The conclusion to the 2022 D-BOX eNASCAR International iRacing Series presented by Digital Motorsports championship came down to the final moments in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway. As NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver Treyten Lapcevich went on to score his first race win in the series, it was Alon Day taking the overall championship title.
Day, the Israeli-born NASCAR Whelen Euro Series multi-time champion, has been the hottest commodity of the series since the second race of the limited series. After a tough start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Day bounced back and won all three road races on the schedule at Mosport, Zolder and Daytona. Entering the finale, Day had a five point gap on NASCAR Mexico Series driver Victor Barrales.
Barrales kept up with Day for the majority of the event, but he either needed a win or more than six positions over the points leader to have a chance. Barrales wound up 10th after a tumultuous final pair of laps in overtime. Up front, however, Day couldn’t just back off. Lapcevich could have stolen the overall title if Day would have finished ninth or worse.
In the end, however, Day would keep it together, finish second, and claim the 2022 eNASCAR International title.
OVAL RACING FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME
Back at Homestead-Miami to open the season, many of the participating drivers didn’t have a lot of experience with oval racing. Even still at Phoenix, it was only their second ever in series history, and it would decide a championship.
Barrales showed speed in Homestead-Miami while Day struggled, getting collected in an incident that did not even bring out a caution. This time, Day put in as much practice as he could to prevent the same scenario. Caution flags did fly once again at Phoenix this week, but Day made sure he was far away from them.
In total, three cautions flew, including one at the end which forced the series’ first overtime attempt.
At the front of the field, Lapcevich was near untouchable. Alex de Alba ran second for the majority of the event, at one point stealing a lap led. Unfortunately for de Alba, a speeding penalty late dashed any hopes he had at a possible victory. Once de Alba was out of the question, Lapcevich only had Day and Rajah Caruth to worry about.
CARUTH STEALS THE SHOW
For Caruth, a championship was a huge possibility before a retirement at Circuit Zolder cost him more than enough points. The Homestead-Miami Speedway winner was fast throughout the event at Phoenix as well. Caruth didn’t put down a lap in qualifying, and after contact early with Vladimiros Tziortzis, he immediately regretted the decision. A quick caution allowed him to use up his fast repair and get back in the conversation.
Caruth was able to make his way easily into the Top 5. A few laps fresher tires plus more oval experience than most allowed the future NASCAR Xfinity Series driver to pull up to the podium before another yellow. On the final longer stint, Caruth was chasing Lapcevich, but couldn’t quite get there. Another caution and the strategies started to come into place.
Opting to pit for tires, but giving up the second spot, Caruth knew it was the only chance he had for a victory. On the final restart, Caruth made some of the most aggressive yet amazing moves to get back up to third place by the end of it. If he had another lap, it was likely he could have gotten around Lapcevich.
NOT ENOUGH FOR BARRALES OR PILATE
The two drivers with the best chance at dethroning Day were Victor Barrales and Simon Pilate. Pilate was the de facto champion in the first iteration of the series in 2021, but with Alon Day stealing the show at all of the road races, Pilate struggled to keep the same pace he had last year.
Towards the middle of the race, Pilate was sent for a ride after contact with Jake Cosio. He was running in the Top 10 but would wind up outside of it by the checkers. As for Barrales, he was right on Day’s back bumper in the closing laps before the final caution flew. Barrales then fell into the clutches of the pack and wound up 10th by the end of it.
FIRST WIN FOR LAPCEVICH
One of the most consistent drivers from both seasons has to be Treyten Lapcevich. On Saturday, he improved on that consistency with his first win, a Phoenix win to cap off the season. In seven career eNASCAR International starts (he only missed Daytona Road last season), Lapcevich has failed to finish outside of the Top 10.
Back at Homestead-Miami, Lapcevich was one of the drivers to lead throughout the event. It was only a matter of time before the NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver would find victory lane. To do it, he held off another eNASCAR oval winner in Rajah Caruth and the eventual champion of the overall series, Alon Day.
The win elevated Driver 20 to the runner-up spot in the final standings.
DOMINANT DAY ENDS UP AS OVERALL CHAMPION
It would have been a travesty if the most dominant driver in series history didn’t end up as the champion. Day is the only driver in series history with multiple wins, and they all came this season.
Had Homestead-Miami been a better time for the EuroNASCAR champ, he likely would have had less to worry about in the finale. Instead, the only sure way to win it all was to finish second or better, and he did just that, holding off Caruth at the line for show.
RACE #5 PHOENIX TOP 10 FINAL RESULTS
|1||20||Treyten Lapcevich||65 LAPS (+5 OT)|
|2||21||Alon Day||+0.564 sec|
|3||13||Rajah Caruth||+0.624 sec|
|4||50||Tobias Dauenhauer||+1.167 sec|
|5||14||Alex de Alba||+1.845 sec|
|6||19||Jaiden Reyna||+2.137 sec|
|7||2||Abraham Calderon||+2.397 sec|
|8||10||Ulysse Delsaux||+2.542 sec|
|9||5||Aaron Cosio||+2.591 sec|
|10||39||Victor Barrales||+3.029 sec|
|1||21||Alon Day||172 points|
|2||20||Treyten Lapcevich||165 points|
|3||39||Victor Barrales Jr||159 points|
|4||13||Rajah Caruth||150 points|
|4||8||Simon Pilate||150 points|
|4||14||Alex de Alba||150 points|
|7||50||Tobias Dauenhauer||148 points|
|8||64||Paul Jouffreau||133 points|
|9||46||Miguel Gomes||131 points|
|10||81||Justin Campbell||129 points|
- LAPS LEAD: Treyten Lapcevich, 64 (1-41, 43-65) Alex de Alba, 1 (42)
- HARD CHARGER: Rajah Caruth (+19 spots)
- CAUTIONS: Three for 12 laps
- TIME OF RACE: 38 minutes, 05 seconds
- FASTEST LAP: Treyten Lapcevich, Lap 2 (27.722 seconds)
2022 eNASCAR International iRacing Series Schedule
8th January 2022 – Homestead-Miami Speedway – 60 Laps 15th January 2022 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – 30 Laps 22nd January 2022 – Circuit Zolder – 30 Laps 29th January 2022 – Daytona International Speedway Road Course – 30 Laps 5th February 2022 – Phoenix Raceway – 60 Laps