Harberts Wins Maconi’s iRacing Atlanta Send Off

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

With the current version of the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway’s days numbered, the Maconi Setup Shop teamed with The Sim Racer Movie to host ‘The Final Showdown’ at the 1.54-mile track. Jacob Harberts earned the top prizes, $250, and an iRacingiFlag.

In a virtual No. 80 Chevrolet SS that sported a throwback paint scheme to Jimmie Johnson’s Lowe’s No. 48, Harberts started third. Presley Sorah of Monday Night Racing Road to Glory dominated the first two thirds of the race. However, the Monday Night Racing competitor’s race unraveled after the only round of green flag pit stops.

During the pit cycle, Harberts took the lead, pitting before Sorah. Sorah attempted to chase him down, using his short run speed. However, he clipped a lapped car in the process. Both cars spun into the inside wall, changing the complexion of the race. Sorah was forced to use his only fast repair and was on the backfoot the rest of the race. The Monday Night Racing Road to Glory driver ultimately rebounded to finish fifth.

A mix of back-to-back cautions and long runs aided Harberts run. The high tire wear and multiple restarts allowed him to control the lead for the final third of the race. The final 40-lap run to the finish went caution free. Harberts cruised comfortably to the win by 1.211 seconds over Troy Sabott.

Jacob Harberts celebrates his victory in The Final Showdown. Photo by Seth Eggert / Podium eSports.

“Surely after 325 laps I’m definitely very relieved because it was a long event,” Harberts explained. “I was really excited to have a good long run car throughout the race. Feel like I gave away my strategy early on saving tires as much as I was. A few other drivers seemed to pick up on it. Luckily, we were able to get some good track position at the end between those long runs that we had. We were just able to capitalize on it at the end. 

“Felt like I made a good move there during green flag pit stops. Got fairly lucky with that caution flag coming out when it did. (Sorah) was reeling me back in with his fresher tires. I was sitting really comfortable holding that lead. Unfortunately, I had a slow pit stop, which let him get back in front of me. I had a better long run car than him the whole race. Needed a run to get around him for sure. His short run speed was hard for me to match.”

Among those in The Final Showdown were eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver Zack Novak, Podium eSports’ Terry Radford, and Monday Night Racing and Rowdy Energy Monday Night Racing Pro Series competitor Seth Eggert. 

Novak received a pit road speeding penalty taking him out of competition. Radford was swept up in the first two accidents of the race. Eggert meanwhile cruised around the track to a 15th-place finish in his virtual No. 57 Kickin’ the Tires Chevrolet SS.

The race was a sendoff for the old version of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The newer superspeedway version of Atlanta is expected to be released prior to the upcoming eNASCAR race scheduled there.

“We chose Atlanta Motor Speedway for this event before we even had a car or layout nailed down,” explained Jeff Maconi. “We were in the works on another event that is looking to make a revival soon. When that fell through, we wanted to put on an event still, even if it meant funding it entirely via Maconi Setup Shop and our awesome sponsors, like The Sim Racer Movie, Martin Sports, and iRacingiFlag. 

“Since Atlanta is being repaved and will have an entirely new style of racing, feeling more like a superspeedway than an intermediate track, this event was an homage to the track’s legacy as one of the most difficult tracks to master, that left everything in the hands of the driver. Additionally, The Sim Racer Movie’s crew is based out of the Atlanta area. It was a perfect opportunity for us to do some cross-promotion for the film!”

One sponsor of the event is the upcoming film, The Sim Racer Movie. Director Brock Drury is a supporter of the Maconi Setup Shop, making the sponsorship a perfect opportunity for cross promotion of the setup shop, iRacing, and the film itself. 

“The Sim Racer Movie got involved because it seemed like a perfect opportunity for both of us!” stated Maconi. “Brock Drury, the director for the movie, has been a huge supporter of both myself and Maconi Setup Shop since we first met a few months back. When I went to him with this idea, he was immediately onboard.

“I am a huge fan of his drive and passion in his work, and we have a lot of cool things coming in the near future, so this was just the tip of the iceberg! There are some very cool things to come with Maconi Setup Shop and The Sim Racer Movie!”

The choice of the Legacy Gen 6 cars was a nod to some of the racing that the iRacing community has a whole enjoyed. While several car combinations were tested, the issue of high tire wear made the decision easier. 325 laps with some car combinations would have made a brutal slog to the completion of the race.

“We chose the Legacy Gen 6 cars because we felt they were the epitome of what people loved about the track: they’re fast, powerful, and burn fuel and rubber like nothing else!” recounted Maconi. “We tried a bunch of different car combinations for the track. The 87s were fun, but we didn’t think the racing action would be that great in all honesty, as people fought the car more than anything and for 325 laps, it would have been brutal. 

“The tire fall-off was also too drastic. The Next Gens were fun, but if the goal of the event is to pay tribute to the racing history at the track, it didn’t make much sense. The most recent version of the Gen 6 Cup Cars just had too much downforce and too little horsepower; meaning that there was really no racing. It was just being in dirty air and making passes only when people make mistakes. When we first strapped into the Legacy Gen 6 Cars and started turning laps, we knew we had found an awesome combination. 

“Those cars at a 1.5-mile track was something we had tried in the past and enjoyed. When we brought them back to Atlanta everything just clicked! The tires would fall off, but not make the car undrivable. Drivers could find multiple tenths per lap, putting a lot into their hands. Every lane could be used, and we saw 3 and 4 wide racing throughout the field from the drop of the green flag!”

Maconi and the Maconi Setup Shop, along with Podium eSports, will have more events coming up in the future. 

“Overall, the event was a massive success, and proved that Maconi Setup Shop is able to put on incredible events like this that put money into drivers’ pockets!” admitted Maconi. “Over 25% of the field profited from the event. Everyone from 20th to 11th made their money back and broke even! In the end, over $1,200 cash was paid out, plus additional prizes for other drivers such as paints and setups from the Maconi Setup Shop, merch from Martin Sports, and even a Digital Pit Box from iRacingiFlag! 

“We had a few major players in the virtual racing world watching us, including folks from eNASCAR and iRacing that helped a lot behind the scenes with guidance and insight, and proving to them what we are capable of was monumental to Maconi Setup Shop and all of our sponsors. I can’t thank the entire team at Maconi Setup Shop, Podium eSports, The Sim Racer Movie, Martin Sports, and iRacingiFlag enough for all of the work that they put in to help make it happen and can’t thank everyone who competed in and watched the event as well! 

“Without everyone involved, this wouldn’t have been possible–and we are already excited for our next big event, which will be announced soon!”