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Darlington Preview Enascar Coke Series 2021

Preview: Coca-Cola Series begins 2021 playoffs at Darlington

It’s time to earn some money. The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series kicks off its four-race playoffs Tuesday night at Darlington Raceway, where 10 drivers will begin their fight for a shot at over $330,000 in winnings.

Race Info

Aug. 3, 2021
Race 15 of 18
Darlington Raceway
Darlington, South Carolina
1.366-mile oval
183 laps

Previous winners at Darlington

Darlington’s past winners list looks like a who’s who of iRacing: Tyler Hudson, who’s gone on to work in the series for iRacing; Josh Berry, who’s now a NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner and will be racing full-time for JR Motorsports in 2022; and four-time series champ Ray Alfalla—the only driver to conquer Darlington more than once.

2020: Keegan Leahy
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 year at Darlington: Leahy dominates in familiar colors

Keegan Leahy took Darlington in dominant fashion last season, leading 152 of 184 laps to grab the victory in a paint scheme harking back to a classic NASCAR finish between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at the same track.

Last race: Bussa comes up clutch at Michigan

A last-lap pass in the Logitech G Challenge 100 at Michigan two weeks ago put Matt Bussa in Victory Lane for the first time in three years, where he also—against the odds—snagged a spot in the playoffs, at the expense of Ryan Luza, who finished last and fell out of the top 10.

Points picture to begin the playoffs

1. Mitchell deJong (2 wins)
T2. Graham Bowlin (1 win)
T2. Bobby Zalenski (1 win)
T2. Michael Conti (1 win)
T2. Keegan Leahy (1 win)
T2. Logan Clampitt (1 win)
T2. Matt Bussa (1 win)
T2. Jimmy Mullis (1 win)
T2. Bob Bryant (1 win)
T2. Vicente Salas (1 win)

The playoffs consist of four races: Aug. 31 at Darlington Raceway, Sept. 14 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Sept. 28 at Talladega Superspeedway and the $100,000-to-win championship race Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Any win by a playoff driver over the next three events locks them into the Championship 4 at Texas Motor Speedway, with any remaining spots filled by points.

Coke Bracket

What to expect at Darlington

There are no more mulligans for this year’s title contenders; it’s all about executing perfection from now through Oct. 12. Darlington Raceway might be the toughest test yet this season, with its tendency to devour cars and make passing difficult. It is the track “Too Tough to Tame,” after all.

Last year’s race was slowed for cautions seven times, creating opportunities for lead changes on restarts—depending how hard drivers want to charge into Turn 1. A smart pit strategy and track position will prove most useful for title contenders. We ranked our favorites in this week’s edition of Power Rankings, which puts a veteran and former series champ at the top of the heap. (We won’t spoil it.)

That’s not to say Darlington will be a battle of 10 drivers only. With 13 winners in 14 races this year, it’s clear anything can happen. Plus, there’s the battle to finish top 20 in points; it means an automatic lock into the Coca-Cola iRacing Series next year without having to race back up through the eNASCAR Road to Pro Contender Series over the winter against a field of hungry up-and-comers.

With big money in sight and the scramble to make the playoffs in the rearview mirror, we suspect Darlington will have a different feel to it compared to the bulk of the season. Expect the heavy-hitters to rise to the top at the “Lady in Black.”

How to watch

Round 15 of the season (the first round of the playoffs) airs live at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Catch the racing action streamed live: