eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series

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.”

 

 

Podcast: How sim racing might take a driver from 0 to 200 in real life

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Simulation racing might have saved Parker Kligerman’s career, and he believes it will jump-start someone else’s.

During the most recent NASCAR on NBC Podcast, Kligerman explained his role in the push behind bringing iRacing and eSports in NASCAR to a broader audience.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst began racing simulation racing at 13, the same year that he entered go-kart racing. When his family lacked the money to keep him in a go kart, Kligerman used sim racing as his path to fulfilling the “10,000 Hour Theory” of practicing enough to become an accomplished driver who has won in ARCA and also driven in NASCAR’s top three national series.

With iRacing’s Peak Series expanding into teams and a driver draft this season, Kligerman said the infrastructure has been built for someone to follow his path but without ever beginning in the real world as he did.

“Now there’s a formal way,” Kligerman said. “You’ll see someone with zero experience in real life find their way to a real car because of what we’re doing here.

“That’s the dream of it all. The biggest problem in motorsports is a massive barrier of entry for people. If you had this great linear feeder to the top (in sim racing), it’s a great thing and would get more people involved.”

He could play a role in that having formed Burton Kligerman ESports with fellow NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton. The team scored its first victory Tuesday at Darlington Raceway with driver Ashton Crowder, who also will be competing in the iRacing All-Star Race on NASCAR America today at 5 p.m. ET (NBCSN).

Kligerman also will be competing in the event, which will be held at Rockingham Speedway, through the iRacing simulator in the NASCAR America’s Stamford, Connecticut, studio.

“I fought so hard to be a part of this sport,” Kligerman said on the podcast. “(Sim racing) was the sole connection when I couldn’t drive anything real. I don’t care what walk of life or age, you can potentially be involved in a very high level of motorsports in the future and eventually become a career, a path, a destination. To bring motorsports to the masses, eSports has that ability. The growth been insane for iRacing this year, and the sky’s the limit on what we can achieve, and if we do it right, we can do something that helps the sport in the future.”

Steve Letarte also was a guest on the podcast to discuss the Peak Series team that he formed this season. Letarte’s interest was spurred in part because he was disappointed his daughter was required to know the rules of basketball, baseball and soccer to pass a seventh-grade course – but not racing.

“The best way to grow racing fans is to have them experience racing,” Letarte said. “Both console games and simulation racing have a place to spread that ability much like at a local go-kart track. As a racing community, we all have the obligation to get racing in front of as many young men and women as possible.”

Letarte also talked about being part of the first iRacing broadcast on NASCAR America last month with Burton, Kligerman, Krista Voda and A.J. Allmendinger. The presentation mirrored a NASCAR on NBC broadcast, and Letarte said it also felt like broadcasting a real-world event because of its realism.

“If you took live races and put them in standard definition, you couldn’t tell the difference” from sim racing, he said.

You can listen to the podcast via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify or by clicking on the embed above.

The second iRacing NASCAR America broadcast from Rockingham Speedway will take place today at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 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.

Nick Ottinger wins NASCAR America’s iRacing All-Star race

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Nick Ottinger won the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series All-Star race held Thursday on NASCAR America.

He claimed the win on a virtual Iowa Speedway after a last-lap pass and side-by-side finish with Ryan Luza, the 2017 series champion.

Ottinger, a 24-year-old from Claremont, North Carolina, competes in the No. 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing.

The race, which was the first iRacing event broadcast on national television, included NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kilgerman and teams owned by real NASCAR organizations, tracks and drivers, including Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer.

Ottinger and Luza swapped the lead multiple times over the last three laps after Luza led most of the 70-lap race.

“I just had to bide my time for a straight exit and really research which line to run to get a better run on him,” Ottinger told NASCAR America after the race. “He set up the door for a crossover so I just had to keep my foot to the floor.”

Ottinger, who is currently eighth in the PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series, has won more than 350 iRacing races including 13 at the pro level.

Following this week’s event, iRacing will return to NASCAR America on NBCSN on the last Thursday of every month for a four-race series. More information on the three future iRacing events on NBCSN will be revealed in the coming weeks. Need more video? Check out our YouTube page here.