Rajah Caruth was able to strike first on Saturday in the first round of the 2022 D-BOX eNASCAR International iRacing Series presented by Digital Motorsports at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Caruth took the lead from NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver Treyten Lapcevich with 10 laps to go and never looked back, scoring the first win on the eNASCAR iRacing calendar for 2022.
For the majority of the race, Caruth ran inside the Top 4, battling with Lapcevich, Mexico Series driver Victor Barrales Jr and fellow ARCA driver Nicholas Sanchez. After Sanchez was moved out of the way by Lapcevich after catching a lapped car at the wrong time, Caruth was as close as he’d been all day to the lead. With a better tire-saving strategy, Caruth wound up on top for his first series victory.
“I kind of just rode for the majority of the race, not even rode, just trying to make sure I wasn’t slipping tires, I wasn’t going harder than I needed to, just because of how the tire ages and works off heat” Caruth said post-race. “I wouldn’t say that I went over 80 per cent for the whole race because I was really working on not slipping tires and not cranking the steering wheel too much, wanting to be there at the end with a good amount of tire left to take advantage.”
Points are being officially scored this season. Caruth will head into three consecutive road races with more points than anyone else at 40. Next up for the series is a date with Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on 15th January.
OVAL RACING IN eNASCAR INTERNATIONAL FOR THE FIRST TIME
Last season, all three races in the series took place on road events. Brands Hatch, COTA and Daytona Road were the venues, but only Daytona returns in 2022. This season will be book-ended by two oval events which started with Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Qwick Wick Firestarter 60 event.
Sanchez took the pole position and dominated the first two thirds of the event. Lapcevich started alongside and pushed hard early, but eventually fell back into the clutches of the rest of the field. Caruth fell behind Barrales Jr early on, but in an attempt to save tires. The tire strategy started to pay off as Caruth made his way into second, right behind Sanchez for the lead.
Just before Caruth could see if it would pay off, the caution flag flew for the first time in series history at lap 22. Simon Pilate, the de facto 2021 International Series champion, went sideways in the middle of the pack. He rebounded for a Top 10 finish. A second caution flew shortly after for the big one after Davide Dallara had an issue and spun in front of the pack.
RUBBING IS RACING?
The turning point in the race came with 20 laps to go. As the leaders approached the damaged car of Vladimiros Tziortzis, another NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver in the field, Sanchez had to change up his line to get around. This allowed Lapcevich to close in quicker than expected and the two made contact. Sanchez had the save of the day, but fell down the leaderboard quickly to sixth.
Sanchez wound up pulling over and quitting a lap later, despite having a driveable car. That left the battle for the win down to five drivers in the lead pack. With Caruth saving from the get go of the final restart, his tires were in prime condition as the laps wound down. With 10 laps to go, Caruth pulled to the inside of Lapcevich and made the pass. Barrales Jr also came through into second, but it was Caruth who stood tall as the winner.
LOOKING DOWN THE eNASCAR INTERNATIONAL LEADERBOARD
26 of the 31 selected drivers took part in the opening race of the 2022 eNASCAR International season. Competing for multiple series around the globe, including the ARCA Series in the US, the Pinty’s Series in Canada, the Peak Series in Mexico, and the Whelen Series in Europe, the field was inclusive of International up-and-comers and well established veterans.
Perhaps the most prolific name on the list was current Pinty’s Series competitor and former NASCAR and IndyCar competitor Alex Tagliani. Tagliani, a winner in the Champ Car Series back in 2004 at Road America, has had multiple drives over the course of his more than 20 year professional racing career. Tags wound up finishing 14th.
Another well known name to me would be the Israeli driver and multiple time champion Alon Day. Day has won titles in EuroNASCAR and Formula Renault, and has made starts in all three of NASCAR’s highest series in recent years. Unfortunately, Day ran into issues early and fell down a lap after contact with another driver. He would finish 20th.
RACE #1 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI FINAL RESULTS
- 13 Rajah Caruth | ARCA Menards / NASCAR AAP Weekly | 60 LAPS
- 39 Victor Barrales Jr. | NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series | +0.961 sec
- 20 Treyten Lapcevich | NASCAR Pinty’s Series | +1.095 sec
- 46 Miguel Gomes | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +1.800 sec
- 6 Diego Ortiz | NASCAR Mexico Trucks Series | +2.309 sec
- 5 Aaron Cosio | NASCAR Mexico Trucks Series | +4.340 sec
- 81 Justin Campbell | Bojangles Summer Shootout | +5.107 sec
- 14 Alex de Alba | NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series | +5.642 sec
- 9 Leonardo Colavita | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +6.065 sec
- 8 Simon Pilate | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +6.801 sec
- 50 Tobias Dauenhauer | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +9.189 sec
- 22 Andres Perez de Lara | NASCAR Challenge Mexico Series | +9.678 sec
- 51 Jake Cosio | NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series | +10.883 sec
- 18 Alex Tagliani | NASCAR Pinty’s Series | +12.154 sec
- 148 Gordon Barnes | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +13.534 sec
- 69 Giorgio Maggi | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +24.218 sec
- 48 Yevgen Sokolovskiy | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +35.799 sec
- 77 Jocelyn Fecteau | NASCAR Pinty’s Series | +1 LAP
- 88 Massimiliano Lanza | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +1 LAP
- 21 Alon Day | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +1 LAP
- 23 Federico Gutierrez Hoppe | NASCAR Mexico Trucks Series | +4 LAPS
- 1 Vladimiros Tziortzis | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +11 LAPS
- 2 Nicholas Sanchez | ARCA Menards Series | +18 LAPS
- 64 Paul Jouffreau | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +31 LAPS
- 90 Davide Dallara | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +36 LAPS
- 10 Ulysse Delsaux | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | +60 LAPS
POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE #1 – HOMESTEAD-MIAMI
- 13 Rajah Caruth | ARCA Menards / NASCAR AAP Weekly | 40 points
- 39 Victor Barrales Jr. | NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series | 35 points
- 20 Treyten Lapcevich | NASCAR Pinty’s Series | 34 points
- 46 Miguel Gomes | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | 33 points
- 6 Diego Ortiz | NASCAR Mexico Trucks Series | 32 points
- 5 Aaron Cosio | NASCAR Mexico Trucks Series | 31 points
- 81 Justin Campbell | Bojangles Summer Shootout | 30 points
- 14 Alex de Alba | NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series | 29 points
- 9 Leonardo Colavita | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | 28 points
- 8 Simon Pilate | NASCAR Whelen Euro Series | 27 points
- LAPS LEAD: Nicholas Sanchez 40 (1-40), Treyten Lapcevich 10 (41-50), Rajah Caruth 10 (51-60)
- HARD CHARGER: Leonardo Colavita (+11 spots)
- CAUTIONS: Two for eight laps
- TIME OF RACE: 40 minutes, 12 seconds
- FASTEST LAP: Treyten Lapcevich, Lap 33 (33.718 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