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by Scott Kelly on January 23rd, 2013
After a throttle-heavy week at The Milwaukee Mile, the best of iRacing’s sprint car drivers found themselves on the half-mile tri-oval of Concord Speedway for Week 8 of Season 4. Branded by many racers as Pocono’s little brother, drivers of the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series spent the week learning the variable banking and straightaways, as a proper and balanced setup was crucial for success at this very unique layout. First opening as a dirt track in 1982, veterans of the iSCS proved that they could still slide their machines around the three turns to victory.
A new visit for a good portion of drivers in the series, 86 entries were split between seven official races during the week. At the top of the charts, it was the familiar flames of Alan Binder’s Beast sprint car as he captured a fast lap of 14.333s. Also finding success with a fast setup was Steve Linder, edging out Fred Lampela with a time of 14.381s.
The stands began to fill on Tuesday, when the first races of the week commenced. In the top split of the night, Alan Binder led the field to the green flag to start the first 50 lap race of Week 8. Only one caution was seen during the relatively calm event, when Marcus Dean lost control in Turn 1. After a long clean green flag session, it was Binder crossing the finish line first, three seconds ahead of runner-up Joe Quinn. Steve Linder placed third, while Kevin Malone and Garry Loney completed the top five respectively.
In the second split, it was Ronald Williams who took the green flag on the pole position. He would stay up front until a few laps into the event, when his sprint would lose control off of Turn 3. After Williams’ misfortune, it was Larry Landry who took point, with Randall Faulks right behind him, hungry for another win in his rookie season. With two laps to go, Faulks tried once more to put a move on Landry, but lost control on the backstretch and hit the outside wall head-on, causing a yellow to be displayed and ending the race under caution. Landry would take the trip to victory lane, while Scott Kelly avoided Faulks’ incident to finish in second place. Faulks was able to limp home to a third place finish. Robert Sklenka and Wes Smith rounded out the top five respectively.
One more race was made official on Tuesday, and it was Binder taking the checkered flag again to score his second win of the week. Steve Linder was scored as the runner-up, four seconds behind Binder. Malone completed the podium with his third place finish. Williams and Leila Wilson had a close battle for the fourth position, with Williams edging out Wilson by two-tenths of a second.
The thunder rolled back into Concord on Thursday, as the highest SOF race of the week took place in the top split of the night (3449). Spectators were sure to get a great show, as all of the top names in the series took the green flag to start the most memorable 50 lap showdown of the week. The first caution came out on Lap 9, as Brandon Buchberger’s sprint broke loose to collide into the outside wall. After the restart, a steady green flag run was had, but ended on Lap 36 as Randal Robinson bumped into Wilson, resulting in both cars spinning out. The shocker of the night was on Lap 43, as front-runner PJ Stergios tried to place a bid on the lead against Binder after the restart. As Stergios went low, he ran out of room and slid into Binder, sending Stergios’ car spinning up the track in Turn 3 and smashing hard into the wall, ending his night. WIth little rear-end damage, Binder took the last green flag of the session with two powerhouse drivers behind him – Jake Stergios and Vinnie Sansone. Sansone tried for the lead first on Lap 49, but got loose coming off of Turn 3, losing distance to Binder and relinquishing second place to Stergios. On the white flag lap, Jake did all he could to get around Binder, but ran out of time. Binder won his third straight feature of the week, with Jake Stergios in second, followed by Sansone in third – both less than two-tenths of a second behind Binder. Fred Lampela placed fourth, with Michael Lampela right behind him in fifth spot.
In the bottom split, it was Ronald Williams on the pole once again, leading the field to the green flag. Starting on the outside, however, was Scott Kelly, improving on his previous qualifying time of the week. The biggest wreck of the week happened on Lap 4, as Landry slid into Douglas Berryman. Not able to avoid the incident, Marcus Dean collided into the two cars, gridlocking Turn 1 for all drivers behind them. Also involved in the incident were the sprints of Daniel Muse, Kenneth Reeder, Brian Williams, Chet Wheeler Jr., and James Stone. Most were able to complete the event, but Berryman had to retire early after receiving too much damage to continue safely. After the restart, hard racing was seen throughout the field. After racing closely for position on Lap 17, Randall Faulks and Wes Smith made contact coming off of Turn 3, sending both sprints into the wall on the front stretch. After another caution on Lap 35, it was a ten-lap shootout to the finish, as Williams and Kelly raced hard for the top spot. When the checkered flag flew, it was Williams crossing the line ahead of Kelly by .5s separation. Paul Mepyans was able to dodge all incidents on the track and completed the podium in third place, while Mark Hephner also came home safely in fourth spot. Reeder was able to finish the race on the lead lap to complete the top five.
In Thursday’s last race, Binder and Linder once again showed the field how it’s done by finishing first and second place respectively in a caution-free event. Malone was the last car on the lead lap in third place. Matt Berndt and Michael Linder rounded out the top five. An interesting occasion took place outside the track, however, as Ronald Williams was forced to leave his sprint rolling in pit lane after receiving word that his wife was delivering their child. He may have finished in eighth spot, but Williams was sure to have been having his own post-race celebrations as he became a father to a healthy baby girl that night.
Sunday featured one last event at Concord, with nine iSCS drivers making the grid. Steve Linder took the green flag on the pole position, but was challenged early on by past iSCS champion Sansone. After three cautions, it was Sansone who took the trip to victory lane, with Linder in second. Ronald Williams grabbed another podium finish in his memorable week with his third place result, while Jon Watson placed fourth. Chet Wheeler Jr. was able to capture a top five after his clean run.
After a very memorable Week 8, 5-time champion Alan Binder is well on his way to his sixth championship, leading the points by 162 over Fred Lampela. Will Lampela or anyone else be able to make a bid for the championship lead? Find out how the last four weeks of the season concluded next time on inRacingNews!
iRacing.com Sprint Car Series Championship Standings
1. Alan Binder (1420)
2. Fred Lampela (-162)
3. PJ Stergios (-272)
4. Vinnie Sansone (-403)
5. Steve Linder (-479)View the Gallery