JR Motorsports’ eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series drivers Michael Conti and Brad Davies began the company’s first foray into eSports competition on Tuesday night by posting top-10 finishes in the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway.
Both drivers qualified well, with Davies starting 12th in the 40-car field and Conti immediately behind in 14th. That made it easy for the two team cars to stay hooked up in the draft from the wave of the green flag. Despite that advantage, the in-line nature of the opening laps saw neither advance very far after the initial start. The first caution, for a two-car tangle near the rear of the field, saw some takers on pit road, but both JRM cars stayed out for track position and advanced into the top 10.
As is often the case at Daytona, the draft was paramount and the teammates stayed locked together for most of the race. Coming down to six laps remaining, the No. 66 of Jarl Teien slapped the wall off Turn 4 and came down the track, directly into the path of the JR Motorsports duo. Teien’s car made contact with the nose of Conti’s machine, causing some moderate damage, and Davies managed to make it out of the path and into the infield, sliding his Chevrolet sideways in the process. Both maintained their positions and reset for the finish.
Once the field regrouped and the green flag waved again, there was but one lap remaining (there is no green-white-checkered). Conti led Davies across the line in seventh, and the inaugural eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series event was in the books.
Roush Fenway’s Zack Novak won the race by 0.023 seconds over Jimmy Mullis, with Keegan Leahy, Nick Ottinger and Christian Challiner rounding out the top five. Ryan Luza was sixth ahead of Conti, Davies, Bobby Zalenski and Garrett Lowe.
Michael Conti, driver No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“During the first caution, (crew chief) Brandon Hastings elected to have us stay out to gain track position; this catapulted us into the top 10. From there on out, we stayed in the top 10, with teammate Brad Davies trailing never more than a car or two behind. Coming to six laps to go, one of the other cars got tight off of Turn 4, grazed off the wall, and came back down in front of Brad and me. We ended up with some moderate damage on the front end, but it wasn’t enough to slow us down on the one-lap shootout to the checkered flag. I’m proud of the effort we put into this race and even more proud of the result we got for both JRM cars. A seventh-place finish gives us a solid foundation to build on during the rest of the season.”
Brad Davies, driver No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“I’m a little bit frustrated that the final caution happened with six to go because I really thought we could have made a push for the win with some help from our teammate. I thought it was over when Jarl hit the wall there on the frontstretch, but it worked out. We just didn’t have a lot of time to push to the front on the final restart. But I suppose I can’t be too upset over a top 10, especially at Daytona.”
-JRM Race Report-