Tonight, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series visits World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the first time in series history. This marks the second of three new venues to hit the 2022 schedule alongside the dirt-covered Bristol and Nashville Superspeedway in three weeks time.
At Charlotte last week, Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports) was able to save enough gas to hold on for the victory. Bussa became the sixth different winner on the season, barely edging out Zack Novak (Rise Esports) on the same strategy.
Being a new venue on the calendar, there are no prior stats to go off of. However, in the one and only first ever race so far on the season, Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) was the man on top at the Bristol Dirt Event. 120 laps are on the schedule for tonight’s virtual festivities.
INAUGURAL WWT RACEWAY AT GATEWAY EVENT
Originally named as the Gateway International Raceway and later renamed as Gateway Motorsports Park, what is now World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is a 1.25-mile (2.012-kilometer) egg-shaped oval based in Madison, Illinois.
The oval section of the circuit was produced in the mid-1990s and has seen racing for NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as NTT IndyCar Series events. This year is the first year that the venue will be on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and that real-world event will take place this weekend.
Being an egg-shaped oval, similar to Darlington Raceway but smaller and flatter, the first two corners require heavy braking and slowing to the center of the corner, while the latter two are sweeping and momentum-based as drivers head to the line. It is unique, for sure, and should offer a different challenge than what most of these drivers are used to in regular intermediate oval racing.
SEASON TO DATE UPDATE
While Gateway has no previous winners, the 2022 eNASCAR Coke Series season does have six so far. Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing) kicked off the season with his win at Daytona. Meanwhile, Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) picked up a pair of wins at Las Vegas and Richmond. Those wins were intersected by Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) who scored his first career win at the old Atlanta track.
Ottinger finally joined in on the fun, scoring back-to-back victories at the Bristol Dirt Race and then at Dover two weeks later. In his quest for a three-peat, Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing) would play spoiler to score his first win since 2019. Finally, last week went to Bussa in a thrilling conclusion at Charlotte.
Outside of the six winners, Casey Kirwan (XSET) leads the drivers without a victory on the season. A pair of Jim Beaver Esports drivers in Michael Guest and Blake Reynolds, as well as Team Dillon Esports’ Corey Vincent, all sit currently in the Top 10 in the standings, all playoff eligible currently. The other Team Dillon driver Taylor Hurst is also in the Top 10, but he’d be out at the moment with winners below him in points.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Team Conti. That’s Ottinger, Conti, and Bussa, who are already winners on the season, as well as Logan Clampitt (William Byron Esports) who has shown speed but hasn’t had the results to show for it. The Team Conti backend team holds five of the eight victories on the season, and if anyone has figured out the new NEXT Gen cars, it’s these guys.
Deadzone Racing also seems to have a great grip on the car to this point, with Olatunbosun and Wilson currently holding wins, and Graham A. Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) and Kirwan knocking on the door just about every race week. Bowlin, in particular, looks to be fast just about everywhere we go. His results don’t always show it, but he’s probably the closest driver to winning that hasn’t yet in 2022.
While they haven’t scored any wins yet, the LockDown Racing backend team members have been solid in recent weeks. Novak came oh-so-close to taking the fuel mileage win last week, and his Rise Esports teammate Mullis can be a threat anywhere as well, even though he told Traxion.GG last week that his life has gotten pretty busy as of late and it’s shown on the track as a result.
Vincent and Hurst, as well as Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports) and Briar LaPradd (JR Motorsports) are also part of that backend team, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter two rookies start to come into their own sooner than later as the season unfolds.
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 #9 – WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY RACEWAY AT GATEWAY
|1||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||2||217||5||5|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||2||157||3||3|
|3||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas eSports||1||229||4||5|
|4||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||1||219||2||5|
|5||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||1||214||3||4|
|6||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||1||136||1||3|
|7||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||0||199 (+22)||2||5|
|8||9||Michael Guest||Jim Beaver eSports||0||192 (+15)||3||5|
|9||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||0||182 (+5)||1||3|
|10||3||Corey Vincent||Team Dillon Esports||0||181 (+4)||2||4|
2022 eNASCAR COCA-COLA iRACING SERIES SCHEDULE
|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|