February 25th, 2020 by Chris Leone
TUNE IN // TUESDAY, 9PM ET // eNASCAR.com/live
After a thrilling (and caution-free!) season opener from Daytona, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series gets back to business tonight from Auto Club Speedway for the second round of this year’s 20-race championship. With only one race under their belts so far, this year’s 40-driver field has a long way to go before establishing any playoff locks, but if last year’s Daytona race was any indication, we’ve got a good idea of who’s going to run up front this year.
Denny Hamlin Racing secured the win in its first-ever eNASCAR race as Keegan Leahy nosed out William Byron Esports’ Nick Ottinger by just four one-thousandths of a second in Daytona. As last year’s championship runner-up, Leahy has to be hoping that Daytona will be a similar good omen to him as it was for Zack Novak, who won last year’s season opener and later secured the 2019 championship. Veterans rose to the top for much of the 100-lap distance in Daytona, with Bobby Zalenski, Christian Challiner, Chris Shearburn, and Chris Overland among the drivers who spent prolonged periods at the front of the field.
Meanwhile, the young guns at Joe Gibbs Racing will be looking to pay off the potential they showed at Daytona with better finishes in Round 2. Sophomore driver Malik Ray impressed in his first race driving Kyle Busch’s iconic number 51, but didn’t get the finish he deserved after a pit issue, while rookie Graham Bowlin led laps before becoming the focal point of an accident across the finish line that collected much of the field coming to the checkered flag. Both drivers have shown consistent speed throughout their time on iRacing, and are determined to come out of California with a few more points on the board.
Two-mile ovals produced multiple first-time winners for the series in 2019. Last year’s race at Auto Club was the first with NASCAR’s current Cup Series package, and then-rookie Eric Smith scored a surprise victory over Leahy in just his third career start; the Jim Beaver eSports driver will be looking to recapture that magic after showing pace at Daytona. A few months later, Garrett Lowe took his first eNASCAR checkered flag at sister track Michigan International Speedway, and he’ll be hoping to bring the Wood Brothers their first eNASCAR win just days after Matt DiBenedetto gave their real-world team a runner-up finish in Las Vegas.
Incoming eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points before tonight’s race at Auto Club Speedway are as follows:
1. Keegan Leahy, 45
2. Nick Ottinger, 40
3. Bobby Zalenski, 39
4. Logan Clampitt, 37
(tie) Christian Challiner, 37
6. John Gorlinsky, 35
7. Ray Alfalla, 34
8. Ashton Crowder, 33
(tie) Brandon Kettelle, 33
10. Ryan Luza, 31
(tie) Graham Bowlin, 31
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action from Auto Club Speedway will stream live on Tuesday at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Be sure to tune in at eNASCAR.com/live, or head to Facebook, Twitch, or YouTube to watch it all go down!