Déjà vu at Daytona
February 17th, 2014 by JaimeB
After flying back on virtual 747s from Twin Ring Motegi, at the old , the iRacing Silver Crown Cup loaded-up in virtual DeLoreans with flux capacitors. After reaching 88 miles per hour, they found themselves on the Daytona surface circa 2007, featuring racing that made for a very 2007-like finish.
An unexpected front row saw Thomas Wargula (7) on pole and Dayton Gank (15) on the outside of the front row. The start saw Wargula eluding the field into Turn One, but this is superspeedway racing, so the draft played a very large factor in this online race.
The field began to get single file down the back straightaway, as Gank, Jeffery Mays (4), and Brett Reynolds (8) all fell in line. But soon after the drivers got single file, they wanted more. The field quickly became a double file freight train, with Gank leading the bottom brigade and Cullen Brown (2) paving the way for the top group.
Every driver in the front pack was two-by-two, side-by-side for over 20 laps with some looking for a gap to pass, others waiting for a gap. But as the Daytona’s vintage surface showed wear and tear, calamity was right around the corner for this lead pack.
On Lap 26, the old surface took another victim. Jeffery Mays hit a bump in Turn Three and washed-up the track a bit. As he tried to fall back in line, George Hagon (12) had to react to his sudden movement. And — as the chain reaction continued – Thomas Armstrong (11) swerved to avoid the havoc, hit the apron, and collected Hagon. They both spun, leading to the final (and only) restart.
With 10 laps to go on lap 31, Gank gunned the restart and Reynolds fell back in line on the bottom, as did Mays, as he fell back in line with Brown on the top. The pattern for the race showed the more ‘Crowns, the more powerful the pack. As the top line had more drivers electing to follow Brown’s lead, the high side showed promise.
Coming to six laps to go, Brandon Buchberger (5) was fighting for the fourth spot in the top line when he smacked the wall in the tri-oval, momentarily slowing the following pack which soon re-caught the leaders. The field was beginning to get very inpatient when Mays hit a bump in Turn Two, shoving him very high up the track and causing the entire top line to loose ground on the two leaders.
With only two laps to go, Brett Reynolds was going for every gap he could, fighting for every inch, and planning his move. As the field took the white flag, the famous Daytona Superstretch became the point of focus, as Buchberger made contact with the Wargula, causing the pole-sitter to spin and collecting Bob Hackel Sr (16) in the bargain.
As the field flew out of Turn Four, Déjà vu struck at Daytona. Very similar to the 2007 Daytona 500, a huge wreck ensued as the field raced towards the checkers. Gank, on the outside, smacked the wall out of Four, hitting the 2 of Cullen Brown. Brown then spun into Reynolds to his left. As the field began flying past the carnage, Mays got a light tap and sailed into the infield.
Buchberger came out of nowhere to take the win, just beating Mays to the line despite the latter’s bold “Pass in the Grass” attempt. Paul Williams (3) took third and Vinny Sansone (1) came from the back to take a fourth place finish.
In shades of Kevin Harvick, Buchberger came from the back of the pack to win at Daytona. And in shades of Dale Earnhardt, Mays could not quite make a pass in the grass. It was fun while it lasted, but we need to get those De Loreans up to 88 again, as we’re going to 2010, to the old Phoenix International Raceway.
Points after Week 3:
1: Brandon Buchberger (543)
2: Paul Williams (501)
3: Brett Reynolds (435)
4: Brett Waldrep (430)
5: Jeffery Mays (387)
6: Kyle Sterk (369)
7: George Hagon (356)
8: Vinny Sansone (347)
9: Thomas Armstrong (334)
10: Brian Elmore (323)