eNASCAR Coke: Bobby Zalenski back on top after chaos-filled Richmond event

Justin Melillo
Bobby Zalenski was dominant, winning handedly in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series return to Richmond Raceway on Tuesday (28th March).
Zalenski burnout

Tuesday night (28th March) saw the return of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, the top oval racing esports series with 40 of the best oval drivers on the iRacing sim, taking on one of the premier short tracks in the United States in Richmond Raceway in Virginia.

While the best of the best had their share of run-ins, including the eventual winner and another competitor, the fourth race of the season featured some classic short track battles throughout the night. When all was said and done, there were feelings hurt for sure, but Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) stood on top of it all as the fourth different winner of the 2023 season.

After the field was forced to go to single-file restarts, this essentially sealed the deal for the seventh year veteran of the series. Zalenski was able to hold off last season’s Richmond winner Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) for his 12th career series victory, tying him for fifth all-time with 2021 Series Champion Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing).


Starting from the pole position, Zalenski quickly showed his pace among the rest of the field, pulling away to more than a 2.5 second lead over second place Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports).

A caution around Lap 30 saw the field come in for pit stops, and not unlike the championship race at Phoenix Raceway last season, Zalenski went in the leader and came out behind the curve, seemingly beating out Ottinger but being awarded second place for the restart.

Through the next 20 laps or so, Zalenski worked feverishly to get by. He had Ottinger in front of him, Conti behind him, and another Team Conti member in Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports) right behind that. Leahy, one of Zalenski’s Coanda Esports teammates, was sitting back in fifth, unable to make any gains.

Just before the second caution flag flew around Lap 60, Zalenski was able to regain the lead position by his spot on the track versus the virtual scoring loops. He and the majority of the front runners came in for service, but there were a handful that opted for the track position. That did not work out too well.

Among the strategists included Collin Bowden (eRacr), Michael Guest (23XI Racing) and Tyler Garey (Kanaan Esports). Zalenski knew that his best play was to get ahead as quick as possible, and unfortunately for Garey, that meant the use of the chrome horn.

Garey and Zalenski would bring out the fourth caution of the night, ultimately no concern for Zalenski but it did destroy any chances that Garey had for a good finish. In the ensuing restarts, Zalenski was able to slice back around the other two and take the lead from Bowden with plenty of time left in the going.

Conti kept Zalenski honest through the showing. The Milwaukee Mile winner was looking for his second win at the Action Track back-to-back, and given the right circumstances on any given restart, he could have possibly succeeded.

Eventually, the race fell into disarray, and restarts went single file. From there, Zalenski’s job of holding the lead because exponentially easier.


The reason for the single-file restarts had everything to do with the lack of green flag racing. With the second caution falling just before Lap 60 and the eighth caution falling before getting to Lap 100, iRacing race control opted to change restarts to single file.

With the conga line of cars now taking the green flag, the chance for wrecks on the restart were lessened, which allowed the race to get back to a somewhat green pace before the end of it.

There was one more caution before the end which stacked the field up one last time. The resulting restart led to a number of drivers receiving a 4x incident due to a gigantic checkup entering Turn 3 before the green. However, the race was able to stay clean until the end, allowing Zalenski to cruise to victory.


In contrast to the race two weeks ago, where many of the rookie contenders shined among the stars, this week had a much more veteran presence at the front of the field.

Coanda and Team Conti made up the entirety of the Top 5 on Tuesday night, some of the longest standing participants in the series which included a trio of series champions among the ranks.

Even past that, another longtime driver in Garrett Lowe (Jim Beaver Esports) was mixing it up for a Top 5 finish. While one could consider both Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports) and Ryan Doucette (Pittsburgh Knights) sophomore drivers, they both have been around the sim for quite a while.

It took until Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) in ninth for the first rookie to show up, and even then, short tracks are Cosey’s thing, something he’s excelled on for many years in top leagues outside the Coke Series. Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports) rounded out the Top 10, proving further how experience was on display.

Ultimately though, the night belonged to Zalenski, who was lights out at Phoenix Raceway last season, a similar track albeit slightly larger. Talk about using experience wisely.


1118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing130 LAPS9540
298Michael ContiJR Motorsports+0.904 secs035
31046Jimmy MullisRise Esports+1.280 secs034
4325Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports+1.432 secs2333
5223Keegan Leahy23XI Racing+1.601 secs032
61215Garrett LoweJim Beaver Esports+2.233 secs031
72851Donovan StraussWilliams Esports+2.671 secs030
81477Ryan DoucettePittsburgh Knights+2.768 secs029
91838Michael Cosey JrFront Row Motorsports+2.782 secs028
102597Matt BussaWilliam Byron Esports+3.595 secs027


18Michael ContiJR Motorsports119WIN122
233Tucker Minter [R]Team Dillon Esports105WIN111
318Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing104WIN112
425Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports122+36023
548Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix114+28023
638Michael Cosey Jr [R]Front Row Motorsports109+23023
723Keegan Leahy23XI Racing93+7011
841Dylan DuvalStewart-Haas Esports88+2002
93Jordy Lopez Jr [R]Team Dillon Esports87+1000
1042Kollin KeistereRacr86+0011
1034Allen BoesFront Row Motorsports86-0002
1295Casey KirwanXSET85-1012
1266Tyler Garey [R]Kanaan Esports85-1002
Steven Wilson: 24th in points with 1 win – Atlanta | Tiebreaker for 10th would go to highest finish


134 | 38Front Row Motorsports195025
225 | 97William Byron Esports193-2024
33 | 33Team Dillon Esports192-3111
48 | 88JR Motorsports178-17122
523 | 4523XI Racing172-23022
611 | 66Kanaan Esports162-33003
710 | 41Stewart-Haas Esports155-40113
82 | 77Pittsburgh Knights149-46002
946 | 75Rise Esports144-51012
1043 | 48Charlotte Phoenix142-53023
Joe Gibbs Racing: 13th in points with 1 win – Richmond


  • Nine cautions for 40 laps in 130 completed laps
  • Four lead changes among three drivers
  • Most laps led: No. 18 Bobby Zalenski (95 laps led)
  • Fastest lap: No. 3 Jordy Lopez Jr (Lap 103, 21.953 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 75 Zack Novak (Started 38th, Finished 13th | +25 spots)
  • Hard luck: No. 14 Joey Brown (Started 11th, Finished 34th | -23 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: Four drivers at 0x – No. 8, No. 46, No. 95, No. 97
  • Most incidents: No. 14 Joey Brown (22x)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 38 Michael Cosey Jr (9th place)
  • Team of the race: No. 25 / No. 97 William Byron Esports (60 points)
  • Winning Club: California


With Ottinger taking the points lead, Conti taking control of the top of the Playoff grid, Front Row Motorsports hanging on to their Team Championship lead barely, and the two most recent champions in Leahy and Casey Kirwan (XSET) finding themselves closer to the top of the standings after four races, there’s nothing like a wildcard to shake things up even more than has already been done so far in 2023.

Heading to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on 11th April, this will mark the first international event in series history as the eNASCAR stars take on their first road course event of the season. The chicanes are off, but the chaos is definitely expected to be on.

Things kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST on Tuesday, 11th April. The race itself starts at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and James Pike are expected to be on the call.

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


CLASH31-JaneNASCAR Clash at the LA Coliseum | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN20/40/70
114-FebDaytona International Speedway | Winner: TUCKER MINTER80
228-FebThe Milwaukee Mile | Winner: MICHAEL CONTI100
314-MarAtlanta Motor Speedway | Winner: STEVEN WILSON100
428-MarRichmond Raceway | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI130
511-AprAutodromo Nazionale Monza30
618-AprTalladega Superspeedway70
72-MayLas Vegas Motor Speedway100
816-MayDarlington Raceway120
930-MayCharlotte Motor Speedway100
1013-JunWorld Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway120
1127-JunWatkins Glen International45
1211-JulNashville Superspeedway100
1325-JulNew Hampshire Motor Speedway101
141-AugPocono Raceway60
15 – PO115-AugMichigan International Speedway60
16 – PO229-AugDover Motor Speedway120
17 – PO312-SepPhoenix Raceway120
18 – C426-SepHomestead-Miami Speedway100
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