Zack Novak

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.

Zack Novak conquers The Rock to win second NASCAR America’s iRacing All-Star race

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Zack Novak held off a strong last lap challenge by Michael Conti to win the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series All-Star race held live Thursday on NASCAR America and televised on NBCSN.

Novak, who drives the No. 6 Ford Mustang for the Roush Fenway Racing esports team, claimed the win on a virtual Rockingham Speedway, forcing Conti, who drives for JR Motorsports, down low coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap of the 90-lap event and was able to hang on to take the checkered flag.

 

The 16-year-old Novak, from Clinton, Connecticut, leads the Peak Series points standings — he won last year’s Ignite Series championship — and goes for the $100,000 prize pool on October 10, which will also be televised on NBCSN.

I don’t even have a driver’s license yet. — Zack Novak

“I don’t even have a driver’s license yet,” Novak told NASCAR America analysts Krista Voda, Parker Kligerman (who also competed in the race in the NBC Sports simulator in Stamford, Connecticut) and former NASCAR Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger. “It was extremely hard to pass but Conti is a very good driver and kept putting pressure on me.

“I just tried to hold the top as much as I could and make it hard for him. The top line came in real good there, a lot better than I expected, and we luckily had a real good finish for everybody watching and it was really fun to race him and battle side-by-side.”

Finishing third through fifth in the 32-driver field were 2017 series champion Ryan Michael Luza (Flipsid3 Tactics), Logan Clampitt (Burton Kligerman Esports) and Nathan Lyon (Letarte Esports).

Sixth through 10th were Ashton Crowder (Burton Kligerman Esports), Matt Bussa (Williams Esports), Chris Overland (Wood Brothers), Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Brian Schoenburg (Williams Esports).

The race was the second iRacing event broadcast on national television, and included NASCAR On NBC analyst Parker Kligerman and teams owned by real NASCAR organizations, tracks and drivers, including fellow NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.

“The return of iRacing eNASCAR action to live television on NBCSN for a second All-Star race provides viewers with a unique outlet to enjoy simulator racing at its best,” said Jeff Behnke, Vice President of NASCAR Production, NBC Sports. “The growth and popularity is impressive on many fronts, and with a variety of NBC announcers moonlighting as owners, fans will get first-hand, expert analysis during the broadcast.”

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