For the first time in eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series history, the entire 40-car field will be racing on the same setup. A fixed setup Coke race is in the cards for Tuesday night (18th April) as the series takes on The Biggie Bag $5.00 presented by Wendy’s at Talladega Superspeedway.
It’s been a much different looking start to the season, as Talladega will mark the third Superspeedway-style race on the 2023 schedule. Daytona opened the season, New Atlanta was on the cards for the third race, and now in just the sixth race, Talladega has appeared.
With the caveat of the fixed setup, will that promote tighter, more competitive action around the 2.66-mile oval in Lincoln, Alabama? It’s yet another big unknown on the season, somewhat of a theme so far.
TWO WEEKS ONE WEEK AGO AT MONZA
Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) doubled up last Tuesday night (11th April) after claiming his first road course victory in the eNASCAR ranks since 2020. It was his second win on the season and in-a-row after first winning three weeks ago at Richmond and then leading every lap in the inaugural trip to Monza, Italy.
From the pole position, Zalenski was able to pull away from the field and never look back. Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) managed to work him way up to second around Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) who finished third. Casey Kirwan (XSET) had an early spin but recovered to finish fourth, just ahead of Jordy Lopez (Team Dillon Esports) in fifth.
Zalenski is now the only two-time winner on the season. Through five races, Zalenski sits together with Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Minter and Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) as playoff-eligible drivers thus far. The Team Dillon Esports pair of Minter and Lopez now leads the Team Points as well.
RACE 5 AT MONZA – TOP 10 RESULTS
|1||1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||30 LAPS||30||40|
|2||3||33||Tucker Minter||Team Dillon Esports||+3.618 secs||0||35|
|3||2||23||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||+4.447 secs||0||34|
|4||4||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||+10.829 secs||0||33|
|5||5||3||Jordy Lopez Jr||Team Dillon Esports||+11.346 secs||0||32|
|6||7||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||+12.739 secs||0||31|
|7||11||11||Parker White||Kanaan Esports||+13.115 secs||0||30|
|8||15||12||Garrett Manes||FGR Accel eRacing||+13.243 secs||0||29|
|9||9||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||+13.754 secs||0||28|
|10||13||40||Dylan Ault||Letarte Esports||+17.260 secs||0||27|
Despite being a part of the inaugural eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season in 2010 and the following season in 2011, 2023 will mark only the eighth visit to Talladega Superspeedway in series history.
It was utilized only three times in the first four seasons, with Brad Davies, Jeremy R Allen and Joshua Laughton scoring those wins in 2010, 2011 and 2013, respectively. It took until 2019 for the series to return to the track, and that return visit was won by none other than Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports).
In 2020, Brandon Hayse Kettelle scored his first and only win in the series. 2021’s contest allowed for Ottinger to become the first and only driver to date to score multiple wins at the venue. Last season, it was looking like either Casey Kirwan or Collin Bowden (eRacr) were on their way to a Talladega triumph, but as the two tangled in the Tri-oval, Bobby Zalenski squeaked through for the upset.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
This is one of the last big unknowns for the 2023 season for a while, as in two weeks, the regular season gets regular with some more common intermediate races. Still, while Talladega might be the great equalizer already, it could be even more so with everyone on the same setup for the first time.
Nick Ottinger is an easy one to pick. OttiBoss already has two Talladega trophies, more than anyone else, and is going to be entering Tuesday night still searching for his first win of 2023. Someone else looking for their first win of the season, and, well, first win ever in the series is Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports). A constant threat at Superspeedway races, Malik already has a runner-up at Daytona this season. He’s also got confidence.
Bobby Zalenski will be looking for a three-peat on the season, which would also be back-to-back wins at Dega if successful. The two drivers he beat, Kirwan and Bowden, will be looking for redemption from last season.
In reality, anyone can win it. If I had to pick a dark horse, I would bet on someone scoring their first win, possibly someone like Michael Guest (23XI Racing) or Garrett Manes (FGR Accel eRacing).
PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 5 AT MONZA
|1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||144||WIN||2||2||3|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||145||WIN||1||2||2|
|3||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||140||WIN||1||2||2|
|4||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||95||WIN||1||1||2|
|5||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||145||+38||0||2||4|
|6||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||140||+33||0||2||3|
|7||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||134||+27||0||2||3|
|8||23||Keegan Leahy||23XI Racing||127||+20||0||2||2|
|9||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||119||+12||0||1||1|
|11||11||Parker White [R]||Kanaan Esports||107||-11||0||0||2|
|12||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Esports||104||-14||0||0||2|
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 70-lap event at Talladega.
2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|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|