Conti Opens Playoffs with an 11th-Place Finish, Davies Hits Bad Luck in eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Thriller at Darlington

9/1/2021

Axe Brad Davies Darlington Raceway eNASCAR iRacing Michael Conti News WR1 Sim Chassis

A late caution shuffled Conti back, but he remains in good position in the points standings as the playoffs continue.

Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 189 laps
Conti's finish: 11th   
Davies' finish: 29th  
Team Standings: 9th (-142)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2021) -- Michael Conti kicked off the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Playoffs with an 11th-place finish in a wild opener Tuesday night at the virtual Darlington Raceway, and JR Motorsports teammate Brad Davies fell victim to some hard racing late in the double-overtime event on the digital 1.366-mile oval to finish 29th. (Watch the full race.)

After the opening round of the playoffs, JR Motorsports' two-car team sits ninth in the team standings, 142 points off the lead.

Conti, driving the No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports, qualified a solid sixth for the event on the tricky oval and battled in the top echelon, running as high as second at times. A caution flag with around 75 laps remaining allowed Conti to lead two laps, but it put a premium on fuel mileage, which led Conti to change his strategy. Figuring he was about a gallon short of the finish, the New Jersey native elected to pit with most of the other playoff drivers and split the remaining distance in half.

Rocketing back through the field, Conti was on cusp of the top five when a late caution flag threw strategy out the window. A series of caution flags upset the order and sent the race into overtime. On the final restart, Conti got shuffled to the bottom and dropped four positions from seventh to 11th at the finish.

The finish put Conti in a much less secure place in the points, as he is currently seventh, four points below the cutoff to advance.

Davies struggled a bit in qualifying for the event, as his No. 88 AXE Chevrolet Camaro trended loose in all his pre-race practice sessions. During qualifying, however, his Camaro went the opposite way to the tight side and resulted in a 28th-place grid position. Davies felt confident that his race setup would cure those handling ills, but the tightness remained through the opening segment of the race.

Davies was only able to advance a couple of positions over the first fuel run, so crew chief Derek Wood made the call to bring his driver down pit road at lap 57 for fuel, tires and adjustments. The move was a good one, as Davies was able to jump up the order as other cars came down for service. Running in the top 15 despite having slightly older tires than his competitors, Davies hit pit road for the second time for more of the same and went back on the track with some momentum.

A caution flag waved around 30 laps into the third run packed the field once again, and despite another stop, the tight condition reappeared. Other drivers mimicked Davies' earlier strategy of pitting early, and swept around him for the run to the checkered flag. With fresher tires, Davies was hoping to race back past some of the early pitters, but was stuck in the top 20 as the laps ticked away.

With less than seven laps remaining, Davies was trailing Garrett Manes into Turn 3 and pulled down to make the pass. Manes lost control of his machine and tagged Davies, sending him into the outside wall and bringing out the yellow, sending the race into overtime. It also resulted in slight damage to the AXE Chevrolet. Shortly after the restart, a much larger incident erupted off Turn 2 and Davies had nowhere to go, taking heavy damage from a hit to the rear of his machine. Over the remaining laps, Davies ran at reduced speed and came home 29th for the second straight race.

With three races remaining in the season, Davies sits 26th in driver points, 62 markers below the cutoff for automatic inclusion in next year's eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.

Bobby Zalenski won the race to punch his ticket to the Championship 4, holding off a closing Mitchell de Jong at the line for the victory. Casey Kirwan, Ryan Luza and Jimmy Mullis rounded out the top five.

The second round of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs is set for Sept. 14 at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.

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

"The result certainly wasn't indicative of our performance or the speed we had in our No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Camaro. We qualified solidly, raced cleanly throughout, and had ourselves positioned for a good points night and a top-five finish. Unfortunately, some of the guys out back couldn't keep it together which put us in some tough spots toward the end. With that being said, we leave Darlington in a solid points position and still very much in contention as we head into Bristol in two weeks."

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

"It's frustrating because we go the entire race with a fairly good-handling No. 88 AXE Chevy, we stay out of trouble for the majority of the race only to have a yellow at the end of the race bunch everyone back up together so we can all wreck with 10 to go. That seems to be the theme this year for us but what can you do? With only three races left, we only have to worry about going for wins. Points are not really of much concern as we'll just let the playoff guys battle it out. That takes a lot of pressure off of us and we can just go out there and try to get a win before the year is out. Bristol is in two weeks and we ran extremely well there last year, leading more than 100 laps. We'll be going back there to try to do the same."

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • September 25 07:30 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 302Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • October 2 04:30 PM ET
    Talladega Superspeedway
  • October 9 03:00 PM ET
    Drive for the Cure 250Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
  • October 16 03:00 PM ET
    Andy’s Frozen Custard 335Texas Motor Speedway
  • October 23 03:00 PM ET
    Kansas Lottery 300Kansas Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Food City 300

Bristol Motor Speedway | 9/17/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1AJ Allmendinger10430
2Austin Cindric1033-10
3Justin Allgaier924-119
4Daniel Hemric895-148
5Harrison Burton871-172
6Justin Haley864-179
7Noah Gragson863-180
14Michael Annett524-519
34Sam Mayer #186-857