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Esports

eNCCiS Preview: Oval pros go road racing at Road America in Round 11

The eleventh race of the 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will once again take the 40 best oval drivers to a road course instead, this time to Road America for the first time in series history. 

Since 2010, the 14-corner course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin has been a mainstay on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. The 4.048-mile / 6.515-kilometer venue is hosting the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time in NASCAR’s modern era, and as it was at Circuit of the Americas earlier this season, iRacing will virtually begin the week of racing at Road America on Tuesday night. 

The last time the series went to a road course at Circuit of the Americas, Bobby Zalenski’s streak of winning was ended on Lap 1 in Turn 1. Mitchell deJong took advantage for his first career win.

When talking about eNASCAR drivers that excel at road racing, look no further than the two most recent road winners in the series. Mitchell deJong (23XI Racing) and Bobby Zalenski (LETARTE Esports) have both already won this season, deJong at COTA for his first career win and Zalenski last week at a track that’s often compared to a road course, Pocono Raceway. 

If either driver wins, they would be the first driver on the season to win more than one race. That’s right, 10 races up, 10 different winners. There are only 10 playoff spots, and if all 10 winners are in the Top 20 by the end of the regular season, they all make the playoffs. 

This is the first time in series history with a win and in ticket to the playoffs. If there are more than 10 winners, then some tickets will need to be revoked because there’s only enough room for the 10 highest winners in the points in that case. 

Ray Alfalla (51) has a win, but needs to make his way into the Top 20, plus have no new winners in the next four races, to have a chance to make the playoffs this season.

With these final four regular season races at Road America, New Hampshire, Watkins Glen and Michigan, some drivers who are high up in points without a win may only see a playoff berth if they’re able to capture a checkered flag.

Drivers such as Steven Wilson (Roush Fenway Gaming), Michael Guest (Jim Beaver Esports), Graham A. Bowlin (Stewart-Haas Esports) and Casey Kirwan (XSET) have all had spectacular seasons that would, in past years, be playoff worthy runs, but if Ray Alfalla (Joe Gibbs Racing) makes his way into the Top 20 and none of the other winners fall out, all four could miss this year’s playoffs. 

Through 10 races in 2021, the 2020 eNASCAR champion Nick Ottinger is currently outside of the playoff grid, needing a victory to ensure a chance at defending his title.

Back to Road America, being that it’s a new course, it could mean that there’s an unexpected winner at the end of the night. With how strong both deJong and Zalenski are, nobody is doubting that they’d be in contention, but someone like defending series champ Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) needs a win in the worst way to be able to defend that title.

Ottinger has won a road course before, back in 2015 at The Glen. WGI could be a more likely candidate for him to get back to victory lane, but don’t count out Ottinger at a new road venue. He did qualify fifth at COTA as well before contact in the first turn on the first lap ruined his race early on. 

Tune into the Countdown to Green starting at 8:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 a.m. BST on eNASCAR and iRacing social channels and stay tuned over here at Traxion for continuing coverage on the top levels of eNASCAR racing. 

PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER POCONO RACEWAY

  1. 32 Keegan Leahy – 23XI Racing – 1 win  
  2. 83 Bobby Zalenski – LETARTE Esports – 1 win
  3. 97 Logan Clampitt – William Byron Esports – 1 win  
  4. 55 Vicente Salas – Spacestation Gaming – 1 win  
  5. 4 Ryan Luza – XSET Gaming – 1 win 
  6. 77 Bob Bryant – Kligerman Sport – 1 win  
  7. 8 Michael Conti – JR Motorsports – 1 win 
  8. 23 Mitchell deJong – 23XI Racing – 1 win   
  9. 36 Chris Shearburn – LETARTE Esports – 1 win   
  10. 17 Steven Wilson – Roush Fenway Gaming – 233 points 
    *51 Ray Alfalla – Gibbs Gaming – 1 win but outside Top 20

TOP 10 TEAMS AFTER POCONO RACEWAY  

  1. 23XI Racing (23, 32) – 469 points  | 2 wins
  2. XSET Gaming (4, 38) – 420 points  | 1 win
  3. LETARTE Esports (36, 83) – 412 points | 2 wins
  4. William Byron Esports (25, 97) – 409 points | 1 win
  5. Stewart-Haas Esports (10, 41) – 398 points
  6. Roush Fenway Gaming (6, 17) – 391 points  
  7. Kligerman Sport (44, 77) – 391 points  | 1 win
  8. Jim Beaver Esports (9, 15) – 359 points   
  9. Team Dillon Esports (3, 33) – 350 points   
  10. MODE Motorsports (24, 75) – 345 points 
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