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Zalenski Steals First Win of 2021 eNASCAR Playoffs at Darlington

Zalenski Steals First Win of 2021 eNASCAR Playoffs at Darlington

Dramatic and furious racing at Darlington for the 2021 eNASCAR Playoffs in iRacing. Top drivers and great racing at it’s finest.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff opener at Darlington Raceway was Mitchell deJong’s race to win—until it wasn’t.

A caution in the closing moments of the scheduled 183-lap distance trapped the hard-charging deJong behind Bobby Zalenski and Ryan Luza, who had been on a different pit strategy and were attempting to conserve, as he attempted to reclaim the lead. But deJong’s advantage went away as almost the whole field pit for the green-white-checkered, and Zalenski outlasted his fellow Californian across multiple overtimes to take his 10th career victory, guaranteeing the Letarte eSports driver a spot once again in this year’s Championship 4.

“I can’t believe that happened!” Zalenski said after the race. “I usually don’t get those kinds of strategy calls to go my way, (but) I’m in the Championship 4 again. I didn’t expect to win this race. It’s a big relief, especially because the next two races are Bristol and Talladega. I didn’t see this coming at all, but sometimes luck goes your way.”

2021 enascar playoffs iracing

Tuesday night marked deJong’s fifth pole in 15 races this season, as he started alongside 23XI teammate and fellow playoff driver Keegan Leahy, who won at Darlington last year. But deJong, whose pair of victories this season came on road courses (at Zalenski’s expense), proved he was plenty motivated to finally take a checkered flag on an oval by checking out on the field in the early stages of the race. Only a pair of back-to-back cautions slowed down the race around midway, one seeing Kligerman Sport’s Bob Bryant spin in his first playoff race, and the other involving Zalenski and former Darlington winner Ashton Crowder of Elliott Sadler eSports.

The final laps were shaping up to be plenty dramatic, as differing pit strategies saw deJong and defending series champion Nick Ottinger work their way through a field of cars in conservation mode. But contact between Brad Davies and Garrett Manes with less than 10 laps to go threw a wrench in that works, and none of the front-runners wanted to take the risk of going through overtime on old tires and low fuel.

2021 enascar playoffs iracing

Spacestation Gaming’s Malik Ray stayed out to lead the field to the first overtime, but immediately pulled out of the way after starting the race to let the playoff drivers go; it proved not to affect the outcome as a stackup half a lap later led to another caution before the field took the white flag. The second restart was much cleaner, with deJong having a cleaner shot at Zalenski for the lead, but he wouldn’t be able to make the winning move work in Turns 3 and 4. Instead, Zalenski would cross the line first, scoring his second win of the year after a triumph at Pocono Raceway and taking the pressure off until the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway in October.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series results from Darlington Raceway were as follows:











11483Bobby ZalenskiChevrolet1893328.38040
2123Mitchell deJongToyota189-0.13612028.28535
3838Casey KirwanFord189-0.488528.37534
474Ryan Michael LuzaFord189-0.822628.33333
51146Jimmy MullisToyota189-0.947028.33732
6325Nick OttingerChevrolet189-1.197028.44531
72675Matt BussaFord189-1.409028.56530
81297Logan ClampittChevrolet189-1.543728.57929
91055Vicente SalasFord189-1.862028.77128
103566Blake ReynoldsChevrolet189-2.074028.60427
1168Michael ContiChevrolet189-2.126228.50926
12990Zack NovakToyota189-2.140028.70225
13410Graham A. BowlinFord189-2.252028.64024
14153Corey VincentChevrolet189-2.258028.71623
152141Dylan DuvalFord189-2.402028.86622
163777Bob BryantChevrolet189-2.509028.80421
17329Michael GuestFord189-2.513028.73420
181724Jake NicholsFord189-2.643028.79419
19536Chris ShearburnChevrolet189-2.759028.80618
201651Ray AlfallaToyota189-2.904228.66117
213018Femi OlatToyota189-2.955028.68416
222721Garrett LoweFord189-3.200028.91615
232979Ryan DoucetteFord189-3.321028.89614
243947Brian SchoenburgChevrolet189-3.381028.74113
25131Ashton CrowderToyota189-4.050028.80912
26342Garrett ManesToyota189-4.531028.77211
27226Nathan LyonFord189-4.531029.03910
283115Caine CookFord189-5.197128.9329
292888Brad DaviesChevrolet189-5.363028.5358
301833Taylor HurstChevrolet189-5.373028.8077
312452Jake MathesonFord189-5.515029.0926
324011Malik RayFord189-5.855228.7035
333314Blade WhittFord189-6.184028.8004
34232Keegan LeahyToyota189-6.3851128.8023
351916John GorlinskyFord189-6.662028.9752
362344Anthony BurroughsChevrolet187-2 L029.0201
372567Allen BoesChevrolet183-6 L028.9921
382017Steven WilsonFord176-13 L028.8861
393837Derek JustisChevrolet161-28 L028.6721
403629Zack NicholsFord74-115 L029.3191


The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoff grid is as follows:

  1. Bobby Zalenski, 1 playoff win
  2. Mitchell deJong, 2041 points
  3. Jimmy Mullis, 2035
  4. Matt Bussa, 2033
  5. Logan Clampitt, 2032
  6. Vicente Salas, 2031
  7. Michael Conti, 2029
  8. Graham Bowlin, 2027
  9. Bob Bryant, 2024
  10. Keegan Leahy, 2006

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs continue in two weeks’ time at Bristol Motor Speedway, with any other playoff driver who can win that race guaranteed to join Zalenski in the Championship 4. As always, coverage begins with iRacing Countdown to Green at 8:30PM ET, with the racing action picking up at 9PM ET on and iRacing’s social media channels. Evan Posocco, Steve Letarte, and Parker Kligerman will be on the call for the remainder of the 2021 season. For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit

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