Bobby Zalenski: ‘I Can’t Believe We Won’ at Brands Hatch

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Bobby Zalenski returned to form in the first eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series road course race of the season.

Bobby zalenski earned his 15th career enascar coca-cola iracing series victory at the virtual brands hatch grand prix circuit.
Bobby Zalenski. (Photo by Justin Melillo)

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver muscled his way to the lead halfway into the feature race at the virtual Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. The driver of the virtual No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry XSE tried to play the invert game in qualifying but failed. Zalenski ended up in ‘the worst position’ and was forced to dodge his competition in the Sprint Race. However, a perfect start in the feature put the veteran iRacer third after just one lap.

He then had a front row seat to the action as Vicente Salas attempted to pass Steven Wilson for the lead. Contact sent Salas’ No. 11 spinning off, leaving Wilson and Zalenski to battle it out. As the Tony Kanaan eSports driver rejoined the track, he clipped Parker White, sending the Williams eSports driver drifting into the grass.

Although Wilson was initially faster, Zalenski kept the pressure up. Halfway into the feature, he seized his opportunity and dove into Turn 2. After some minor contact, the perennial eNASCAR Playoff driver took the top spot and cruised to victory.

“I can’t believe we won that,” Zalenski admitted. “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 (in the feature), and I thought, ‘Steven is just faster than me.’ 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.”

The win was the 15th in Zalenski’s career, tying him with former champion Michael Conti for fourth all-time. It also marked the eighth consecutive season that Zalenski has earned a victory, a rare accomplishment in real-life competition, let alone in esports.

“It’s an honor to tie Conti, that’s pretty cool,” Zalenski said. “Your goals start getting higher and higher as you have more success. I just wanted to be in the series back when I was going for it, and I fast-tracked the ladder. You just start getting better, and better, teaming up with good people, start getting a win or two every year. Then your standard is set so high that you just want to win a championship.”

Despite his second lap spin, Salas managed to hold onto fifth. He spent the rest of the race chasing down Wilson and Zalenski. He caught the Richmond Raceway winner with two laps to go. However, on the final lap, Salas spun as he hounded Wilson for second.

Wilson, Tucker Minter, Nick Ottinger, and Salas completed the top-five. Casey Kirwan, Jordy Lopez, White, Garrett Lowe, and Wyatt Tinsley rounded out the top-10. Seth DeMerchant, 14th, was the eNASCAR Rookie of the Race. Femi Olatunbosun, 27th, was the hard charger of the race, gaining nine spots from the start.

Next for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series is a trip to ‘The Monster Mile,’ Dover Motor Speedway, on April 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET with a replay on April 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET. All eNASCAR races are streamed live at and iRacing’s Twitch, YouTube, and social media channels.

The Finish

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, 27th (+9), Oxygen eSports.

Pole Position (Before Eight-Car Invert and Sprint Race): 53-Parker White, Williams eSports, 1:25.226 (102.771 mph); First career pole and first of season.

Rookie of the Race: 14-Seth DeMerchant, FGR Accel eRacing, 14th.

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, Tony Kanaan eSports, Lap 28, 1:25.026 (103.013 mph).

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