Conti Returns to NHMS Victory Lane
August 7th, 2013 by JaimeB
Michael Conti scored his second victory of the 2013 NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship season, taking the checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the site of his first career victory in the series one year ago. Although he faces some stiff competition early in the online race from Ray Alfalla, Conti clearly had the fastest car and pulled away from the field to win by 3.8 seconds.
“The race was picture perfect for the the #5 team tonight,” said the New Jersey resident. “We steadily worked our way forward and once the car got clean air on the nose, there was no looking back. It’s exciting to pick up another win and even more exciting to go back-to-back at a track close to home.”
“Once the car got clean air on the nose, there was no looking back.” – Michael Conti
Marcus Lindsey used his great long run speed to finish second after starting twenty-seventh. “Extremely happy with the race,” he said. “I was sure I was doomed once my qualifying lap went down and we ended up twenty-seventh.”
Alfalla faded a bit late and wound up third, ahead of Brian Schoenburg and Peter Bennett, who quietly put together a solid top five after dealing with some toe damage early on.
However, nobody had anything for Conti, who quickly moved up in the running order from his sixth place start. After four quick cautions, the race settled into a long green flag run which saw Conti hound Alfalla from the start of the run. After trying to pass Alfalla for more than 30 laps, Conti finally got the job done on Lap 73. The pass ended-up being the only lead change of the race.
Shortly after Conti took the lead, Brandon Schmidt lost it off of Turn Four, bringing out the final yellow of the race on Lap 81. This put the leaders in their fuel window and Conti’s crew rose to the occasion with a great pit stop, allowing their driver to retain the lead and pull away for the victory.
Notably missing from the top of the results page were Tyler Hudson and Nick Ottinger. The series points leader coming into the Granite State, Hudson was a no-show at NHMS — a move which could seriously hurt his championship hopes.
Ottinger’s quest for a championship also took a hit, but for a different reason. In the last race at Indianapolis, Ottinger was involved in an altercation which drew a one lap penalty for the start of the New Hampshire race. Due to the timing of the cautions, he was never able to get his lap back and finished twenty-fifth. Ottinger was disappointed on what could have been a great day. “Can’t say too much other than the car was great,” he offered. “Again, just didn’t fall our way once we overcame the penalty lap. Car was wicked fast and did what we could.”
With Hudson and Ottinger having issues, the standings underwent a major change. Alfalla now leads the championship and is 13 points clear of Schoenburg, the new runner-up. Ottinger dropped to third, 25 points behind Alfalla and Hudson is now fourth, 27 points behind. Lindsey is fifth, just a single point behind Hudson, making for a tight three-way battle for third with only six races remaining in the season.
With New Hampshire complete, the NiSWC moves into the last third of the season with five of the last six races on tracks 1.5 miles or longer. With the championship still up for grabs, the team that figures out the 1.5 mile package first will have a distinct advantage as the season enters the home stretch.
Next up on the schedule are the wide open expanses of Michigan International Speedway. MIS has long been a favorite of NiSWC drivers due to its wide surface and multi-groove racing. It is also a place where track position is less important than normal thanks to the multiple lanes and passing opportunities.
Without a penalty this coming race, look for Ottinger to once again challenge Alfalla, Lindsey and Conti for the win. As for Hudson, he now has a tough road to climb if he wishes to reclaim the championship lead. Be sure to catch all the action from MIS on iRacing Live and MRN.com!