It’s playoff time! The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series marches on to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval for the opening round of the four-race series playoffs, where the winner will take home a championship trophy and $100,000. Let’s get up to speed with what’s happening Tuesday night.
Race 17 of 20 (Playoff Race 1 of 4)
Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
Previous winners at Charlotte Roval
Much like the NASCAR Cup Series, the Charlotte Roval is a new addition to the Coca-Cola iRacing Series as well. The track made its first appearance last year, and road-course expert Bobby Zalenski won the race.
In fact, Zalenski led every single lap in the race after starting on pole, meaning he’s never not been in first place at the Roval in series history, technically.
2019: Bobby Zalenski
Last year at Charlotte Roval: Zalenski’s clutch victory
Bobby Zalenski needed to win to advance to last year’s championship race – and that’s exactly what he did. Zalenski led all 65 laps en route to victory and locked himself in as a title finalist.
— Bobby Zalenski (@bobbyzalenski) September 25, 2019
Last week: Kettelle scores first career win in Talladega regular-season finale
With eyes on the eight-driver battle to make the playoffs, Brandon Hayse Kettelle played spoiler by winning his first Coca-Cola iRacing Series race in 63 tries last week at Talladega Superspeedway.
The race also marked the final event of the regular season. Bad luck struck Logan Clampitt, who entered Talladega 24 points above the cut line; by the end of the night, he found himself locked out of the playoffs in favor of Jimmy Mullis, who led much of the race and posted a top-five finish.
Meanwhile, Bobby Zalenski claimed the regular-season championship.
— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) September 30, 2020
Playoff standings after 17 races
1) Keegan Leahy, 1009 points
2) Ryan Luza, -0 points
3) Bobby Zalenski, -3 points
4) Jimmy Mullis, -3 points
5) Nick Ottinger, -6 points
6) Ray Alfalla, -6 points
7) Michael Conti, -9 points
8) Garrett Lowe, -9 points
Drivers were awarded three points for each victory during the regular season; Keegan Leahy and Ryan Luza won three races apiece, so they’ll kick off the playoffs with nine bonus points.
The top four drivers in points after the three-race stretch of Charlotte Roval, Kansas, and Texas – or a playoff driver who wins any of these three races – will advance to the winner-take-all $100,000 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 2.
What to expect
If history is any indication, Tuesday’s race is going to have a very Bobby Zalenski look to it. He’s won five straight road-course races – every one he’s entered since joining the series in 2017 – and he’s riding momentum from winning the regular-season championship (though the accomplishment rewards no bonus points).
Our Power Rankings, of course, favor Zalenski, but we would certainly be remiss to not acknowledge the road-racing prowess of veterans Michael Conti and Nick Ottinger, who are both hungry for a win. Jimmy Mullis also impressed at the Daytona Road Course this summer with a runner-up finish.
Should one of them manage to capture the checkered flag Tuesday night, they will in fact lock in to the Championship 4. Unlike the regular season, the win-and-in scenario is in play for the playoffs.
But, before we go engraving names into the trophy, let’s not forget that these are the playoffs – there’s $100,000 on the line – and this is the Charlotte Roval, perhaps the most difficult course on the schedule. Anything can happen.
How to watch
Round 17 of the season airs live Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
Catch the racing action streamed live: