Bobby Zalenski doubles up, wins in eNASCAR’s first trip to Monza
April 12th, 2023 by Justin Melillo
History was made on Tuesday night as the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series made its first trip to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the fifth race of the 2023 season. It’s been two full seasons since Bobby Zalenski’s been a winner at any road course, but in the series’ inaugural Monza visit, Zalenski was untouchable, leading all 30 laps from the pole position en route to his second victory in a row on the year.
Once again, Zalenski lined up his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota alongside 23XI’s Keegan Leahy on the front row. In the 30-lap event, there would be no cautions to contend with, so minimizing mistakes would be crucial. Zalenski made zero mistakes. He pulled away early from Leahy and the rest of the field, waited as long as possible to pit, executed a perfect pit cycle and maintained the gap through every lap. Smiling and pinching his fingers, Italian-style, as he took his final trip through the Parabolica, Zalenski found himself once again in the virtual winner’s circle for the 13th time in his eNASCAR career, now in sole possession of fifth all-time on the eNASCAR wins list. Through five races in the 2023 season, Zalenski is the only driver so far with multiple victories.
Leahy eventually relinquished second place to Daytona winner Tucker Minter. Both Minter and his Team Dillon eSports’ teammate, Jordy Lopez, had immense pace throughout the night. Minter wound up finishing in second with Leahy in third and Lopez in fifth. The defending series champion, Casey Kirwan, had a big mistake early as he grabbed too much of the curb in Ascari, spinning around from fourth place to just outside the top 10. Kirwan would fight back, ultimately returning to where he once was to finish in fourth.
The opening lap was a big unknown as 39 stock cars barreled through where the Rettifilo chicane would normally be. With the two slowest chicanes excluded in this variant of the Monza Circuit, the first corner they would enter would be the Curva Grande. A grande wreck was indeed on the menu in the middle of the pack. Drivers such as the Rise eSports’ duo of Jimmy Mullis and Zack Novak would be collected in the mess, as would the eRacr duo of Collin Bowden and Kollin Keister. Perhaps the biggest damage in the incident went to Williams eSports’ Vicente Salas, who creamed the tire barrier after a slide through the gravel pit. Keister would also retire early on, but the rest would continue.
While Zalenski kept things under control up front, the battles in the midfield were intense. Jim Beaver eSports’ Garrett Lowe found himself in a battle with Tony Kanaan Esports driver Parker White as they tried to get past the Charlotte Phoenix entry of Graham Bowlin. They went three wide momentarily, but eventually Lowe found himself sliding through the gravel in Ascari. The battle of the Michaels was a little cleaner as JR Motorsports driver Michael Conti was able to hold off a charge from Front Row Motorsports’ Michael Cosey Jr.
Unfortunately, that battle wasn’t for a Top 10, but it did enable Conti to take a share of the points lead, tied together with Bowlin at 145 points. They both lead Zalenski by a single point leaving Monza, despite his two victories so far.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Autodromo Nazionale Monza were as follows:
|1||1||18||Bobby Zalenski||Joe Gibbs Racing||30||0.000||30||1:33.122||40|
|2||3||33||Tucker Minter||Team Dillon eSports||30||-3.616||0||1:33.318||35|
|5||5||3||Jordy Lopez Jr||Team Dillon eSports||30||-11.343||0||1:33.536||32|
|6||7||48||Graham A. Bowlin||Charlotte Phoenix||30||-12.733||0||1:33.359||31|
|7||11||11||Parker White||Tony Kanaan Esports||30||-13.105||0||1:33.450||30|
|9||9||10||Steven Wilson||Stewart-Haas Racing||30||-13.746||0||1:33.481||28|
|10||13||40||Dylan Ault||LETARTE eSports||30||-17.248||0||1:33.622||27|
|11||6||8||Michael Conti||JR Motorsports||30||-18.706||0||1:33.581||26|
|12||19||38||Michael Cosey Jr||Front Row Motorsports||30||-19.097||0||1:33.464||25|
|13||17||7||Malik Ray||Jim Beaver eSports||30||-21.510||0||1:33.816||24|
|14||14||88||Kevin King||JR Motorsports||30||-22.001||0||1:33.663||23|
|15||12||6||Timmy Holmes||RFK Racing||30||-23.965||0||1:33.655||22|
|16||16||97||Matt Bussa||William Byron eSports||30||-26.474||0||1:33.971||21|
|17||21||2||Corey Vincent||Pittsburgh Knights||30||-27.002||0||1:33.876||20|
|18||22||51||Donovan Strauss||Williams eSports||30||-28.488||0||1:33.756||19|
|19||23||25||Nick Ottinger||William Byron eSports||30||-28.900||0||1:33.812||18|
|20||20||46||Jimmy Mullis||Rise eSports||30||-30.211||0||1:33.805||17|
|21||27||41||Dylan Duval||Stewart-Haas Racing||30||-31.799||0||1:33.706||16|
|22||8||15||Garrett Lowe||Jim Beaver eSports||30||-35.101||0||1:33.773||15|
|23||33||54||Daniel Faulkingham||Joe Gibbs Racing||30||-36.285||0||1:34.089||14|
|24||10||27||Cody Byus||Elliott Sadler eSports||30||-39.250||0||1:33.717||13|
|25||18||34||Allen Boes||Front Row Motorsports||30||-42.481||0||1:33.697||12|
|26||28||66||Tyler Garey||Tony Kanaan Esports||30||-43.144||0||1:34.087||11|
|27||29||75||Zack Novak||Rise eSports||30||-43.581||0||1:33.700||10|
|29||26||20||Wyatt Tinsley||Kansas City Pioneers||30||-45.032||0||1:34.194||8|
|30||31||77||Ryan Doucette||Pittsburgh Knights||30||-45.139||0||1:33.902||7|
|32||36||17||Kaden Honeycutt||RFK Racing||30||-53.297||0||1:34.456||5|
|34||25||43||Femi Olatunbosun||Charlotte Phoenix||30||-56.152||0||1:33.902||3|
|35||32||36||Brandon McKissic||LETARTE eSports||30||-1:03.523||0||1:34.329||2|
|36||38||31||Derek Justis||Kansas City Pioneers||30||-1:10.245||0||1:34.602||1|
|39||30||55||Vicente Salas||Williams eSports||1||-29L||0||———||1|
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points through five rounds are as follows:
- Michael Conti, 145, 1 win
- Graham Bowlin, 145
- Bobby Zalenski, 144, 2 wins
- Tucker Minter, 140, 1 win
- Nick Ottinger, 140
- Michael Cosey Jr., 134
- Keegan Leahy, 127
- Jordy Lopez Jr., 119
- Casey Kirwan, 118
- Parker White, 107
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will have a short turnaround between the next race on the 2023 schedule, but for the first time in series’ history, it will be a race where all 40 drivers have the same fixed setup. Talladega Superspeedway’s race coverage will start on Tuesday, April 18 at 9 p.m. ET at eNASCAR.com/live. The Countdown to Green will kick the superspeedway racing festivities off at 8:30 p.m. ET as usual.
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.