Who’s hot, who’s not? 2024 eNASCAR mid-season report cards entering Charlotte

With half of the 2024 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Regular Season in the rearview, chances to fight for a share of the $500,000 prize pool and the Dale Earnhardt Jr Cup are dwindling as the series enters NASCAR’s virtual backyard in Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday night.

The playoff picture is as volatile as ever, with six different winners over the seven races, but only four of those winners are currently eligible based on their points position. Furthermore, half of those eligible could fall out with one bad race night.

Many of the more common names in the series find themselves towards the front, while some surprising names also find themselves towards the back. If we were to grade these drivers based on their performance thus far, how would that look on a racing-based report card? Let’s take a look at how the 40 best eNASCAR drivers are faring at the halfway point.

Exceeds Expectations

On top of the boards, in wins and points, you’ll find the defending eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion, M80’s Steven Wilson. From Bacon to the Bomb Squad, Wilson hasn’t missed a step in his quest for a second title in-a-row. In a perfect world, Wilson could potentially have five wins at this point, with Daytona, Las Vegas, and Brands Hatch all slipping out of his grasp. Right now, Wilson is setting the world on fire, but he’s got a handful of drivers behind him ready to strike at any given moment.

The other winner that is currently safe on points is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski. The battle of Brands Hatch left Wilson bruised as Bobby Z bumped his way to the top spot for the win. That race could have fallen to Zalenski, Wilson, or even Kanaan Esports’ Vicente Salas, but it was eNASCAR’s road course king who pulled off the moves for another road course win. Speaking of Salas, his fourth season has arguably been his best yet, despite not yet collecting a victory. The eNASCAR Contender iRacing Series champion has continued that pace into decent runs so far in the 2024 season, and as it stands, Salas sits second in the standings, behind only Wilson.

William Byron eSports’ Tucker Minter didn’t have the best start to his sophomore season, but after a few flunks in the early going, he’s picked up the pace with nearly perfect marks at Richmond, Brands Hatch, Dover, and Talladega. Still without a win that would all-but-lock him into a playoff berth, Minter has been in position for the last four races. Charlotte could be his night to turn that around. He’ll have to fight his corporate teammate Nick Ottinger for it though. OttiBoss is a perennial favorite, currently third in the points, but also lacking a win. While his season is still good against many others, this grade would fall just short of where he was a season ago, where he already had three top-5 finishes at this point.

Above Average

A number of drivers are having career seasons in 2024, and leading that front would be the new Williams Esports driver in 2024, Parker White. Currently fourth in the standings, White’s pace among the group has improved, even collecting a pseudo-pole position at Brands Hatch. His average finish is slightly underwhelming in comparison to his peers near the top, which doesn’t give the sophomore top ranks so far, but he’s right on the cusp of being one of the elite drivers this season. His teammate, Donovan Strauss, has been right on the same pace, if not more impressive through these first seven races. However, Donny’s been bit a few times, including the most recent race at Talladega, where he lost connection to the server and settled for 35th. Strauss also has a real pole position, at Dover, where he finished third. Sitting ninth in the points, Strauss has the potential to be a threat as the season goes on as well.

A pair of past champions, Spire Motorsports’ Casey Kirwan and OXYGEN Esports’ Zack Novak, are sitting in good position halfway through the regular season. Both don’t have a win, but Kirwan does have some playoff points—should he make the playoffs—from winning the Segment 1 standings. Novak, meanwhile, has been on-again, off-again in his resurgence and quest to return to eNASCAR victory lane. He did score a crucial win in Contender, and after flirting with victory lane throughout 2022, Novak could be in position to bounce back. Kirwan, meanwhile, is in a bit of a slump after the first Segment. From first to now sitting in seventh, a win at a track he nearly won last season could remedy this recent slip.

Speaking of Contender winners, it’s been a breakout season for JR Motorsports’ Kaden Honeycutt. The full-time eNASCAR driver, who moonlights in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series often, bookended the Contender Series with wins at Las Vegas and Texas. Now, in his third season of top level competition, he’s broken into the conversation as a threat, week in and out, nearly taking victory at Dover. His teammate, Briar LaPradd, has also had some flashes of brilliance through the year, although his results haven’t told the full story yet. Part of that Team Conti backend alliance with Ottinger and the two Kevin Harvick Inc. drivers, Jimmy Mullis and Matt Bussa, LaPradd is much better than he was in his first season back in 2022. Keep an eye on these two, because their potential is there.

We can also throw Mullis and Bussa into this category, along with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Faulkingham and Kanaan Esports’ Kollin Keister. All four of these drivers have been in the top half of the field on a weekly basis, and their points standing is a testament to their pace.

Meeting Standards

There are three race winners that would fit into the median group of grades. Daytona winner Wyatt Tinsley (QuikTrip Pioneers Gaming), Atlanta winner Malik Ray (Spire Motorsports), and Talladega winner Dylan Duval (Nitro Circus Sim Racing) all have the win they need to be racing for a title in 2024, but they don’t quite have a comfortable amount of points to ensure this is the case in just over two months. Tinsley and Duval are tied for 18th, with 135 points, only eight points ahead of Ray in 21st, the wrong side of the cut line. Granted, for Malik in particular, he lost 34 points in a penalty from Daytona, so his pace would put him in what I would consider to be Above Average, but alas, these marks off could be the deciding factor of a potential playoff run.

Three drivers that all played in the playoffs last season, the two BS+COMPETITION drivers of Garrett Lowe and Jordy Lopez, as well as 23XI’s Michael Guest, are all teetering around the top 20 cut line. On the flip side of that, fgrAccel eRacing’s Garrett Manes is trending upwards, and having finished in the top 20 in all three of the seasons he’s competed in so far, it’s not too out of the question to say that he could knock any of these drivers below the line.

For the three winners, points will be crucial to ensuring a better grade later in the season. For those without a win, they’ll need to at least hold on to their points to stay above a passing grade.

Below A Passing Grade

After seven races, anyone below the top 20 cut line needs to be strategizing to get above it, not only to avoid relegation later in the year, but to have a chance to capitalize should they be in position to win. One driver that has a win but can’t do anything with it right now is a former champion, 23XI’s Keegan Leahy. Since his Las Vegas victory, it’s been all downhill for the 2021 series champion. He led the points after two races. Now he’s 28th. The former champion needs to regroup and get back on course to not only make the playoffs, but stay away from the threat of relegation.

There are a couple of other surprising names below the cut thus far. M80’s Ryan Luza, Front Row Motorsports’ Michael Cosey Jr, and QuikTrip Pioneers Gaming’s Graham Bowlin are all drivers we know can be good—Luza is the 2017 champion, Bowlin is a multi-time winner, and Cosey Jr had an incredible rookie campaign in 2023—but they’re all short of being in the top 20, and they all seem to be wrecked more than not as well. Minimizing that would be a good start for all three of them. Cosey had a moment of brilliance at Richmond, winning the pole and heat race, but other than that, it’s been a slog. Cosey’s teammate, Darik Bourdeau, is also a former winner in the series, and sits around the same spot he did a season ago in the points. He did nearly win at Atlanta, but that’s been his only bright spot on the season.

Rookie Seth DeMerchant (fgrAccel eRacing) is the best of the new crop this season, ahead of Nitro Circus Sim Racing’s Matthew Zwack by 18 points. Chalk it up to inexperience in the series, but DeMerchant has had some impressive moments that haven’t resulted in decent results. Same goes for Zwack. Potential exists, but they need to execute and get the results.

Needs Improvement

Everyone else not already mentioned is in the danger zone of letting their season’s slip away with no chance at redemption, and there are a few surprising names down there. There are former winners, like Team Dillon Esports’ Taylor Hurst, OXYGEN Esports’ Femi Olatunbosun, and Pittsburgh Knights’ Cody Byus. Byus nearly won at Las Vegas, but everything else outside of that race just hasn’t clicked.

Both RFK Racing drivers, Collin Bowden and Timothy Holmes, are below 30th, as are both Letarte eSports competitors, Dylan Ault and Quami Scott. The other Knight, Ryan Doucette, as well as the other Team Dillon driver, Jonathon Dulaney, are also down there.

The eRacr folks also haven’t been having the season of their dreams. Tyler Garey went from a Top 20 finisher in his rookie year to a dramatic sophomore slump, currently in 34th. Howeve,r the biggest name below the cut line has to be his teammate, the most decorated driver in eNASCAR history, 4-Time Ray Alfalla. Nothing has clicked in that camp, and the multi-time champion sits 38th in the standings after clawing his way back into the series through Contender during the winter months.

The good news for Alfalla is that entering Charlotte tonight, he’s the only driver in the field with multiple victories on the oval. If there was any place for a turn around, it would be here.

Previous eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series winners on the oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

  • 2010 (1) – Richard Towler
  • 2010 (2) – Brad Davies
  • 2011 – Thomas Hazard
  • 2012 – Nick Ottinger
  • 2013 – Joey Brown
  • 2014 – Danny Hansen
  • 2015 – Alex Warren
  • 2016 – Kenny Humpe
  • 2017 – Ray Alfalla (1)
  • 2018 – Nickolas Shelton
  • 2019 – Keegan Leahy
  • 2020 – Kollin Keister
  • 2021 – Ray Alfalla (2)
  • 2022 – Matt Bussa
  • 2023 – Tucker Minter

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.­­