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eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Steven Wilson wins Darlington, Playoff field set

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Steven Wilson wins Darlington, Playoff field set

As Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) scored his third win on the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season to win the Regular Season title, Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) clinched the final spot in the 2022 eNASCAR Playoffs.

As the field took to Darlington Raceway for the Regular Season finale on Tuesday night (30th August 2022), many eyes were fixated on who would take the tenth and final spot in the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff field.

The spot belonged to Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) coming into the event. His teammate Ray Alfalla could take it back if he could make up 13 points and re-enter the Top 20 in points. More than 10 other drivers could steal it away from them both with a win at the virtual track that’s ‘Too Tough To Tame’.

After some late-race theatrics, Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) would go on to win the race and clinch the Regular Season championship. Zalenski would also celebrate with there being no new winner, scoring the final spot in the playoffs by a handful of points over Blake Reynolds (Jim Beaver Esports).

LATE RACE YELLOW CHANGES EVERYTHING

Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) and Zalenski were the two to beat on Tuesday night. Leahy, who needed to win to get in, scored the pole position and started right alongside his Coanda Esports backend teammate Zalenski. Zalenski couldn’t let Leahy win, however, as that would mean his championship hopes would come to an end.

The first half of the event saw some strategy unfold with some drivers opting for a two-pit stop race. At 120 laps, those stops would come at laps 40 and 80. The alternate strategy would be to one-stop it, pitting at halfway, lap 60. About a third of the field had chosen to pit early when the first caution flew.

Dylan Ault (LETARTE Esports) spun out into Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports) and collected Malik Ray (iRacing Motorsports). The leaders hadn’t pitted yet, so it didn’t change too much initially, but it did bring some new players into the equation, including Wilson on the ensuing restart.

The race went back green with everyone who pitted able to make it to the end from there. Zalenski opened up a decent lead, but Wilson made his presence known with about 40 laps to go. Not to be deterred, Zalenski kept with his plan and passed Wilson back with just about 20 laps to go.

Wilson would fall back for the time being with Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) and Leahy occupying the Top 3 spots. Leahy was on the move from there, steadily picking up time as the laps wound down. Then, the caution struck with just about five laps to go and Leahy right on Zalenski’s tail. That’s when the chaos would begin.

Leahy opted to stay out with Garrett Manes (Elliott Sadler Esports). Wilson, Collin Bowden (eRacr), Reynolds and three others opted for two tires. Zalenski and more went with four freshies. A restart in eNASCAR Overtime allowed Wilson to take the lead, Reynolds to move to third, Zalenski to move to fifth and Leahy to fall out of the picture. On the final start, Wilson would win as Zalenski finished high enough to advance to the playoffs.

PLAYOFF BOUND ON POINTS

Reynolds didn’t need to win to get in with Wilson taking the victory and Alfalla staying outside the Top 20. However, he did need to gain seven points over Zalenski for the final transfer spot. He only gained one with his second place finish, as Zalenski found his way back to finish on a podium spot in third.

Zalenski joins the Regular Season champion Wilson in the playoffs, as well as Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Conti, Casey Kirwan (XSET), Matt Bussa (Mode Motorsports), Femi Olatunbosun (Clint Bowyer Racing), Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing), Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) and Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing).

Five points would be the difference over Reynolds who sits fifth in the standings without a win. With nine of the winners inside the Top 20 in the standings and Zalenski ahead, even if Reynolds was second in points, it wouldn’t matter under the format.

Zack Novak (Rise Esports) had the best shot coming in to defeat Zalenski, only two points out following a wacky Watkins Glen event. Novak was never really in the conversation much on Tuesday night after starting 32nd and running in the back half of the field most of the race.

He was involved in a late incident that set up the eNASCAR Overtime restart.

Other hopefuls who needed that win and in, well, only Leahy looked to have a shot through the race. As for Alfalla, his chances weren’t great either, playing bumper tag with Manes early on for 32nd. He was on the charge late before eNASCAR Overtime when his chances also faded in the final incident of the night.

NEXT UP: BRISTOL BATTLE

eNCCiS: Keegan Leahy dominates at Bristol, advances to Championship 4

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs will begin with a return to Bristol Motor Speedway, but this time without the layers of virtual dirt on top of it. A track that was forgotten for multiple seasons, it returned to the schedule in 2019 and has seen three different winners on the concrete surface – Kirwan (2019), Ryan Luza (XSET, 2020) and Leahy (2021). Ottinger won here on the dirt back in April.

Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET on 13th September to see the green flag wave on the 2022 Playoffs. The event will kick off with the Countdown to Green for a half-hour before the main cast starts at 9:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing Social Channels.

RACE #14 – DARLINGTON RACEWAY – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPOINTS
11110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports126 LAPS2440
21015Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver Esports+0.682 secs035
3218Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing+0.787 secs6934
4234Ryan LuzaXSET+1.059 secs033
5339Michael GuestJim Beaver Esports+1.095 secs032
6719Vicente SalasWilliams Esports+1.221 secs031
72269Collin BowdeneRacr+1.376 secs030
8375Matt BussaMode Motorsports+1.448 secs029
92842Darik BourdeaueRacr+1.507 secs028
102579Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing+1.727 secs027

PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER RACE #14 – DARLINGTON RACEWAY

POSCAR #DRIVERTEAMWINSPOINTST5’sT10’s
110Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports338779
225Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports231358
38Michael ContiJR Motorsports229646
495Casey KirwanXSET136459
575Matt BussaMode Motorsports136328
623Mitchell deJong23XI Racing131034
748Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix130966
879Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing130736
921Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing127714
1018Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing0332 (+5)36
1115Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver Esports0327 (-5)36
2351Ray AlfallaJoe Gibbs Racing1210 (-32)22

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE #14 – DARLINGTON RACEWAY

POSCAR #’sTEAMMANUF.POINTSBEHINDTEAM WINS
110 | 41Stewart-Haas EsportsFORD641LEADER3
29 | 15Jim Beaver EsportsFORD621-200
34 | 95XSETCHEVY602-391
45 | 46Rise eSportsCHEVY573-680
523 | 4523XI RacingTOYOTA540-1011
618 | 51Joe Gibbs RacingTOYOTA538-1031
724 | 75Mode MotorsportsFORD537-1041
825 | 97William Byron EsportsCHEVY508-1332
93 | 33Team Dillon EsportsCHEVY506-1350
1043 | 48Charlotte PhoenixTOYOTA499-1421
JR Motorsports has two wins, Wood Brothers Racing and Clint Bowyer Racing both have a win this season.

RACE #14 – DARLINGTON RACEWAY – BOX SCORE:

  • Three cautions for 12 laps
  • Five lead changes among three drivers (Zalenski, Leahy, Wilson)
  • Most laps led: #18 Bobby Zalenski (69 laps)
  • Fastest lap: Lap 38, #21 Garrett Lowe (29.430 seconds)
  • Rookie of the race: #69 Collin Bowden (7th)

2022 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

DateRace #TrackLaps
01-Feb-22~Clash~LA ColiseumCasey Kirwan25/50/120
15-Feb-221Daytona Int’l SpeedwayFemi Olatunbosun80
01-Mar-222Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayMichael Conti100
15-Mar-223Atlanta Motor SpeedwaySteven Wilson100
29-Mar-224Richmond RacewayMichael Conti130
12-Apr-225Bristol Motor Speedway DIRTNick Ottinger25/120
26-Apr-226Dover Motor SpeedwayNick Ottinger120
10-May-227Kansas SpeedwayGarrett Lowe100
24-May-228Charlotte Motor SpeedwayMatt Bussa100
31-May-229World Wide Technology Raceway Graham A. Bowlin120
21-Jun-2210Nashville SuperspeedwayRay Alfalla100
05-Jul-2211Road AmericaSteven Wilson25
19-Jul-2212Pocono RacewayCasey Kirwan60
02-Aug-22~All-Star~Chicago Street CourseSteven Wilson12-8-16
16-Aug-2213Watkins Glen Int’lMitchell deJong45
30-Aug-2214Darlington RacewaySteven Wilson120
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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