Zalenski Rules The Brands Hatch Road In eNASCAR


Bobby Zalenski en route to winning Tuesday night at the virtual Brands Hatch Circuit. (Justin Melillo/NASCAR photo)

KENT, U.K. – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bobby Zalenski rekindled his road-racing dominance with a statement eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory Tuesday night at the virtual Brands Hatch Circuit.

After a bump-and-run move on race-long leader Steven Wilson with 14 laps left gave Zalenski clean air out front, he used it to his advantage en route to his 15th career win and first of the season.

It marked Zalenski’s eighth consecutive season – every year that he’s raced in the series – with a trophy and also tied him with past series champion Michael Conti for fourth on the all-time win list.

“I can’t believe we won that,” said Zalenski, who became the fifth different winner in five races this year. “Especially after the sprint … I tried to play the invert a bit, like Steven did, and I guess I wasn’t quite as aggressive as I could have been in that regard. We just had a really bad sprint race and I was bad on my tires in that one. We kind of missed it then, but had a dream start in the feature to get to third.

“Steven and Vicente got together, and I thought, ‘Man, Steven is just faster than me,’” Zalenski added. “When I saw I was able to stay with him, and then had an opportunity open up down there [in turn two], I knew I had to take it. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this race and I’m glad it all worked out.”

Parker White kicked off the night by topping two-lap time trials with a lap of 1:25.226, officially being credited with his first career Coca-Cola Series pole award, but with a top-eight inversion in effect for the sprint race grid it was Steven Wilson who took advantage of the first grid spot after qualifying eighth.

Wilson used that prime position to lead all 15 laps of the sprint race, with Vicente Salas as the hard charger among the inversion cars by advancing from seventh to third in the opening stanza.

With the feature grid set straight up from the sprint race finish, Wilson’s 2.424-second margin in that contest gave him the pole for the 30-lap main event.

From there, Wilson and Salas quickly assumed the top-two positions by the time the field exited turn two, but it was contact between that duo that upended the battle for the win a lap later.

Working lap two, Salas took a dive to the inside of Wilson in the passing zone at turn two, assuming the lead for an instant before Wilson caught the bumper of Salas’ car off the exit of the corner – spinning Salas into a 360-degree slide that forced White to take evasive action as well behind him.

Despite all that chaos, Salas only fell to sixth place as a result of the contact, while up front Wilson was able to escape with the top spot and Zalenski moved into second place behind the leader.

Zalenski stalked Wilson over the course of the next 10 laps, nearly reaching Wilson’s rear bumper in turn two on lap 13, before he finally got there in the same spot on the course four laps later.

The Interstate Batteries Toyota gave a shot to the rear of Wilson’s M80 Ford that got Wilson out of the groove, allowing Zalenski to take a lead he wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Wilson hung on for second, but faded to 1.723 seconds back of Zalenski at the finish line. He also weathered a late charge from Salas, who nearly got back to him on the final lap to fight for the runner-up honors.

“The only thing I think I might have been able to do was try to pinch [Zalenski] off better in turn two,” admitted Wilson of the fight for the win. “I just don’t think I had enough front turn to compete with him. Even in the dirty air, he was able to stay close, and I think he was just a bit better all around.”

“Proud of our second-place finish, though, and hats off to Bobby on his performance.”

The William Byron eSports duo of Tucker Minter and Nick Ottinger came home third and fourth, respectively, with Salas falling to a fifth-place finish after overcooking his last-gasp run forward and spinning a few turns from the finish line.

“I think the fastest car finished fifth tonight, honestly,” noted Wilson afterward of Salas’ struggles.

Casey Kirwan, Jordy Lopez, Parker White, Garrett Lowe, and Wyatt Tinsley closed the top 10.

As with all road-course races in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, there were no cautions in either the 15-lap sprint race or the 30-lap main event.

Michael Guest and Cody Byus were the only two drivers who failed to make it to the checkered flag and finished 39th and 40th, respectively, as a result.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season continues April 23 at Dover Motor Speedway.

A replay of every eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event is available via iRacing’s YouTube channel.

RESULTS: eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series; Brands Hatch Circuit; Kent, U.K.; April 9, 2024

1. 18-Bobby Zalenski [5], 2. 10-Steven Wilson [1], 3. 97-Tucker Minter [2], 4. 25-Nick Ottinger [4], 5. 11-Vicente Salas [3], 6. 77-Casey Kirwan [7], 7. 90-Jordy Lopez [9], 8. 53-Parker White [6], 9. 89-Garrett Lowe [15], 10. 20-Wyatt Tinsley [8], 11. 62-Matt Bussa [10], 12. 48-Graham Bowlin [13], 13. 12-Garrett Manes [14], 14. 14-Seth DeMerchant [11], 15. 29-Jimmy Mullis [17], 16. 5-Zack Novak [16], 17. 54-Daniel Faulkingham [12], 18. 40-Dylan Ault [21], 19. 80-Ryan Luza [19], 20. 51-Donovan Strauss [18], 21. 38-Michael Cosey Jr. [25], 22. 66-Kollin Keister [29], 23. 88-Briar LaPradd [27], 24. 41-Dylan Duval [23], 25. 6-Timmy Holmes [26], 26. 33-Taylor Hurst [24], 27. 22-Femi Olatunbosun [36], 28. 99-Matthew Zwack [31], 29. 34-Darik Bourdeau [28], 30. 42-Tyler Garey [20], 31. 8-Kaden Honeycutt [22], 32. 7-Malik Ray [40], 33. 23-Keegan Leahy [35], 34. 17-Collin Bowden [30], 35. 3-Jonathon Dulaney [37], 36. 55-Ryan Doucette [39], 37. 36-Quami Scott [32], 38. 69-Ray Alfalla [33], 39. 45-Michael Guest [34], 40. 27-Cody Byus [38].

Lead Changes: One among two different drivers

Lap Leader(s): Steven Wilson 1-16, Bobby Zalenski 17-30.

Laps Led: Steven Wilson 16, Bobby Zalenski 14.

Hard Charger: 22-Femi Olatunbosun (+9)

Pole Position: 53-Parker White, 1:25.226 (102.771 mph); First career and first of season

Rookie of the Race: 14-Seth DeMerchant

Caution Flags: None

Winning Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Margin of Victory: 1.723 seconds

Time of Race: 42 minutes, 51.281 seconds

Average Speed: 102.612 mph

Fastest Lap: 11-Vicente Salas, Lap 28, 1:25.026 (103.013 mph)

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.