May 11th, 2018 by Randolph Chenowth
The Greatest Show on Dirt kicked off the first round of its pair of iRacing World Championships at the virtual Eldora Motor Speedway. 35 of the best dirt Sprint Car drivers duked it out for 20 spots in the main event, and the gloves were off all night.
It looked as if fast time for qualifying would go to Alex Bergeron of Victory Lane Racing, but in the closing moments Australian Tim Ryan of Evolution Racing Team snatched the top spot with a hotlap of 13.336 seconds, with the top 15 being separated by only 2 tenths.
The gloves came off early in the first heat, with drivers Justin Thomas and David Heileman tangling on the front straight taking both out of contention for a transfer spot. Tim Ryan maintained the lead through his 8 lap heat and had a comfortable 1 second lead throughout the race, with Dillion Semmelman, Robert Kerstetter, and John Battista rounding out the 4 transfer spots in heat 1.
After getting relegated to 2nd in qualifying Bergeron would lead the field to green in Heat 2, and wouldn’t look back for 8 nearly perfect laps to win by 2.5 seconds. But as comfortable as Alexs drive was the rest of the field was packed, with 2nd-9th being separated by 2.5 seconds, with positions constantly getting swapped and three wide being a bit of a norm for this group. In the end it was Dan Smolders, Ryan Pace, and Corey Hines who would transfer to the show with Bergeron.
Heat 3 contained the driver likely most disappointed by his performance in Austen Semmelmann. Austen rolled off 8th in his heat race and looked determined to move his way forward into one of the coveted top 4 transfer positions. Nick Cooper and Chris Brenner would have a fantastic scrap for 2nd in the closing laps and hold onto their 2nd and 3rd positions. Austen would end up a disappointing P7, joining VLR teammate David Heileman in the B main, easily 2 of the big upsets of the evening. AJ Neben and Cam Dance would be the other 2 drivers to transfer from Heat 3.
The top 3 starting spots were held by 3rd Base Bar & Grill Teammates James Edens, Adam Elby, and Matthew Mckinney in the final heat, but the notable name in this field was CBR owner driver Chase Briscoe rolling off 6th. The 3 teammates broke away early and just tried to ensure all cars got into the show. Chase Briscoe quickly picked up the 5th spot and began harassing the 10 of Rusty Kruger through the last 4 laps. With a lap and a half left Kruger put a tire into the fence coming off of 2 and Chase pounced on the opportunity, but it would be drama quickly as the 55 of Robert Kendall immediately went wheel to wheel with Chase and a bit of contact was the result, with Chase holding onto the transfer spot as they took the white. However Kruger and Briscoe would make contact down the back straight on the final lap which saw both cars end up facing the wrong way, and Level 7 driver Ricky Thornton ended up lucking his way into a transfer spot with the trio of Adam Elby, Matt Mckinney, and James Edens taking the top 3 spots.
The LCQ was full of big names who had disappointing runs in their heats. With names like Austen Semmelmann, David Heileman, Chase Briscoe, Howard Weaver, Rusty Kruger and more in the B main it may have been the most tightly contested B main we see all season. 19 cars would duke it out for 4 transfer positions, meaning 15 people would have their night cut short. JLR Motorsports driver Jesse Dakus would have the pole and lead early. Anthony Lopresto would take the lead after a few laps and hold onto it til the end with Jesse Dakus, Chase Cabre, and Howard Weaver joining Anthony in the main, meaning drivers such as Briscoe, Semmelman, Heileman, Thomas, Casch, and Kruger missed the show.
With the field set for the 30 lap feature, excitement began to build, and possibly a little bit too much. Yellow was definitely the norm during the 30 lap event, mostly stemming from mid pack incidents. Out front though the 98 of Tim Ryan was able to stretch leads during green conditions, and in the second run Alex found the wall and dropped a few spots. A mid point caution however allowed Alex to reset and get back with the leaders. Tim Ryan took the lead and looked confident up in front at first. However a slight bobble off of 2 allowed Adam Elby to slip by just as a caution flew handing the 74 the race lead. With a restarts with 6 to go is where we saw the 98s night come to a disappointing close. Fighting 3 wide for 2nd with Bergeron and Neben a slight touch sent Ryan into the wall and into a pack of cars, causing by far the biggest pileup of the night. That set us up for a 2 lap restart, which the #74 of Elby controlled beautifully and was able to roar home with the Inaugural win for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car World Championship series on iRacing. Alex Bergeron, AJ Neben, Anthony Lopresto, and John Battista rounding out the rest of the top 5.
The World Of Outlaws Sprint Car World Championship returns on May 21st as the visit the Dirt Track at Charlotte. However, on the 14th the World Of Outlaws Late Model World Championship makes its Debut at Volusia Speedway Park for 50 laps of intense action. Once again coverage will be streamed live on iRacing Live and Dirt Vision.