NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series veteran Brad Davies showed he can still get it done in the clutch, as he kept Kevin King at bay on a late restart at Auto Club Speedway to pick up his first victory of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series season. Davies led laps early, hung around the front the whole race, and caught a break when Ryan Lowe, already a winner this season, got into the wall late in the going while leading.
The race came down to a restart with three laps to go, which Davies handled with poise. He got a great jump on King, who looked to use the draft to reel-in Davies down the backstretch. It looked as if he might have an opportunity to make something happen, but King would never get his chance as Richard Dusett spun Steven Eszenyi, sparking a melee involving about half the field and causing the race to end under caution.
Even though King had to settle for second it was a strong showing after he hit the wall and damaged his car shortly after the start, costing him valuable straight-line speed. Dusett finished third and Allen Boes came from thirty-eighth to finish fourth. Lowe ended-up fifth after appearing to have a shot at the win before meeting the wall.
The race got underway to a familiar sight: Corey Vincent scored his third pole in four races and showed he had long run speed as well, pacing the field for a race-high 32 laps. Cautions were Vincent’s downfall, though, as he got trapped in traffic due to pit strategy and could not recover.
The first half of the race went quite smoothly with the lead pack content to ride and log laps. Strategy began to take shape when most of the field decided to short-pit around Lap 33-36. Some, including Tyler Hudson, decided to stretch their fuel window past Lap 40 but a yellow flag shortly after the round of pit stops shelved any potential strategy games.
The second half was a very different story, almost as if it was not the same race. Once the yellow flew to put everyone within their fuel window, things started getting wild on restarts as cautions bred cautions. Patience was in short supply throughout the field and some overzealous blocks and dives into the corners resulted in much of the field looking like they had just completed 500 laps of Martinsville.
The second half was a very different story, almost as if it was not the same race. Once the yellow flew to put everyone within their fuel window, things started getting wild on restarts as cautions bred cautions. Patience was in short supply throughout the field and some overzealous blocks and dives into the corners resulted in much of the field looking like they had just completed 500 laps of sim racing at Martinsville.
The frequent cautions worked-out for drivers like Boes, who fought bad track position for much of the evening despite having a fast car. In contrast, the yellows prevented the likes of Hudson and Vincent from making-up the ground they lost due to strategy.
The results tightened-up the points race, albeit slightly. Hudson still enjoys an eight point lead over Tyler Hill, who notched his fourth straight top-ten finish to start the season. King is another four points back in third, three points ahead of Trey Eidson while Vincent rounds-out the top five and has quickly climbed back into contention after his disastrous opening race.
With Auto Club Speedway in the rear-view mirror, the first half of the season wraps up next week at Watkins Glen International, the series’ only trip to a road course. Qualifying well and keeping the car on the pavement will both be important as the race will likely be run without a caution flag. Will the early-season contenders turn right as well as they have been turning left? Or will a sleeper down in the standings come away with a victory? Find out next Tuesday on LSRTV!