Another new addition to the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule for the 2023 season came just recently when it was revealed that the 11th race would no longer be Watkins Glen International, but instead, the inaugural race in the series at the Chicago Street Course.
Two years ago, the track made its debut on the iRacing platform as some sort of test in the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series. After scanning Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, over by Soldier Field, iRacing was able to turn the streets into a functional racetrack. Further revisions have this track making a real-world debut this weekend.
Last season, the older version of the track hosted the eNASCAR All-Star event (which mind you, there weren’t too many big updates from the initial scan to what will actually race in the real-world). Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) won that event over Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Mitchell deJong.
Two weeks ago at Gateway
In more recent racing history, two weeks ago, the series saw another rookie winner at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Jordy Lopez (Team Dillon Esports) moved Garrett Manes (FGR Accel eRacing) on older tires from the lead in Turn 2, then proceeded to hold off Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) on better tires at the line.
The margin of victory was 0.006 seconds, making it one of the closest finishes in series history. Lopez joins Conti, his teammate Tucker Minter, Zalenski, Wilson and the defending champion Casey Kirwan (XSET) now as a winner on the season. Four more spots remain in the 2023 Playoffs.
Manes, on the other hand, was relegated to a poor finish following the incident that made his chance at pointing in much harder. Manes is now 40 points below 10th place Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) with only four races to go until those playoffs begin.
Race 10 at WWT Raceway at Gateway – Top 10 Results
|1||8||3||Jordy Lopez||Team Dillon Esports||124 LAPS||1||40|
|2||7||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||+0.004 secs||7||35|
|3||13||11||Parker White||Kanaan Esports||+0.588 secs||0||34|
|4||14||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver Esports||+0.851 secs||0||33|
|5||9||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||+1.143 secs||0||32|
|6||22||43||Femi Olatunbosun||Charlotte Phoenix||+1.262 secs||0||31|
|7||6||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Racing||+1.342 secs||4||30|
|8||11||38||Michael Cosey Jr||Front Row Motorsports||+1.859 secs||0||29|
|9||38||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||+2.046 secs||3||28|
|10||17||20||Wyatt Tinsley||Kansas City Pioneers||+2.590 secs||0||27|
From All-Star to an eNASCAR points event
in last season’s All-Star event, Steven Wilson showed out and showed out big. While Mitchell deJong was a threat through the night, Wilson played the gimmicks right, scoring an invert for the main event that put him in prime position to succeed.
Bobby Zalenski gave Wilson everything he had, but Wilson was able to hold on for the win, one that didn’t count towards points but did pad his wallet a bit with a worthy prize.
Now, it’s a crucial point in the crosshairs of the 2023 season. Will Wilson go back to back to lock his spot in the 2023 Playoffs for good? Can Zalenski get the one-up this time around? How about the other road course do-gooders like Conti, Kirwan, Bowlin and Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports)?
Who to watch for
Anyone who has been mentioned to this point so far is one to watch, except for deJong of course since he’s no longer in the series.
Wilson will be an easy favorite, but with his pace somewhat off from where it was in 2022, Zalenski will likely be the one to take it unless something happens. Manes is looking for redemption, and will looking to get a top finish no matter the cost.
Lopez, Minter, Kirwan, Bowlin, Conti and Ottinger are all great picks too. I’d even throw Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports) into the mix if he was racing from the comfort of his own home. He’ll be racing live from the Navy Pier as part of the weekend hype-up, however, so unfamiliarity might play a factor.
Playoff Seeding after Race #10 at WWT Raceway at Gateway
|1||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||312||WIN||2||6||6|
|2||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||248||WIN||2||4||5|
|4||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||199||WIN||2||2||4|
|5||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||273||WIN||1||3||5|
|6||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||199||WIN||1||1||3|
|7||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||257||+41||0||4||5|
|8||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||256||+40||0||2||6|
|9||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||249||+33||0||4||6|
|10||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||248||+32||0||4||7|
|11||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||216||-32||0||1||5|
|12||12||Garrett Manes||FGR Accel eRacing||208||-40||0||2||5|
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 Chicago event.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|11||27-Jun||Chicago Street Course||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|