Defending eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion Zack Novak completed a pass on the outside of Eric Smith with five laps to go, then survived two overtime restarts to win the eTruck Series Night in America Powered by Filtertime.com over a star-studded field consisting of the top drivers in both the real world and the sim world at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The win earned Novak four tickets to the NTT Data IndyCar Series Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, August 22 and $200 to a charity of his choice.
“Those last few restarts based off the whole race," said Novak on the broadcast. "We had a really good truck the whole time, surprisingly. I honestly didn’t expect to have a truck that good."
The Connecticut driver’s race started with him shuffling from the eighth starting spot to the back of the field. However, Novak was back in contention for the lead by the halfway mark of the 100-lap event.
"I had to come through the field all the way through the mid-20’s. We carved through the field all the way up to third, I believe and my tires didn’t fall off. Right then and there, I knew we had a truck that could win the race.
His march back to the front was the turning point for Novak, who took the lead and kept it over a series of late restarts for the inaugural win.
"Those last restarts, I was pretty confident. I was the only one up front who had been up there in the top five with four tires. Pretty happy with how they played out, wish we could’ve gone green a little bit more but overall a really fun race.”
It was a win Novak’s been looking for after a rough start to the eNASCAR iRacing Series season with Richmond Raceway eSports finds him outside the top-25 in series points. He says it shows the eSports world he still has what it takes to park in victory lane against stout competition, and that he is still a championship contender.
“It was a little bit of redemption overall. I’ve really struggled over these past few months or so getting the grip on this tire model,” he said. “We’ve had some decent cars in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series but overall not the results that I think our team deserves or I want. To come out here and win, I’m really happy to do that and prove we still belong and we’re definitely going to be chasing another championship in the top series this year.”
Jake Nichols finished second as the highest finishing open driver, scoring four tickets to the IndyCar race at WWT Raceway on August 22. Four-time eNASCAR iRacing Series champion Ray Alfalla, Max Brady, and Oliver Cordell rounded out the top five.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3