The first week of the 2014 Season 1 iRacing.com Indycar Oval Series started off with a bang as the series went to Auto Club Speedway for the first time. Cristopher Demeritt (New Jersey) earned what seemed to have been an impossible win. Demeritt, who missed the start of the race due to technical issues, would have to earn his lap back twice, driving his way through the field and holding-off a hard charging Ray Kingsbury (New England) and Joe Branch (Indiana) on his way to victory lane. Kingsbury and Branch came home second and third, respectively, with Brendan Lichtenberg (Midwest) fourth, and Ryan Norton (Florida) rounding- out the top five.
Demeritt was to start on pole, but experienced real technical issues on the virtual grid, moving Seth Eggert (Carolina) up to lead the field to the start. At the green Eggert got shuffled out of the lead by Last Lap Motorsports teammate Matt A Kingsbury (New England) as, even with the missed start and the loss of a lap, an undeterred Demeritt ran well above ten seconds ahead of the lead sim-racers.
A caution on Lap 35 enabled Demeritt to choose an alternative strategy to the leaders to reclaim his lap. Connor Cross (Ohio) would left the pits first to take over the lead for the first time with Demeritt jumping from fourteenth to fifth on the ensuing restart. Although Demeritt worked his way up to the lead in just four laps later, he was forced to pit for fuel a few laps later, losing his lap for the second time in the race.
Another caution on Lap 56 shook-up the running order for a second time, when a miscommunication led to contact between the Dallaras of teammates Cross and Ray Kingsbury under caution while they were running one-two. Most of the drivers on the lead lap headed to the pits, believing they would otherwise be short on fuel in the closing laps. Branch and Litchenberg meanwhile, elected to roll the dice and stayed out on track.
On the ensuing restart, Demeritt — eager to earn his lap back — followed Ryan Norton up through the field. Working his way up through the leaders, by Lap 69 Demeritt had inched his way ahead of race leader Ray Kingsbury. At the same time, Norton, Branch, and Matt A Kingsbury entered Turn Three three-wide. Kingsbury moved down the track, not realizing that he had entered the corner 3 wide on the high side. He and Branch made contact, with Kingsbury spinning into the outside wall to bring-out third and final caution.
The caution solidified Demeritt’s chances, as he regained his lap for the second time in 84 lap event, and secured the fuel strategies of Branch and Litchenberg, allowing them to make it the rest of the way.
The next restart set Demeritt up for an 11 lap run for redemption and the checkered flag. He moved from ninth to fourth on the intial restart, passing Seth Eggert, Brandon Trost, Rob Unglenieks, Brendon Litchenberg, and Connor Cross. leaving just the top three between him and Victory Lane. Demeritt quickly dispatched Branch and Ray Kingsbury, leaving only Norton and five laps between him and a remarkable victory.
Demeritt worked his way beneath Norton’s car and made the pass with four laps remaining. Although Norton and Kingsbury tried to counterattack, Demeritt would not be denied and pulled away and claim an improbable win.
Demeritt, who set fastest lap at 33.287s, led only 10 laps throughout the entire race, with Branch leading a race high of 26 laps. There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers throughout the race’s 84 laps.
Demeritt now leads the points standings, earning 182 points from his win. Sitting in second, just 13 points back with 169 points is Ray Kingsbury. Terry Matthiensen (160) is third ahead of Branch (157) while Cross is fifth, just 30 points back from Demeritt. Other winners throughout the week were Terry Matthiensen and Cross.
A total of 36 drivers participated in races during Week 1 of the of the 2014 Season 1 iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Series season with the highest Strength of Field being 2912. 41 drivers have taken a qualifying lap with Miguel Angel Martinez posting the quickest lap of the week at 33.407 seconds. Rounding out the top five in qualifying were Ron Meier Jr., Demeritt, Ray Kingsbury and Matthiensen.