History was at hand Thursday evening in the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship race from virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For 17-year-old Zack Novak, he won his first career iRacing championship. For the series itself, Thursday night’s race was broadcast live on NBCSN, marking the first-ever eNASCAR championship telecast in a culmination of one of the series’ most prominent years to date.
Novak passed fellow Championship 4 driver Keegan Leahy, who dominated for much of the 140-lap race, for the lead with seven laps to go, then held off the G2 Esports driver who entered the race as the favorite. The two drivers were side-by-side coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap with Novak holding his line and staying just ahead of Leahy for the win. It was the series-best fourth win for the series champion.
“(Being called champion) sounds awesome,” Novak told NBCSN. “That was a grind, all season long. 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.”
Novak, who will take home $40,000, the largest share of the $100,000 prize pool, drives for Roush Fenway Racing. He won the inaugural eNASCAR IGNITE Series championship (a series for drivers aged 13-16) last year.
Fellow Championship 4 racers Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) finished fourth and Blake Reynolds (Team Dillon Esports) took ninth.
NASCAR.com: Top moments of 2019
The NASCAR America broadcast marked the first time an official eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series race has been aired live on national television. iRacing made its NBCSN debut this summer with a pair of All-Star exhibition races hosted by NASCAR America‘s Krista Voda, Parker Kligerman and AJ Allmendinger, along with series team owners Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton. Kligerman, also an owner in the series, competed in the events.
Celebrating its 10th season, the 2019 season featured the largest prize pool in eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series history with over $100,000 on the line between season-ending prizes and weekly performance bonuses. Novak will earn the largest share, receiving $40,000 on top of their weekly winnings, as well as a test day in a US Legends Car and NASCAR Pinty‘s Series vehicle with Canada‘s Best Racing Team.
In addition, Novak will be flown to Miami for NASCAR‘s championship weekend where they will be honored during the pre-race ceremonies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.