The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will both visit Richmond Raceway this upcoming weekend, but first up, the eNASCAR pros get a crack at the ‘Action Track’.
With Daytona, Las Vegas and the old version of Atlanta in the rear-view mirror, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series moves into short track territory for the fourth race of the 2022 season. The 40-best oval sim racers on the iRacing service will take on Richmond Raceway on Tuesday night (29th March 2022). While the other races had room to spread out, Richmond Raceway will provide tight quarters racing.
That’s in part due to the size of the Richmond, Virginia venue. The D-shaped oval is only three-quarters of a mile in length, where every other track on this schedule had been over a mile and a half so far. 130 laps are on the card for Tuesday night, a decrease of 70 laps from last season and seasons past.
It will also be the first time since the rebranding of Richmond Raceway eSports, which is now Rise eSports, but with the same two drivers. The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will both visit Richmond Raceway this upcoming weekend, but first up, the eNASCAR pros get a crack at the ‘Action Track’.
RICHMOND COKE SERIES HISTORY
Richmond Raceway is one of the few tracks to have the honor of being on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule since the inaugural season in 2010. Won that season by the champion of that year, Richard Towler, since 2010, seven different drivers have won at the track.
Steve Sheehan, Kenny Humpe, Nick Ottinger and Ryan Luza are four of those winners. After Sheehan’s win in 2012, a weird phenomenon started to occur with winner at Richmond. Since 2013, everyone who has won at Richmond has doubled up with a second Richmond year the following year. 2021’s winner will be looking to do the same, and he quite possibly might have the best chance to do so.
Last year, Vicente Salas (Williams Esports) took his Spacestation Racing Mustang into the record books with a flawless victory. Never before had anyone led every lap in an eNASCAR event, but Salas managed to lead the 200 scheduled plus another three for eNASCAR Overtime.
As far as the rest of the field, from the active drivers in the race tonight, Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) holds the most top stats. Alfalla has the most wins at three, the most laps led at 461, and is tied with Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports) for the most Top 10 finishes.
The only stat Alfalla isn’t leading is the number of pole wins, and funny enough, that stat goes to the driver who has won every single pole position to win so far in 2022, that being William Byron eSports driver, and the 2020 series champion, Nick Ottinger. Ottinger will be looking for his fourth career Richmond pole as well as his fourth pole in a row to start the 2022 season.
Of course, I’d be remiss to not mention the former Richmond Raceway eSports, and now current Rise eSports drivers Jimmy Mullis and Zack Novak. Neither have won at what they both considered a home track for the last few seasons. Even still, Novak, the 2019 champion, and Mullis, a perennial championship threat, could be ones to watch.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR WITH THE NEXT GEN
We don’t know anything about the NASCAR NEXT Gen machines at Richmond-type short tracks on the schedule, although the eNASCAR Clash could be considered as relevant data. That quarter-mile track had a much smaller racing area than Richmond, so it is hard to compare, but it’s the closest piece of information we have with this car this season.
We do have a decent sample of intermediate 1.5-mile venues after the last two races, but Richmond is guaranteed to be a whole different race. Braking can be weird in the NEXT Gen machines on iRacing, but with the right settings in the setup, drivers might be able to avoid locking up.
While the Team Conti drivers have been strong to start the season, Richmond may prove to be their biggest struggle yet. While Ottinger has shown he can get it done at the track in the past, these NEXT Gen cars are much different than any past seasons.
Looking historically at the most recent winners and the car itself, fans should likely expect the Lowline / Elliott Sadler Esports group to be the ones to watch. Salas and Elliott Sadler Esports’ Garrett Manes were inseparable last season in the top two positions. I’d also expect LockDown drivers like Mullis, Novak, and Briar LaPradd (JR Motorsports) to have a chance with the right setup.
Casey Kirwan (XSET), who won the eNASCAR Clash, has also proven himself at the short tracks with a Bristol win in 2019. However, in the last two seasons, Kirwan’s best Richmond finish was a 35th place result. Still, keep an eye out for this Deadzone driver, along with his other teammates like Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas eSports) and Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing) who have won already in 2022.
WHERE TO WATCH
The race itself will kickoff at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST following the pre-race festivities, which kick off a half-hour earlier. The Countdown to Green begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST 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 #4 – RICHMOND
|1||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||90 pts – WIN||1||2|
|2||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||89 pts – WIN||2||2|
|3||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||74 pts – WIN||2||2|
|4||31||Garrett Manes||Elliott Sadler Esports||84 pts||1||2|
|4||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||84 pts||1||2|
|6||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||80 pts||0||1|
|7||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||78 pts||2||2|
|8||45||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||75 pts||0||2|
|8||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||75 pts||0||1|
|10||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||71 pts||1||1|
2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|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|