No track on iRacing brings out the numbers like the 2.66-mile monster in Alabama which goes by the name of Talladega Superspeedway. Despite being one of the easiest tracks to drive, the racing is close quarter and nerve-racking where a single mistake can have disastrous consequences for the entire field. Being in the right place at the right time – or the other way around – plays a huge part in the race outcome at Talladega. Such was the task as the second season of 2014 for the NASCAR iRacing Class B Open Series held its season opener on the fastest oval on the planet.
As always, Talladega brought in a huge turnout as 101 official races were held during the opening week of the season. With the huge turnout, new names were sure to show up and that was the case as Paris, France’s Alex Cheminade came out of nowhere to take the top spot for the week of sim-racing.
Cheminade, who had not run an “Open” class race in all of 2014, popped in the Tuesday night 8:00pm EST top-split race as his only race of the week. Be the end of the 60-lap event, Cheminade had escaped with a .001 second photo finish win over Nashville, Tennessee’s Jeff Dukehart.
Cheminade started the race in seventh and by lap 23, he took the lead for the first time on the way to leading a total of 26 of the 60 laps. However, the racing at Talladega dictates that you need to have help to win and Cheminade got his in the form of William Kempf. On the final lap Kempf followed Cheminade to high side and pushed his dancing partner to the checkered flag while going on to finish third glued to the bumper of Cheminade just .057 seconds back. Michael Patton teamed with Dukehart to get a fourth place finish just .061 seconds back. Jonathan Medlin rounded out the tight top five just .740 seconds behind the race winner.
Self admittingly, Cheminade does not run much with the Nationwide car so his stay on top of the points may be short lived but is enjoying the view from the top while it last.
“I was in third when the white flag came out and somehow I came out with a photo finish win.” — Alex Cheminade
“I was very surprised to win so many points in this series,” said Cheminade. “I was in third when the white flag came out and somehow I came out with a photo finish win. I was just amazed and had never done anything like that before. I don’t run the B open series very often, but my teammates in SRA (SimRacingAuthority) gave me a good car this week that kept me up front most of the race.”
Mark Maffet grabs the “Dega Head” award for the week starting 29 races posting 10 wins and 25 top five finishes. Maffet turned a total of 1721 laps around the 2.66-mile oval. Kevin Utley gave it a go as well starting 25 races with 1367 laps turned. Maffet’s 10 wins were also the most for the week.
The 204 points for the win by Cheminade puts in first place in Division 2 as well as overall. Dukehart’s runner-up finish in the feature race puts him eight points back with 196. Stacy Adams picked up a solid top five in one of his four runs to take third for the week with 193 points. Matt Whiten picked up a win in his sole race good enough for fourth with 191 points and William Kempf’s feature race performance earned him fifth with 188.
Division winners in week 1 at Talladega: 1 – Jeff Dukehart 196 (Mid-South). 2 – Alex Cheminade 204 (France). 3 – Michael Wells 180 (Florida). 4 – Greg Snelgrove 132 (Canada). 5 – Loren Arden 100 (Northwest). 6 – Mike Welch 95 (Texas). 7 – Ronald Jones 91 (Indiana). 8 – Butch Frazier 86 (Mid-South). 9 – Ray Bachmann 68 (New Jersey). 10 – Scott Martin 51 (New York).
Week 2 puts the Nationwide B cars on the jaw rattling bumps of Rockingham Speedway in the Sand hills of North Carolina. Participation will surely drop off in week 2 as most iRacers either love or hate the 1.017-mile oval. For the drivers that hit the setup right, it is a love affair with the track as races produce top finishes. For those that don’t, a race at Rockingham can feel like an off road event leading to a long frustrating race. With only the die-hards running at “The Rock,” contenders for the championship should start to emerge from the pack.