The final week of the 2014 Season 1 iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Series sent the series to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A season high 164 drivers participated in the sim racing competition throughout the week. The stories of the week were the abilities to keep momentum and to keep pace with the front runners.
Randy Crossno (California) started on pole with James McClure (Indiana) on his outside. Brad Sanford (Texas) started third with Erick Davis (Canada) fourth and Hermann Pfander (DE-AT-CH) rounding out the top five starting positions.
Crossno made an excellent start, opening a five car length lead by the time the field reached Turn One. Crossno easily led the first lap as McClure slowly reeled him in. Further back in the pack, Cody Vincent (Mid-South) retired after nearly wrecking twice on the opening lap. By Lap Five Crossno and McClure had started pulling away from Sanford as both Davis and Pfander struggled to hold on to the draft of the lead Dallaras.
McClure, however, was not content to run second and passed Crossno for the lead, enabling Sanford and Davis to catch Crossno. As Crossno then pulled away, Davis passed Sanford in an effort to keep Crossno in sight. The resulting loss of momentum allowed Pfander to pull back up to Sanford’s gearbox. As Davis and Sanford started to work together to reel back in McClure and Crossno, they easily pulled away from Pfander. As the top five ran within two seconds of each other, sixth place Georg Naujoks (DE-AT-CH) fell further and further behind. The gap between the top four and the rest of the field continued to grow as the field continued running in a follow the leader mentality style of racing.
The rapid pace of the race continued until green flag pit stops started with Crossno pitting on Lap 34, slamming-on the brakes to get down to pit road speed, and barely avoiding a black flag or spinning on pit lane. As Crossno was exiting pit lane, the rest of the field was making its entrance onto pit road. Crossno’s strategy paid off as he passed the entire field as they exited pit road, instantly opening-up a 2.5 second lead. In the back of the pack, Paul Jennings (Carolina) spun into the infield on cold tires while he was exiting the pits. As Jennings attempted to get the car righted, he spun yet again. He then spun for a third time, hopping the curb, damaging his front wing and earning a black flag for an unsafe pit exit.
With the field heavily spread out, it seemed that Crossno was simply going to cruise to victory lane. However, the caution-free race didn’t last as on Lap 47, Rob Unglenieks (Michigan) bounced off the wall in the short-chute between Turns Three and Four. The impact sent Unglenieks spinning through the grass and back onto the racing surface, bringing-out the caution flag.
Crossno had an excellent restart with only 10 laps to go as McClure lagged. Exiting Turn One, McClure forced Davis low, causing Davis to clip the curb and push into McClure. The contact damaged both cars and sent the two sliding, but both drivers were able to regain control without bringing out a caution flag. The contact allowed Crossno to increase his lead to nearly six car lengths. Paul Jenkins (Illinois) moved up to third as Pfander had a wide exit of Turn Four and tagged the outside wall. Vick Caudill (Michigan) then took advantage and made his way past Pfander.
Once again, Crossno saw his advantage evaporate as the caution flew yet again. With only seven laps remaining, Georg Naujoks (DE-AT-CH) slammed the wall off of Turn Four. The impact temporarily sent Naujoks airborne and damaged his steering. Naujoks then slapped the wall two more times before spinning to a rest nearly half way down the frontstretch. This time the caution set up a two lap sprint to the finish
Crossno once again had an excellent restart, gapping Sanford and Jenkins by several car lengths. Undaunted, Sanford and Jenkins reeled-in Crossno by the time they reached the line to take the white flag. In their wake, Pfander took a defensive line down the frontstretch, forcing Caudill down to the inside wall. Pfander relented half way down the frontstretch, giving Caudill P4 entering Turn One. Sandford, meanwhile, closed to Crossno’s gearbox by Turn Three, but was unable to make a move and finished second by 0.094 seconds. Jenkins finished third, with Caudill and Pfander rounding out the top five.
Crossno earned 195 points for his win in the 3167 Strength of Field. Matt Cooke (Canada) won the highest Strength of Field of the week, at a 3486. A total of twenty sim-racers won throughout the week with Danno Brookins (West) and Michael Chinn (Ohio) winning the most races throughout the week, with five and four victories respectively.
Cooke thus won the 2014 Season 1 iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Series Championship with 1702 points. Christopher Demeritt (New Jersey) finished second in points, 220 points behind Cooke. Connor Cross (Ohio) finished third in points, with Brendan Lichtenberg (Midwest) fourth and Crossno rounding out the top five point positions.
A total of 303 sim-racers participated in races throughout the season. Leading the series in wins was Demeritt, with eleven, followed by Cooke (nine) and Brandon Trost (Pennsylvania) with seven wins. Gary Borkenhagen (Midwest) participated in the most races throughout the season, making 41 starts, followed by Cross (40) and Seth Eggert (Carolina) with 38 starts. Cross lead the series in top five finishes with 26 to his credit, followed by Borkenhagen (20) and both Unglenieks and Matt A. Kingsbury (Connecticut) who had 17 top fives each.