eNASCAR Coke: #ItsBeenGr8 – Michael Conti claims Milwaukee win in final season

Justin Melillo
An exuberant Michael Conti took the checkered flag on Tuesday, 28th February, in the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing event at The Milwaukee Mile.
eNASCAR, Michael Conti victory celebration

On the morning of Saturday, 14th January, the 2014 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Champion Michael Conti (JR Motorsports) announced that his time competing at the top level of eNASCAR competition would be coming to a close.

“Still, my desire and motivation to compete and win are as strong as ever, and now with the end in sight, there’s truly no time to waste,” Conti noted in his farewell letter.

Well, consider time unwasted, as Conti rolled into virtual victory lane on Tuesday night (28th February) as a winner at The Milwaukee Mile. Taking the lead from Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) with 20 laps to go, Conti held off his Team Conti teammate Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) in the closing laps for the win.

eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Michael Conti passes Malik Ray for the lead
Michael Conti (8) takes the lead from Malik Ray with 20 laps to go.

Tuesday marked Conti’s 14th career series victory, the fourth most all-time behind Ray Alfalla, Ottinger and Ryan Luza (XSET). Similar to last season, Conti took the win in the second race of the season, which all but locks him into the 2023 Playoffs.

“This is a retirement tour. This is the end,” Conti reiterated to Blake McCandless in the eNASCAR post-race show. “To win race number two is not what I expected to happen, and honestly I couldn’t have wished it to be any different. I’m pumped to go into the remainder of the season.”

He’ll need to stay in the Top 20 and among the Top 9 in points of those with a win in the Regular Season to be sure. Conti joins Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports) as the lone winners on the season through two races. Malik Ray leads the points by two over Ottinger heading to Atlanta.

CONTI: “IT’S BEEN A DREAM COME TRUE”

eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Michael Conti leads
Michael Conti (8) leads with 10 laps to go at The Milwaukee Mile.

Conti had to win it starting from the 10th starting spot. As many expected, track position was tough to come by throughout the inaugural virtual visit to The Milwaukee Mile.

While the first half of the race ran caution-free, Conti was only able to move up four spots into sixth. Conti told Traxion.GG post-race that if that first caution didn’t come out when it did, he was likely going to start falling back through the field due to his tire degradation.

Following a slew of cautions, it was about being in the correct lane for the restarts. By lap 57, Conti made his way into fourth, and on the next restart, he was in third. There was a moment – lap 72 – where he was covering off the corner and got a bit sideways due to contact with the car behind. eDriver 8 was able to save it and keep his chances at winning alive.

eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Malik Ray leading at caution
Malik Ray (7) is scored the leader at the time of caution, Lap 63.

On the next restart, Conti was right behind Malik for the top spot. Race Control had decided to make the restarts single file at that point, and when Malik was asked about the change, the leader at that time said “it hurts me a lot, I feel like I’m going to get punted.”

Sure enough, Malik took a defensive line into Turn 1 expecting a possible bump and run. It didn’t come, as Conti sailed it off on the outside, establishing the lead before the middle of the corner. Once he had the lead, Conti wasn’t challenged for the rest of the night.

CONTI: “EVERYTHING WAS SCIENCED-OUT” – TEAM CONTI CAME PREPARED

eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, pace laps, William Byron Esports front row
Nick Ottinger (25) and Matt Bussa (97) lead the field to green at The Milwaukee Mile.

On the pole for the inaugural Milwaukee event was the 2020 Series Champion Nick Ottinger. There were a lot of unknowns heading into this race, especially for the fact that there would be no stacking of any official races beforehand like most weeks.

Team Conti came with a fast piece, though, and it allowed a front row lockout by William Byron Esports and the Team Conti duo of Ottinger and Matt Bussa. The fourth Team Conti member, a new member to the squad this year in Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports) was subjected to starting back in 25th.

eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Nick Ottinger leading
Nick Ottinger (25) leads at The Milwaukee Mile.

Mullis, however, was one of the few able to make moves through the show, and with the amount of incidents he wound up in, he sure did have to move from the back up the grid often. Mullis was the hard charger before the caution. After multiple spins, he still managed a 19th place effort.

Bussa would not be so lucky. After holding on to a Top 10 through the first 75 percent of the race, his night became unwound when he was collected in a multicar incident at lap 76. He was able to recover to finish 25th, but it wasn’t indicative of the speed the whole team had.

YELLOW FEVER AND A COUPLE OF BUMP AND RUNS

One of the reasons Ottinger wasn’t able to go flag-to-flag was because of the onslaught of cautions in the midsection of the race. It got bad enough that Race Control made restarts single file, which ended up working out to only have one caution in the final 20 laps, as opposed to the seven in the previous 35.

Malik Ray was slicing and dicing his way to the front. On lap 62, he was on Ottinger’s bumper. He sent it in and moved the No. 25 out of the groove, taking the preferred inside line. Another caution flew and the No. 7 was listed as the leader at the time.

Of course, Conti did make the eventual move to the lead around Malik, but in the closing laps, Ottinger returned the favor. Malik would eventually slide back to fourth, behind FGR Accel eRacing’s Garrett Manes, but he’ll leave the 1.015-mile oval event as the driver with the most points so far.

RACE 2 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE – TOP 10 RESULTS

FINSTACAR #DRIVERTEAMINTLEDPTS
1108Michael ContiJR Motorsports100 LAPS2040
2125Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports+0.282 secs6135
32112Garrett ManesFGR Accel eRacing+1.428 secs034
497Malik RayJim Beaver Esports+1.970 secs1833
5848Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix+1.999 secs032
6695Casey KirwanXSET+2.097 secs031
71318Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing+2.205 secs030
83175Zack NovakRise Esports+2.333 secs029
92740Dylan AultLetarte Esports+2.786 secs028
10741Dylan DuvalStewart-Haas Esports+2.900 secs027
eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Michael Conti save

PLAYOFF SEEDING AFTER RACE 2 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE

POS#DRIVERTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
18Michael ContiJR Motorsports65WIN111
233Tucker MinterTeam Dillon Esports61WIN111
37Malik RayJim Beaver Esports68+20022
425Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports66+18012
595Casey KirwanXSET64+16012
648Graham A. BowlinCharlotte Phoenix61+13012
775Zack NovakRise Esports53+5001
834Allen BoesFront Row Motorsports51+3001
966Tyler GareyKanaan Esports50+2001
1041Dylan DuvalStewart-Haas Esports49+1001
1138Michael Cosey JrFront Row Motorsports48-1011
1218Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing44-5001
eNASCAR, iRacing, The Milwaukee Mile, Nick Ottinger bumps Malik Ray

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER RACE 2 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE

POSCAR #sTEAMPTSBEHWINST5T10
13 | 33Team Dillon Esports104111
234 | 38Front Row Motorsports99-5012
34 | 95XSET96-8012
425 | 97William Byron Esports93-11012
58 | 88JR Motorsports91-13111
643 | 48Charlotte Phoenix84-20012
646 | 75Rise Esports84-20001
811 | 66Kanaan Esports83-21001
97 | 15Jim Beaver Esports78-26022
1023 | 4523XI Racing70-34000

BOX SCORE

  • Eight cautions for 30 laps in 100 completed laps (no overtime)
  • Four lead changes among four drivers (Ottinger, Conti, Ray, Honeycutt)
  • Most laps led: No. 25 Nick Ottinger (61 laps led)
  • Fastest lap: No. 8 Michael Conti (Lap 82, 29.517 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 75 Zack Novak (Started 31st, Finished 8th | +23 spots)
  • Hard luck: No. 27 Cody Byus (Started 3rd, Finished 34th | -31 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: No. 8 Michael Conti & No. 7 Malik Ray (0x)
  • Most incidents: No. 42 Kollin Keister (28x)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 3 Jordy Lopez Jr (11th place)
  • Team of the race: No. 8 / No. 88 JR Motorsports (65 points)
  • Winning Club: Carolina

UP NEXT: ATLANTA (SUPER) SPEEDWAY

eNASCAR Coca-Cola sponsored cars

Another superspeedway-style race is up next as the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway’s new configuration in two weeks. Malik Ray leads the points and Team Dillon Esports leads the Team Championship after two events.

Things kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. GMT on Tuesday, 14th March. The race itself starts at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. GMT. 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 Speedway100
428-MarRichmond Raceway130
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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