eNASCAR Coca-Cola Series in iRacing is heating up, the drivers are going to need to score big points in the closing stages as every point matters.
Justin Prince has all the details on the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series and what the drivers think about getting as many points as needed.
The need to score wins and points is increasing for several top-running drivers after Jimmy Mullis scored his first victory of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Richmond Raceway eSports driver became the 11th different winner in 12 races on July 13. That means at least one driver who has won will not make the 2021 playoffs.
As well, Gibbs Gaming driver Ray Alfalla, who won the Coca-Cola 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is currently outside the top 20 cutline for his victory to be eligible for a playoff spot by 23 points.
The driver Alfalla is trying to catch, Kansas Speedway winner Chris Shearburn, is also only seven points above that same mark. He has finished outside the top 20 in five straight races, including a 23rd place run at New Hampshire.
“To be honest, I knew going in that we didn’t have winning speed, but after getting the pole I felt like we could have easily run top 10, maybe 15th place at worst so it is very disappointing to finish 23rd,” said Shearburn. “Shortly after losing the lead, we got some damage that just killed the car and basically made it uncompetitive. There at the end we fixed the damage, played the tire strategy game, and missed most of the wrecks to salvage the 23rd but it is still a very disappointing finish.”
Mullis’s successful race and the multiple winners also means drivers like Stewart-Haas eSports’s Graham Bowlin and Roush-Fenway Gaming’s Steven Wilson, who are second and third in the overall points standings respectively and who both have not won this year, are currently on the outside looking in.
Those drivers finished fifth and 28th respectively at New Hampshire.
“I feel like I did good because with the car I had I was like a tenth of a second off on the long run,” said Bowlin. “I put a lot of time in at New Hampshire because I felt like I had good pace there and I needed a win. I was hoping for a win but we overlooked some things on the setup side.”
Bowlin has scored five top 10s in the last six races with a best finish of third at the Circuit of the Americas. He said it’s been a commitment to perform the way he has so far. Bowlin said with the effort put in, sometimes the races can go either way.
Last year’s series champion Nick Ottinger is also someone without a win. He is currently 11th in points scored this season. The William Byron eSports driver started from the back of the field at New Hampshire and charged his way through the pack several times.
“Unbelievable car. I passed a lot of cars before being involved in the first caution and it gave us a lot of damage that we had to fix. We drove up from 39th place once again and passed cars all the way up to get in eighth,” said Ottinger. “We suffered some more damage, but came home with a 12th place that was a good showing for our resilience … It was a winning car and unfortunately it didn’t result in that.”
Shearburn said he did not expect himself to be in this situation at this point of the year.
“I wouldn’t say there is any pressure because I treat each race the same regardless of the points situation, but a few months ago I definitely would not have expected to be fighting for a spot in the top 20 at this stage,” said Shearburn. “Ever since the Kansas win, we just haven’t had any luck and mix that in with my poor performances on road courses and here we are.”
Ottinger said he is excited about the pressure to perform. He also won at the next points-paying track, Watkins Glen International, back in 2015.
“The only pressure is to win and we’ve been in that spot for a few races now,” said Ottinger. “It’s part of the sport and always a challenge I accept for each event. Our team does our best in preparing as you have to treat the next event like a one race season, do your best to win it.”
For Bowlin, he said he performs better under pressure. He feels the next two races will be exciting for him as a result. He plans to do a lot of preparation and let the races come to him.
“There’s still a shot of me making it in on points so I’m just gonna do what I do and focus on maximizing my finishes,” said Bowlin.
Shearburn said Watkins Glen and Michigan International Speedway are not the most ideal tracks for him to go to while needing good finishes. He said while he has increased his preparation, he is still approaching the races the same.
“I think for me right now, I need to take it one race at a time,” said Shearburn. “Right now we are focused on doing the best we can at Watkins Glen to hopefully be in a better position heading into Michigan.”
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