Zalenski’s Road Course Magic Ends with a Top-Five at virtual COTA

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

After sweeping the road courses in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series in 2020, Bobby Zalenski’s luck turning left and right came to an end.

Zalenski was beaten for the pole by fellow road course ace Mitchell deJong at the virtual Circuit of the Americas by three tenths. While the duo launched off the final corner to take the green flag, the race went downhill for the LETARTE eSports driver in turn one.

The wide track narrowed into a hairpin left-hand turn at the end of the frontstretch. Defending eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion Nick Ottinger stormed down the inside and locked up the brakes. Ottinger’s virtual No. 25 Logitech Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE slammed into Zalenski. The duo spun on corner exit.

Bobby Zalenski spins in front of the field exiting turn 1 after contact with Nick Ottinger, Photo by Justin Melillo.

Zalenski did a full 360-degree spin in his virtual No. 83 Virtual Racing School Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. He dropped from second down to 19th on the running order by the time he got his car righted. At the end of the first lap, he had climbed back up to 13th.

The 25-year-old drove like a man on a mission throughout the remainder of the race. In the closing laps he had a spirited battle with Steven Wilson for fourth. Zalenski then set his sights on chasing down Graham Bowlin but ran out of laps.

Zalenski Tweeted his disappointment post-race.

“Guess the magic had to end at some point,” explained Zalenski. “Felt very, very good about my race pace and it was going to be a race long battle with Mitchell deJong. But sadly, we got taken out at turn 1. Got quite heavy front damage, but just kept digging and fought from 19th to finish fourth.”

deJong’s win drops Zalenski down the standings. Although he is seventh overall in points, the ‘win-and-your-in’ format places the veteran sim racer 11th, the first driver on the outside of the playoffs. Zalenski is two points behind the playoff cutoff, held by Corey Vincent.

The only guaranteed playoff berth the LETARTE eSports has is to win in the remaining six races of eNASCAR’s regular season. Two of the upcoming six races are at road courses, Road America and Watkins Glen International.

Next for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series is the annual trip for Charlotte Motor Speedway. Last year at Charlotte, Zalenski finished 12th.