With only twelve races hitting official point paying status when it came to the NASCAR iRacing.com Tour Modified Series in Week Five, the cars and stars of the series had to make their finishes count or face a drop week when it comes to the online racing championship. When the pressure is on though, the veterans of the series can be counted on to turn up the heat. That was certainly the case at Stafford Motor Speedway this past week as Untamed Motorsports drivers Herbert Engelhart and Robert Sandt accounted for five victories and the top two spots in the standings when the dust had settled!
Engelhart will go down in the record books as besting Sandt by three markers, something he didn’t completely chalk up to his talent at the helm of the ground-pounding race cars. “I guess I’d rather be lucky than good any day,” said Engelhart after the three days of competition. “I was fortunate enough to win a couple races this week, but only at the hands of Bobby Sandt’s bad luck with lapped traffic.” The Mid-South Club driver topped Jerold John and Austin Benson in his first win while he bested Sandt and Chris Forster in the second triumph just two hours later. His only other start was a bridesmaid finish to Sandt.
“I guess I’d rather be lucky than good any day. I was fortunate enough to win a couple races this week, but only at the hands of Bobby Sandt’s bad luck with lapped traffic.” – Hebert Engelhart
Sandt topped the field in the win column with three for the week. Prior to defeating Engelhart, he won two 100-lap features as he took down Mike Keirstead and Paul Wisniewski in one and Crankenstein Motorsports drivers Lee Bedsaul and Michael Cooper2 in the other. Sandt started six races to come out with a winning average of 50%, just shy of Engelhart’s 66% mark.
Paul Kusheba was rewarded with third overall when he won in his only start of the week at Stafford, beating fellow Division One driver Keirstead and Division Two pilot Jamie Damgar to the stripe in the Tuesday affair. Austin’s brother Travis Benson was fourth overall after the Texan scored his Tuesday win over Joseph Lapke and Italian Matteo Bortolotti. Following Kusheba and Benson was veteran Eric Mauriello who also recorded one victory in one start in Week Five. The second night of competition was Mauriello’s stage as he took down the win over Austin Benson and John Minotto. Mauriello also posted the fastest qualifying time of the week with a 18.237, edging Sandt and Engelhart for the honor.
Completing the weeks winners were Bortolotti, John, Forster and Lapke. Lapke became the only non-Division One pilot to score a win on Week Five.
Stafford provided some fantastic nerf bar-to-nerf bar racing throughout the three days of competition.
Mauriello maintains his lead over the field as he now takes a 54 point advantage into the sixth week of racing. Sandt (and his 22 wins on the season) sit in second, just three markers up on Engelhart. With Ryan Field absent from the Tour at Stafford it presented Wisniewski with the opportunity to move up in the standings to fourth. Field is eleven points out of the fourth spot. The standings will begin to shake as the field comes to the crossed-flags after New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the coming week, marking the halfway point in the season. With the best eight weeks counting toward a championship run, a stumble or two here or there will not trip up the chances of a title for the top runners.
Kevin Nelson is the leader in Division Two but is hotly pursued by a Stafford victor in Jamie Damgar. Damgar pulled within nine points of Nelson after Week Five. Division Three leader William Kabela is feeling the same heat as Shawn Holbrook is just eight markers behind the Midwest Club driver for the division lead. While Nelson and Kabela feel the heat, C.J. Conneally has some breathing room in Division Four as the gap between he and John Gablinske is 27 after five weeks on Tour.
Ten points is the difference between Kevin Sockow and David Chmura in Division Five while Chuck Carter looms not too far behind. Don Warrenburg has put 26 markers between he and Jonanthan Dockery in Division Six while 30 is the gap in Division Seven between West’s Joe Gauthier and France’s Fabien Thomas-Brans. William Gray4 is the runaway so far in the eighth division with a 123 point margin on his peers while David Soja and his 129 point lead sing the same tune in Division Nine. Completing your Division leaders is Daniel Knight, who also possesses a triple digit advantage in Division Ten.
Minotto showed the way in the Time Trial portion of the action this week. The Division One pilot got the best of Keirstead and Jeff Sharp in the popular competition which sees drivers compete in ten lap runs throughout the week. Fifty-two drivers took the opportunity to face the clock in the single car competition at Stafford. When this week’s results factored in to the overall picture, Keirstead would inch out to a seventeen point advantage over Sharp. Mauriello, Sandt and Rich Kuiken completed the top five overall. Each of the top five are chasing their first overall Time Trial crown, but have to be aware of Shane Kline. The two-time bridesmaid sits sixteenth and with drop weeks on the horizon, the Carolinian could easily be a dark horse five weeks into the campaign.
Next week the NASCAR iRacing Tour Modified Series crew heads to the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Nicknamed “the Magic Mile,” it certainly was that to champ Justin Trombley one season ago as he recorded two wins – the most of any of the 97 drivers who took to the track when the Tour stopped in 2010 Season Four. Who will top the podium this time around? Find out here on inRacingNews!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!