Kansas Speedway welcomed the sim-racers of the NASCAR iRacing Series for Week 11 of both the Fixed and Open Series. One of the newest additions to the iRacing track line-up, Kansas has provided some close sim-racing in the past on both the oval and road course configurations it offers – this week the drivers used the 1.5 mile oval layout for the seven official online races run at various times during the week. Kansas is well known for the multitude of lines available for different drivers to use, with two-wide action common in every race in Gen-6 competition.
In the first of the Open Series races this week, Michael Conti showed great pace by taking the win and the most points of the week, with the first race being the strongest race in terms of the Strength of Field of the competitors (5793). Conti clocked the fastest lap and the delta at the checkered was .4s to runner-up Casey Tucker. Tucker led 57 laps out of a possible 134, staying close to the top for the majority of the race. Patrick Crabtree finished third, earning himself 348 points to add to his chances of placing highly in the series come the end of the season.
The second race of the week featured a similar SoF to the first race of the week (5789) allowing drivers to gain almost identical points to those who featured at the top end of the pack in Race One. Once again Conti demonstrated he was ‘The Guy’ when it comes to sim-racing at Kansas. With an even more dominant performance than Race One, Conti led the most laps and grabbed the fastest lap, underlining the fact that he was really happy with his car this week. Steven Eszenyi took the second spot, close to seven seconds behind Conti at the finish. P3 Malik Ray was a further two seconds back from Eszenyi in an uncharacteristically wide spread field on the tarmac in Kansas.
Ray finished the week the way he would of wanted, bringing his car into Victory Lane to round-off the Open action at Kansas in Week 11 of the championship. Ray led 106 of the laps with .5s separating he and Justin Bolton at the checkered flag. Ray was almost .1s faster than the rest of the field with his fastest lap on L116, proving he had the pace to secure the win. Bolton was the fastest driver to have an incident-free race, with others around him picking-up incidents during the race. Alles Boes was mightily close in third, just .03s behind Bolton at the finish – if you consider the Gen6s were traveling at over 200 mph in some parts of the track, they were ever so close at the finishing line!
In the opening race of Fixed action, the top three positions were locked-out by Black Stripe sim-racers. Conti continued his dominance from the Open Series, by winning race number one of the “Fixed” week. He took over the lead by gaining from other drivers’ mistakes, eg Tyler Hudson and Matt Bussa who ended their chances at scoring a top three finish early on in the race. Conti led 14 laps, compared to P2 Ray Alfalla’s 15 laps-led. Alfalla pushed Conti all the way to the finish with just .06s separating the twosome at the end. Brandon Chubirko found himself in P3 after 134 laps, just under a second behind Conti and Alfalla.
The second race proved – just as it has for the couple last weeks – to be the least participated race of the week, with the field only splitting four times, affecting the SoF of the top split. It therefore gave drivers with a lower iRating the chance to capture a Top Split win. Chad Pruitt did just that. After sitting behind Zsolt Nagy for a large portion of the race (83 laps), Pruitt made his way past to secure the win. Manuel Sanchez finished just behind Nagy for third, with the top three finishers getting in the region of 190-210 points for their efforts.
Matt Bussa’s week at Kansas continued to get worse as he finished well down the field after leading 74 laps of the third Fixed race of the week. Frenchman Simon Crochart pounced on the opening provided by Bussa, getting another Top Split win to add to his resume. He kept the likes of DWC drivers such as Kevin King and Hudson behind him on his way to Victory Lane. King was .5s back of Crochart to seal P2 for a handy 302 points in the 4875 SoF race. Jason Karlavige took third after a tough race considering the top 10 drivers were within 10 seconds of each other.
The final race of the week in the virtual Sunflower State saw the highest points handout of this week. Hudson proved why he was the 2013 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion by getting the drive he needed after an otherwise tough week at Kansas. Matt Bussa also got a nice result after showing he had the pace all week, finishing almost .3s behind Hudson’s Ford Fusion at the stripe. Kevin King completed a DWC podium by narrowly missing out on P2, just .1s behind Bussa. Hudson was the only driver inside the top five to have an incident free race, with Fixed series leader Dwayne Vincent enjoying a similarly clean run to sixth.
And the end of this week, in the Open Series we see that Patrick Crabtree has jumped to the top of the standings after two weeks of strong results. Crabtree leads Jordy Lopez Jr by 79 points with Crabtree on 3516 and Lopez Jr on 3437. Steven Eszenyi grabs third with 3406 – with a large gap back to Benjamin Burmeister in the P4. NASCAR iRacing Pro Series driver Justin Bolton holds on to fifth just nine markers behind Burmeister.
Vincent keeps himself at the top of the Fixed standings with the gap decreasing ever so slightly as we move our way through the series. Vincent currently has 2818 points with Bussa (2811) right behind. However the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze drivers are playing the catching-up game – with only Vincent in the top four sitting on 11 weeks counted. Bussa is seven points behind with 10 weeks, with Conti (fourth) and Hudson (fifth) only counting nine weeks of sim-racing. Lionel Calisto holds P6, with only a few points between himself and Hudson going into next week.
Next week the historic Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts Week 12 of the NASCAR iRacing Series, and with CMS included in the base content on iRacing we might see some new faces in and outside of the paddock during the course of the week. Can anyone challenge Crabtree for the lead in the Open Series? Will Vincent stay in top in Fixed setup?
Check out iRacingNews next week for a full report of the racing in Charlotte.