It’s time to award the big prize. The 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion will be crowned Tuesday night. The best finisher among Logan Clampitt, Mitchell deJong, Keegan Leahy or Bobby Zalenski will take home the championship — and a $100,000 payday. Here’s what to expect on the biggest night of the year for the world’s best sim racers.
Oct. 12, 2021
Race 18 of 18
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Previous winners at Texas
Tuesday’s championship race will be only the second race on the reconfigured, flatter Texas Motor Speedway in iRacing. None of the Championship 4 drivers have won at the track in either configuration.
2020: Michael Conti
2019: Ryan Luza
2018: Ryan Luza
2017: Allen Boes
2016: PJ Stergios
2015: Chad Laughton
2014: Kevin King
2013: Nick Ottinger
2012: Ray Alfalla
2011: Ray Alfalla
2010: Derek Wood
Last year at Texas: Conti comes up clutch
The last trip to Texas Motor Speedway wasn’t the championship finale, but it marked an important point in the playoffs for Michael Conti, who took home the win in 2020.
Finally, finally, finally got one for @DaleJr, @JRMotorsports, @chadwheeler88 and everyone else that has supported us over the years. A 2yr winless streak snapped with not any win, but a win THIS big. Unbelievable. https://t.co/LuS9XdIVm2
— MikeConti5 (@MikeConti5) October 28, 2020
Last race: Ottinger wins at Talladega; Championship 4 set
Defending series champion Nick Ottinger may have missed the playoffs, but there was no stopping his run at Talladega two weeks ago, where the William Byron eSports driver led teammate Logan Clampitt to a 1-2 finish.
When the checkered flag fell, it meant the end of the road for six playoff drivers. Clampitt, Mitchell deJong, Keegan Leahy and Bobby Zalenski advanced to the Championship 4.
— Nick Ottinger (@NickOttinger) September 29, 2021
The Championship 4 contenders
Here are the drivers racing for $100,000.
After finding himself shut out from the last three seasons’ playoffs, Logan Clampitt has responded with a solid year and an iron-clad playoffs. His only win this year came at Atlanta, an intermediate track with similar characteristics to Texas. If he wins the title, it’ll be the second in a row for William Byron eSports, after teammate Nick Ottinger’s championship run last year.
The 24-year-old rookie standout is no stranger to Victory Lane in many iRacing disciplines, but all of his wins in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series have come on road courses for 23XI Racing. His cool demeanor under pressure could make the difference to win when it counts Tuesday.
23XI Racing has two shots at a championship, with Keegan Leahy joining deJong as a finalist thanks to a clutch victory in the Bristol playoff race. After winning early in the season at Homestead-Miami, he’s had a rough go, but the 2019 championship runner-up is ready to go one spot better than his last shot at the crown.
Nobody’s put up numbers matching Bobby Zalenski this season: two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s. Tuesday will mark his fourth Championship 4 appearance in the last five seasons; this is his first year with LETARTE eSports.
Last week, we broke down the championship contenders in more depth.
What to expect at Texas
Perhaps what’s most exciting about Tuesday’s championship race among four sim-racing titans is that there’s no clear favorite to win. You could argue Bobby Zalenski and Keegan Leahy have the edge with two oval wins apiece, but you could also point to the fact that Logan Clampitt won at Atlanta earlier in the year. Plus, rookie Mitchell deJong has never fully shown his hand at Texas Motor Speedway.
There’s also the matter of the relegation battle. The top 20 drivers in points at the end of the season are guaranteed a spot in next year’s Coca-Cola iRacing Series, while the bottom 20 are relegated to the Road to Pro Contender Series over the winter, where they’ll have one last shot at returning for another year competing in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series.
Heading into Texas, the battle for the top 20 is tight:
16. Ryan Michael Luza +36
17. Dylan Duval +34
18. Zack Novak +17
19. Garrett Lowe +13
20. Garrett Manes +2
— RELEGATION LINE —
21. Jake Nichols -2
22. Ray Alfalla -3
23. Blake Reynolds -18
24. Chris Shearburn -34
We’ve only seen one race at the new Texas Motor Speedway, and it was the Michael Conti show for most of the night. The caution waved six times total and the race ended in overtime — something quite likely to happen again this year as drivers battle with the stakes this high.
A new champion is guaranteed; none of this year’s Championship 4 have won a Coca-Cola iRacing Series title.
It’s going to be a sim-racing event you won’t want to miss.
How to watch
The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series championship race airs live at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 12.