The third race of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season takes to Atlanta Motor Speedway for 100 laps of intermediate action. As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to a newly reconfigured Atlanta thanks to the help of the iRacing sim, the eNASCAR oval stars will still be on the older edition of the venue as the new track has still not been released.
Last week, Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) was victorious at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Conti held off a charge from William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger in a battle of the former series champs. XSET’s Ryan Luza, another champ and a four-time winner at Vegas, finished fourth in a three-wide battle to the line with his teammate Casey Kirwan and the eventual third place finisher, Charlotte Phoenix’s Graham A. Bowlin.
Heading into Atlanta, only Conti and Clint Bowyer Racing’s Femi Olatunbosun have wins to “lock” themselves into the playoffs. However, if the series gets more than 10 winners during the regular season like what happened in 2021, or if either driver falls out of the Top 20 in the standings, that “lock” is null and voided.
ATLANTA COKE SERIES HISTORY
Atlanta returns to the series schedule for the 10th time since the inaugural season in 2010. In that inaugural year, it was the 15th race on the schedule, and for most seasons, the race comes towards the end of the year. This year, it’s one of the opening acts, and Logan Clampitt (William Byron eSports) will be looking to go back to back.
Clampitt, along with Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports), are previous winners at the track. In fact, they’re the three most recent winners, as Steve Sheehan (2010), John Gorlinsky (2011 and 2012), Joey Brown (2013), Thomas Lewandowski (2014) and Jake Stergios (2016) are not currently in the series.
Last season, Clampitt managed a 1-2 finish with Ottinger for William Byron eSports. Given recent history, if you work together with Ottinger in some form or fashion and he’s in the mix, chances are you might be able to control the event. They had it under wraps until an unfortunate wreck at Daytona, and of course last week, Ottinger finished runner-up to his backend teammate at Team Conti, Michael Conti.
WHAT LAS VEGAS TAUGHT US
The sample size is still small for the NASCAR NEXT Gen racecars, but now we have a 1.5-mile track to look back on. Las Vegas was an interesting study, as the cream rose to the top and the mid-pack was a scary place to be. Clampitt found misfortune last week running towards the front, this week he’ll look to stay ahead of the chaos.
There has been an update since the last race that many Coke Series drivers were anticipating. Most alluded to upcoming aero changes even though the build notes didn’t directly mention it. Whether Atlanta is a pack race or not is still yet to be seen.
As for the ones to watch, I do think that the Team Conti backend drivers (Bussa, Clampitt, Conti, Ottinger) will be strong as they’ve been all season. XSET drivers Luza and Kirwan have shown pace all season and should be in the mix. Garrett Manes (Elliott Sadler Esports), Blake Reynolds (Jim Beaver Esports) and Jimmy Mullis are all quietly in the Top 5 in the points as well.
I expect Alfalla to also be a factor having been competitive in most of the recent Atlanta races. Alfalla leads all statistical categories of current drivers in the series. Also, where are the 23XI Racing drivers Keegan Leahy and Mitchell deJong? Neither have had a great start to 2022 but I wouldn’t count either of them out at any skill track.
WHERE TO WATCH
The race itself will kickoff at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 1:00 a.m. GMT following the pre-race festivities, which kick off a half-hour earlier. The Countdown to Green begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 12:30 a.m. GMT featuring Camille Salazar Hadaway, Alan Cavanna and Brandon Kettelle. Once the race kicks off, you’ll hear the voices of Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless and James Pike down on pit road.
POINTS ENTERING RACE #3 – ATLANTA
|1||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||73 pts – WIN||2||2|
|2||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||67 pts – WIN||1||2|
|3||31||Garrett Manes||Elliott Sadler Esports||65 pts||1||2|
|4||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||57 pts||0||1|
|5||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||56 pts||1||1|
|6||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||55 pts||1||1|
|7||4||Ryan Luza||XSET||52 pts||1||1|
|8||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||49 pts||1||1|
|8||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||49 pts||0||0|
|8||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas eSports||49 pts||0||1|
2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|15-Mar-22||3||Atlanta Motor Speedway||100|
|12-Apr-22||5||Bristol Motor Speedway DIRT||25/120|
|26-Apr-22||6||Dover Motor Speedway||120|
|24-May-22||8||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|31-May-22||9||World Wide Technology Raceway||120|
|16-Aug-22||13||Watkins Glen Int’l||35|
|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|