Conti Seventh, King 20th in Phoenix Round of eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs

Ron Lemasters | 9/13/2023

iRacing News

Michael Conti's quest for a championship in his final season came to an end last night as he was eliminated from playoff contention.

Track Specs: 1-mile oval / 120 laps
Conti's finish: 7th
King's finish: 20th  
Team Standings: 5th (-115)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 13 2023) -- Michael Conti's bid to end his career as a full-time eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver with a chance at a championship fell a few spots short on Tuesday night at the virtual Phoenix Raceway. The New Jersey native finished seventh in the penultimate round of the 2023 series, which featured 14 caution flags, and missed being part of the Championship 4 in the process. Teammate Kevin King battled to 20th on the night, leaving him 25 points short of a spot in next year's lineup with one race yet to run. (Watch the full race.)

Conti's qualifying lap saw the No. 8 WR1 Sim Chassis Chevrolet tighten up off Turn 4 and resulted in an 18th-place starting position. To make up positions, Conti took two tires on his first pit stop to gain ground and ended up battling for the lead soon after.

Settling into second, Conti chased until the second pit stop. Taking four tires, several contenders returned the favor and took just two, which put Conti back to 11th. Conti put his head down and drove back to fourth position before his progress stalled out. The caution waved yet again with 10 laps remaining in the 120-lap contest, and Conti's pit stop for two tires went long.

That put him seventh for the final flurry. Needing to win to advance to the Championship 4, circumstances went against the 2014 eNCCiRS champion as there was never more than one lap of green-flag racing the rest of the way. He ended up seventh at the checkered—which occurred after the third and final green-white-checkered restart.

King, driving the No. 88 Ledford Billiard Supply Chevrolet, qualified in 19th position and set about moving forward as the 120-lap race began. Unfortunately, the first caution flag of the night involved him, and after a quick trip to pit road to repair the damage, rolled back out in 33rd position.

Around the halfway point, King began to make a charge toward the upper positions. A bobble put him into a bad position at one point, but the Californian gathered it up and continued. Making another run on older tires, King again found himself in a three-wide battle that ended up in a crash, causing another raft of damage and costing him valuable repair time.

Regrouping yet again, King soldiered on to finish 20th, which left him 24 points away from the cut line to remain in the series for next season. He has one chance left, on Sept. 26 at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway, to make his way into the top 20 for next season.

In the team standings, JRM remained in fifth, 115 points in arrears.

The JR Motorsports duo and the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will return to the track on Sept. 26 for the final race of the playoffs at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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

"Tonight, we executed to the best of our ability and truly controlled everything we could. While we didn't win and advance to the Championship 4, I couldn't be prouder of our team's effort tonight and for the entirety of the season. We brought a fast WR1 Sim Chassis Camaro to Phoenix and had a shot to win, and that's all you can ask for in a race. It's hard to believe the #ItsBeenGr8 tour only has one stop left and that this huge chapter of my life is about to close. The plan is to close out my career at Homestead the same way I started it 12 seasons ago: show up, contend, and compete with the poise, passion and tact that have gotten me here."

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

"We went into the race with a small expectation and a positive outlook. I made a decent qualifying run and had hopes of advancing from there, but the first wreck caused at least a minute's worth of damage to fix. I still felt positive with our pace, but bottomed out when I was three-wide and got loose into the car below me. I hung in there, but another three-wide situation caused a lot of damage and still managed to finish 20th. It was, overall, a frustrating race with too many yellows. That created a lot of short runs leading to yet more yellows. We have one race left to finish it out strong in this No. 88 Ledford Billiard Supply Chevrolet."

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