It took until the checkered flag at Michigan to decide which 10 drivers will have a chance at the 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship. By the end of that final lap, a reigning champion was left on the outside looking in, a race winner was pushed out of the win-and-you’re-in playoffs, and another driver picked the perfect time to find his first win in three years.
Starting with last night’s winner, Mode Motorsports’ Matt Bussa. Bussa has been in the series since 2013 and at 27 years old, he is one of the oldest drivers in the field. Bussa made the Championship 4 in 2018 but finished outside of the top 20 in points last season and had to fight his way back into the Coca-Cola Series in the offseason.
His win last night vaulted him from the fringes of the top 20 — and facing the eNASCAR version of relegation — to a playoff spot. In doing so, he knocked Ryan Michael Luza, the winner at Las Vegas, out of the playoffs.
One of the biggest names to be left without a playoff spot was Nick Ottinger. The reigning series champion entered Michigan without a race win and was running second behind his William Byron eSports’ teammate Logan Clampitt when a power failure at his home cost Ottinger a chance at a win and a second consecutive title. With no car failures programmed into the simulator, real-world mechanical failures tend to take their place.
Kligerman Sport’s Bob Bryant secured the final playoff position. Entering this race, Bryant was in the same boat as Luza, hoping for no new winners or at least drama to strike one of the other previous race-winners. That drama came as Luza was involved in a crash that ended his day and left him with a last-place finish — perhaps the worst race to have that result for Luza.
In addition to Bryant and Bussa, the playoff field includes Mitchell deJong, the only two-time race winner and road course ace; Keegan Leahy, who technically scored 23XI’s first win in a NASCAR-sanctioned event with his triumph at Homestead-Miami earlier in the season; and eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series rookie, Vicente Salas, who became the first driver to lead every lap of an oval race at Richmond.
The full list of drivers who will battle over the next four eNASCAR races at Darlington, Bristol, Talladega, and Texas are as follows:
• Graham Bowlin – Stewart-Haas eSports
• Keegan Leahy – 23XI
• Mitchell deJong – 23XI
• Michael Conti – JR Motorsports
• Bobby Zalenski – Letarte eSports
• Logan Clampitt – William Byron eSports
• Jimmy Mullis – Richmond Raceway eSports
• Vicente Salas – Spacestation Gaming
• Matt Bussa – Mode Motorsports
• Bob Bryant – Kligerman Sport