April 12th, 2017 by Jason Lofing
Allen Boes scored his first NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series win of the 2017 season at Texas Motor Speedway, ending Ryan Luza’s two-race winning streak as the erstwhile championship leader found trouble late in the going. Boes held off Cody Byus after a restart with seven laps to go. Byus was keeping pace with Boes, but a caution with three laps remaining ended his shot at making a late-race move for the win. Kenny Humpe was third, followed by teammates Bobby Zalenski and Chris Overland.
Boes and Luza had the best cars for much of the event with Luza leading 73 of 167 laps while Boes led 72. However, Luza’s chance to win evaporated when he got caught back in traffic after a pit stop and had a run-in with Kenny Humpe. The collision with Humpe, and then the wall, caused significant damaged to Luza’s car and he wound-up nineteenth.
The night began with Michael Conti leading the field to the green flag but the yellow was back out before the field made it to Turn Three. Phillip Diaz got sideways off Turn Two before being hooked into the wall, causing a huge stack-up halfway back in the field. While most of the pack saw the crash, a couple drivers further back seemed not to and collected nearly a dozen cars.
When the dust cleared and the green waved again the lead was hotly contested among several sim racers. Byus wasted little time passing Conti for the lead on Lap Seven only to see Logan Clampitt take the lead for himself one lap later. By Lap 20 the groove had widened and Boes, who was running the middle lane, took his first turn at the front after getting by Clampitt off Turn Four. Boes could not lead for long either as Luza took the top spot on Lap 26, right as the second yellow of the race slowed the action.
Luza won the race off pit road and build a decent lead once the race went green. Boes and Byus were quick enough to keep in touch, but not quite quick enough to challenge Luza for the top spot. The field would get another shot at him though, as a caution on Lap 65 slowed the pace right before many of the leaders were planning to pit under green.
Once again, Luza was first off pit road and held the lead as the laps wore on after the restart. Byus kept in closer contact this time, never letting Luza get more than a few car lengths ahead. The two ran in the same fashion until both hit pit road under green on Lap 100 for tires and fuel. Boes inherited the lead and before he could pit Bryan Blackford was spun by Nick Ottinger, causing the yellow to fly which trapped many drivers a lap down, necessitating a wave-around.
Although he was not among those trapped, Luza did pit again under the caution and restarted third behind Boes and Brian Schoenburg with Byus to his outside in fourth. Boes held off Luza who had fallen to fifth before a crash involving Schoenburg, Ray Alfalla, and several others brought the leaders to the pits again on Lap 120, putting them well within their fuel window.
Boes maintained the lead off pit road but it was Luza who was on the move when the race returned to green. Luza quickly moved from fifth to second and looked a bit quicker than Boes on the long run but on Lap 144 yet another caution stopped his progress. The two pitted and maintained their positions, leading to a 19-lap shootout.
Luza did not have the best short-run speed and lost second position to Byus after the restart. On Lap 155 Humpe tried to move around Luza in Turn Four which is when the two got together, sending Luza for a spin and setting up the final dash to the finish.
Luza’s poor finish cost him the championship lead, as Clampitt now leads by seven points over Luza as the regular season has reached the one-third mark. Zalenski is now third, 18 points behind and three in front of Alfalla, who like Luza, finished mid-pack as the result of his crash. Darik Bourdeau recovered from an early spin to finish and holds down fifth in the standings.
After three races at tracks 1.5 mile or more, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series returns to a shorter track as the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway plays host for Week Five. PIR takes a much different setup than the downforce tracks, making it somewhat of a sim racing wildcard. Can Luza rebound for his third win, or can Alfalla or Clampitt visit victory lane for the first time in 2017? Find out in two weeks on iRacing Live!