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eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Race Preview: Race 4 at Richmond

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

eNASCAR Richmond 2021

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.

eNCCiS: Steven Wilson wins first career race at Atlanta

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.

eNCCiS CLASH: Casey Kirwan wins inaugural eNASCAR Clash at the LA Coliseum

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.

The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing social channels.

POINTS ENTERING RACE #4 – RICHMOND

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMPOINTST5’sT10’s
179Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing90 pts – WIN12
210Steven WilsonStewart-Haas eSports89 pts – WIN22
38Michael ContiJR Motorsports74 pts – WIN22
431Garrett ManesElliott Sadler Esports84 pts12
495Casey KirwanXSET84 pts12
618Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing80 pts01
725Nick OttingerWilliam Byron eSports78 pts22
845Keegan Leahy23XI Racing75 pts02
815Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver eSports75 pts01
1048Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix71 pts11

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA Coliseum25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l Speedway80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor Speedway100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor Speedway100
29-Mar-224Richmond Raceway130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRT25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor Speedway120
10-May-227Kansas Speedway100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor Speedway100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway120
21-Jun-2210Nashville Superspeedway100
05-Jul-2211Road America25
19-Jul-2212Pocono Raceway60
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen Int’l35
30-Aug-2214Darlington Raceway120
13-Sep-22PO1 | 15Bristol Motor Speedway175
27-Sep-22PO2 | 16Talladega Superspeedway70
11-Oct-22PO3 | 17Homestead-Miami Speedway100
25-Oct-22C4F | 18Phoenix Raceway110
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