Conti, King Crash Late in Opening eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs Event

Ron Lemasters | 8/16/2023

iRacing News

Michael Conti's quest for a championship in his final iRacing season took a hit Tuesday night after a late crash at Michigan International Speedway.

Track Specs: 2-mile oval / 80 laps
Conti's finish: 32nd
King's finish: 29th   
Team Standings: 5th (-77)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 16, 2023) – The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event Tuesday night at the virtual Michigan International Speedway was not kind to the two-driver JR Motorsports team, as both playoff contender Michael Conti and teammate Kevin King were involved in crashes over the waning laps of the playoff opener. King led the way in 29th while Conti was scored 32nd at the finish. (Watch the full race.)

Conti, in his final season and a chance to take the $100,000 top prize to the series champion, qualified his No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet in the sixth position, which he called his best effort of the year. Knowing that tire wear would be a key consideration, Conti rode in third and saved both tires and fuel for the second half.

A caution at the halfway point was ill-timed, as Conti felt it was too early for the last set of tires and he stayed out on track. Unfortunately, the next 38 laps were run under green-flag conditions, and with 20 laps remaining Conti got clipped by a competitor and did damage to the handling. Limping along in 21st with two laps remaining, Conti was collected in a scrum that started when Garrett Manes contacted Corey Vincent and pushed him into Conti and Nick Ottinger. The damage was severe and Conti limped home in 32nd.

King started deep in the field in 33rd with the No. 88 Ledford Billiard Supply Chevrolet but felt good about the car's pace. Early in the going, King missed a huge crash and was instantly running in the top 20. Making a three-wide pass on the wide MIS surface, however, saw the Californian get spun on a straightaway for the second straight race.

Running deep in the field and on old tires, King caught a break just before the white flag was set to wave. A caution allowed him to hit pit road for two tires in a bid to advance up the order from 23rd.  Rejoining in 14th, King was involved in a big crash ahead of him, dropping him back down the order. Another spin in front of him on the final restart--the same crash that caught out Conti and nearly saw the two teammates collide in the aftermath--dropped the Ledford Billiard Supply Chevy to 29th at the checkered flag.

Garrett Lowe earned the victory to qualify for the Championship 4 and a shot at the $100,000 winner's prize as well as the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Cup trophy. Steven Wilson was second, with Michael Guest, Dylan Duval and Jordy Lopez the rest of the top five.

As the points reset for the playoffs, Conti finds himself second in the playoff standings (excluding Lowe, who is already in the final four) and 10th in the driver standings after the opening event, 32 behind the leader. King fell to 26th in the driver ranks and is 32 points below the cut line for next season. In the team standings, JRM is fifth and trails the lead by 77 markers.

The JR Motorsports duo and the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will return to the track on Aug. 29 for round two of the Playoffs at the virtual Dover Motor Speedway.

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

"What an awful turn of events--from a race that was extremely short to begin with, to wonky strategy that was precipitated by a lack of foresight when allocating tires, to horrendous driving. All we can do now is try to win one of the next two races with our No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet. There is time, there is potential, and there is hope. Let us hope the stars align and we can avoid a lot of the nonsense that has become commonplace as of late."

Kevin King, driver No. 88 Ledford Billiard Supply Chevrolet team

"I felt pretty good about the pace of the Ledford Billiard Supply Chevrolet at the beginning and we were instantly in the top 20 after starting near the back. For the second straight race, I got spun on a straightaway; I don't know what I need to change, but it keeps happening. Later in the race, it came down to tires. I got to 23rd with old, worn-out tires on and when the yellow came out late, I pitted for two and got up to 14th. As usual, I got wrecked on the ensuing restart when old tires couldn't hang in front of me and blocked the track. It's really frustrating to constantly get collected in other people's mess, which is racing, but it does get a bit wild to try to understand."

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