2024 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Segment 1 concludes at Richmond

In the first season where the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series regular season has been broken up into Segments, the first is set to wrap up on Tuesday night at Richmond Raceway. With a special Heat format set to make its debut and a possible 50 standard points on the line instead of the usual 40, whoever finishes the night atop the standings will collect an additional five playoff points.

Kanaan Esports’ Kollin Keister currently leads the way through three races. Spire Motorsports’ Casey Kirwan is second, only four points back. Parker White (Williams Esports), Daytona winner Wyatt Tinsley (QuikTrip Pioneers Gaming), Donovan Strauss (Williams Esports), and Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports) round out the top six. They are the only drivers within single digit points of the leader.

Las Vegas winner Keegan Leahy (23XI) in seventh through Ryan Doucette (Pittsburgh Knights) in 26th all have a mathematical chance to win the Segment, but a lot would need to happen for anyone outside the top six drivers to steal the title. Atlanta winner Malik Ray has technically scored the most points this season, but due to a Daytona disqualification, he sits 13th, 29 points behind Keister for the top spot.

SEGMENT FORMAT

This year, the 14-race regular season is broken into three Segments, and each one could have an impact on who battles for this year’s Dale Earnhardt Jr Cup. With five playoff points awarded to each Segment winner, one driver could enter the 2024 Playoffs with up to 15 additional points in their pocket to challenge for a seat on stage in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in September.

Segment 1 is the shortest of the three, starting with the season opening race at Daytona, keeping score through the fourth race at Richmond Raceway. Both Segment 2 and 3 will last five races—from Brands Hatch to Darlington and from Iowa to Pocono, races 5 through 9 and 10 through 14. While points will be kept throughout the season as a whole, even the driver ranked last in Segment 1 could contend for the Segment 2 or 3 titles after each reset.

Richmond as a Segment-ending race is interesting because there are more points to be had than a normal race. With the Heat race format, a race winner could score up to 10 additional points. Those come from the Heat race scoring, where the two Heat winners through the 10th place finishers collect standard NASCAR Stage Points, 10 points down to one.

DRIVERS IN CONTENTION

A season ago, the top drivers looked a bit different, minus the ever-competitive Ottinger in the mix. Graham Bowlin led the way, then with the Charlotte Phoenix, followed by Ottinger, the now-retired Michael Conti, Front Row Motorsports’ Michael Cosey Jr, and former Kanaan Esports driver Tyler Garey.

Kanaan’s new driver, Keister, was 11th in the standings at this time a year ago, with 22 fewer points. 2022 series champion Kirwan was right behind him in a tie for 12th, with 24 points fewer than this season. White and Tinsley were also in the same ballpark, in 15th and 17th, both 22 points fewer than they have today.

Perhaps the biggest swing from a season ago is Strauss, who did not have a good beginning to his sophomore campaign. Last year through three races, Strauss sat in a tie for 32nd, with 55 points fewer than he’s been able to collect this season to date.

Ottinger, meanwhile, had nine more points after three races last season. Still, a perennial favorite since 2012, Ottinger left Richmond a year ago as the points leader over Conti by three points. Besides Tinsley, who won at Daytona, Ottinger’s been the closest of the group otherwise, just inches away from one at Las Vegas.

RICHMOND STATS

Looking historically at the last 14 seasons, Ottinger has the best record at the 0.75-mile short track in Virginia. True, his two wins at the track came earlier in his career—2013 and 2014. Last season, however, Ottinger led the second-most laps to eventual winner Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) and finished fourth. If the cautions flew his way, or didn’t fly at all, we might be speaking about a three-time Richmond winner.

The other five drivers at the top of the leaderboard don’t really have too many stats at The Action Track just yet. Besides Ottinger, Kirwan has the most starts at six. His best finish came in his rookie season, seventh in 2018, but he’s struggled since, only getting as good as a 17th in 2019 and again last season in 2023. His other three finishes have been below 35th.

Keister has three starts since the 2020 season with finishes across the board. His first start resulted in a 26th place finish, but 2022 and 2023 had better results of ninth and 18th, respectively. Strauss has two results, in 2022 and 2023, finishing 15th and seventh. Both White and Tinsley only have one result so far from last season’s race, where they finished 21st and 23rd, respectively.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

With the racing broken up into two 25-lap heats and a 70-lap feature, track position is going to be crucial for success in Tuesday’s festivities. When you look at qualifying, there’s nobody better in the series than Nick Ottinger, a 24-time eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series pole winner. Three of those poles have come at Richmond, and last season, Ottiboss started from the third position.

Norse Force Racing drivers have been quick to the punch in qualifying all season as well. Defending champion Steven Wilson (M80) took the pole at Las Vegas a month ago with NFR claiming eight of the top 10 starting spots. White, Tinsley, and Strauss could continue that trend with decent starting spots on the short track as well.

That’s not to discredit the Deadzone teammates of Kirwan or the points leader, Keister. They were both middle of the pack last season, but if 2024 has been any indication, it doesn’t matter where they qualify, as they’ve been able to work their way into top spots throughout each event. That’s why they’re the top two in points entering the Segment finale.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Segment 1 Standings through Round 3 of 4 are as follows:

  1. Kollin Keister, 89
  2. Casey Kirwan, 85
  3. Parker White, 83
  4. Wyatt Tinsley, 82
  5. Donovan Strauss, 81
  6. Nick Ottinger, 80
  7. Keegan Leahy, 72
  8. Steven Wilson, 68
  9. Michael Guest, 67
  10. Briar LaPradd, 67

The quest for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series championship, and the road to $500,000, continues tonight at 8:00 pm ET, live on eNASCAR.com/live. Tune in to the pre-race Countdown to Green starting at 7:30 pm ET.

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