Championship Preview: 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series

It’s time to crown a new eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series champion.

Four drivers have outlasted the competition through a grueling 17-race season – and now, one of these finalists must rise to the occasion and claim the title of champion by besting the others in a heads-up battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With $100,000 in prizes on the line – the biggest in the series’ 10-year history – there’s never been more on the line. And, did we mention it’s all going down on national television?

No finalists from this year’s class have won a PEAK iRacing Series title, guaranteeing a first-time champion. We broke down the four contenders’ chances of hoisting the championship trophy at Homestead.

Mr. Momentum: Bobby Zalenski
No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

The PEAK iRacing Series’ road-course expert did exactly what he needed to do at the Charlotte Roval to secure his spot in the Championship 4 – win a playoff race and put himself in position to score the biggest slice of a $100,000 prize pool. The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 scored a series-leading five poles in 2019, showing the speed is there – but 1.5-mile ovals like Homestead-Miami Speedway haven’t been a bright spot in terms of finishing position this year.

2019 stats:
2 wins (Sonoma, Charlotte Roval)
6 top 5s
10 top 10s
9.0 Homestead average finish (2 starts)

The case for:
Zalenski’s showed speed on intermediate tracks all season, even if the finishing results don’t match that speed.
Do you believe in momentum? Bobby Zalenski won the last race from the pole and led every single lap.

The case against:
Homestead isn’t a road course, and four out of five career wins for Zalenski have come on road courses.
He’s just two-for-six in scoring top-five finishes on 1.5-mile ovals this year.

The Favorite: Keegan Leahy
No. 62 G2 Esports Chevrolet

It’s no surprise Keegan Leahy is considered the favorite to win the titles among many of his peers in the PEAK iRacing Series – he’s fast (a quality, it turns out, that’s good to have when you’re racing), and, as a Virtual Racing School coach, he knows the cars well. He’s consistently a top-five car, and it’s a wonder he’s only won two races in 2019 – though his 78 incident points, the highest of the four championship contenders, might give us the answer. He’s led laps in an incredible 12 of 17 races this year and won three poles, but it seems luck isn’t always on his side at the end of the day. If Leahy can escape late-race trouble, that $40,000 first-prize check might just be going home to Canada.

2019 stats:
2 wins (Charlotte, Chicagoland)
11 top 5s
11 top 10s
19.0 Homestead average finish (1 start, 2018)

The case for:
The speed on intermediate tracks for the No. 62 in recent weeks has been otherworldly.
His two wins in 2019 have come on 1.5-mile ovals, just like Homestead.

The case against:
Rarely does a PEAK iRacing Series race go fully green, uninterrupted with cautions. Late-race restarts and contrarian strategies are a thorn in the side for raw speed.
Technically, he’s the least-experienced driver of the four, with just 35 starts in the PEAK iRacing Series, though Leahy is no stranger to success.

The O-Town Racer: Zack Novak
No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford

We’re calling Zack Novak the O-Town driver because the 2019 has truly been all or nothing. While he’s won three races and nearly won at least two others, he’s also finished outside the top 10 in 10 of this year’s 17 events. But that’s what’ll make the championship finale fun – you won’t know which way the evening will go for the No. 6 until the final lap.

2019 stats:
3 wins (Daytona, Kansas, Kentucky)
6 top 5s
7 top 10s
23.5 Homestead average finish (2 starts)

The case for:
Three wins this season leads all drivers (tied with the now-eliminated Ryan Luza – pour one out for his title hopes).
Roush Fenway Racing’s Twitter is the best cheerleader in the series.

The case against:
Novak’s consistency this year has been spotty, though usually not his fault. Since March, he’e either finished in the top two or finished outside the top 10.
His Homestead record isn’t stellar — his two finishes are 38th and ninth.

The Underdog: Blake Reynolds
No. 30 Team Dillon Esports Chevrolet

No one has come closer to winning a race without sealing the deal than Blake Reynolds. Whether it’s been a side-by-side finish or running out of fuel with the finish line in sight, a victory has managed to elude Car No. 30 all season, sometimes in nearly hilarious fashion. Still, 2019 has been a breakout year for Blake Reynolds, who initially went undrafted until upstart Team Dillon Esports snapped him up in their series debut at Texas in March.

2019 stats:
0 wins
7 top 5s
11 top 10s
6.0 Homestead average finish (1 start, 2018)

The case for:
In 17 races, he’s earned 11 top-10 finishes – a remarkable four more than any other driver.
We all remember what happened in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Series championship race amidst all the season-long "Big 3" talk – the fourth guy won. Blake Reynolds could certainly play the role of Joey Logano. Plus, of the four playoff contenders, he boasts the best Homestead record — a sixth-place effort in last year’s finale.

The case against:
He’s 0-for-47 in his PEAK iRacing Series career, though now would be the ideal time to change that record and win a race.
We’re waiting for a squirrel to chew through his Internet line while he’s leading on the final lap or something, because sometimes it seems like the universe won’t let Blake Reynolds win a race.

How to watch:
The eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway will air live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 10. Stay tuned to for updates.