Race Weekend Central

Bobby Zalenski Bests the Field at Brands Hatch for 15th Career eNCCiS Win

Bobby Zalenski is considered the road course king in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. The San Jose, Calif., native added another gem to his road course crown on Tuesday, April 9, winning at the virtual Brands Hatch circuit in England for his first win of 2024 and the 15th of his eNCCiS career. Of those 15 wins, nine have come on road courses, and Zalenski is now tied for fourth with Michael Conti on the all-time eNCCiS wins list.

“I can’t believe we won, especially after the sprint race,” Zalenski said during the Sunoco Post-Race Show. “But we just had a dream start in the actual feature race when Steven [Wilson] and Vicente [Salas] got together. I just kept staying with [Wilson], getting closer, and then I had an opportunity and had to take it.”

Defending eNCCiS champion Steven Wilson dominated early in the night but had to settle for a runner-up finish. Tucker Minter placed third,  Nick Ottinger place fourth, and Vicente Salas recovered from early contact with Wilson to complete the top five.

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TONIGHT’S ACTION

Just like two weeks ago at Richmond, Brands Hatch featured a new race format for the eNCCiS drivers to tackle. The evening was divided into a 15-lap sprint race and a 30-lap main event race. The top eight drivers in qualifying got inverted for the sprint race, with fastest qualifier Parker White starting eighth and the eighth-fastest driver Wilson leading the field to green.

The finish of the sprint race set the line up for the 30-lap main, and there were no full-course cautions thrown in either race.

SPRINT RACE

Wilson sailed away on the start, facing no pressure and leading all the 15 laps in winning the sprint race by 2.432 seconds over Minter. While passes were hard to come by for some, Salas did make his way up from the seventh starting spot to finish third. Ottinger and Zalenski completed the top five.

“Yeah, it feels good,” Wilson said after the sprint race to Black McCandless. “Obviously, I had the clean air there and was able to drive away.”

Malik Ray was the only driver to encounter issues in the sprint race, unable to finish and having to start the feature race at the back.

MAIN RACE

Salas started third on the back bumper of Wilson, quickly taking second after a bobble from Minter on the first turn. Meanwhile, Michael Guest got the worst of an opening-lap accident in the back of the pack.

On lap two, Salas dove to the inside of Wilson, but then Wilson got into the left rear of Salas, sending the latter driver spinning around. Salas got his car pointed in the right direction quickly though, only falling to sixth.

Sala’s loss was Zalenski’s gain, as he got around to the second spot on track. Wilson and Zalenski ran fairly even lap times, with the gap between the two holding steady at a little over half a second. The duo separated themselves from the rest of the pack, opening a gap of four seconds on Ottinger, Salas, and Minter.

Zalenski continued to stalk Wilson for the lead as the race passed the halfway point. Finally, on lap 16, Zalenski dived to the inside, made contact with Wilson, and completed the pass to become only the second driver to lead a lap on the evening. Zalenski took advantage of the clean air to slowly pull away from Wilson and remain uncontested all the way to the checkered flag.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS (NINE RACES LEFT IN REGULAR SEASON)

Steven Wilson1 Win
Bobby Zalenski1 Win
Wyatt Tinsley1 Win
Malik Ray1 Win
Casey Kirwan+41 Points
Nick Ottinger+34
Vicente Salas+22
Parker White+5
Zack Novak+1
Donovan Strauss+1
Kollin Keister-1
Matt Bussa-3
Briar LaPradd-6

Keegan Leahy has a win this season, but he is currently not playoff eligible because he is outside the top 20 in points.

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NEXT UP

The drivers of the eNCCiS will race stateside again in two weeks with a trip to the virtual Dover Motor Speedway on Tuesday, April 23. Race coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green, followed by 120 laps at The Monster Mile at 8 p.m. on enascar.com/live, youtube.com/iracingofficial, and twitch.tv/iracing.

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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