In the most madcap of all possible finishes, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Zalenski is an eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship 4 driver once again after finally scoring his first win of the season in the Logitech G 200 at Talladega Superspeedway. The only driver to earn a playoff berth by points, Zalenski slid sideways across the line after eRacr’s Collin Bowden and XSET’s Casey Kirwan made contact going for the win to guarantee his chance to go for the $100,000 championship in October.
As is often the case in eNASCAR superspeedway races, the early action was clean as drivers clicked off laps. It wasn’t until after halfway that the first yellow flag flew, as Elliott Sadler eSports’ Liam Brotherton and Letarte Esports’ Dylan Ault both went for the middle and made contact that collected playoff driver Femi Olatunbosun of Clint Bowyer Racing and numerous others. Another major wreck shortly thereafter collected Olatunbosun again, as well as fellow playoff driver Mitchell deJong of 23XI, and saw Olatunbosun’s teammate Nicklas Shelton barrel roll through the tri-oval grass.
The next green flag wouldn’t even last a lap, collecting even more playoff drivers—including top seed Steven Wilson of Stewart-Haas eSports and defending race winner and 2020 champion Nick Ottinger of William Byron eSports—and another immediate fourth caution would set up a green-white-checkered finish. Michael Guest of Jim Beaver eSports and Malik Ray were the leading tandem after the final restart and take the field to the white flag, but the run by Bowden and Kirwan rocketed them to the lead.
As the rest of the field began to make their moves, Bowden and Kirwan built a few car lengths on the field, but Kirwan ducked low with a run in the tri-oval. Bowden drove low to defend, and as they pushed one another going to the start-finish line, Zalenski closed the gap. Kirwan made contact with the charging Zalenski before the trio slid across the line, and the rest of the field piled in behind them.
Going into the penultimate round of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, only Zalenski has a guaranteed Championship 4 berth with a win. The remaining nine playoff drivers will either need to win at Homestead, or hope their best two playoff finishes among Bristol, Talladega, and Homestead are good enough on points to secure their spot.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from the Logitech G 200 at Talladega were as follows:
|1||27||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||73||0.000||1||48.641||40|
|4||40||17||Kaden Honeycutt||Roush Fenway Keselowski||73||-0.370||1||48.304||33|
|5||1||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||73||-0.440||0||48.974||32|
|6||29||88||Briar LaPradd||JR Motorsports||73||-0.434||0||48.591||31|
|7||10||7||Malik Ray||iRacing Motorsports||73||-0.459||11||48.828||30|
|8||33||20||Donovan Strauss||Williams eSports||73||-0.444||0||48.523||29|
|9||32||36||Brian Mercurio||Letarte Esports||73||-0.490||0||48.288||28|
|10||24||15||Blake Reynolds||Jim Beaver eSports||73||-0.499||2||48.859||27|
|11||9||9||Michael Guest||Jim Beaver eSports||73||-0.525||5||48.802||26|
|12||36||16||Blade Whitt||Wood Brothers Racing||73||-0.624||0||48.677||25|
|13||5||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||73||-0.678||4||48.539||24|
|14||11||24||Cody Byus||Mode Motorsports||73||-0.713||2||48.651||23|
|15||14||12||Derek Justis||iRacing Motorsports||73||-0.802||0||48.915||22|
|16||3||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||73||-0.821||0||48.696||21|
|17||6||40||Dylan Ault||Letarte Esports||73||-1.006||2||48.894||20|
|19||16||75||Matt Bussa||Mode Motorsports||73||-1.197||0||48.641||18|
|20||38||6||Parker Retzlaff||Roush Fenway Keselowski||73||-1.182||0||48.943||17|
|21||26||33||Taylor Hurst||Team Dillon Esports||73||-1.450||0||48.674||16|
|22||28||5||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||73||-1.558||0||48.652||15|
|23||19||31||Garrett Manes||Elliot Sadler eSports||73||-2.074||0||48.645||14|
|24||17||51||Ray Alfalla||Joe Gibbs Racing||73||-2.737||1||48.952||13|
|27||22||79||Femi Olatunbosun||Clint Bowyer Racing||73||-3.398||2||48.571||10|
|28||2||21||Garrett Lowe||Wood Brothers Racing||73||-4.153||1||48.973||9|
|29||25||43||Kollin Keister||Charlotte Phoenix||73||-5.250||1||48.619||8|
|30||15||19||Vicente Salas||Williams eSports||73||-5.825||0||48.514||7|
|31||7||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart Haas Racing||73||-9.261||2||48.916||6|
|32||8||55||Allen Boes||Space Station Gaming||73||-18.080||6||48.850||5|
|34||30||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||69||-4L||0||48.440||3|
|35||35||3||Corey Vincent||Team Dillon Esports||69||-4L||0||48.517||2|
|36||37||97||Logan Clampitt||William Byron eSports||67||-6L||1||48.278||1|
|37||20||2||Liam Brotherton||Elliot Sadler eSports||67||-6L||2||48.489||1|
|38||31||54||Kyle Peddle||Space Station Gaming||63||DNF||0||48.653||1|
|39||39||14||Nickolas Shelton||Clint Bowyer Racing||59||DNF||0||48.306||1|
|40||23||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart Haas Racing||52||-21L||0||48.869||1|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points after 16 rounds are as follows:
- Bobby Zalenski, 2061/1 playoff win
- Graham Bowlin, 2061
- Casey Kirwan, 2052
- Michael Conti, 2047
- Garrett Lowe, 2044
- Steven Wilson, 2042
- Nick Ottinger, 2037
- Matt Bussa, 2030
- Femi Olatunbosun, 2029
- Mitchell deJong, 2019
The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship 4 cutoff round runs in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Broadcast coverage begins on Tuesday, October 11 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. The season will culminate with a live, in-person event from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte on October 25, with the Championship 4, commentary team, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all in attendance.
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