Last time we checked in with the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series, Alan Binder had checked out with his eight consecutive iSCS championship. A feat that may not be seen in the series again (at least in the near future), Binder has earned more than his fair share of time off from the series during the past two years. At the start of Season 3 of 2013, old and new faces alike took to the first featured track of the season, South Boston Speedway. Missing among the vivid liveries of the field was the famous flame-embroidered #69 of Binder, leaving the chances of new faces visiting victory lane higher than usual. While many drivers vowed to make a turnaround in this season, a difficult start was in store for many as South Boston sports one of the trickiest track surfaces that the sprint cars race on. With only one stable groove and numerous significant bumps, driving the sprint car around South Boston is similar to brokering peace between Godzilla and King Kong. That being said, six races went official during Week 1, and five different drivers made the trip to victory lane.
Taking the fastest qualifying time of the week was none other than “Front Row” Fred Lampela, who etched a lap time of 13.769s into the week’s records, besting two-time iSCS champion Vinnie Sansone by .016s. 41 drivers ran qualifying sessions, and 75 entries were split between the six official events of the week. Kickstarting the third season of 2013 into high gear was Michael Willard2, who was the first driver to visit victory lane. Only leading the last 9 laps, Willard took advantage of Matthew Pilus’ incident in front of him with less than ten to go. Able to dodge the spin and take home the win, Willard finished .635s ahead of David Cumbo Jr. Brett Waldrep completed the podium in third place, while Nicholas Howard and Brian Williams rounded out the top five respectively.
The highest splits of the week took place on Tuesday and Thursday at their regular times (9:00 PM EST), with the highest SOF race on Tuesday (3361 rating). Vinnie Sansone sat on the pole for this event, and led a 13-car field to the green flag. On Lap 11, a horrific-looking crash was triggered when Leila Wilson spun off of Turn 4 and hit the pit road barrels. Dustin Herner and David Cumbo Jr. tried to evade the spin, but collided into each other, sending Herner end-over-end into the retention fence, ending both drivers’ nights. Pro/WC driver Aleksi Elomaa was also involved, as he scraped the outside front-stretch wall. Elomaa would continue after the incident, but on Lap 26, he lost control of his car on the infamous Turn 2 bump, spinning out of contention. After a close battle with veteran iRacing sprint car driver PJ Stergios, Vinnie Sansone led all 50 laps and took the checkered flag, beating Stergios by .342s. Joe Quinn made his return to the series with a third place run, and Matthew Pilus made up for his incident a day earlier with a fourth place result. James Wentzel completed the top five.
The top split on Thursday was also chock-full of excitement as Fred Lampela led another hungry 13-car field to the green flag. A multi-car incident happened almost immediately on Lap 2 involving Waldrep, Ronald Williams, and Matt Orr, which filtered the field back to a more controlled single-car restart. On Lap 7, the caution flew again, regardless, as Matthew Pilus spun out while in second place. Problems weren’t over for Pilus, however, as he clipped wheels with Williard and was T-boned in the resulting pileup. After a solid green flag run, Fred Lampela would beat his son Michael to the checkered flag to win his first race of the season. Leila Wilson erased the bad memories of Tuesday by completing the podium with her third place run. David Cumbo Jr. and Ray Farlow also escaped South Boston with zero incidents and finished fourth and fifth place respectively.
In the second split races, honors and heartbreaks were also witnessed. Tuesday’s race saw a determined Scott Kelly on the pole as he led the 12-car field to the start of a smoke-filled event. On lap 9, the fury of Turn 2’s bump struck Kelly as he slid too high coming off the corner, spinning out while leading the event. The field was able to get by without incident, but Kelly was put a lap down as he tried to get the car turned back around. On Lap 15, the leader, Chet Wheeler Jr., ran out of gas after accidentally putting in the wrong fuel settings before the event and coasted down the backstretch, eventually bringing out the second caution. Two more incidents would occur during the event, involving Mark Hephner, James MacFarlane, and Wheeler once more. Surviving the war and coming out on top was Jon Watson, who led the remaining 36 laps of the event to take home his first win of the season. Marcus Dean was awarded the second place honors, while Brian Williams escaped multiple incidents to earn himself a podium position in third. Darren Higgins and Andy Margo completed the top five respectively.
Thursday marked a day of redemption for Kelly as he scored his second pole position of the week, leading another 12-car field to the green flag. On Lap 36, outside pole-sitter Eric Crossan spun out while in third place, setting up a ten lap dash to the finish. With four cautions displayed, similar to Tuesday’s race, none of them were for the leader, as Scott Kelly led all 50 laps of the feature to take home his first official iRacing win in over a year’s time. Chet Wheeler Jr. was right on Kelly’s tail during the remaining laps, ready to take advantage of any possible slip-ups, and was scored in second place, .649s behind Kelly. iSCS promoter Eddie Walczyk came from 6th place to earn his first podium finish of the season with his third place result. Adam West and Randolph Chenowth were scored fourth and fifth respectively.
One more race was seen at the end of the week on Friday, and Fred Lampela visited victory lane once more, becoming the first repeat winner of the season. Michael Lampela came in second once more behind Fred, and Coon Landry completed the podium in third. Christopher Kurdziel made an amazing charge from eleventh place all the way up to a fourth place finish, and Brett Waldrep scored his second top 5 of the season in fifth place.
The championship standings showed familiar faces at the top of the leaderboards. Vinnie Sansone leads PJ Stergios by 18 points at the end of Week 1, with Fred Lampela sitting in third. Did the landscape change much at the end of next week’s events at Oxford Plains Speedway? Find out tomorrow on iRN!