There was no question it would be a historical evening in the iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series, when the series debuted at the Daytona circa 2007 circuit for the first time. Ever since the Season 4 schedule was released late in the chase for the Season 3 championship, this date on the calendar remained one of the most talked about story lines, even with a head to head championship battle in progress.
The Daytona circa 2007 track on the iRacing simulation is the Daytona International Speedway as it was when it was first scanned into the sim in 2007. This meaning that this track, which is now no longer used for official series racing, was the only DIS to race on for the longest time as it was accurate to the real world 2.5 mile superspeedway. When the Daytona International Speedway was repaved in 2011, the iRacing.com laser technicians and photographers re-scanned the entire facility, including not only the NASCAR oval but the road course, which become available in time for the 2012 iRacing.com Daytona 500
The first event on this now “old” configuration of the World Center of Racing, was Feature Race 7 in the Season 4 Championship, and hosted a series of qualification heats, followed by the LIVE broadcasts of the 25 Lap B-Main, followed by a 50 Lap A-Main, as always on LSRTV. What we saw on track was a lot of uncertainty from the drivers on how to attack the racetrack. By no means was this anyone’s first time on the track itself, but they had never gotten a full 25+ car field in their testing sessions or heat races, so the pack drafting was the big question mark.
By series rules, the drivers are not allowed to push (bump-draft) while in the corners, or in the tri oval, somewhat similar to what you see in NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck series competition. Because of this, the typical kind of action is a dominant inside line, with a spurt every few laps on the outside trying to get a pass completed. Nobody wanted to get aggressive early in the B-Main and the A-Main, due to the uncertainties. With the cars bouncing around, sliding up and down in the corners, it was just not worth it that early on. It was at 20 laps to go in the main event, where that no holds bar racing we see week in week out made an appearance.
The fact that there was no caution was impressive on its own, with drivers bouncing, leaning on each other at 200MPH + into the corners, and pulling extremely aggressive moves. The white flag lap was the most action-packed lap of the night, At a first glance, you saw the top four go two wide two rows deep, with Frank Buccialia, trading paint for the lead with Matt Bontempi down into Turn 1. The #22 of Ron Thompson spun into the grass into corner 1, after he was pushed on the LR out of the tri oval, but the track remained green. Robby Roy stuck half his #14 to the bottom on race leader Buccialia, but the door was slammed shut and he ducked back in line along side with Kory Henry. Because of the loss of momentum for the inside lane, down the back it would be Bontempi, searching for his first career win and a Chase berth who cleared the inside on the back, and ducked into the lead in corner 3.
For the final time at Daytona the top four were all over each other coming to the stripe, when the #14 of Robby Roy (third at the time) got into the back of Buccialia, who hit the back of race leader Bontempi, causing a stack-up and a scatter for the third spot. Roy slid up the hill on exit, doored Kory Henry’s Chevrolet and caused a wreck for fourth involving multiple cars in the front stretch grass.
It would be a two horse race for the win, Bontempi, under attack by Buccialia who ducked out of line to the top into the tri oval. In an attempt to get close to him and try to gain a side draft advantage, Buccialia made contact with Bontempi’s RR, causing the #20 to spin through the grass. Buccialia thus crossed the strip in first, Robby Roy would take second, and through the grass came Matt Bontempi in third place.
At the checkered, the race, as it always is until official review, was marked as unofficial. The iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series officials made a quick and swift ruling, stating that “the 94 had come down into the 20 while in the lead and was the beneficiary of the race win as a result of that action. Because the incident detrimentally impacted the finish of the race, the 94 would be penalized by being scored at the end of the lead draft (14th) and the 14 would be next-in-line for the win.” Therefore it was the #14 of Robby Roy, who pulled into Gatorade Victory Lane as the winner in the event.
However post race it was driver Kory Henry, who felt that the #14, which was given the race win via the penalty to the #94 team, should have been penalized also via the iSuperSpeedway rule book on last lap incidents. The review panel, headed by ISS President Rodd Flagg, reviewed the tapes over night in Daytona Beach, and hosted a Press Briefing early Sunday morning at the Daytona International Speedway Media Center on their decision.
“The 14 would be next-in-line for the win (with the 94’s penalty in mind) and subsequently be given the win. However this would only be true if the 14 did not contribute to an accident during the last lap. Our review of the last lap determined that the 94 and the 14 were illegally bump drafting in the corner in turn 3 which caused the 14 to lose control and make contact with the 88, and… with the 25. Because of this, he would not be eligible for the race win, so that brings us to the car next in-line which would be the 20.” stated Flagg in an official statement.
Bontempi, who was originally, and understandably, disappointed with what was a second place finish after the initial race review, was not upset with Frank, calling him a “class act” and stating “I know it was nothing intentional on his end, …it is just a part of hard racing.” However he did admit he could not say he was not a little disappointed with not being able to get the win he felt he deserved. Every win in Feature competition from races 1-11 in the season is crucial, because they will lock you into the five race iSuperChase that determines the champion. Now, he picks up his second career win and will be able to fight for a championship.
“If any of the penalties are overturned then we will re-look at the finishing order.” — iSS Officials
The #14 team of Robby Roy, has exercised their right to appeal the decision made by race control. iSS Officials stated that “What will happen next is arbitrators will look at the two incidents that led to the scoring change. If any of the penalties are overturned then we will re-look at the finishing order.”
Their case may very well be that the #88 of Mark Jorgenson Jr. was the one who pushed them into the back of Buccialia leading to the incident out of corner 4. This appeal decision will be important to note for future events, as the officials will be ruling on if a lead car in a tandem can be penalized for bump-drafting along with the car pushing them in the corners, even though the car pushing in the back initiated to contact. So through two scoring changes, the Daytona drama may not be done with quite yet.
The series gets back on track this coming Friday, May 8th from Talladega Superspeedway for Round 8, and the second endurance race on the year. The endurance events, unlike the Feature races that consist of heat styled qualifying through a B-Main LCQ and a A-Main event, are races of an extended length, more similar to regular NASCAR formatted races. The Stars Fell on Alabama goes GREEN at 10:00pm EST, 7:00pm PST on LSRTV.