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iRacing Pro Series – Week 1 – Daytona

Clean racing marred by netcode, incredible moves get Malik Ray to victory lane

(VIRTUAL) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The opening race of the 2020 iRacing Pro Series came down to the wire, in a 21 lap dash to the checkers, Malik Ray came out victorious against 39 others after a wild last lap at Daytona International Speedway.

“It’s just… I don’t have any words,” Ray told Justin Prince on Podium eSports post-race. “I’m at a loss for words. The whole reason why I even won that race was because of all of my teammates… It’s a lot, I’m just really happy.”

The battle for the checkers came down to a group of cars technically aligned between Deadzone Racing and Total Advantage Motorsports, with Ray and Michael Guest fighting for a win for the former, and Allen Boes or Femi Olat trying to get one for the latter.

The alliance took home the Top 4 positions, with Slip Angle Motorsports’ Eric. J Smith rounding out the Top 5.

The event had its share of moments, most created by an unruly netcode in the pack, but the race was under caution only three times for nine laps in the 100 laps that were run.

Ray led the most laps – 34 altogether – in a race which featured 41 lead changes among 14 different drivers.

Relegated driver outlook

18 drivers join the 2020 iRacing Pro Series after relegation from the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. Of those 18 drivers, 11 finished within the Top 20, with Ray, Guest, Smith, 2019 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion Zack Novak, Dylan Duval, and Chris Overland all finishing in the Top 10.

Four relegated drivers find themselves in a big hole following Daytona, all finishing outside of the Top 30 after finding trouble during the event. Brandon Hayse Kettelle (2020 Talladega Coke Series winner) finished 34th, Alex McCollum finished 36th, Kollin Keister (2020 Charlotte Coke Series winner) finished 37th, and Justin Bolton wound up 39th.

Brian Schoenburg started on the pole position, stayed up front for a good portion of the race, but after a strategy call got him off sequence, he found himself mired back in traffic for the final stint. He was collected in a last lap incident and wound up 25th.


Of the 22 drivers on the 2020 Pro Series roster that advanced via the Road-to-Pro Series, some are looking to make their way back into the Coke Series for the first time in years, while others are getting their first crack at top level racing.

Allen Boes (Pocono Raceway, 2015 / Daytona Int’l Speedway, 2016 / Texas Motor Speedway, 2017), Taylor Hurst (Chicagoland Speedway, 2017), and Danny Hansen (Charlotte Motor Speedway, 2014) are all winners in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series from previous seasons, but after falling out of the series in some form or fashion, all are looking to return to the top level once more.

Two drivers that The Racing Experts had the pleasure of speaking with before the 2020 Road-to-Pro Series began, Blade Whitt and Donovan Strauss, also are entered on the 2020 Pro Series roster.

Boes finished the best of the “new” faces, in second behind Ray. Whitt took home a 15th place finish, while Hurst finished 21st, Hansen was 22nd, and Strauss ended up 27th.

Mitchell deJong (his real life and virtual resumé speaks for itself) is entered in the iRacing Pro Series for the first time in 2020. Not known as an oval expert, deJong was able to place in the Top 22 by the end of the Road-to-Pro season, and will be looking to advance up to the Coke Series following the Pro Series. A 12th place effort at Daytona is a good start for deJong.

Looking ahead

Tuesday, the series will head to the virtual Auto Club Speedway. It will be the first time in this format that this series will race at the 2-mile oval in California. the Road-To-Pro Series also did not race at Auto Club in 2020.

In the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race this season, Ashton Crowder took the No. 77 Burton Kligerman eSports Toyota to victory lane. Crowder now finds himself in the Pro Series after relegation, and will look to take his No. 98 Elliott Sadler Esports entry back into victory lane.

Broadcasts will be available on two different platforms, as they were last week.
Podium eSports will carry the Auto Club Speedway call as well as Bottom Split.


  1. (51) Malik Ray – Deadzone Racing / Joe Gibbs Racing
  2. (21) Allen Boes – Total Advantage Motorsports
  3. (33) Michael Guest – Deadzone Racing / Team Dillon eSports
  4. (5) Femi Olat – Total Advantage Motorsports
  5. (9) Eric J. Smith – Slip Angle Motorsports / Jim Beaver eSports
  6. (90) Zack Novak – LockDown Racing / Richmond Raceway eSports
  7. (62) Anthony Burroughs – Nexxus eSports
  8. (19) Eddie Kerner – Total Advantage Motorsports
  9. (41) Dylan Duval – Five Star Racing / Stewart-Haas eSports
  10. (16) Chris Overland – Slip Angle Motorsports / Wood Brothers Gaming
  11. (6) Jarl Teien – SIMUCUBE ineX Racing
  12. (12) Mitchell deJong – Coanda Simsport / Virtual Racing School
  13. (34) Matt Bussa – Team Conti / Williams Esports
  14. (52) Jake Matheson – Nexxus eSports
  15. (7) Blade Whitt – Lowline Racing
  16. (4) Santiago Tirres – Slip Angle Motorsports / LETARTE eSports
  17. (77) Ryan Doucette – Nexxus eSports
  18. (2) Garrett Manes – Elliott Sadler Esports / Richmond Raceway eSports
  19. (98) Ashton Crowder – Elliott Sadler Esports
  20. (47) Nathan Lyon – Deadzone Racing
  21. (74) Taylor Hurst – LockDown Racing
  22. (42) Danny Hansen – Garrett Smithley eSports
  23. (20) Steve Sheehan – Independent
  24. (44) Brian Mercurio – Lowline Racing
  25. (55) Brian Schoenburg – Norse Force Racing
  26. (24) Zack Nichols – Norse Force Racing
  27. (45) Donovan Strauss – Horizon Racing Team
  28. (22) Isaac Gann – Norse Force Racing
  29. (15) Michael Guariglia – Deadzone Racing
  30. (46) Collin Bowden – Deadzone Racing
  31. (14) Vicente Salas – Elliott Sadler Esports
  32. (57) Seth DeMerchant – Horizon Racing Team
  33. (31) Derek Justis – Norse Force Racing
  34. (48) Brandon Hayse Kettelle – Slip Angle Motorsports
  35. (72) Michael Gonzales – Total Advantage Motorsports
  36. (1) Alex McCollum – Legacy Esports
  37. (17) Kollin Keister – Deadzone Racing
  38. (32) Steven Wilson – Total Advantage Motorsports
  39. (10) Justin Bolton – Stewart-Haas eSports
  40. (75) Jose Solis Jr. – Nexxus eSports

Check out the photo gallery from Tuesday night’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Series event at Daytona International Speedway! Photos by Justin Melillo / TRE via

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Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for

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