+1777
395Casey KirwanXSET1+8610
48Michael ContiJR Motorsports2+346
521Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing1-325
610Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports3-5710
725Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports2-1058
875Matt BussaMode Motorsports1-1728
979Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing1-1836
1023Mitchell deJong23XI Racing1-2834
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #16 – TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY

POSCAR #’sTEAMMANUF.POINTSBEHINDTEAM WINS
19 | 15Jim Beaver EsportsFORD714LEADER0
24 | 95XSETCHEVY712-22
310 | 41Stewart-Haas EsportsFORD702-123
418 | 51Joe Gibbs RacingTOYOTA648-662
524 | 75Mode MotorsportsFORD624-901
65 | 46Rise eSportsCHEVY616-980
743 | 48Charlotte PhoenixTOYOTA590-1241
88 | 88JR MotorsportsCHEVY589-1252
923 | 4523XI RacingTOYOTA583-1311
1019 | 20Williams EsportsTOYOTA570-1440
William Byron Esports has two wins, Wood Brothers Racing and Clint Bowyer Racing both have a win this season.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe

RACE #16 – TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY – BOX SCORE:

  • Four cautions for 13 laps
  • 33 lead changes among 22 drivers (Pole Sitter Graham Bowlin did NOT lead a lap)
  • Most laps led: #69 Collin Bowden (13 laps)
  • Fastest lap: Lap 41, #97 Logan Clampitt (48.278 seconds)
  • Rookie of the race: #69 Collin Bowden (2nd)

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA ColiseumCasey Kirwan25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l SpeedwayFemi Olatunbosun80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayMichael Conti100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor SpeedwaySteven Wilson100
29-Mar-224Richmond RacewayMichael Conti130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRTNick Ottinger25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor SpeedwayNick Ottinger120
10-May-227Kansas SpeedwayGarrett Lowe100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor SpeedwayMatt Bussa100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway Graham A. Bowlin120
21-Jun-2210Nashville SuperspeedwayRay Alfalla100
05-Jul-2211Road AmericaSteven Wilson25
19-Jul-2212Pocono RacewayCasey Kirwan60
02-Aug-22~All-Star~Chicago Street CourseSteven Wilson12-8-16
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen Int’lMitchell deJong45
30-Aug-2214Darlington RacewaySteven Wilson120
13-Sep-22PO1 | 15Bristol Motor SpeedwayRyan Luza175
27-Sep-22PO2 | 16Talladega SuperspeedwayBobby Zalenski70
11-Oct-22PO3 | 17Homestead-Miami Speedway100
25-Oct-22C4F | 18Phoenix Raceway110
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