It’s been the longest eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season to date, and perhaps that’s because there’s the biggest prize up for grabs. Now, Monday at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway, it’s time to crown a champion.
Of this year’s $300,000 prize pool, $100,000 will go to the champion – the heads-up winner among Michael Conti, Ryan Luza, Nick Ottinger, and Bobby Zalenski.
While the biggest race in series history will likely be one of the most exciting and unexpected, we’ll set the stage for what’s at stake for Monday’s finale.
Race 20 of 20 (Playoff Race 4 of 4)
Previous winners at Homestead
Only two drivers – Ray Alfalla and Ryan Luza – have visited Homestead’s Victory Lane more than once, and they’re both series champs.
2020: Ryan Luza
2019: Zack Novak
2018: Ray Alfalla
2017: Ryan Luza
2016: PJ Stergios
2015: Ray Alfalla
2014: Kenny Humpe
2013: Peter Bennett
2012: Kevin King
2011: John Gorlinsky
Last race at Homestead: Luza starts his tear
In the early-season visit to Homestead, Ryan Luza ended a nearly-year-long winless drought in his first of three consecutive wins. Luza passed Bobby Zalenski late in the race, earning the first Coca-Cola iRacing Series win for Williams Esports.
Absolutely stellar @WilliamsEsports Mustang tonight, awesome to put them in victory lane! ?
— Ryan Luza (@RyanLuza) March 18, 2020
Last year’s championship race: Novak bests Leahy for the title
In a battle for the ages, last year’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway came down to Coca-Cola iRacing Series juggernauts Zack Novak and Keegan Leahy. A final-corner surge by Leahy, who resolved to pass Novak cleanly to win the championship, wasn’t enough to catch Novak, who went on to win the race and title.
Last week: Conti comes up clutch at Texas
After two years separated from Victory Lane, playoff contender Michael Conti made a statement last week, winning a dramatic race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was a must-win race for Conti, who found himself in a deep points deficit following a rough start to the playoffs.
Ryan Luza counted himself out for advancing to Homestead after an early-race crash damaged his Ford, but late crashes for other playoff contenders enabled Luza to advance based on points – barely – following an overtime finish.
Texas ended the championship dreams – at least this year’s – for Ray Alfalla, Keegan Leahy, Garrett Lowe, and Jimmy Mullis.
Are you kidding me?!?!!
— MikeConti5 (@MikeConti5) October 28, 2020
The Championship 4
Here’s who is fighting for $100,000. We took a more in-depth look at the drivers in our Championship 4 breakdown.
The JR Motorsports driver snapped a 37-race winless streak to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 last week at Texas. The 2014 Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion’s looking to become the second multi-time series champ.
The 2017 Coca-Cola iRacing Series champ snagged three victories early in the season – including the first trip to Homestead – but hasn’t returned to Victory Lane since. He’s the only driver who didn’t advance to the Championship 4 on a win, but you can never count out the Williams Motorsports racer.
A Kansas playoff victory advanced the series veteran to the Championship 4, holding the banner for William Byron eSports. Ottinger hasn’t won a title, but he’s scored 16 wins in the series, second all-time only to Coca-Cola iRacing Series G.O.A.T. Ray Alfalla.
Team VRS driver Bobby Zalenski made his way to the Championship 4 in the opening round of the playoffs at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, but his road-course prowess isn’t to say he can’t get the job done on intermediate tracks, too; he’s finished no worse than third throughout the entire playoffs.
The highest-finishing driver of these four Monday will be crowned the 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion.
The second battle
The battle for $100,000 isn’t all that’s at stake Monday. A top-20 points finish means a driver is guaranteed to race in the 2021 Coca-Cola iRacing Series – and six spots are still in play among 16 drivers.
15. Bob Bryant, Burton Kligerman Esports (+45)
16. Chris Shearburn, Letarte Esports (+40)
17. Caine Cook, Renegades (+34)
18. John Gorlinsky, William Byron Esports (+14)
19. Dylan Duval, Stewart-Haas Esports (+3)
20. Nathan Lyon, Roush Fenway Racing (+0)
21. Matt Bussa, Williams Esports (-0)
22. Christian Challiner, JTG Daugherty Racing (-2)
23. Casey Kirwan, Denny Hamlin Racing (-3)
24. Zack Novak, Richmond Raceway Esports (-3)
25. Kollin Keister, Roush Fenway Racing (-8)
26. Brandon Kettelle, Clint Bowyer Esports (-20)
27. Michael Guest, Team Dillon Esports (-23)
28. Eric J. Smith, Jim Beaver Esports (-33)
29. Michael Guariglia, Jim Beaver Esports (-35)
30. Chris Overland, Wood Brothers Racing (-36)
For drivers who don’t finish top 20, they can still race at the top level next season – but they’ll have to face 20 up-and-coming prospects graduating from the iRacing Road to Pro Series over the course of a winter season of the iRacing Pro Series. The top-20 finishers from the Pro Series comprise the other half of the 2021 Coca-Cola iRacing Series field.
What to expect
Who wins the $100,000 is anybody’s guess; any of the four championship contenders have equal claim to the title of favorite.
Michael Conti’s momentum could propel him to his second win in a row.
Nick Ottinger’s consistency and intermediate-track speed could net him his first title.
Ryan Luza’s the only title contender who’s won at Homestead – and he’s the most recent winner.
Bobby Zalenski has an average finish of 2.8 in the last four races.
There’s always the possibility of a non-playoff driver stealing the spotlight – Logan Clampitt’s been fast lately, and Keegan Leahy’s got something to prove after a late elimination – but expect the four title contenders to bring their best Monday.
The top-20 relegation bubble is on the minds of at least a third of the field. With tire limits in play and one last chance to snag a spot in next year’s series, it’s not out of the question a mid-pack driver tries a hail mary to snag a win.
Whatever happens, we know one driver will walk away six-figures richer, and three will leave the server disappointed.
It’s bound to be one of the most competitive shows ever.
How to watch
The championship race airs live Monday, November 2 at 8 p.m. ET.
Catch the racing action streamed live:
The race will also be rebroadcast on Sunday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN — following their coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship post race.