Conti Kicks Off 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Season With Daytona Win

Conti Kicks Off 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Season With Daytona Win

18 years to the day after his boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr., won the NASCAR Cup Series Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, JR Motorsports driver Michael Conti marked the occasion by putting a different red #8 Chevrolet in victory lane.

For Conti, though, Monday night’s triumph may have had bigger implications. By winning the first eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series points race of the 2021 season, the former series champion and 2020 Championship 4 driver has effectively punched his ticket into this fall’s playoffs. More impressively, he did it despite qualifying 38th in the 40-car field.

“I’m over the moon with that one,” Conti said after the race. “Anybody that knows me knows that plate tracks are not my specialty. I admittedly don’t know what I’m doing half the time. But going into the race with everything that Dale, JR Motorsports, Chad Wheeler, and everybody has put behind me in this offseason, I knew I had to step up my game.

“In years past, I played it safe and stayed in the back, and it’d get to three by three and we couldn’t go anywhere. Tonight, we almost did the same thing, but about 15 laps in, I told my crew chief ‘we’re going to go for it, if we wreck, we wreck.’ Some things went our way, and I’m super excited to get the victory and not have to worry about winning our way in for the next several months.”

Series veteran Michael Guest was second in his debut for Jim Beaver eSports, utilizing a two-tire pit stop to take the lead and hanging on to push Conti after the field caught him. Jake Matheson proved his top-five finish in last week’s non-points Clash was no fluke for Williams Esports, as he crossed the line third. Team Dillon Esports’ Corey Vincent and Kligerman Sport’s Isaac Gann completed the top five.

While the race went caution-free just as it had last year, two major incidents caught up some of the field’s heavy hitters along the way. Early-race contact between former series champions Ryan Luza and Zack Novak ended their hopes at good finishes, with renowned superspeedway racer Malik Ray also taking on heavy damage. The second wreck came on the final lap, with Conti’s close friend and roommate Logan Clampitt spinning from the front of the middle lane and much of the lead pack getting caught up.

Monday’s event featured NASCAR president Steve Phelps giving the command to start engines. During the pre-race show, the revised Road to Pro ladder to make it to the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series was also unveiled. The Road to Pro Qualifying Series has been split into two parts, with the second half featuring just the top 70 drivers from the first half. The top 20 of that group will join the bottom 20 of the eNCiS in the renamed Road to Pro Contender Series, with the top 20 of that group earning spots in the big show for 2022.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Daytona International Speedway were as follows:

Fin.

St.

No.

Name

Manufacturer

Laps

Interval

Led

Best

Pts

1 38 8 Michael Conti Chevrolet 100 0.000 14 43.864 40
2 34 9 Michael Guest Ford 100 -0.419 1 43.352 35
3 36 52 Jake Matheson Ford 100 -0.819 0 43.565 34
4 16 3 Corey Vincent Chevrolet 100 -1.059 0 43.360 33
5 15 44 Isaac Gann Chevrolet 100 -1.106 1 43.470 32
6 4 83 Bobby Zalenski Chevrolet 100 -2.005 6 43.577 31
7 10 38 Casey Kirwan Ford 100 -2.326 9 43.993 30
8 25 55 Vicente Salas Ford 100 -2.706 0 43.374 29
9 2 36 Chris Shearburn Chevrolet 100 -3.508 12 43.467 28
10 11 88 Brad Davies Chevrolet 100 -3.593 0 43.502 27
11 1 23 Mitchell deJong Toyota 100 -3.667 14 43.370 26
12 22 18 Femi Olat Toyota 100 -4.724 15 43.483 25
13 24 2 Garrett Manes Toyota 100 -4.740 0 43.363 24
14 27 10 Graham A. Bowlin Ford 100 -4.860 2 43.609 23
15 7 24 Jake Nichols Ford 100 -4.933 0 43.441 22
16 31 75 Matt Bussa Ford 100 -5.069 0 43.569 21
17 3 32 Keegan Leahy Toyota 100 -5.168 5 43.916 20
18 35 15 Caine Cook Ford 100 -5.501 0 43.654 19
19 6 21 Garrett Lowe Ford 100 -7.736 3 43.960 18
20 9 97 Logan Clampitt Chevrolet 100 -8.728 11 43.432 17
21 21 25 Nick Ottinger Chevrolet 100 -11.816 0 43.582 16
22 12 51 Ray Alfalla Toyota 100 -12.258 0 43.548 15
23 30 16 John Gorlinsky Ford 100 -13.458 0 43.482 14
24 40 77 Bob Bryant Chevrolet 100 -13.515 0 43.482 13
25 32 17 Steven Wilson Ford 100 -13.624 0 43.656 12
26 29 6 Nathan Lyon Ford 100 -13.808 0 43.335 11
27 26 46 Jimmy Mullis Toyota 100 -19.224 0 43.777 10
28 37 14 Blade Whitt Ford 100 -22.199 0 43.329 9
29 39 79 Ryan Doucette Ford 100 -34.921 0 43.550 8
30 28 66 Blake Reynolds Chevrolet 100 -35.420 0 43.408 7
31 13 41 Dylan Duval Ford 100 -37.630 0 43.564 6
32 8 29 Zack Nichols Ford 99 -1 L 6 43.470 5
33 5 1 Ashton Crowder Toyota 99 -1 L 0 43.522 4
34 33 33 Taylor Hurst Chevrolet 99 -1 L 0 43.368 3
35 14 67 Allen Boes Chevrolet 99 -1 L 0 43.799 2
36 17 37 Derek Justis Chevrolet 98 -2 L 0 43.376 1
37 18 47 Brian Schoenburg Chevrolet 97 -3 L 0 43.379 1
38 20 4 Ryan Michael Luza Ford 81 -19 L 0 44.022 1
39 23 11 Malik Ray Ford 34 -66 L 0 43.896 1
40 19 90 Zack Novak Toyota 36 DSQ 1 44.023 0

 

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season returns to Tuesdays for the remainder of the season, starting with February 23’s visit to Homestead-Miami Speedway. Luza and Chris Shearburn split the victories as the series visited the popular track twice last year. Coverage will kick off at 8:30PM ET with iRacing Countdown to Green, while the race will begin at 9PM ET on eNASCAR.com/live, iRacing.com/live, and NASCAR and iRacing social media channels.

For more information on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, visit www.eNASCAR.com. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit www.iracing.com.

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