October 16th, 2017 by Richard J. Clarkson
Tim Downey started from the pole position and led every lap—forty-five of them, to be exact—at the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway last Friday night in his Pringles Toyota Tundra, giving the Ocala, FL driver his twentieth career oval victory on iRacing.
Zach Halpern and Nathan Silvia were within striking distance the entire evening, but Halpern’s Toyota and Silvia’s Chevy fell short at the checkers. Downey’s Pringles-sponsored race machine had too much horsepower; its TRD powerplant roared through the corners and pulled the entire field down the straightaways all night long.
With five laps to go, Halpern, Silvia, and Stevie Minson—a longtime sim-racer hailing from Virginia, owning an impressive iRating of 8092—would eventually get one final crack at Downey.
The second yellow flag of the race waived when Jason Conway slapped the outside retaining wall at the end of the backstretch. After his Z-Line Designs Toyota Tundra made contact with the SAFER Barrier, the Missourian tried to catch his race truck, but the four-wheeled, high-tech speed demon was too far gone. Conway, out of control, made a hard left-hander off the wall. Unfortunately, his truck bounced off the side of Will Norton’s and spun circles, once again charging nose first into the outside wall.
“Eh,” a deflated Norton said, as the yellow flew, “you (Conway) probably should’ve waited until I was past to come off the wall.”
Conway never responded.
NASCAR responded by throwing the green flag: a one lap shootout.
Downey led the field down and matted the gas as soon as the nose of his truck entered the restart zone. Halpern, Silvia, and Minson did the same. But Downey kept the hungry hounds at bay and got back to the stripe first.
Minson, after starting eighth and getting trapped on the outside line early on in the going, falling to a race low of 10th, battled back and finished runner-up. Halpern brought his Tundra home in third, Silvia’s bowtie finished fourth, and Norton finished fifth.
Colby Blouin finished sixth and also took home the Texas Instruments Rookie Passing Grade trophy for being the highest running Class C rookie at the end of the event.
The Canadian, Matt Kingston, started 16th and finished seventh—an impressive gain of nine positions—making the sim-racer from the Great White North your Phillips’ Biggest Mover of the Race.
Joel Hoffmaster Jr. crossed the stripe in the eighth position, Arthur Rymer in ninth, and Harry Cowan rounded out the top-ten.
From A Dig Motorsports’s driver, Scott Smith6, came into Charlotte riding a wave of optimism—the Floridian had finished in the top-five for the previous two weeks—but after the team’s hauler had swallowed up a wrecked race truck, the driver of The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy had turned into a pessimist.
“Hell,” Smith6 said, post-race, “I reckon we’ll never get us’uh top-five never again! I mean, shoot, when them fellars just plum run into ya in the middle of the corner, how yinz ever gonna get a good finish again, huh, huh, huh?”
“The ole girl was really movin’, too,” he continued. “Yeah, I screwed up qualifying and had us startin’ from eleventh. But, shoot, when that green dropped, I’z makin’ moves, son! Passin’ ‘em up… one, two, three, four at’uh time, man! Then I just got ran into, Vern. Some black-and-red truck with a big Z on its hood. Hell, we finished right next to that poor soul in last place. Oh, we’ll never get us a good finish again.”
Conway didn’t finish too good, either. After bouncing off the side of Norton’s truck and then careening back into the outside wall in Turn Three, his Z-Lines Designs Tundra began to smoke. But, instead of taking his battered Toyota behind the wall, Conway, his black-and-red race truck sputtering along in the high line, decided to stay on track and attempt to make the checkers.
Conway did make it to the checkers, but, just before the green flew, his truck belched out black smoke and laid down on the frontstretch. The field passed him by with ease. One driver, Terry Silvers, accused Conway and his slow truck of being directly responsible for his late-race black flag. Conway finished 14th. Silvers ended his night in 15th.