Conti’s Late Gamble Not Enough for eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Title; Davies Slowed by Crash

JR Motorsports | 11/3/2020

Brad Davies eNASCAR iRacing Michael Conti News TrueTimber WR1 Sim Chassis

JRM's Michael Conti had a chance at the $100,000 payday in Monday night's finale for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, but ran out of laps. Brad Davies overcame a crash to earn a top-20 finish.

Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 147 laps
Conti’s finish: 10th
Davies’ finish: 19th          

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 3, 2020) – In a back-and-forth battle for a $100,000 paycheck and the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series trophy, JR Motorsports driver Michael Conti’s strategy put him in position to claim both prizes Monday night at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Watch the full race.)

The way it worked out, however, saw the New Jersey native finish 10th overall and third among the Championship 4 participants. Brad Davies was in contention for a solid finish when he made contact with a car that dived across his line heading for pit road, relegating him to 19th at the checkered flag.

Conti, who earned his spot in the final race by sweeping to victory in last week’s penultimate round at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway, started his No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet from outside the second row for the 147-lap grind on the 1.5-mile layout in South Florida. Recognizing early that he did not have the raw speed to contend with Bobby Zalenski, Nick Ottinger and Ryan Luza, Conti decided to adopt a contrarian strategy to advance.

After fading back to seventh early in the first run, Conti soon blazed his way back to third. Realizing he didn’t have the speed of the other playoff cars, Conti switched to a one-stop strategy rather than a two-stop plan. In the middle of the second stint, the caution came out with about 40 laps to go, which put all the title contenders on the same strategy.

Conti found himself 14th and deep in traffic. With about 25 laps remaining, another caution waved, sending Zalenski and Luza to the pits for their last set of tires. In need of track position, Conti stayed out, as did Ottinger. After Conti led 14 laps, Luza rocketed to the front on new tires, and it looked as if Conti’s strategy was not going to work.

The cautions would come, a bit later than Conti would have liked, but he had a chance to come down for his fresh rubber with four laps remaining. Luza had taken tires and had swarmed past Bobby Zalenski for the lead, but Zalenski kept right on the back bumper. Heading into Turn 3, Luza drifted high to squeeze Zalenski, but the latter had already turned down into the corner. Zalenski hooked Luza’s car to the right, spinning it into the wall and upside down before coming to a stop. That put Zalenski in the lead, but with no tires left in the pits.

Conti and Ottinger pitted at that point and came back out looking to put their tires to good use over theflurry to the finish. The first one to get to Zalenski and pass him would be the champion. Ottinger broke well from the inside while Conti was mired in traffic behind him. Ottinger continued to race forward and tracked Zalenski down under the white flag, moving his William Byron eSports machine past to collect the $100,000 winner’s check and the championship. Conti made up a few positions in the final dash, eventually finishing 10th.

Davies qualified 17th after a short week of testing at HMS, focusing on race pace rather than overall speed. Hanging out in the mid-field for the first segment, Davies pitted a bit earlier than his rivals and got into the top 15, staying there until the second round of stops. While Davies’ car was handling well, so was the majority of the field, and he found it difficult to gain positions.

Davies followed his earlier strategy of pitting a few laps earlier than the rest of the field and completed his stop, looking to gain positions as the others began to hit pit road. A few laps after visiting pit road, Davies was at full song in Turn 4 when Alex McCollum turned dead left in an attempt to pit, slicing directly into the path of the No. 88 TrueTimber® Camo Chevrolet. Davies piled into McCollum’s car, doing a good bit of damage to it and his own machine.

Forced back to pit road for repairs, Davies got most of the damage fixed and returned to the track, gutting out a 19th-place finish in the final event of the 2020 season. The Florida native’s cause was aided by the spate of caution flags late in the race that extended the distance.

Chris Shearburn won the race, topping Chris Overland, Eric J. Smith, Ottinger and Caine Cook. Zalenski finished seventh, with Conti 10th and Luza 31st after the tangle with Ottinger.

In team points, JR Motorsports’ duo of Conti and Davies finished second overall.

Michael Conti, driver No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“What a night for our No. 8 WR1 Chevy! In true No. 8 team fashion, we did not go down quietly and certainly gave those guys a run for their money. I wish I could get those last few restarts back, but I can't complain about finishing third on a season that was definitely up and down. Racing is a game of luck, circumstances, and fortune; for us, we had a lot of misfortune to begin the year, but Texas last week made up for all of that. A lot of people would say we were not supposed to make the Final 4. So, to not only make the Final 4, but to be a few moves away from a championship is incredible.

“I can't thank my team enough for all of their hard work and tireless effort this season. We struggled early, but found a way to find speed and get ourselves into contention by year's end. We set out to compete and be successful this year, and we did just that. Four poles, one victory, and the second-most laps led is nothing to be upset about. I'm very happy with what we were able to accomplish off the track too. Last year, we helped grow FilterTime and this year, we did even more for WR1. Chad's (WR1 Sim Chassis owner Chad Wheeler) business has exploded and he's on the fast track to being one of the most recognizable sim-chassis suppliers in the industry. I'm pleased with the amount of TV time we got those guys and hope they are too! Thanks as always to everyone at JRM for their efforts this year as well, and of course, thanks to Dale for inviting me back to race for the team this year. On to 2021!"

Brad Davies, driver No. 88 TrueTimber® Camo JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“This was a long and grueling season. Our teammate Michael Conti had a shot to win the title up until the final laps tonight and although he didn’t win it, we managed a second-place finish in overall team points which is pretty exciting. Also, hats off to Nick (Ottinger) on the championship. He’s definitely deserving of it and I’ll bet he’ll be celebrating this one for a long time. As for us, finishing 12th in driver points is also a great accomplishment when talking about competing against the best sim racers in the world so I’m also really proud of that. We also can’t forget about TrueTimber. I don’t know where we’d be without all their support this year and, of course, everyone at JRM. Overall I have to say this was a very successful season and I can’t wait to see what next year brings for our sport.”

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RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric (P)40400
2Justin Allgaier (P)4032-8
3Justin Haley (P)4029-11
4Chase Briscoe (P)4028-12
5Noah Gragson2306-1734
6Brandon Jones2273-1767
7Ross Chastain2270-1770
8Harrison Burton #2248-1792
9Michael Annett2202-1838