Conti Supreme at Chicagoland
September 17th, 2014 by JaimeB
The sole remaining NASCAR iRacing Series continued to work its way through the tricky path of a full season, with Week 27 being run at Chicagoland Speedway. Now that the Open Series has ended, the NASCAR iRacing Series’ full attention is devoted to the Fixed Series. Located in Joliet, Illinois – Chicagoland should host some close, intense sim racing with its 18 degree banked turns, and it’s one of the only tracks on the calendar that isn’t straight at a single point along its 1.5 mile ribbon of tarmac! Ryan Michael Luza set the fastest qualifying time of the week – a 29.023 being just .027 faster than Matt Bussa in P2.
Race One of the week saw Michael Conti take the win in quite dominant fashion. With a 16 second advantage over second, and leading 71 out of the 134 laps run in the online race, Conti seemed unstoppable. Bussa started from pole, but wasn’t unable to convert this to a win. He and Luza battled for P2, but Bussa eventually came out on top, with Luza finishing 1.2s behind him after 134 laps. Brian Schoenburg claimed a nice fourth place finish – just a second shy of Luza -while Kris Kelley rounded out the top five with 285 points from the 5169 SoF online race.
Thomas Davis was the victor in the top split in Race Two, fighting off Matthew Moose and Marc Melcher to take the win. Davis scored 233 points from the 3659 SoF, with Moose .9s behind and Melcher 1.7s back from Davis after 134 laps. With only two cautions (and eight caution laps), Chicagoland provided clean racing for the drivers. Split Two saw Patrick Tuggles win by over eight seconds in what was a nicely driven race by the Florida sim-racer. In the 1749 SoF Split Three Michael van de Linde narrowly won with .4s separating him from runner-up David Luer. Luer pushed Linde all the way, but Linde held him at bay and was declared the winner. Patrick Wright was a comfortable P3, just 1.1s off Linde at the finish.
Eric Hansard drove his Chevy Gen-6 virtual racecar to Victory Lane in a very close field in Race Three. Just .6s separated the top six drivers – that is insanely close racing, with all the drivers working hard to ensure the close racing didn’t turn into a big wreck! Steven Eszenyi was the closest driver to Hansard, just .1s separated them at the line. Ryan Lowe in P3 lead 83 laps, but with drama occurring towards the end, left the door open for Hansard who lead the one and only lap that counted – the last one! Malik Ray was .1s behind Lowe, with Jason Karlavige closing out the top five ahead of Dwayne Vincent.
The last race of the week recorded a 4978 SoF, meaning any driver who wasn’t happy with their points haul this week, could try and amend this in the final shot at getting points at Chicagoland. Adam Gilliland did just that – and having a two second delta to P2 made his victory seem that much better. Luza was once again up there inside the top three – but couldn’t quite convert his evident pace into a win. Jordy Lopez Jr made his way up from P17 on the pace lap, all the way up to third to score just under 300 points (297). With Lopez being 4.6s off Gilliland – it is safe to say Race 4 was nowhere near as intense as Race 3! Brian Macklin and Josh Jones took the final places inside the top five – all within 5.5 seconds of Gilliland in the lead.
Bussa still heads the way at the top of the standings on 6237 points, with Vincent holding second spot by a comfortable margin. However, Vincent – on 6100 points, is 137 points shy of Bussa, and with Vincent counting the full 27 weeks (opposed to Bussa’s 22), it could be quite a challenge for him to overcome Bussa in the championship. Steven Gilbert is still P3 with 5376 points, with the closest battle in the standings at the top end of the field – being between Gilbert and fourth-placed Kris Kelley. Kelley is just 74 points behind Gilbert, meaning some strong finishes in the next few weeks could lead to a position change! Conti rounds out the top five in the standings on 5080 points, a fair few behind the people in front of him. However, Conti is only scoring 19 weeks as of Week 27; a few more weeks on the scoreboard could see him move up towards the podium positions.
We visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second time this season, as it finds itself the site of Week 28 on the NASCAR iRacing Series calendar. This short track provides a different challenge than Chicagoland, with braking and adapting to how the Fixed setup feels keys for success. Check out iRacingNews next week for all the news from New Hampshire.