When there’s a road course on the schedule, Bobby Zalenski’s name always tends to pop up. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver already has a win on one of those on this 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule, at Monza six races ago. Make it two-for-two after he was able to win in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Both road races on the schedule were brand new to the series, and while both saw newcomers to the series challenging for the win, it was the road course king who would score both wins. Back in Monza, Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) was second. At Chicago, Parker White (Kanaan Esports) had the drive of his life.
Leading 29 laps, White’s pit stop from the lead came two laps prior to Zalenski’s. The overcut by No. 18 secured the top spot with less than 10 laps to go. Fuel was close, but Zalenski held on for his third win of the 2023 season and the 14th of his career.
Zalenski: “I’m just so stoked for the guys on my box”
The big three on Tuesday night (27th June) consisted of Zalenski, White and Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Racing) who started on the pole position. Before Turn 1, the trio as well as the rest of the field was three wide, but they somehow made it work.
Out of Turn 2, White had taken control with Zalenski in the runner-up spot. White led Zalenski and Wilson seconds ahead of fourth place and the rest of the field. It would come down to these three; a road course king, the rookie with a road racing background and the All-Star winner here a year ago.
Tires would not be a factor, but perhaps when to pit and how much fuel to take could be a huge scenario to plan for. With no cautions in play for the road events in the series, every decision and move mattered, there would be no mulligans or chances to make it up.
Wilson pitted first and gained some time on White. White pitted next, handing the lead over to Zalenski for the first time on the 30th lap. While White was on his out laps, he caught a slower car pitting at an inopportune time that could have possibly affected the outcome.
Zalenski pitted a few laps later, having saved some gas while trailing White. Zalenski made the overcut work, but fuel was still a concern. Thankfully, his crew’s calculations were correct and Zalenski was victorious.
Race 11 at Chicago Street Course – Top 10 Results
|1||3||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||40 LAPS||11||40|
|2||2||11||Parker White||Kanaan Esports||+0.538 secs||29||35|
|3||1||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Racing||+0.895 secs||0||34|
|4||6||33||Tucker Minter||Team Dillon Esports||+11.975 secs||0||33|
|5||7||95||Casey Kirwan||XSET||+13.095 secs||0||32|
|6||4||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||+14.764 secs||0||31|
|7||5||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver Esports||+15.884 secs||0||30|
|8||11||3||Jordy Lopez||Team Dillon Esports||+27.044 secs||0||29|
|9||10||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||+29.954 secs||0||28|
|10||14||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||+30.190 secs||0||27|
No new winner means at least one points position in ’23 Playoffs
With White finishing second and the six winners on the season (Zalenski, Wilson, Minter, Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Jordy Lopez (Team Dillon Esports) and Casey Kirwan (XSET)) all scoring solid points over the relegation line, the playoffs are even clearer following this week’s action.
The six winners are all but locked. If they leave New Hampshire with enough points, it won’t matter at all what happens in these final three Regular Season races. There are currently four drivers in on points, those being Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports), Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix), Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) and Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports).
The gap between 10th place Ray and now-11th place Parker White is only eight points. Matt Bussa (William Byron Esports) is 10 behind the cut and Garrett Manes (FGR Accel eRacing) is 19 behind. If there are no new winners for the rest of the Regular Season, those guys will likely be the players on points.
Below that, a good chunk of drivers that includes Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas Racing), Garrett Lowe (Jim Beaver Esports), Dylan Ault (Letarte Esports), Keegan Leahy (23XI Racing) and Corey Vincent (Pittsburgh Knights) are seemingly too far down on points and will need to win to get in, potentially shaking things up.
Playoff Seeding after Race 11 at Chicago Street Course
|1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||238||WIN||3||3||5|
|2||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||340||WIN||2||6||7|
|3||33||Tucker Minter [R]||Team Dillon Esports||281||WIN||2||5||6|
|5||3||Jordy Lopez Jr [R]||Team Dillon Esports||302||WIN||1||3||6|
|6||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Esports||233||WIN||1||2||4|
|7||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron Esports||288||+46||0||4||6|
|8||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||274||+32||0||4||8|
|9||38||Michael Cosey Jr [R]||Front Row Motorsports||274||+32||0||2||6|
|10||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver Esports||250||+8||0||4||6|
|11||11||Parker White [R]||Kanaan Esports||242||-8||0||2||4|
|12||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron Esports||240||-10||0||1||5|
|13||12||Garrett Manes||FGR Accel eRacing||231||-19||0||2||5|
Team Dillon running away with Team Title
Zalenski was quick to point out post-race that his season has been a roller coaster as he aims for wins rather than good points days. Despite the team having his three wins, he and Daniel Faulkingham only see themselves in 12th in the Team Championship for Joe Gibbs Racing.
These points run through the entirety of the season and won’t reset with playoffs, so it’s impressive to see Team Dillon so far ahead with Minter and Lopez. Both William Byron Esports and JR Motorsports are within range with seven races to go, but that would require more a slight bit more consistency between the pairings.
Team Standings after Race 11 at Chicago Street Course
|1||3 | 33||Team Dillon Esports||583||—||3||8||12|
|2||25 | 97||William Byron Esports||528||-55||0||5||11|
|3||8 | 88||JR Motorsports||504||-79||2||6||7|
|4||34 | 38||Front Row Motorsports||457||-126||0||2||8|
|5||7 | 15||Jim Beaver Esports||454||-129||0||5||10|
|6||10 | 41||Stewart-Haas Esports||439||-144||1||2||7|
|7||11 | 66||Tony Kanaan Esports||414||-169||0||2||6|
|8||23 | 45||23XI Racing||376||-207||0||3||4|
|9||43 | 48||Charlotte Phoenix||356||-227||0||4||9|
|10||4 | 95||XSET||333||-250||2||5||6|
|10||2 | 77||Pittsburgh Knights||333||-250||0||1||4|
Chicago Street Course – Box Score
- Zero cautions for zero laps in 40 laps
- Two lead changes among three drivers
- Pole sitter: No. 10 Steven Wilson (1:25.175 secs)
- Most laps led: No. 11 Parker White (29 laps led)
- Lap Leaders:
- #10 Steven Wilson (pole, no laps led)
- #11 Parker White (1-29)
- #18 Bobby Zalenski (30-40)
- Fastest lap: No. 10 Steven Wilson (Lap 35, 1:25.196 secs)
- Hard charger: No. 55 Vicente Salas (Started 33rd, Finished 15th | +18 spots)
- Hard luck: No. 46 Jimmy Mullis (Started 12th, Finished 26th | -14 spots)
- Fewest incidents: Six drivers at 0x (Highest finisher, No. 11 Parker White, 2nd)
- Most incidents: No. 66 Tyler Garey (24x)
- Rookie of the race: No. 11 Parker White (2nd Place)
- Team of the race: No. 3 / No. 33 Team Dillon Esports (62 points, 4th and 8th)
- Winning Club: California
Up Next: eNASHCAR at virtual Nashville
Only ovals (or Triangles) remain on the 2023 calendar, and next up is a trip to the concrete jungle that is Nashville Superspeedway. Last season was the inaugural event, and it was won by Ray Alfalla who is currently not competing in the series this season. That means we will have a new winner at the track this season.
Things will kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, now presented by Wendy’s, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST. 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.
2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Schedule
|13||25-Jul||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||101|
|15 – PO1||15-Aug||Michigan International Speedway||60|
|16 – PO2||29-Aug||Dover Motor Speedway||120|
|17 – PO3||12-Sep||Phoenix Raceway||120|
|18 – C4||26-Sep||Homestead-Miami Speedway||100|