May 18th, 2021 by Chris Leone
If there’s one guarantee headed into tonight’s eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at Circuit of the Americas, it’s that it’ll be a historic night.
For one, the event marks the first NASCAR-sanctioned race at the Austin-based road course, leading into tomorrow’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race and a full weekend of real-world on-track action. But tonight’s race also has the potential to set a new record for different winners to start an eNASCAR season—and if you’ve been watching road course races in this series over the past few years, you might find that a given.
Chris Shearburn’s victory three weeks ago at Kansas Speedway tied the previous record of seven, set in the series’ inaugural 2010 season, and allowed him to join Michael Conti, Keegan Leahy, Ryan Luza, Logan Clampitt, Bob Bryant, and Vicente Salas on the 10-driver playoff grid. But in the recent past, eNASCAR road course races have been all Bobby Zalenski. His margin of victory on the Daytona International Speedway road course last August was the largest in series history, and his win on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval last October earned him a spot in last year’s Championship 4.
If Zalenski takes the victory on the 20-turn Texas circuit, he’ll make Letarte Esports the first team to put both of its drivers in this year’s playoffs, and also give the team back-to-back victories for the first time in its history. But the rest of the field has been pushing hard to improve on what will be a new course for everyone, and drivers like Jimmy Mullis and 2020 champion Nick Ottinger are also expected to be strong.
All those different winners are creating an intense fight for playoff spots, one that doesn’t seem likely to resolve itself amicably. Michael Guest, Isaac Gann, and Matt Bussa would be in right now on points, but one of those spots appears likely to go away if Zalenski takes the win. Former series champions Ottinger and Ray Alfalla still haven’t earned victories, either, and hard-charging rookies like Gann and Steven Wilson have also been running up front all year long. All that seems poised to create a pressure cooker that should only continue increasing in intensity as the season moves on.
Before the action gets underway, iRacing Countdown to Green will begin streaming live at 8:30PM ET/5:30PM PT. Host Amy Long will join series veterans Brandon Kettelle, Michael Guariglia, and Chris Overland to preview tonight’s race and predict the winners.
Coverage of eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action from Circuit of the Americas begins at 9PM ET/6PM PT on eNASCAR.com/live, iRacing.com/live, and NASCAR and iRacing social media channels. The series returns to action the same time next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.eNASCAR.com. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.