Ray Alfalla collected his second NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship victory of the season last night, holding-off Josh Parker over several late-race restarts at Richmond International Raceway. Alfalla led the field for most of the evening, with the JDR Graphics Chevy setting pace for a race high 146 of 200 laps. The online race was slowed by the yellow flag 19 times, nearly as many as the Martinsville race earlier this season, placing a premium on smart pit strategy and good short run calls.
The night got underway with Brad Davies leading the field to the green flag with Alfalla to his outside. It only took Alfalla ten laps to grab the top spot, which he would only relinquish on pit road. As the night got progressed it became apparent this would be another race of attrition, with the fastest cars not necessarily finishing at the front of the field. Wrecks came early and often and many top names such as Richard Towler, Theo Olson and Davies were left with two weeks to think about what might have been if the chips had fallen in their favor.
Most of the crashes were simply racing deals that result from 43 cars trying to navigate a short track, but one stood out above the rest. The series’ newest rivalry pits Jeremy R Allen against Olson in a battle that has carried-over from two weeks ago at Talladega, where late race contact sent Olson spinning while Allen nabbed the win. This week there was more contact between the two. This time Allen locked-up the brakes entering Turn One, collecting Olson and ending both drivers’ nights, but not before some extra-curricular activities on the race track that could end-up costing both drivers in the long run.
“I knew my car was something special from testing last week, so I tried to not mess anything up.” – Ray Alfalla
While all the action was going on at the back, a few favorites emerged as challengers to Alfalla’s reign at the top of the leaderboard. From the first drop of the green flag, Parker had been slowing marching forward, his Suave for Men Impala clearly the second best car on the track. But as everyone knows, anything can happen on a restart and that is what would ultimately decide the race.
In the end, not even several restarts on old tires could derail Alfalla’s dominance. Try as he might, Parker had nothing for the leader and had to settle for a second place finish, never getting his final shot at the win as a late yellow resulted in the race finishing under the caution flag. John Gorlinsky finished third, while Main Performance teammates Brad Wright, Richie Davidowitz and Thomas Hazard rounded-out the top six.
“I knew my car was something special from testing last week, so I tried to not mess anything up,” said Alfalla, who went on to explain how positioning on restarts was key to his win. “Luckily, I never got freight-trained on the high side, and was able to get the lead for the last time before the yellow flew. After that, it was just about not messing up the restarts.”
Alfalla (229 points) now holds a four point cushion over Hazard (225) in the overall standings, a race that is shaping up to be one of the closest in iRacing history. Parker occupies the third position (212) with Wright (196) and Hendersonville, TN’s Josh Berry (186) fourth and fifth respectively after six races. Remember though, with two drop weeks to be calculated at the end of the season, this championship is far from over, even for those currently outside the top five.
Things do not get any easier in Week Seven. In two weeks’ time the NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship heads to the Lady in Black herself: Darlington Raceway. With passing all but impossible, drivers will be forced to battle the race track instead of each other if they hope to contend for the win. Qualifying and pit strategy will be tickets to success as well. Can Alfalla continue his hot streak or will an unexpected name steal the show? It is anyone’s guess at The Track Too Tough to Tame.