Conti and Davies Persevere in Problematic eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Run at Charlotte

Ron Lemasters | 5/26/2021

Axe Brad Davies eNASCAR iRacing Michael Conti News WR1 Sim Chassis

Both JRM drivers had to race without an aerodynamic update that left the Camaros somewhat at a disadvantage in traffic compared to their rivals.

Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad oval / 200 laps
Conti’s finish: 18th
Davies’ finish: 35th  
Team Standings: 11th (-114)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 26, 2021) – The longest race of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season on Tuesday night at the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway produced the ninth winner in as many races in Ray Alfalla, and generated another pair of headaches for the two-car JR Motorsports team of Michael Conti and Brad Davies. Conti battled dirty air all night, while Davies’s night was ruined by a crash on the front straightaway with less than 30 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. (Watch the full race.)

Both JRM drivers, as well as all the other Chevrolet teams in the field, had to race without an aerodynamic update that left the Camaros somewhat at a disadvantage in traffic compared to their rivals. On Wednesday morning, iRacing issued an update stating that “multi-car drafting performance for this car (Chevrolet Camaro ZL1) has been adjusted on oval tracks.” But it was too little, too late for team JRM.

Conti qualified his No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet 25th, and Davies was 23rd, which meant both would be mired in dirty air for much of the night. Recognizing the fact that his Camaro would be at a disadvantage in traffic, Conti opted to try a two-stop strategy in an attempt to gain track position.

A caution flag with 90 laps remaining put paid to those hopes, and Conti battled on to finish 18th, avoiding several crashes along the way. Despite the result, Conti remained fourth in season points and third in the playoff standings after nine races.

Davies’ struggles started early, as the Florida driver fell two laps down in the first five circuits of the event thanks to a black flag for entering a closed pit lane. A quick caution flag just three laps into the 200-lap grind gave Davies the chance to duck onto pit road to try and fix an edgy, uncomfortable condition on his machine. Planning to make the changes, top off the fuel tank and return to the rear of the pack to sort it out, Davies planned to wait for his handle to come in and perhaps stretch his fuel into a two-stop race. Unfortunately, though his instruments told him pit road was open, Davies was issued a penalty that would require him to return to pit road and sit in the pit box for 45 seconds.

Returning to the track ahead of the leaders and in clean air, the No. 88 AXE Chevrolet came to life and Davies clicked off fast lap after fast lap, out-pacing leader Keegan Leahy handily over a full fuel run. Around the halfway point, Davies got one of his laps back and was looking for the free pass when he was bumped from behind by another competitor and was forced to pit to repair damage.

Finally, at lap 163, the caution waved for an incident, Davies was able to get back on the lead lap. Four laps later on the restart, Davies was primed to make a move up the order, but it was not to be. Davies was trailing Blade Whitt and Chris Shearburn on the inside line as the field roared across the start/finish line when cars started to check up ahead of them. Shearburn dodged to the inside to avoid contact, taking him onto the infield grass. Davies kept his foot in it, pulled high to get around and was driving away when Shearburn’s car broke loose and powered straight into the side of Davies’ No. 88 AXE Chevrolet. The damage was severe to the front end, and Davies needed significant repairs to rejoin. He eventually got the wounded AXE-backed Camaro back on the track and finished 35th, nine laps down.

Ray Alfalla blazed to the front in the final stint to earn the victory, making his the ninth different winner in nine races so far this season. Malik Ray was second, with Ryan Luza, polesitter Keegan Leahy and Zack Novak rounding out the top five.

On Wednesday, iRacing issued a statement explaining the discrepancy in aerodynamic performance among the car makes and announced the teams would be allowed to drop a race finish from their season as a result.

The two-car JRM team dropped two spots to 11th in the team standings, 114 off the lead, after nine races.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will take a summer pause, returning on June 22 at the virtual Pocono Raceway.

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

“After tonight’s race, I have a greater appreciation than I’ve ever had for the guys in real-life who have to carry underfunded/under-performing cars to fringe top-20 finishes. We battled a major aero deficiency all night with our WR1 Camaro, but never gave up and came home with a respectable finish to show for it. Despite the car’s performance in traffic, we showed spurts of strong pace when in clean air, so I’m confident our setup package is still in a good place. Over the summer break, we’ll regroup, recharge, and set our sights on bringing another fast Chevy to Pocono.”

Brad Davies, driver No. 88 AXE JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“I can’t even put into words how dejected we are. Luck clearly hasn’t been on our side at all this year. There was a lot of uncertainty about how the AXE Chevrolet was going to drive heading into this race and then to receive a black flag, lose two laps and fight for over three-quarters of the race to get back on the lead lap, only to have it all taken away by one of the cleanest drivers in the series, just kind of puts a stamp on how our year has gone so far. We have about a month off before our next race at Pocono which is going to be a very much-needed break. My hope is that the time off will help clear our heads and allow us to restart the second half of the year with a little bit better luck.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • June 12 04:00 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 250Texas Motor Speedway
  • June 19 03:30 PM ET
    Tennessee Lottery 250Nashville Superspeedway
  • June 27 12:00 PM ET
    Pocono Green 225Pocono Raceway
  • July 3 02:30 PM ET
    Henry 180 Road America
  • July 10 03:00 PM ET
    Atlanta Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After B&L Transport 170

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course | 6/5/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric5580
2AJ Allmendinger462-96
3Daniel Hemric437-121
4Harrison Burton437-121
5Jeb Burton419-139
6Justin Haley401-157
7Justin Allgaier395-163
10Michael Annett326-232
11Noah Gragson324-234
16Josh Berry #256-302