eNASCAR Coke: Bobby Zalenski goes back-to-back, scores inaugural Monza win

Bobby Zalenski was dominant once again, leading every lap in the inaugural eNASCAR trip to the Monza Circuit on Tuesday night (11th April).
zalenski monza

Whether he believes in it or not, Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) has huge momentum on his side.

Zalenski’s NASCAR Heat “Momentum Bar” would be absolutely pegged right now following his latest eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series result, and that was yet another victory on the season after a dominant showing in the inaugural Autodromo Nazionale Monza event on Tuesday night (11th April).

Zalenski took the pole and drove away in the 30 lap feature. Tack that on to his win at Richmond in the series two weeks ago plus his third place finish in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup on Saturday (8th April), and you’ll be able to tell that good fortune is on the side of the seventh year driver out of Fresno, California.

It’s Zalenski’s first road course victory since 2020. The former and possibly re-coronated eNASCAR Road Course King was winless in his last five attempts over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, losing out on multiple occasions to current Porsche factory sim driver Mitchell deJong in three of those five races.

With no deJong in the field for the first time since 2020 (since he’s off competing in ESL R1 these days), Zalenski was able to easily score his 13th career series victory. Zalenski is now the sole possessor of fifth place all-time on the eNASCAR wins list, surpassing Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) for the spot.

ZALENSKI: “I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH I BELIEVE IN MOMENTUM…”

Bobby Zalenski celebrates on the frontstretch at Monza.

“It’s just really great to be this fortunate,” said Zalenski in eNASCAR victory lane post-race. Hard work definitely paid off for the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry on Tuesday night. From the get-go, Zalenski was quick, setting the fastest lap in Final Practice before crushing the field for the pole position.

Starting alongside Leahy, who he tested with as part of the Coanda Esports backend team, Zalenski was able to pull ahead right away, eventually leaving Leahy and the rest of the field in the dust.

Tucker Minter (33) passes Keegan Leahy (23) for second at Monza.

Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) eventually managed to make his way around Leahy for the runner-up spot, his best finish since his opening win at Daytona back in February.

Casey Kirwan (XSET) recovered from an early race spin to finish fourth, just ahead of Jordy Lopez (Team Dillon Esports) who picked up his first career Top 5 and Top 10 finish when it was said and over with.

The race was only 30 laps long with no cautions, even for incidents. There were incidents aplenty, but none affected the podium finishers. There was one pit stop on the night, with drivers opting to take it at various points between Lap 5 and Lap 25. Tires were unnecessary once again as drivers all opted for fuel only pit stops.

RACE 5 AT MONZA – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTERVALLEDPTS
1118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing30 LAPS3040
2333Tucker MinterTeam Dillon Esports+3.618 secs035
3223Keegan Leahy23XI Racing+4.447 secs034
4495Casey KirwanXSET+10.829 secs033
553Jordy Lopez JrTeam Dillon Esports+11.346 secs032
6748Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix+12.739 secs031
71111Parker WhiteKanaan Esports+13.115 secs030
81512Garrett ManesFGR Accel eRacing+13.243 secs029
9910Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports+13.754 secs028
101340Dylan AultLetarte Esports+17.260 secs027
Michael Conti is tied for the most points scored so far in 2023.

MONZA EDITION: HOT OR NOT SO FAR?

Now five races into the Regular Season and with nine to go in the race for the Playoffs, the Top drivers are starting to separate from the rest of the field. Winners such as Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Minter and Zalenski are at the front of the field on a weekly basis. Win or not, they sit Top 5 in the points thus far.

Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Esports) hasn’t had the start to the season he would have hoped for, but now as he’s moved back into the Top 20 in the standings once more, his win once again counts for a Playoff spot at the moment.

Winless to this point are both Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix) and Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports). They lead the way on those without a win, also in the Top 5 in the points. Either could’ve been winners in a few of the races so far.

Graham Bowlin (48) also has the most points this season so far.

There are some champions trending upward in Leahy and Kirwan, now both perched inside the Top 10 in the standings. They are mixing it up with a pair of rookies out of the Altus Esports camp, both Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) and Lopez are in that conversation as well.

On the not so hot side of the points sheet, two 2022 Playoff drivers in Femi Olatunbosun (Charlotte Phoenix) and Garrett Lowe (Jim Beaver Esports) are not having the start to the season that they would have hoped for. Monza was a prime example for both. They and the rest of the drivers towards the back of the field still have nine races to turn it around in the Regular Season.

PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 5 AT MONZA

POS#DRIVERTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing144WIN223
28Michael ContiJR Motorsports145WIN122
333Tucker Minter [R]Team Dillon Esports140WIN122
410Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Esports95WIN112
548Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix145+38024
625Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports140+33023
738Michael Cosey Jr [R]Front Row Motorsports134+27023
823Keegan Leahy23XI Racing127+20022
93Jordy Lopez Jr [R]Team Dillon Esports119+12011
1095Casey KirwanXSET118+11023
1111Parker White [R]Kanaan Esports107-11002
1241Dylan DuvalStewart-Haas Esports104-14002
Team Dillon Esports (33 – Minter, 3 – Lopez) leads the Team Standings after five races.

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE 5 AT MONZA

POSCAR #sTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
13 | 33Team Dillon Esports259133
234 | 38Front Row Motorsports232-27025
325 | 97William Byron Esports232-27024
48 | 88JR Motorsports227-32122
523 | 4523XI Racing210-49033
611 | 66Kanaan Esports203-56004
710 | 41Stewart-Haas Esports199-60114
818 | 54Joe Gibbs Racing177-82223
943 | 48Charlotte Phoenix176-83024
102 | 77Pittsburgh Knights176-83002

BOX SCORE

  • Zero cautions for zero laps in 30 completed laps (no cautions at road courses)
  • Zero lead changes among one driver
  • Most laps led: No. 18 Bobby Zalenski (30 laps led)
  • Fastest lap: No. 18 Bobby Zalensk (Lap 2, 1:33.121 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 54 Daniel Faulkingham (Started 33rd, Finished 23rd | +10 spots)
  • Hard luck:
    • No. 27 Cody Byus (Started 10th, Finished 24th | -14 spots)
    • No. 15 Garrett Lowe (Started 8th, Finished 22nd | -14 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: No. 33 Tucker Minter (4x)
  • Most incidents: No. 75 Zack Novak (31x)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 33 Tucker Minter (2nd place)
  • Team of the race: No. 3 / No. 33 Team Dillon Esports (67 points)
  • Winning Club: California

UP NEXT: TALLADEGA A-FIXED

The first fixed setup points race in series history will take place next week at Talladega Superspeedway. With only a single week on the calendar, iRacing officials decided in the offseason to test fixed setup racing at three tracks in 2023, also at Watkins Glen International and Pocono Raceway later in the year.

Last season, you might not be surprised to know that it was Bobby Zalenski scoring the victory at Talladega after Casey Kirwan and Collin Bowden collided in the tri-oval coming to the checkers. Can Zalenski go back-to-back in Dega races and also score three-in-a-row on the 2023 season? We’ll have to wait and see!

eNASCAR Coca-Cola: Bobby Zalenski locks in to Championship 4 with Talladega snipe
Bobby Zalenski (18) barely wins at Talladega in 2022.

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.

2023 ENASCAR COCA-COLA IRACING SERIES SCHEDULE

RACEDATETRACKLAPS
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 Monza | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI30
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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