The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series returns for its 14th season this evening (14th February) with another season starting at the famed Daytona Int’l Speedway. Tonight’s race will be 80 laps long around the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Two weeks ago, the defending champion Casey Kirwan unofficially started the season with an eNASCAR Clash victory at the L.A. Coliseum. It was his second win in a row at the temporary racing facility in the real-world. It also eventually propelled him to winning the 2022 championship.
At the line, three-wide, it was Femi Olatunbosun scoring the Daytona victory over Garrett Manes and Steven Wilson.
Both Femi and Garrett find themselves in new places this year (Charlotte Phoenix and FGR Accel eRacing, respectively) while Wilson, who competed in the Championship 4 last season, will stay with Stewart-Haas Esports once again in 2023.
In fact, all four of the Championship 4 retained their same seats from a year ago. Graham Bowlin returns to the Charlotte Phoenix, Bobby Zalenski will drive the Joe Gibbs number 18 again, and the champ returns to XSET in his famed 95 machine.
Anyway, back to the race last season, it saw six cautions for 18 laps. Overtime was a factor and in total, there were 27 lead changes through the night. Nick Ottinger, who returns to William Byron Esports in 2023, led the most laps last season with 23.
One of the few tracks that’s been on every single eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series since its inception in 2010, Daytona has a rich history of winners to look back on. In fact, the very first race in the series took place at Daytona, and it was none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr (yes, THAT Dale Jr) who was the winner.
Former series drivers such as John Gorlinsky, Jeremy R Allen and Adam Gilliland have won there, as well as former champions no longer in the series such as Kenny Humpe and 4-Time Ray Alfalla.
(Side note, it still feels weird to refer to Ray as a former driver in the series.)
Winners that will be in the field include Allen Boes (Front Row Motorsports), Darik Bourdeau (Elliott Sadler Esports), Zalenski and Olatunboson, as well as a fierce group of champions such as Ottinger, Zack Novak (Rise Esports), Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) and Michael Conti (JR Motorsports).
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Both Kirwan and his XSET teammate Ryan Luza are winless at the historic venue, and will be the only two champions in the field looking to add eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Daytona victor to their resumé. They’ll both be a threat for the win, especially Kirwan who just celebrated a Podium 500 win last week.
Of course, basically anyone can win with the right strategy and setup, hence why so many have won it in the past. Barr Visuals FTF 500 winner Ryan Doucette could be a threat, as could Manes who nearly won it last season. Of course, Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) will be one to keep an eye on throughout the night.
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 for the 80 lap season opener.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|1||14-Feb||Daytona International Speedway||80|
|2||28-Feb||The Milwaukee Mile||100|
|3||14-Mar||Atlanta Motor Speedway||100|
|5||11-Apr||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||30|
|7||2-May||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||100|
|9||30-May||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|10||13-Jun||World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway||120|
|11||27-Jun||Watkins Glen International||45|
|13||25-Jul||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||101|
|15 – PO1||15-Aug||Michigan International Speedway||60|
|16 – PO2||29-Aug||Dover Motor Speedway||120|
|17 – PO3||12-Sep||Phoenix Raceway||120|
|18 – C4||26-Sep||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|