eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Race Preview: Talladega

Justin Melillo
The 16th race of the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season takes the series to Talladega Superspeedway on Tuesday night.
eNCCiS: Ottinger wins Talladega, Clampitt and deJong advance to Championship 4

Two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff season began with a former series champion in Ryan Luza (XSET) taking the victory and denying a free pass to the Championship 4 for the ten drivers going for it.

The goofy race had a stretch of green, broken up by a string of yellows, concluding with another run of green. The drivers that bet on that last caution being the last caution paid off, with Luza getting the biggest break of them all.

As for the playoff field of Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing), Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports), Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Casey Kirwan (XSET), Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports), Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing), Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix), Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing) and Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing) now face what may be their most unpredictable challenge yet – a date with Talladega Superspeedway.

THE BIG ONE AWAITS

eNCCiS: Ottinger wins Talladega, Clampitt and deJong advance to Championship 4

Only two races left to decide the four drivers who will race for the 2022 eNASCAR title. Talladega is going to be a pivotal race for possibly one driver to punch their ticket and two more could get in good enough points standing to not worry in two more weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For all we know, all four drivers who make the Championship 4 this season could all get in on points and go winless.

Pack racing is the name of the game at the 2.66-mile superspeedway oval in Alabama, and there happen to be a few strategies are on the table. Drivers can opt to be ahead of the danger, controlling the race and the field from the front. They can also opt to race at the back, staying out of danger’s way but with the possibility of having a bad finish in the case of no carnage.

Then there’s the belly of the beast, the main pack which will be three, sometimes even four wide. NASCAR implements a double-yellow-line rule which drivers are not permitted to pass below that during green flag conditions. iRacing doesn’t have that coded in, and it might play a role in deciding the winner on Tuesday night.

WHO TO WATCH FOR

eNCCiS: Ottinger wins Talladega, Clampitt and deJong advance to Championship 4

In the six previous races at Talladega, only one driver has won there multiple times and happens to be the only previous winner entered in the race – that would be Nick Ottinger. A winner in 2019 in dramatic fashion and again last season after a stunning strategy call from him and his Team Conti stablemates, Ottinger has to be the one to watch out for if there’s any semblance of statistics to go off of.

That’s just the thing with these Superspeedway races – anyone can win them. Often times, the most strategic and the ones with the most help pull it off, but even the underdogs can have their day, just ask 2020’s winner Brandon Hayse Kettelle about that.

While the Deadzone Racing squad might have the numbers and the early season victory with Femi at Daytona to say they’re the ones to watch, some of the drivers on the team will be sure to point out that they all want to win it as bad as the other and won’t care who they have to work with to do so.

eNCCiS: Femi Olatunbosun opens 2022 season with three-wide photo finish win at Daytona

With all of that said, I think it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win. If the odds-makers had to pick a favorite, however, there’s no doubt that Ottinger would be that driver with his Team Conti mates of Logan Clampitt (William Byron Esports), Conti and Bussa right in tow.

WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING

Donovan Strauss, Williams Esports: “Heading into Talladega, some of the guys are going for wins, but I’m wanting to survive and get solid points.”

Vicente Salas, Williams Esports: “I’m looking to grab some good points and continue our climb above the cutline. I’m going to work with Don on the strategy to maximize both of our results!”

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 with the race itself starting at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and even more familiar voices from the industry will be there to bring you all the action.

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

POINTS ENTERING RACE #16 – TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMWINSPOINTST5’sT10’s
110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports3+15710
221Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing1+1425
348Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix1+866
48Michael ContiJR Motorsports2+546
518Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing0-536
679Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing1-736
795Casey KirwanXSET1-859
825Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports2-1358
975Matt BussaMode Motorsports1-1428
1023Mitchell deJong23XI Racing1-1934

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA Coliseum – Casey Kirwan25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l Speedway – Femi Olatunbosun80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Michael Conti100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor Speedway – Steven Wilson100
29-Mar-224Richmond Raceway – Michael Conti130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRT – Nick Ottinger25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor Speedway – Nick Ottinger120
10-May-227Kansas Speedway – Garrett Lowe100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor Speedway – Matt Bussa100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway – Graham A. Bowlin120
21-Jun-2210Nashville Superspeedway – Ray Alfalla100
05-Jul-2211Road America – Steven Wilson25
19-Jul-2212Pocono Raceway – Casey Kirwan60
02-Aug-22~All-Star~Chicago Street Course – Steven Wilson12-8-16
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen International – Mitchell deJong35
30-Aug-2214Darlington Raceway Steven Wilson120
13-Sep-22PO1 | 15Bristol Motor Speedway Ryan Luza175
27-Sep-22PO2 | 16Talladega Superspeedway70
11-Oct-22PO3 | 17Homestead-Miami Speedway100
25-Oct-22C4F | 18Phoenix Raceway110
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