June 21st, 2021 by Chris Leone
What’s it going to take for someone to repeat as a 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series winner?
Nine rounds into the season, eight different drivers are in playoff spots thanks to race victories, while the ninth—four-time series champion Ray Alfalla—can’t be counted out of a charge over the next five races to crack the top 20. On Tuesday night, the vise of playoff pressure tightens its grip further on the rest of the field, as the series returns from its month long break at Pocono Raceway.
The 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” made its last appearance on the schedule in 2019, where Jimmy Mullis held off Casey Kirwan for the victory. A repeat performance for the Richmond Raceway eSports driver might push him back into the top 20 after an uneven start to the season, while Kirwan’s 11th place rank in points bests five race winners but is nonetheless out of the current playoff grid. Other past Pocono winners in the lineup include 2017 winner Keegan Leahy, who already clinched his playoff spot with 23XI; 2014 winner Michael Conti, who did the same for JR Motorsports in the season opener; Allen Boes, who returns to the site of his 2015 victory, this time as a member of McLaren Shadow; and Alfalla himself, who took the checkered flag here in 2013.
Last time out at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Coca-Cola 300 marked the longest race of the season, but the biggest lap leader wouldn’t be up front for the last one. Leahy led 116 laps from the pole, but Alfalla would outduel Malik Ray and Ryan Luza in the closing stages to earn his first victory in a year. The win enabled him to claw his way back to 31st in points, but he’ll still have to make up 37 more markers on 20th place, currently held by Roush Fenway Racing’s Nathan Lyon, to be able to use that win as a playoff ticket.
With all eight other winners—Leahy, Conti, Luza, Logan Clampitt, Chris Shearburn, Vicente Salas, Bob Bryant, and Mitchell deJong—in the top 20, the final two spots on the live playoff grid come down to points. Michael Guest’s breakout season with Jim Beaver eSports has him second in the standings, while Team Dillon eSports’ Corey Vincent completes the top five, but both have to be hoping for repeat winners from here on out if they can’t score checkered flags themselves. Consistent seasons from rookie Steven Wilson, sophomore Graham Bowlin, veteran Matt Bussa, and defending series champion Nick Ottinger have them all in the top 10 in points, but each either needs a win or for Guest or Vincent to falter to change their playoff fates.
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 Pocono Raceway begins at 9PM ET/6PM PT on eNASCAR.com/live, iRacing.com/live, and NASCAR and iRacing social media channels. The series gets right back in action next week, returning to road racing on June 29 with its inaugural visit to Road America. 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.