The NASCAR iRacing.com Class B Series (NiCBS) tackled perpetually sunny Phoenix International Raceway for Week 2 of the online racing series’ 12 week season. PIR featured a lot of great sim racing, probably some of the most intense racing that this series has seen so far this season. Because of the track’s short, flat layout, bumping and banging was the norm for the week which in turn brought-out the trusty iRacing Mustang Pace Car so often during the course of the week that iRacing’s virtual mechanics had to work overtime performing routine maintenance.
The highest Strength of Field (SoF) race this past week came on Friday night. The 3344 SoF event was definitely a great one to watch and take part in, as the intensity level was high because the top spot in the championship standings was very much attainable for many of the drivers competing in the race.
The green flag flew at 9:36 pm Friday, November 11th over a 28 car field that saw Jason Karlavige take the pole with Matt Whitten starting alongside of him. Karlavige and Whitten battled at the top of the board for most of the first half of the race, escaping the mayhem that ensued behind them. The race was slowed down by eight cautions for 33 laps, with six coming-out in the first 50 laps.
Whitten and Karlavige would have company at the front, however, with Michael Conti, a teammate of Whitten, marching to the front from the 17th starting position.
“Being able to come through the pack cleanly and quickly was my main concern when I saw that I’d be starting mid-pack,” Conti said after the race.
43 laps in, Conti took the lead and turned the fastest lap of the race (28.307) while out in the oh-so-important clean air. Whitten was on Conti’s bumper for the remaining 57 laps of the race, but was no match for Conti as the laps dwindled down.
“I burned the tires off the car,” Whitten reported after the race. “I shouldn’t have been able to last that long.”
Caution #8 came out with four laps remaining which sealed the deal for Conti, giving him his first win this season in the NiCBS. Whitten (25 laps led) came home second ahead of Karlavige third (18 laps led). Brandon Schmidt took fourth despite a sticky throttle that plagued him for most of the race, and Alex Ciambrone rounded out the Top 5 after a strong late race run because of a call for four fresh tires during his pit service during the second to last caution period.
With Conti having a bad week at Texas, points wise, his 214 point gain from Friday’s race didn’t even put him close to the top spot in the standings. By pocketing 206 points for second place on Friday, Whitten moved into the top spot bumping Schmidt back to second and Karlavige to third.
In other news, how about Thomas D Smith winning the NiCBS Time Trial Challenge for the second week in a row with a time of 28.70ss. John Paquin, a regular in the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Series, found himself second at week’s end with a strong 28.78s run. Brad Wright set the fastest qualifying time at PIR with a time of 27.98s, the only driver in the 27 second bracket. Karlavige was second at 28.01s and Wright’s Main Performance Racing (MPR) teammate, Brain Schoenburg, ended-up third. MPR was strong in qualifying at PIR with three drivers in the Top 10.
The NiCBS heads to South Florida for Weekk 3 and, with Whitten, Schmidt, and Karlavige only separated by a few points in the championship standings, no one knows who will come out of Homestead-Miami Speedway as the points leader. If the pattern continues, look for Karlavige and Whitten at the front of the field on Friday night. These two drivers have proved to the rest of the NiCBS roster that they can run well at any type of race track and they are the ones to beat at the HMS. But with any racing series, real or virtual, you can never truly predict what will happen as a mechanical failure or an accident might take a driver out of the running. Tune-in next week for a recap of Week 3 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.