As the laps wound down at Dover International Speedway, it looked as if Josh Berry’s drive from the back of the field would come up just short. Berry, however, would not be denied his first NASCAR iRacing Pro Series victory of the season. With three laps remaining, he trailed leader Brian Schoenburg by a car length when Schoenburg lost momentum in lapped traffic enabling Berry to get to the lead car’s bumper. Berry duly gave the #55 car a bump which sent Schoenburg up the track, allowing Berry to take the lead and the victory as Schoenburg lost too much time in his slide to have any hope of reclaiming the lead.
Schoenburg held on for the runner-up spot, but it would be an understatement to say a feeling of a disappointment accompanied the series veteran as he crossed the line. Corey Vincent ran into some trouble of his own but held on for third, while Tyler Hudson edged Patrick Crabtree for fourth place.
What made Berry’s win even more impressive is the fact that he started the race in fortieth position and only had the benefit of two yellows to stay in touch with the field. Since both of those yellows occurred within the first ten laps, Berry made his way to the front the old-fashioned way – no pit strategy needed.
Schoenburg started fourth and took the lead shortly after the final round of pit stops when Josh Laughton was penalized for speeding off pit road and Vincent was slowed due by damage to his car. With 40 laps to go Berry had moved into third behind Vincent and was just one second behind Schoenburg. Berry quickly dispatched Vincent, who had no chance to hold him off with the damage, and set his sights on the leader.
During earlier runs Berry’s car would fade during the last third but some good adjustments made all the difference in the last stint. The #88 seemed to get more and more competitive as the laps wound down, allowing him to catch Schoenburg and come away with the checkered flag.
During the first half of the race it looked as if Vincent would be impossible to beat unless he beat himself. He started on pole for the fifth time in eight races and set sail, leading 131 of 200 laps. All of that hard work came undone on Lap 130 when Vincent got loose off of Turn Four and tagged the wall while working his way around lapped traffic. Somehow, the damage was not bad enough to end his race on the spot but his car was wounded and it was clear Vincent would not be able to keep his closest competitors at bay.
While there were only two cautions, the second one saw about half the field suffer damage before their tires were warmed up. When the race restarted on Lap Seven, Thomas Davis (running second at the time) spun his tires, causing the field to check up behind him. While the first six cars made it through without incident, about half the field did not as Richard Dusett and Mitchell Hunt made contact on the front straightaway and blocking the whole track. Several drivers had nowhere to go and saw their nights end early.
With just two races remaining in the season the championship battle remains tight with four drivers having a realistic shot at the title. Hudson now leads by seven points over Tyler Hill, who finished outside the top ten for the first time this season. Kevin King is quietly hanging around as well and is just a single point behind Hill. In fourth sits Vincent, 22 points out of the lead while Trey Eidson is a distant fifth, 54 points back of Hudson.
Next week the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series visits Kentucky Speedway, the last 1.5 mile track on the schedule. Vincent will likely be the early favorite to bring home the trophy as the rookie has had close to unbeatable speed at the cookie cutters this season. With Daytona looming large as the finale, sim racers will look to lock-up their spots in the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series in the Bluegrass State rather than having their fates hang in the balance of a restrictor plate race.
Can Vincent grab his second win of the season? Can Hudson extend his points lead? Find out next Tuesday night on LSRTV when the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series goes under the lights at Kentucky!