Wilson Locks Up Top eNASCAR Playoff Seed With Darlington Victory; Zalenski Earns Final Playoff Spot

Stewart-Haas eSports’ Steven Wilson ensured that he’ll enter this year’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs with the top spot on the grid after taking the checkered flag in Tuesday night’s regular season finale from Darlington Raceway. Wilson took two tires for track position going into the first overtime restart, grabbed the lead before another yellow flew, and pulled away in the second overtime to earn his third win of the season and break a tie with multiple other drivers for the most wins so far this year.

The 14th round of the season had been a must-win event for numerous drivers looking to secure the final playoff spot, including polesitter and defending series champion Keegan Leahy. To his outside on the front row would be Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Zalenski, the top driver on points who would stand to advance if there wasn’t another new race winner. Lurking further down the field were a host of drivers in the top 20 in points who could join Leahy in advancing with a win, while Zalenski’s JGR teammate and Nashville winner Ray Alfalla would put an end to the entire situation if he could return to the top 20 in series points.

Both Leahy and Zalenski would lead laps early on in a race slowed by just one caution near the halfway point. Zalenski and Wilson would each lead a chunk of laps in the second half of the race, but a hard-charging Leahy was closing on the lead before another caution flew with just a handful of laps to go.

Needing a victory, Leahy would stay out for track position, but only Elliott Sadler eSports’ Garrett Manes would join him out front on old tires. Wilson led a half dozen drivers, including Zalenski’s closest points challenger Blake Reynolds of Jim Beaver eSports, on two tires, while Zalenski would lead the four-tire drivers in ninth. If Leahy couldn’t hang on, Reynolds would have a shot of his own by either winning the race or gaining seven points on Zalenski.

Unfortunately for Leahy, the track position gamble wouldn’t pay off. Wilson led a group of cars around the 23XI driver before a massive accident at the back of the field—one that would put the final nail in Alfalla’s hopes of getting back in the top 20, no less—caused a yellow flag before anyone could take the white flag. Without the tires to strike back, Leahy would pit under the ensuing yellow to remove himself from the battle as well.

With that, it was essentially down to Reynolds (restarting third) and Zalenski (fifth) for the transfer spot, as Wilson and eRacr’s Collin Bowden started up front for the final green flag. Wilson got a strong jump after the green, but Reynolds couldn’t clear Bowden as quickly and would have to settle for second. Zalenski would claw his way back to third, giving him the final playoff spot over Reynolds by just five points.

This year’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff grid sees drivers from 10 different teams represented, as well as two former series champions in William Byron eSports’ Nick Ottinger and JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti. However, just three of the top five teams in the team standings are in the playoffs; second place Jim Beaver eSports and fourth place Rise Esports each have both of their drivers in the top 15 in points, but neither were able to secure a victory.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Darlington Raceway were as follows:











11110Steven WilsonStewart Haas Racing1260.0002429.62440
21015Blake ReynoldsJim Beaver eSports126-0.684029.74735
3218Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing126-0.7976929.55734
4234Ryan LuzaXSET126-1.048029.87333
5339Michael GuestJim Beaver eSports126-1.073029.68732
6719Vicente SalasWilliams eSports126-1.226029.75831
72269Collin BowdeneRacr126-1.366029.93830
8375Matt BussaMode Motorsports126-1.457029.78329
92842Darik BourdeaueRacr126-1.491029.77828
102579Femi OlatunbosunClint Bowyer Racing126-1.713029.96227
112943Kollin KeisterCharlotte Phoenix126-1.743029.96426
122097Logan ClampittWilliam Byron eSports126-1.819029.91725
132436Brian MercurioLetarte Esports126-1.895030.04524
141646Jimmy MullisRise eSports126-2.094029.82523
15841Dylan DuvalStewart Haas Racing126-2.250029.72022
161816Blade WhittWood Brothers Racing126-2.241029.53021
171423Mitchell deJong23XI126-2.394029.85820
183431Garrett ManesElliot Sadler eSports126-2.615029.97219
192720Donovan StraussWilliams eSports126-2.723029.98418
203814Nickolas SheltonClint Bowyer Racing126-2.721030.03517
21145Keegan Leahy23XI126-2.9153329.53316
22306Parker RetzlaffRoush Fenway Keselowski126-2.974029.96015
2353Corey VincentTeam Dillon Esports126-3.169029.73714
241533Taylor HurstTeam Dillon Esports126-3.251029.50913
2542Liam BrothertonElliot Sadler eSports126-3.451029.48512
261288Briar LaPraddJR Motorsports126-3.680029.81611
271324Cody ByusMode Motorsports126-3.903029.87210
282155Allen BoesSpace Station Gaming126-4.202029.9579
293695Casey KirwanXSET126-15.363030.0748
302621Garrett LoweWood Brothers Racing126-20.950029.4307
311740Dylan AultLetarte Esports123-3L029.7416
323151Ray AlfallaJoe Gibbs Racing121-5L030.0495
3398Michael ContiJR Motorsports121-5L029.7344
341954Kyle PeddleSpace Station Gaming120DNF029.8443
35325Zack NovakRise eSports115-11L029.6912
36357Malik RayiRacing Motorsports115-11L029.9261
37625Nick OttingerWilliam Byron eSports115-11L029.7711
383712Derek JustisiRacing Motorsports41-85L030.0621


The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff grid is as follows:

  1. Steven Wilson, 3 wins/387 points
  2. Nick Ottinger, 2 wins/313 points
  3. Michael Conti, 2 wins/296 points
  4. Casey Kirwan, 1 win/364 points
  5. Matt Bussa, 1 win/363 points
  6. Mitchell deJong, 1 win/310 points
  7. Graham Bowlin, 1 win/309 points
  8. Femi Olatunbosun, 1 win/307 points
  9. Garrett Lowe, 1 win/277 points
  10. Bobby Zalenski, 332 points

The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs begin in two weeks at Bristol Motor Speedway. Broadcast coverage begins on Tuesday, September 13 at 8:30PM ET with Countdown to Green before the 9PM ET green flag. Live coverage of all the action can be seen at enascar.com/live.

For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.enascar.com or www.iracing.com/enascar. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.

Images via Justin Melillo