23XI Racing’s Keegan Leahy is $100,000 richer after winning the 2021 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series on Tuesday. Leahy held off a hard-charging Logan Clampitt in the final stint of the race to secure his first title.
“[Clampitt] had clean air, I had clean air, it was just a straight-up fight at the end,” Leahy said of the final sprint to the finish. “I knew he was faster than me. I knew the lap times roughly, so I just had to keep some discipline and not push the car beyond what the tires were capable of.
“I actually went a little bit beyond that and kept it a little bit slower than I could have gone until he got to me and then I picked up the pace. It’s better to save until he gets to you than it is to just run your ultimate pace the whole time, and then by the time he gets to you, you’ve got worn-out tires, so I wanted to play it that way.”
Leahy and 23XI teammate Mitchell de Jong locked out the front row and dominated the race. Near the halfway point, Leahy passed de Jong and moved into the lead of the race, it was a pass that would ultimately net him the title.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) October 13, 2021
After spending the first stint behind de Jong and saving his tires, Leahy decided it was time to go. Leahy radioed to de Jong — with whom he was sharing a voice channel — and told him he wanted to make a move. De Jong didn’t significantly challenge Leahy as the two teammates swapped positions without incident.
The 27-year-old Canadian would go on to dominate the second half of the race and secure the championship. The 167-lap race ran without any cautions.
Leahy is the ninth different champion in 12 years of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 13, 2021
Fellow final four competitor Logan Clampitt finished just 0.517s behind Leahy. Clampitt started the race from 31st after a disastrous qualifying and admitted that he wasn’t expecting such a good result after his qualifying run.
“I wasn’t even expecting to get second there. I qualified 31st and my heart sank,” Clampitt said.
“It was a fast car, great season — runner-up again, second time. It means a lot more this year just because of how big the series has grown. Now I can place my second-place trophy right next to my second-place trophy and have it for the memories!”
After his weak qualifying, Clampitt put on a remarkable drive through the field. Following the final round of pit stops, Clampitt began to lap some 0.3s faster than Leahy as he rapidly erased a 2.5s deficit. But Clampitt’s charge would only get him within 0.4s of Leahy’s bumper before his pursuit of the race leader stalled out with 15 laps to go. The 21-year-old Clampitt will take home $25,000 for finishing second in the championship.
De Jong, meanwhile, cited a bad adjustment to his car during the race’s first pit stop as a reason he didn’t have the speed to match his teammate Leahy.
“I made a bad adjust and I think I really hurt myself there,” de Jong said. He would end the race fifth overall and third among the final four contenders.
Bobby Zalenski, the last of the final four drivers in the race, finished in 12th after a poor qualifying left him mired in the pack and unable to match the pace of Leahy, de Jong and Clampitt.
In addition to the drivers’ championship with Leahy, 23XI Racing also took home the teams’ championship and the $12,000 prize that comes with it. This is the first team’s championship for 23XI and it comes in its their first year of competition in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.
KEEGAN LEAHY IS YOUR ENASCAR CHAMPION 🍾 pic.twitter.com/yokGfhqU2r
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) October 13, 2021
The top 20 drivers in points are locked into the 2022 season while the bottom 20 in points will have to earn their spot back into the series through the eNASCAR Contender Series, the second rung of the iRacing and NASCAR ladder. That championship will start November 2 and see 40 drivers fight for the remaining 20 spots in the 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.