Tuesday night’s (Aug. 26) eNASCAR Coca Cola iRacing Series race at Daytona International Speedway showed why fans love superspeedway racing. Much of the race was spent three by three, pack racing that led to constant lead changes. In the end, it was a wild race, with Bobby Zalenski making it two wins in a row in an unbelievable finish with Eric J. Smith.
Zalenski picked up right where he left off at the Daytona Road Course; finishing first. After some wild competition, he would finish the race right where he ran all night long, and that was out front.
Following Zalenski was Smith in second, picking up his best finish of the season. Defending champion Zack Novak came in third, Corey Vincent was fourth and Bob Bryant rounded out the top-five finishers.
“I had a great car prepared for me by VRS … feels great to win on an oval, it’s been three years,” exclaimed Zalenski following the photo finish and the victory. “To win at Daytona two times in a row … that’s crazy, I love this place. What a great racing facility, both sim and real life.”
Zalenski swept both summer races at the track, so it’s safe to say this Daytona’s probably at the top of his list of favorites.
The wildest part of the eNASCAR event happened on lap 22 when the Big One took out several contenders such as Nathan Lyon, Ray Alfalla and Ryan Luza, among others. Justin Bolton appeared to have a computer failure when his No. 10 Stewart-Haas Gaming Ford Mustang hooked a hard right into the wall in turn 4. His crash created a mess in the pack, eliminating many potential race winners in the melee.
The wreck was a tough break, in particular, for Alfalla as he was only 26 points above the cutline for the playoffs coming in. Now, he will definitely have to battle down the stretch to make it in.
Final pit stops were about to begin with 39 laps to go, but an incident involving Steve Sheehan, Jake Nichols, Casey Kirwan and several others threw a monkey wrench into that strategy. With many cars about to come down for service, a normal caution flag stop put Zalenski back out in front.
With every superspeedway race, attrition is the most important part of the equation considering all the incidents we usually see. One notable driver who had to survive near the end was Caine Cook. Cook survived the entire race incident free and was three by three for the win on the last lap. But, he was caught up in a wreck coming to the finish and lost about eight spots.
Previous point leader and Daytona winner Keegan Leahy had a rough start to the night, as he would lose connection from the server due to severe weather in his area. He would only gain a few spots all night long and was relegated to a mid-pack finish. Leahy is safe and secure for the playoffs, though, as the points cushion he had coming into the race helped that cause. Zalenski took over the top spot from Leahy after his victory.
The next race for the series will come at Darlington Raceway in two weeks on September 8.