January 4th, 2010 by DavidP
The iRacing Pro Series Oval made a rare trip to a flat track for Week 22 of its inaugural season, namely, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In the series’ last visit to NHMS, the “Who’s Who” of the iPSO all found Victory Lane. Thus drivers like Ray Alfalla, Richard Towler and Brad Davies all looked to be favorites coming into the week, as they have enjoyed success here before.
The most competitive race of the week came on Sunday. Towler led the field to the green, with Davies keeping him company on the front row. Davies needed a solid race for points, while Towler was looking to keep his momentum going after two iPSO wins last week at Darlington. Towler led early before surrendering the top spot to Derek Wood in the first of many lead changes in what proved to be a brawl of a race. Davies led the most laps, 65, but could not hold-off the hard charging Thomas Lewandowski at the end of the race. Lewandowski took home 302 points for the win while Davies earned 290 for his second place finish. Wood, Brian Schoenburg and Towler rounded-out the top five.
When asked about the race, fourth place finisher Schoenburg said, “We did the best we could today with what we had. A lot of guys have newer, faster setups and we’re just out here with our old car. Ran this same thing at both Phoenix races and both New Hampshire weeks and got top five finishes every time. Just need new equipment and new ideas to run good.”
Earlier in the week Alfalla put a whooping on the field in one of two Wednesday splits, leading 125 of the 130 laps from pole. The only laps he didn’t lead were during green flag stops, as the race went caution free. After the race, Alfalla was asked the question on everyone’s mind: How did you’re tires hold up so well? The answer? “I made sure to not overdrive the car on entry,” he said, “and run tight enough to where the right rear wasn’t flinging out under throttle.”
Alfalla has been very strong all Pro Series long, but lately he’s raising his game to a new level and crushing his competition.
Also coming on very strong as of late is Patrick Fogel. Feeding-off a very strong week at Darlington, Fogel came home second in the race dominated by Alfalla. The second place brought Fogel 304 points, his best point total of the season, but he is still looking for that extremely elusive first win. When asked about his toughest battle all race, surprisingly he revealed it was not with another competitor. “My connection,” said Fogel. “It was bad all race. Outside of that, the only lead lap car that I passed or got passed by the whole race was Jim who was on 60 lap old tires.”
Wednesday’s top split was also won in dominating fashion, this time Josh Parker was the culprit. Parker led 100 of the 130 laps, earning a much needed 327 points. It was a perfect race for Parker, because the man of the iPSO to date, points leader Davies, finished dead last, only completing two laps. The win was Parker’s fifteenth of the iPSO, second only to Davies’ sixteen victories. Another surprise to come out of this race was the fact the usually extremely tough Josh Berry finished seventeenth, one lap down. Berry and Davies figured to get on the right track later in the week and, true to form, Davies collected 290 points for his second place finish to Lewndowski on Sunday.
For his part, Berry started 2010 with a bang on Friday morning, as he scored a huge, 339 point win over Towler. This event also saw pros on their best behavior as, for the second time of the week, a race went caution free. Berry and Towler dominated the race, combining for 126 laps led, while the rest of the field managed a combined for four laps out front.
“The strategy worked out I suppose,” said Berry. “I was pretty surprised when several people pit(ted) way early to make it a two stop race. It worked out, but Rich was definitely coming hard on the fresh tires at the end.”
Third place went to Thomas Hazard, a much-needed top three finish for the one time mighty pro. The last few weeks were miserable for Hazard, but he seems to have the ship righted, which is a good thing as we are only a handfull of weeks from the start of the iRacing Drivers World Championship.
Saturday night saw Towler continuing his hot streak. Towler led 128 of the 130 laps, completely dominating the field, and earning 287 points, which went as a drop. Towler is one of the most active pros in the last few weeks, racing virtually every race, but he’s doing extremely well so there’s no reason for him to slow down.
Next week the Pro Series will head to Motor City to tackle the high banks of Michigan International Speedway. The iPSO’s first trip to Michigan provided some of the best racing action in the brief history of the series, and the second trip is sure not to disappoint.