Jerry Bonkowski

Zack Novak takes PEAK Antifreeze iRacing championship, earns $40K

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While Roush Fenway Racing hasn’t earned a NASCAR Cup championship since Kurt Busch‘s 2004 title, it can once again call itself a championship organization after its driver, Zack Novak, in the No. 6 RFR Ford Mustang, captured the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship in a live broadcast Thursday on NBCSN’s NASCAR America.

Novak earned $40,000 of the $100,000 prize pool, by winning the final race of the season at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway (and his fourth win overall of the now-completed iRacing season).

As for the other three championship contenders, Keegan Leahy (G2 Esports) finished second, Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) finished fourth and Blake Reynolds (Team Dillon Esports) ended up with a ninth-place showing.

“(Being called champion) sounds awesome,” Novak told NBCSN. “That was a grind, all season long, and even the race itself was just a crazy grind and I can’t believe I’m in this position.

“(Leahy) kept me real honest, raced very clean. I respected him and I tried to race him as clean as I could back and I hope I accomplished that. We just really raced hard, had very comparable cars at the end and I can’t believe I came away with that.”

Zack Novak won the inaugural eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship on Thursday. Photo: Zack Novak official Twitter page.

For Novak, it was his second major esports championship, having won the inaugural eNASCAR IGNITE Series (for drivers ages 13-16) title last year.

In addition to the big payday for earning the championship, as well as the weekly winnings during the season, Novak, a 17-year-old high school student from Connecticut, also earns a test day in a US Legends car and in a NASCAR Pinty’s Series vehicle with Canada’s Best Racing Team.

Novak also will take part in pre-race ceremonies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ championship-deciding race Nov. 17 at Miami.

Leahy led most of the first half of the race, being scored the leader at Lap 70 of the 140-lap event. Unlike NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, there were no stages in the iRacing championship-deciding race.

Leahy built as much as a 2.5-second lead before the first caution of the race came out on Lap 81 due to contact between two non-championship contenders. Leahy was passed by non-championship driver Jimmy Mullis on Lap 95, with Leahy dropping back to fifth, while Novak climbed into second and Zalenski also passed into fourth position. Leahy dropped to sixth place on Lap 101.

From that point, Novak kept pace with Mullis, but as long as he was ahead of his other three title contenders, he was in a good shape. As the race approached 20 laps to go, tire wear and conserving fuel became key for all drivers, but most notably for the title contenders.

A caution came out with 19 laps to go. Mullis missed his pit stall and had to reverse back into it, falling from the lead to 12th place, allowing Novak to take the lead on the restart with 16 laps remaining.

But four laps later, Leahy regained the lead, only to have Novak take it back with seven laps left and held on the rest of the way to take the checkered flag.

Novak was overcome with emotion after taking the win, but regained his composure to do a celebratory burnout.

“We still had enough to do it, yeah!” Novak exclaimed. “When I first got in the series three years ago as a 15-year-old, I never, ever thought this moment would happen. I did well in my rookie year and potentially had a shot at this, but I never knew it would be possible, honestly.

“This is what I’ve dreamt of my whole life, to win a championship in an official sanctioned series. I won the Ignite (championship) last year. Just how much time and effort it takes to win this, I’ve put in hours and hours into this, 30-plus hour weeks working on this car. It’s a full-time job. … I hope we’ll be back here next year.”

 

 

NASCAR America 5-7 p.m. ET: $100K iRacing championship, live on NBCSN

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We’re going racing for a championship today on an expanded edition of NASCAR America.

Krista Voda, AJ Allmendinger, Parker Kligerman, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton (the latter three all own teams that have participated in this year’s e-racing season) will be part of today’s broadcast, which runs from 5-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, as we televise live the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship race at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Four drivers will compete to take home the largest share of the $100,000 prize pool. Today’s broadcast will mark the first time an official eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series race has been aired live on national television.

The four drivers battling for the championship and the teams they compete for are: Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing), Zack Novak (Roush Fenway Racing), Blake Reynolds (Team Dillon Esports) and Keegan Leahy (G2 Esports). Novak is going for his second career championship, having captured the inaugural eNASCAR IGNITE Series title.

The champion will earn a prize of $40,000 in addition to their weekly winnings earned during the season, plus a test day in a US Legends Car and NASCAR Pinty’s Series vehicle with Canada’s Best Racing Team. The champ will also take part in pre-race ceremonies for the Cup Series’ season-ending and championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The increased energy and industry collaboration around the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series culminates with this first-ever championship broadcast,” said Tim Clark, senior vice president and chief digital officer, NASCAR. “Our fans expect thrilling, side-by-side racing, and eNASCAR on NBCSN will deliver.”

Added John Barnes, producer, NASCAR, NBC Sports: NASCAR America is excited to showcase the best iRacers in the world competing for a championship. Since its inception, NASCAR America has showcased sim racing to our viewers and we are thrilled to take the next step by crowing a champion.”

In addition to watching the championship race on NBCSN, follow @iRacing and @NASCARonNBC on Twitter for live updates during the race.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR wraps up two-day test for 2021 debut of Next Gen Cup car

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For all intents and purposes, the 2021 NASCAR Cup season began this week.

NASCAR officials and Cup driver Austin Dillon spent the last two days testing the Next Gen car – which is set to make its debut for the 2021 season in the Daytona 500 – at Richmond Raceway.

The car has been in development for more than two years, according to NASCAR. The new look, according to a media release, will “honor stock car racing’s roots with bodies that resemble their street versions while incorporating new vehicle technology and innovation.”

This is an important milestone for the Next Gen car and the future of stock car racing,” John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, said in the media release. “There are so many new systems on the car from the front to the back that our main goal with this test was to log laps and put miles on them.

The test has met – and even exceeded – our expectations, and we are well on our way to developing the final iteration of the car.”

MORE: See the Next Gen car for 2021 season … well, sort of

Dillon gave high marks to the car.

I really enjoyed driving the car,” Dillon said. “I like the way that it looks, you can see the finished product down the road. The OEMs can make the body look really good, like a street car that you see on the road today. When it comes together and they all get their cars on the track, we’re going to have something to work with that also looks really good.”

At the present time, only two prototypes have been built. The other car was tested in the wind tunnel for the first time on Oct. 1. It is scheduled for another wind tunnel test later this week, according to the media release.

A second on-track test is also likely to occur before the end of the year, but NASCAR did not give any details on who will drive the car or at what track it may be tested at.

We have a very comprehensive test plan,” Probst said. “We will be doing extensive wind tunnel testing to ensure liftoff speeds are appropriate before moving to larger tracks. As we move into 2020, we will begin testing on intermediate tracks, superspeedways and road courses.”

While several components of the current car will remain in the Next Gen edition, other major elements including manufacturer’s body designs, are still in development, according to the media release.

Andy Petree, Richard Childress Racing’s vice president of competition, detailed the team’s involvement in the car’s development Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“It was a tremendous effort,” Petree said. “I feel privileged to have a part of it and for our team and for NASCAR and the whole industry to trust us with that. That first car means a lot to us. We put a lot of resources in it, by the fact we weren’t in the playoffs. We could do that. We built this car here, we built the chassis, we built basically everything that wasn’t manufactured. It was a third-party design, complete clean piece of paper design. To come out and do what we did yesterday was a tremendous accomplishment and I think everybody felt pretty good about that first run with that all new, brand new car and systems.”

Petree said data from “literally everything” on the car was documented.

“Everything on the car was instrumented,” Petree said. “Brandon Thomas (Managing Director, Vehicle Systems at NASCAR) is kind of the one that’s been the spearhead at least between RCR and NASCAR. He used to work here, he’s a great engineer, a really smart guy they hired to do this. There’s a bunch of people on the NASCAR side, John Probst, all his guys. Then on our side, we had literally every part of our development group working on it.  … Justin Alexander is our head of R&D and he was basically kind of, you’d call the crew chief over the operation of getting the car built and then taking it to the track. He’s the one that interacted with Austin. They basically ran it like any normal test when we got there.”

Petree then compared the car’s design to what the Cup Series currently runs.

“If you look at what we’ve raced up until this point, it’s been an evolution,” Petree said. “From the front suspension being kind of based on the ’64 Chevelle frame. As far as the geometry and the rear suspension is a mid-60s Chevrolet truck suspension. … That’s what our car’s been designed and modeled after for years. Now we’ve got the chance, it’s totally clean sheet of paper.

“It’s built with nothing but racing (in mind) and current, most modern technology put into.”

NASCAR America presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET with Kyle Busch

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This week’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features special guest Kyle Busch.

Busch joins Marty Snider and Kyle Petty to discuss the week’s storylines and answer fan phone calls.

In addition to discussing this week’s storylines, the guys will be taking your calls at 844-NASCAR-NBC or reach out on Twitter via #LetMeSayThis.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR penalty report after Dover

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NASCAR on Tuesday issued two penalties following this past weekend’s races at Dover International Speedway.

In the NASCAR Cup Series, Chris Gabehart, crew chief for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin, was fined $10,000 for lug nut(s) not properly installed.

There were no other race-related penalties.

There was one additional penalty issued: team member Chad Emmons has received an indefinite suspension for violating the sport’s Substance Abuse Policy.

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