The playoffs for the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season begins on Tuesday night (13th September) with the first race of the Round of 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Two weeks ago, Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) scored his third win of the season at Darlington Raceway.
The playoff field would also be set with Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) earning the final playoff spot over Blake Reynolds (Jim Beaver Esports) by only five points. Ten drivers will now enter the next three races with a chance to be one of the four that will fight for the 2022 Championship.
Zalenski and Wilson will go to battle against Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Casey Kirwan (XSET), Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports), Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing), Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix), Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing) and Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing).
IT’S BRISTOL, BABY
The Last Great Colosseum, Bristol Motor Speedway returns to the eNASCAR schedule for the sixth season of competition on the concrete surface. This is, however, the second trip to Bristol this season as they ran on the dirt back in the Spring. Ottinger scored his first of two wins on the dirt surface back in April.
Now, the dirt is gone and we’re back on the concrete this evening. In the five previous concrete Bristol battles there have been five different winners. The track was on the original schedule and the second season. 2010 Series Champion Richard Towler won it in 2010 and Thomas Hazard won it in 2011.
The series didn’t return to the venue until 2019. Kirwan would take that win that season. Ryan Luza (XSET) won it in 2020 and last year, Series Champion Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) scored the win that took him to the title race that season.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
This season, Kirwan is the only past winner racing for a title. That win was his first career, and it could be his ticket to make his way to the title battle at Phoenix Raceway later this season. Kirwan will have to contend with his Deadzone Racing teammates, the undisputed Top Seed of the Playoffs, Wilson, as well as Bowlin and Olatunbosun.
Concrete, however, seems to be Ottinger’s wheelhouse on this sim. Sure, Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) won the Nashville trip back in June, but the other concrete battle went to Ottinger at Dover back in April. Ottinger has the dirt win earlier this year and will be looking to sweep the Bristol battle in 2022.
If the real-world playoffs are any indication, non-playoff drivers still have something to prove in the remainder of the schedule. Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace both won so far in the NASCAR Cup Series, yet neither are racing for the title. With that in mind, I don’t see why that doesn’t mean Leahy or Luza can’t score a second win at the circuit.
WHERE TO WATCH
The race itself will kickoff at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST following the pre-race festivities, which kick off a half-hour earlier. The Countdown to Green begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST with the race itself starting at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and even more familiar voices from the industry will be there to bring you all the action.
The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing social channels.
POINTS ENTERING RACE #15 – DARLINGTON RACEWAY
|1||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||3||2009||7||9|
|2||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||2||-3||5||8|
|3||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||2||-3||4||6|
|5||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||1||-6||2||8|
|6||23||Mitchell deJong||23XI Racing||1||-6||3||4|
|7||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||1||-6||6||6|
|8||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||1||-6||3||6|
|9||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||1||-6||1||4|
|10||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||0||-9||3||6|
2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|13-Sep-22||PO1 | 15||Bristol Motor Speedway||175|
|27-Sep-22||PO2 | 16||Talladega Superspeedway||70|
|11-Oct-22||PO3 | 17||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|
|25-Oct-22||C4F | 18||Phoenix Raceway||110|