Race Weekend Central

Bobby Zalenski Goes Back-to-Back in eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Coke Series With Win at Monza

Bobby Zalenski came into the night as the most recent winner in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola Series with a victory two weeks ago at Richmond. The Fresno, California, resident ended the night with that same distinction, leading wire-to-wire in the series’ first-ever race outside the United States at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy. Zalenski became the first multi-race winner of 2023, establishing himself as the driver to beat early in the season.

“I don’t believe in momentum,” Zalenski told Blake McCandless post-race. “It’s really great to be this fortunate, to have an amazing car two weeks in a row. It’s awesome to get Interstate Batteries and Joe Gibbs Racing two wins in a row early on in the season.”

Zalenski took the checkered flag a comfortable 3.7 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Tucker Minter, another impressive result for the rookie and Daytona winner.

“I definitely felt like I could run somewhere between seventh to 15th,” Minter said of his pre-race expectations. “It’s really rewarding and a little surprising to come home second.”

2021 series champion Keegan Leahy crossed the line in third, defended champion Casey Kirwan recovered from an early spin to finish fourth, and Jordy Lopez, Jr., completed the top five.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

Zalenski’s dominance started in qualifying,  earning his second straight pole and the 13th overall of his career.  He would lead the field to green, with Leahy to his outside.

With it being the first-ever race at Monza, a lap one incident was almost expected. Sure enough, several cars wrecked at the back of the pack going into turn one of the seven-turn Monza road course. It all started when Vicente Salas in the No. 55 Williams Esports Chevrolet got into the back of the No. 66 Kanaan eSports Toyota driven by Tyler Garey, collecting several leaders. Salas and Kollin Keister dropped out of the race due to damage incurred in the wreck.

After navigating the treacherous opening lap, the 39 drivers began to spread out along the 3.50-mile configuration at Monza. There was the occasional isolated incident, most notably Kirwan’s spin on lap five which left him to fall from sixth to 13th on track.

All drivers needed to make one pit stop to make it to the end on fuel, and that led to some variations in pit strategy throughout the field. Cody Byus in the No. 27 was the first to pull into his pit stall on lap eight, aiming for an undercut.

On lap 23, Zalenski would take his turn on pit road, making a routine five-second stop for fuel only and getting off pit road cleanly and well ahead of Minter and Leahy. From there, Zalenski did not put a wheel out of place on his way to the checkered flag.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Paint Schemes of the Race
    • Allen Boes sported a new look on his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports, an orange and light blue scheme with sponsorship from Stage Front VIP.
  • The victory is the 13th of Zalenski’s Coke Series career, putting him alone in fifth on the all-time wins list, breaking a tie with Leahy.
  • Zalenski also re-established himself as the road course king of the Coke Series with his seventh win on a road course, the most in series history. However, it is his first road course win in almost three years, going back to the Charlotte Roval in 2020.
  • Points Standings Update
    • Zalenski separated himself from the pack as the first repeat winner of the season. Michael Conti and Graham Bowlin are tied for the lead at 145 points, with Zalenski one back. Minter and Nick Ottinger are tied for fourth, five points behind the leaders.
    • With his ninth-place finish tonight, Steven Wilson moves up to 16th in the points, making himself playoff-eligible thanks to his victory at Atlanta.  

NEXT UP

The Coca-Cola iRacing Series will hit the track again next Tuesday, April 18 when the drivers take to the high banks of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on Twitch.tv/iRacing, YouTube.com/iRacing, and eNASCAR.com.

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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