It’s time for one of the toughest tests of the season for drivers competing in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. Darlington Raceway hosts the next round in the series’ run to the playoffs, which begin next month. Here’s what you need to know about Tuesday night’s 250-miler.
Race 14 of 20
Previous winners at Darlington
It takes guts to win at the track Too Tough to Tame, which has appeared on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series schedule since the series started in 2010. Remarkably, only one driver has won at Darlington multiple times – but the four-time series champ is an exception to most rules.
2019: Ashton Crowder
2018: Michael Conti
2017: Ray Alfalla
2016: Tyler D. Hudson
2015: Landon Harrison
2014: Ray Alfalla
2013: Nick Ottinger
2012: Ray Alfalla
2011: Brad Wright
2010: Josh Berry
Last race at Darlington: Crowder survives to win his first
Last year’s race at Darlington looked like the Keegan Leahy show for much of the event. Leahy led an impressive 110 laps, but a late-race caution cycled pit strategies so that Ashton Crowder ended up in front. Crowder held on to win the race, the first of his career.
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) August 28, 2019
Last race: Zalenski keeps the momentum rolling at Daytona
Two races, two poles, two wins. Bobby Zalenski’s been on fire this summer, especially at Daytona, where he picked up his second consecutive win of 2020. Unlike his wire-to-wire Daytona Road Course win, this one came in a side-by-side nail-biter of a finish. The win moved the Team VRS driver to the points lead.
Ahhhh man that was great. Our record this year at Daytona was just crazy. I?m just happy to win an oval race for the first time in forever ?
— Bobby Zalenski (@bobbyzalenski) August 26, 2020
Points picture after 13 races
It’s crunch time now, with less than a month until playoffs begin. Bobby Zalenski’s back-to-back wins have afforded him a sizable lead, while his Team VRS teammate Ray Alfalla clings to the final playoff spot by 15 points over rookie Graham Bowlin.
1) Bobby Zalenski, 427 points
2) Keegan Leahy, -28 points
3) Garrett Lowe, -39
4) Ryan Luza, -54
5) Michael Conti, -63
6) Nick Ottinger, -66
7) Logan Clampitt, -83
8) Ray Alfalla, -85
9) Graham Bowlin, -100 (15 points from eighth)
10) Jimmy Mullis, -102 (17 points from eighth)
11) Corey Vincent, -112 (27 points from eighth)
12) Brad Davies, -113 (28 points from eighth)
The top eight drivers in points after the regular-season finale on Oct. 1 at Talladega Superspeedway will make the playoffs. The series champion will win $100,000.
What to expect
For as notorious as Darlington’s tricky reputation, it tends to offer few cautions; since 2013, there have been just under three cautions on average. (Before 2013, the average was over 14 cautions. Yikes!) Fewer cautions means longer green-flag runs, and that means green-flag pit stops on one of the trickiest pit road entrances on the circuit. A driver can make up – or lose – a lot of time in the way they exit the high-speed banking and slow to a narrow, flat entry road on worn tires.
And speaking of tires, Tuesday will mark the first race since the addition of tire limits to iRacing. It’s a new strategy element at a track where a fresh set of rubber can offer a huge advantage – but spend through your fresh sets too quickly and you’ll find yourself in a pickle at the end of the night.
In our Power Rankings, we’ve got our eye on veterans Michael Conti and Ray Alfalla, who have won at the ‘Lady in Black’ previously. Keegan Leahy is an obvious favorite after showing otherworldly speed in 2019, but falling short due to unlucky pit timing.
If nothing else, keep an eye out for some fun throwback paint schemes.
September 8th, fire up your dial-up! #eNASCARThrowback
— Virtual Racing School (@realVRS) September 1, 2020
How to watch
Round 14 of the season airs live Tuesday, September 8 at 9 p.m. ET.
Catch the racing action streamed live: