Rookie Darik Bourdeau wheeled into victory lane in his debut race in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, barely dodging a large crash in the tri-oval before taking the lead from Logan Clampitt with twelve laps remaining. Clampitt was able to battle back multiple times on the outside line, even briefly clearing Bourdeau with six laps remaining.
When the field came under the flag stand to receive five laps to go, Clampitt led but Bourdeau was tucked right on his bumper looking for an opening. He found it on the backstretch when the pack broke up slightly after cars made contact battling for fourth. Bourdeau used this chance to fake Clampitt out, diving high before dropping under the race leader entering Turn Three to inch back into the lead.
The two battled side-by-side through the tri-oval with Bourdeau holding a slight advantage when Michael Johnson was sent sideways, sparking the third melee of the race and ending the race under caution with Bourdeau the victor by a nose.
Clampitt finished second, just missing out on the win. Nolan Scott came from forty-second on the starting grid to score a third-place result while Christian Challiner wound up fourth despite some late contact. Defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Ray Alfalla rounded-out the top five finishers.
Chris Shearburn led the field to the green as polesitter for the opening race of the season and paced the field for the first five circuits. On Lap Six, Johnson and Ray Alfalla made a move to the front, with Johnson leading two laps before Shearburn regained control.
Cody Byus was next to take a turn on the point as the outside lane seemed more organized early. Byus grabbed the lead on Lap 12 and led for fourteen laps. Shearburn, Justin Bolton, and Allen Boes each flexed some muscle in leading later in the first run, with Boes looking very impressive before pit stops began on Lap 39.
By Lap 43 the cycle was complete with Boes pacing the field and Shearburn losing some ground largely due to the number one pit stall, an advantage under caution but a liability under green.
As the race approached halfway Boes looked firmly in command, pulling the pack of sim racers around at a very quick pace and leading 29 of 100 laps, one fewer than Shearburn’s race-leading thirty. The only real challenge Boes faced at the front in the second run came by way of PJ Stergios who squeezed into the lead on Lap 57, only to be passed back two laps later.
Boes continued to show the way when the first crash of the night developed on Lap 68 after Josh Berry was turned sideways in Turn Four. In all the wreck claimed about ten cars and the resulting caution flag allowed the field to pit for tires and fuel. This time the number one pit stall paid off for Shearburn as he was first off pit road with a two-tire stop while Boes opted for four tires and emerged eleventh.
The race returned to green but did not stay that way long as another big crash claimed even more sim racers on Lap 77. Clampitt was running third on the inside line when contact with Adam Gilliland sent Clampitt onto the apron. When he rejoined it set off a chain reaction with Mitchell Hunt winding up in the wall and triggering a pileup which took out several good cars including that of Boes. Bourdeau barely cleared the wreck, sneaking through the middle as cars crashed on either side of him.
The win gives Bourdeau some early momentum in the 2017 season, but with three “downforce” tracks up next on the schedule, he will need to excel at a very different style of sim racing to remain at the top of the standings. The series shifts to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week for Round Two of the young season and all eyes will be on defending champion Alfalla and newcomer Ryan Luza, who is fresh off a very strong showing in the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series. Will Alfalla earn his first victory of 2017, or could we have two first time winners in as many races? Be sure to catch all the action from Las Vegas next Tuesday on iRacing Live!