Stewart-Haas eSports driver Steven Wilson, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski, Charlotte Phoenix’s Graham Bowlin, and XSET’s Casey Kirwan will head to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte to do battle live and on-site for a $100,000 championship, competing on the virtual Phoenix Raceway in the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship Finale. While they settle the title among themselves, the rest of the series will be fighting for points as they look to lock in a spot in next year’s series by finishing in the top 20 in points. As always, race coverage begins at 9PM ET at eNASCAR.com/live and across iRacing social media channels, while a special extended edition of Countdown to Green will kick off at 8PM ET to preview the action.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte will play host to many of the biggest names in sim racing for the 2022 eNASCAR season finale, as NASCAR and iRacing team up for the first-ever live event in the history of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. The Championship 4 drivers, commentary crew of Evan Posocco, Steve Letarte, and Alan Cavanna, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be joined by key NASCAR and iRacing officials at the venue, with Earnhardt Jr. set to present the champion with their $100,000 winner’s check and an all-new championship trophy bearing his name.
Last Race: With only Zalenski having locked himself into the Championship 4 by a Talladega victory, the other nine eNASCAR playoff drivers would do battle for just three spots at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kirwan would qualify on pole and lead a good chunk of the race, but it was Wilson who would survive eNASCAR overtime and hold off Jim Beaver eSports’ Michael Guest and Kirwan to earn his series-leading fourth win of the season and a Championship 4 spot.
Kirwan’s consistency locked him into the third seat in Charlotte, but the fourth was in question thanks to a last-corner wreck that collected many of the other playoff drivers. In the end, while 23XI’s Mitchell deJong and JR Motorsports’ Michael Conti avoided the carnage, their finishes weren’t enough; thanks to a drop rule that counted only a driver’s best two playoff finishes out of three, Bowlin’s Bristol and Talladega finishes gave him a three-point clearance on Conti.
Last Year: Phoenix Raceway hasn’t been on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule since 2018, and never in its current form. The most recent visit saw Conti win the pole and last year’s champion Keegan Leahy earn the victory, while the 2017 event marked Zalenski’s first-ever eNASCAR win.
Track Facts: Though it only began hosting NASCAR Cup Series events in 1988, Phoenix Raceway has been in continuous operation for nearly 60 years. The track’s early history consisted mostly of open-wheel and sports car events before then, but Alan Kulwicki’s historic first career victory and “Polish Victory Lap” in the Cup debut immediately established it as a series staple. Often scheduled for early and late-season dates, Phoenix hosted the first-ever NASCAR Truck Series event in 1995, and has been the host of NASCAR’s Championship Weekend since 2020.
Image via Justin Melillo