eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series kicks off COTA week on Tuesday

Justin Melillo
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series kicks off COTA week Tuesday

On Tuesday night, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will visit the Circuit of the Americas for Round 8 of the 2021 season. This is the first trip for the series to the virtual venue in Austin, Texas, and is the first of three road course races in the next six races on the schedule. 

Originally designed to play host as the sole Formula 1 race for the United States annually, Circuit of the Americas is a 3.427-mile / 5.515-kilometer circuit that has a total of 20 turns on the Grand Prix layout. The venue was added to the iRacing service in 2014, and for the first time in 2021, it will play host to a triple-header NASCAR weekend preceded by two virtual races tonight and tomorrow. 

As far as the Coke Series is concerned, there have been seven different winners in seven races so far this season, and if history proves to repeat itself, we may be looking at adding an eighth name to that list, but it’s not as simple as it used to be. 

On the current roster, nobody has been more successful at road racing in the series than Bobby Zalenski, driver of the No. 83 VRS Chevy for LETARTE Esports. Zalenski hasn’t not led a lap at a road course since the pit cycle in 2018 when the series raced at Sonoma Raceway. He’s collected a perfect six straight victories since entering the series in 2017, and before this year, it was always the question of who would finish second. 

This year, however, Zalenski’s VRS Coanda Simsport teammate on the backend might have something to say about that. Enter Mitchell deJong, driver of the No. 23 23XI Toyota, the fellow currently with the second highest iRating on Road, only behind Max Benecke. Just a few weeks ago, deJong just wrapped up his 2021 Porsche Tag Heuer Esports SuperCup season with a runner up finish in the overall standings.

Looking at the road license alone, deJong has won more than he has lost in official racing (266 wins, 232 non-wins). One of those wins came at the highest level in the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series at Circuit of the Americas in 2015.

Bobby Zalenski finding a groove early could be trouble for the rest of the field.

Objectively, the edge should go to Zalenski for his knowledge and precision of stock cars on road tracks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see deJong give him a run for the win, or even for him to bring domination to a whole new level. 

Other eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series winners at road courses include a pair of Team Conti teammates, Michael Conti (Watkins Glen, 2014) and Nick Ottinger (Watkins Glen, 2015). PJ Stergios, who is no longer in the series, won the Watkins Glen race in 2016, and was the last driver to win a road event before Zalenski showed up in 2017. 

The virtual show kicks off at 8:30 p.m. EDT with the iRacing Countdown to Green, and the main show gets going at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The event is scheduled for 45 laps and will likely only have local yellow flags. Tune in to any of iRacing’s social channels (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook) or visit eNASCAR.com/live to watch the broadcast. 

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