The NASCAR world has been abuzz about this year’s move to the DAYTONA Road Course ever since it was announced, and the anticipation only went up with the introduction of a new chicane before the tri-oval. Tonight, the drivers of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series hit the track to show us just what we can expect when full fields take part in the layout’s first real-world races later this week.
The current stretch of the season is heavy on larger, faster speedways, as the DAYTONA Road Course is sandwiched by a visit to Michigan two weeks ago and another round on the DAYTONA superspeedway in two weeks’ time. Sure, the famed International Horseshoe, backstretch Bus Stop, and additional NASCAR chicane mean it may not race quite like the season-opening round on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, but with a lack of reference material to work with, how tonight goes is anyone’s guess.
That said, the incoming favorite for an eNASCAR road course race always tends to be the same driver. Virtual Racing School’s Bobby Zalenski earned his way into last year’s Championship 4 with a win on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, and as one of iRacing’s most multi-talented drivers—with both Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup and iRacing Rallycross World Championship experience on his resume—it’s no surprise why. He’s proven to be far from just a road course specialist, though, sitting third in points through 11 rounds with consistent performances on the ovals all season long.
But it’s the February DAYTONA winner, Denny Hamlin Racing’s Keegan Leahy, who enters tonight’s action with the championship advantage, a 14-point lead over Williams Esports’ Ryan Luza. The top six drivers in series standings all have a healthy cushion on the playoff bubble, but Chris Shearburn and Graham Bowlin enter tonight’s race tied on points for the eighth and final spot. Nick Ottinger is just 10 points clear of them in seventh, and Brad Davies is just 13 points behind in 12th, so there’s a good chance that tonight’s round has some major points implications for drivers who just can’t afford a bad race right now. Likewise, John Gorlinsky’s advantage over Blake Reynolds for 20th place and the final guaranteed spot in next year’s championship is down to a single point.
Following tonight’s race, the DAYTONA Road Course returns on Wednesday at 8PM ET for iRacing Happy Hour, hosted by Steve Letarte and Regan Smith and streaming live on NASCAR.com. In the special event, William Byron (Cup), Chase Briscoe (Xfinity), and Ty Majeski (Truck) will each spend a full hour testing and tuning their respective cars in preparation for their real-world races this weekend, with both real-world crew members and eNASCAR drivers to help them. Each series has its own Time Attack session on iRacing that runs through the end of tonight, with the fastest driver in each taking home a prize package from iRacing and NASCAR.
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series action from the DAYTONA Road Course kicks off tonight at 9PM ET on eNASCAR.com/live, iRacing.com/live, and the iRacing Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube channels. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.