Halfway through the entirety of the 2023 season for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, with only five races until the eNASCAR Playoffs, the 40 best oval iRacers head to St. Louis, specifically World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, for the 10th race on the calendar.
Through nine races, there have been five winners, the most recent being the rookie Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) who scored his second victory of the season and career in only nine career starts. The win also allowed for he and his teammate Jordy Lopez to extend their point lead in the Team Standings.
Minter joined Points Leader and 2014 Series Champion Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Defending Series Champion Casey Kirwan (XSET) and Mr. Championship 4 Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) on the list of two-time winners this season. Talk about good company. Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Racing) also has a lone win.
Two weeks ago at Charlotte
Benefitting from a decent starting position, Minter kept his name in the hat throughout the entirety of the Coca-Cola 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, looking at a possible Top 5 or better when suddenly, he was the leader.
Just ahead, Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports) and Casey Kirwan were going hard for the lead, neither willing to give an inch. Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports) gave it a shot, taking the lead momentarily before falling back. Behind, both Bobby Zalenski and Corey Vincent (Pittsburgh Knights) were there on a two tire call.
Also on four tires was Garrett Manes (FGR Accel eRacing) and after Mullis and Kirwan wrecked out, it was Minter and Manes on the front row. Manes gave Minter a shot on the final lap, but Minter held on for the victory.
Race 9 at Charlotte – Top 10 Results
|1||7||33||Tucker Minter||Team Dillon Esports||103 LAPS||7||40|
|2||20||12||Garrett Manes||FGR Accel eRacing||+0.178 secs||0||35|
|3||6||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||+0.191 secs||14||34|
|4||12||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||+0.528 secs||1||33|
|5||5||2||Corey Vincent||Pittsburgh Knights||+0.533 secs||35||32|
|6||37||55||Vicente Salas||Williams Esports||+0.677 secs||0||31|
|7||17||42||Kollin Keister||eRacr||+0.689 secs||0||30|
|8||25||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||+0.769 secs||0||29|
|9||4||38||Michael Cosey Jr||Front Row Motorsports||+0.788 secs||0||28|
|10||11||3||Jordy Lopez||Team Dillon Esports||+0.821 secs||0||27|
Second race at WWT Raceway in series history
This is only the second time in eNASCAR history that the Coke Series will take on the egg-shaped 1.25-mile oval in St. Louis. Last season was the first, and the spoils belonged to Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) as he scored his second career win.
Bowlin was able to outlast Zack Novak (Rise Esports) for the win, as well as Logan Clampitt, Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) and Ryan Luza (XSET) who rounded out the Top 5.
One of the more unique venues that’s been added in recent years, the track formerly known just as Gateway includes a heavy braking zone into a slow Turn 1, where you’ll need to keep your momentum up to get a good run off of Turn 2. It’s not as heavy into Turn 3, but it’s also more carousel-like as it connects back to the long straight.
Who to watch for
Looking for his first win of 2023 to secure his place in the race for the title, Bowlin will also be aiming for back-to-back wins at the venue. He hasn’t quite had the season he’s hoped for while his Deadzone teammate Kirwan continues to rake in the spoils as of late.
Kirwan will also likely be a great pick, close two weeks at at Charlotte and a threat it seems every week. They’ll both have to go up against the powerhouse that has been Team Conti, drivers like Conti, Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Mullis and Bussa have been top runners nearly every week.
Another driver looking for that first win of the year is Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing). His qualifying pace has been extremely good, but his race finishes haven’t mirrored that. He sits outside the playoff picture after another uncharacteristic finish, likely needing a win for a run in the playoffs.
Playoff Seeding after Race #9 at Charlotte
|1||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||277||WIN||2||5||5|
|2||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||247||WIN||2||4||5|
|4||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||195||WIN||2||2||4|
|5||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||169||WIN||1||1||2|
|6||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||251||+50||0||4||5|
|7||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||233||+32||0||2||4|
|8||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||228||+27||0||4||6|
|9||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||227||+26||0||2||5|
|10||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||216||+15||0||3||6|
|11||12||Garrett Manes||FGR Accel eRacing||201||-15||0||2||5|
|12||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||188||-28||0||1||4|
Where to Watch
The Countdown to Green, now sponsored by Wendy’s, starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST 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. BST for the 120-lap event at Gateway.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|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|