As the iRacing Sprint Car Cup crossed the halfway mark of 2104 S4 last week at Lucas Oil Raceway, it was made very clear that the driver to beat during this shortened season would be Pro-licence-bearing sim racer PJ Stergios. The past two weeks in the six week calendar have been nothing short of dominance for the New England Club member. But with Sprint Car Series veteranVinnie Sansone starting along side him on the front row, it seemed that PJ might have a run for his money at LOR
The sim race got under way with Stergios stepping his foot in the door to take an early lead. This lead, however, would be shortened rather quickly as Sansone soon reeled-in the leader. Stergios’ tremendous start had propelled him into that lead, but he soon would have to do it again, as the #3 car of Bobby Sandt Jr caused of the race’s only yellow flag on Lap Six.
The race resumed on Lap Nine, and it soon became The PJ and Vinnie Show, starring the Sprint Car. The pair of veteran sim racers battled tooth and nail for over 40 laps with Sansone slowly but surely chewing into Stergios’ lead. Elsewhere in the top five, the #11 of Ronnie Wuerdeman was closing on fourth place Ronald Williams who, in turn, was chasing Michael Clement for third. The trio of sim racers battled for the final step on the virtual podium for the remainder of the race on a track where the middle/top groove is the fastest way around, the sim racers are on the edge of insanity every corner and running the bottom is near suicide. In other words, this Indiana track is like a big brother to California’s Irwindale Speedway.
As the laps began winding down, Sansone inched closer and closer to stopping the Stergios’ Sebastian Vettel-like performance this season. Every lap was crucial for Sansone. Not only did he have to hit his marks to the inch, he also had to out-drive — and eventually pass — the championship leader. With just 10 laps to go, the margin was less than half a second, as Sansone was more than ready to pounce. Looking for the tire to stick down PJ’s inside and hopefully make the move stick. Try after try, he was just a fraction short.
As they took the white flag, Sansone and PJ were side-by-side as they flew into Turn One. The only way Sansone could hold the bottom lane through Turn One and Two was to be like Norm Benning . . . and never lift. He did (lift) and Stergios was able to hold-on to complete his sweep of the first half of the season, having led every lap (so far) in Thursday night SOF races (140). Clement eventually got the best of Williams to take third spot after Wuerdeman fell off the pace, eventually finishing a lap down in eighth.
As the iRacing Sprint Car Cup raced under the crossed flags for the season, Stergios enjoys a commanding lead over Sansone and Ronald Williams in the series standings. Even with a mere 36 different competitors this season’s official races, there’s been more action than anyone expected as we heading into Week 1.
Next week, the return of the 3-turn short track marks the start of the final run for the Sprint Car Cup. Yes, the Sprints are making their return to Concord Speedway. A community favorite, the baby brother of Pocono Raceway will show who can cope with the insanity that will follow.