Sears Point / Infineon / Sonoma – whichever one you choose to call it, the California roller coaster always provides a challenge for the drivers and teams of the NASCAR iRacing Series, as Sonoma is home to the first ‘road’ race on the calendar. Keeping the tires from falling over the cliff proved to be the challenge of the week – as this was the first time the NTMv5 was run in this sim racing series on a ‘road’ track!
The first Fixed online race of the week saw the second highest points payout in Wine Country, with a SoF 4376 awarding 280 points to the winner – which in Race One was Matt Bussa. Bussa displayed absolute precision with both his strategy and raw on-track pace, leading 49 of the 55 lap race and winning by over 23 seconds. And it’s not like it was easy competition! Bussa was up against Justin Bolton who finished second, Blake Reynolds just behind in third and Steven Gilbert rounding out your top four.
The second race saw only three splits – meaning the SoF of the Top Split was a lot lower than the three other races in the Fixed series. Jason Mizzi – like Bussa – was dominant at the front, winning by 55 seconds and lapping from P5 all the way down to the end. Niccolo Cedrati made his way up from eight to finish runner-up, with Norbert Rebelski completing the top three. In Split 2, Miguel A Lopez was the victor, with Tim Craghill taking the most points from Split 3.
Teemu Iivonen drove his Chevy Gen-6 to victory lane in the third race of the Week. The Road DWC driver used all his road expertise to overcome Bolton in P2 by 25 seconds. Iivonen lead 44 laps, with the other 11 falling to Jordan Westfall who finished third, just over 35s back of the lead at the checkered. Doug Lierle was the last car on the lead lap with fifth-placed Lance Nasseir a lap down at the end of 55 laps.
The final Fixed online race of the week saw a pair of ‘black stripe’ drivers reign supreme over the rest of the 31 car field – however one of them put on a display of how to drive a Gen-6 around Sonoma. Michael Conti finished 49.367 seconds ahead of Race One winner Bussa – and lapped every other participant in the race. What’s more his fastest lap of 1.13.500 was easily the fastest Fixed race lap of the week. Heath Hinderman was the best of the A licence drivers in third, with Jason Jacoby and Matt Pawelski following closely behind.
The Open series was blesses with some great racing this week at Sonoma, and the first race of the week was no exception – generating the most points on offer with a 6103 SoF. As we’ve seen over the past weeks, with big points on offer, Conti always seemed to be there when it mattered – Sonoma was no different, with Conti replicating his feat in the Fixed series. Jake Stergios finished a strong second, with the delta between himself and Conti at 10 seconds! P3-5 were bunched up, with Corey Vincent, Casey Tucker & Iivonen fighting it out for third.
Conti transitioned straight into Race Two and drove just like he did in the first – taking two wins from two races at Sonoma. Iivonen did all he could to try and beat Conti – a mere.030s was the difference between their fastest lap times. However Conti gradually increased his advantage to seven seconds after 55 laps. Kenny Humpe finished third. Although he stayed close to the two leaders for a good portion of the race, Humpe ended-up 24 seconds behind at the finish. David Krikorian and Chad Laughton completed your top five.
The final Open race of the week saw a much lower SoF, and with this week being the ‘road’ week – we were bound to witness a Finnvasion! Aleksi Elomaa and Teemu Iivonen gave us a battle to watch, with just one second separating them at the finish – with Elomaa taking the win and fastest lap. Third placed Ryan Lowe was the highest finishing ‘non-Finn,’ a further minute back, such was the Finns’ dominance! Josh Fox and Thomas Davis drove well to secure top five positions.
Patrick Crabtree extends his lead at the top of the Open standings, with just over 400 points separating himself from Steven Eszenyi in second. Eszenyi currently has 4735 points, with a nice gap to third of just under 300 points. Malik Ray holds onto that third spot, despite being two weeks behind the field on points. Iivonen and Bolton round-out the top five at the end of Sonoma.
In the Fixed Series, Dwayne Vincent continues to head the points table ahead of NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze driver Bussa, with the gap being ever-closer at 120 points – with Vincent on 3970 points, and Bussa having 3853 points to his name. Steven Gilbert holds down third, with Eric Hansard and Michael Conti filling out the final positions in the top five.
Week 17 of the NASCAR iRacing Series sees the series head to Kentucky Speedway, a 1.5 mile track notorious for its bumpy surface, meaning for some great side-by-side racing. Hitting a bump coming into Turn 3 could easily throw you off-line, leading to a potential passing place come race day(s). Will Bussa keep the pressure on Vincent? Will anyone get close to Crabtree in the Open Series? Stay tuned to iRacingNews, and get the lowdown of all the action at Kentucky next week!