The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series goes international on Tuesday night (11th April) as the top oval drivers on the sim head over to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the first time ever in series history.
Utilizing the Grand Prix layout but with no chicanes, what is normally an 11-corner circuit in Italy becomes seven with a lap distance of 5.63-kilometers, or 3.5-miles. It’s the second brand-new venue on the 2023 schedule, third if you count the new configuration at Atlanta, and all of these have come in the first five races of the season.
Monza is a staple venue on many of iRacing’s top esports series. Originally released on the service in 2015, it’s been seen on schedules for the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Series and even the Force Dynamics Dallara iRacing Grand Prix Championship. Now, it debuts for eNASCAR.
TWO WEEKS AGO AT RICHMOND
Richmond Raceway added a fourth different winner to the win column two weeks ago when Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) crushed the field in the 130-lap event. Holding off the likes of Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) and the rest of the Team Conti crew, Zalenski might have led them all if not for some errant yellows mid-race.
Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) was likely his closest competition, winning out on a pit cycle early on, taking the lead from Zalenski. Ottinger was able to hold off the green No. 18 for a good chunk of it before another yellow flew, mixing up the order again. Zalenski took advantage, leaving the field behind once he got back to the point.
Zalenski joins Conti and Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) as playoff-eligible drivers thus far. Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) was victorious at Atlanta four weeks ago, but currently sits outside the Top 20 in the points, which means he couldn’t use his win to qualify for a playoff spot at this current time.
RACE 4 AT RICHMOND – TOP 10 RESULTS
|1||1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||130 LAPS||95||40|
|2||9||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||+0.904 secs||0||35|
|3||10||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise Esports||+1.280 secs||0||34|
|4||3||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||+1.432 secs||23||33|
|5||2||23||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||+1.601 secs||0||32|
|6||12||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver Esports||+2.233 secs||0||31|
|7||28||51||Donovan Strauss||Williams Esports||+2.671 secs||0||30|
|8||14||77||Ryan Doucette||Pittsburgh Knights||+2.768 secs||0||29|
|9||18||38||Michael Cosey Jr||Front Row Motorsports||+2.782 secs||0||28|
|10||25||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||+3.595 secs||0||27|
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Monza is going to be a tough one to predict. The series has never been there, and it’s unlike any other road course that’s ever been on an eNASCAR schedule.
Still, Zalenski has to be a favorite on Tuesday night, having once been a king of the road in eNASCAR for many years. That was before Mitchell deJong and Steven Wilson showed up. In the last two seasons, in six road course races, including an All-Star Race last year, deJong has won three times, Wilson has won twice times, and Zalenski has been shut out.
With deJong retired from the series, Zalenski’s biggest road rival has to be Wilson, right? Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) also has a win during that stretch, at Watkins Glen in 2021. Casey Kirwan (XSET) has been playing in the Porsche field this season, and has shown speed in eNASCAR roadie events.
Both Conti and Ottinger could prove to be factors, as could Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) who was recently credited with helping his real-world teammates to victory at Circuit of the Americas last month. In the rookie class, you also have to keep an eye out for Parker White (Kanaan Esports) who runs with the Apex Racing Academy during many special events.
PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 4 AT RICHMOND
|1||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||119||WIN||1||2||2|
|2||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||105||WIN||1||1||1|
|3||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||104||WIN||1||1||2|
|4||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||122||+36||0||2||3|
|5||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||114||+28||0||2||3|
|6||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||109||+23||0||2||3|
|7||23||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||93||+7||0||1||1|
|8||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Esports||88||+2||0||0||2|
|9||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||87||+1||0||0||0|
|10||34||Allen Boes||Front Row Motorsports||86||-0||0||0||2|
|12||66||Tyler Garey [R]||Kanaan Esports||85||-1||0||0||2|
WHERE TO WATCH
The Countdown to Green 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 inaugural 30-lap Monza event.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|5||11-Apr||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||30|
|7||2-May||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||100|
|9||30-May||Charlotte Motor Speedway||100|
|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|