The sim racing series with the shortest off-season is back in action tonight! Unofficially, the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season begins with a bit of an exhibition. For the second straight season, the 40 best eNASCAR oval racing drivers will take to the L.A. Coliseum for the eNASCAR Clash.
Following one of the more tame Free Agency periods in series history, 20 teams of two drivers a piece will be participating tonight in specialized paint schemes. These IROC-style schemes will help us learn who is in the series, who they are racing for and what manufacturer is on the nose piece.
Of course, all 40 drivers won’t be able to get on the tiny track at once, so the race will be broken into heats and mains, all to set the A-Main field which will be a 70 lap feature.
QUICK OFF-SEASON RECAP
Following the conclusion of the eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series to close out 2022, the 40-driver roster was all but set for the 2023 Coke season. 18 drivers of the 20 that finished above the 2022 Coke cut line would be returning to the fold. Both Blake Reynolds and Mitchell deJong turned in their eNASCAR licenses.
That meant that the Top 22 from the Contender Series standings would get an invite to either move up or move back into the series. In that list of 22, there are nine brand-new rookies, 10 drivers who were relegated from 2022 and fought back, and three drivers from previous seasons who worked back up the Road to Pro ladder.
For the drivers coming back into the series, there weren’t too many moves besides the ones necessary if their prior teams didn’t return. Perhaps the biggest moves of the off-season belong to Michael Guest now at 23XI Racing, Garrett Manes moving to FGR Accel, Corey Vincent now with the Pittsburgh Knights, Kollin Keister now with eRacr and Dark Bourdeau moving over to Elliott Sadler Esports.
Once all the invites had been sorted, the 40 drivers entered Free Agency, came to agreements among the 20 official teams, 36 of them travelled to Charlotte for Media and Production days, and now to close out the month, they’ll be repping their new or existing teams in a non-points race on Tuesday night.
OUR SECOND TRIP TO LA
This will be the second time the eNASCAR league has visited the temporary track built inside of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in California. Last season, it was all about the uniqueness and new-track-smell that came with the pomp and circumstance.
New car, new track, new crop of drivers, and these eNASCAR pros were going to get to do an official event on it before the NASCAR Cup Series stars would even get to make a lap. As it turns out, the same thing will occur again this year, except the track on iRacing has been updated since, plus the real-world version has been torn down and put back together again since as well.
The track exists in part due to iRacing, the developers being able to build such a thing based on laser scan data of the L.A. Coliseum to fit in the dimensions of the stadium and so on and so forth. Before the asphalt was even laid down in the historic facility, it was up to eNASCAR pros to test drive it and make sure it would be a viable racing track in the real-world.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
It is just an exhibition race, but if we can learn anything from last year in both the NASCAR Cup Series AND eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, it was that winning the Clash meant also winning the championship. Both Joey Logano and Casey Kirwan completed this task successfully in 2022.
Last season, Kirwan held off the likes of Michael Conti, Mitchell deJong and Briar LaPradd to win the inaugural event. Once again, the Clash event will have heat racing and last chance qualifiers to set the grid, and a main event to win it all.
I would expect the short track specialists to be out in full force in the fixed setup event on Tuesday. Kirwan will be a tough man to beat as the defending winner and champion, but don’t count out Conti or even some of the new talent that’s coming into the series. Some dude named Michael Cosey Jr is really good at short ovals, if I recall correctly.
WHERE TO WATCH
The Countdown to Green starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. GMT to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know going into the event. The racing will go green shortly after 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. GMT with some 20 lap heat races.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|eNASCAR Clash at the LA Coliseum
|Daytona International Speedway
|The Milwaukee Mile
|Atlanta Motor Speedway
|Autodromo Nazionale Monza
|Las Vegas Motor Speedway
|Charlotte Motor Speedway
|World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway
|Watkins Glen International
|New Hampshire Motor Speedway
|15 – PO1
|Michigan International Speedway
|16 – PO2
|Dover Motor Speedway
|17 – PO3
|18 – C4