After two weeks away iRacingNews is back on point, recapping all of the action from the NASCAR iRacing Series as the sim racers fighting for the championship(s) headed to Bristol and Atlanta Motor Speedways. The tracks have major contrasts in style, and so drivers needed to make the transition after Week 24 at Thunder Valley to adjust to the high speeds generated in Hot ‘Lanta.
Bristol Motor Speedway
In the Open Series, Adam Gilliland proved to be the best driver of the week at Bristol, capitalising on a 6165 SoF to take 394 points from the highest SoF race of the week, hence having the highest points payout in the week at Thunder Valle. Gilliland lead 195 of the 250 lap race – and with a 1.6 second gap to P2 Allen Boes, he appeared pretty quick considering a lap is only 15 seconds in race trim! Ryan Lowe was a further .8s back, being the only driver to lead a lap inside the Top 10 bar Gilliland. Other winners included Michael Conti, who was the victor of Race 2 despite only leading 16 laps. Championship leader Patrick Crabtree was one second back in second, with Brandon Buie rounding out the top three. In the final race, Justin Bolton got the best of the field, racking-up another win – and moving himself closer to Crabtree in the overall standings. Jordy Lopez Jr was a close runner-up – just .1s separated them. Blake Bryant was a further .2s behind in third.
Malik Ray scored the most amount of points in the Fixed series by winning the fourth and final race of the week. With the race’s 4901 SoF, Ray clinched 314 points for the win, and although he led 137 laps of the race – the stats do not show the entire story. Towards the end of the race Ray was involved in a three-way fight for the win, between himself, Tyler Hudson and Jason Jacoby. The others found-out the hard way that three-wide action is tricky around Bristol, thus Ray came out on top. Jason Karlavige made the most of the others’ misfortunes, driving his Ford Fusion Gen6 machine to second, only .4s behind Ray at the finish. Tyler Laughlin rounded-out the podium finishers. In the other three online races that Bristol hosted, Hudson got the better of fellow NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Conti in Race One, and by a decent margin — over three seconds. Christian Pedersen got close to Conti’s rear bumper, but wasn’t able to make the pass and had to settle for P3. Race Two saw Simon Crochart ahead of the field once again, lapping almost every driver but for second place Robert Schmitz, and keeping a 15 second gap back to Schmitz. Hudson also found glory in Race Three of the week, this time holding back Gilliland and Ray to capture another win. The delta between the top three finishers was almost identical, with .4 splitting Hudson and Gilliland, likewise for Gilliland and Ray!
Race One of the Open Series was once again the highest SoF – smashing last week’s SoF by over 200. Cody Byus captured 405 points from winning the online race by over .5s from Gilliland, clearly still on-form from his results from the previous week. Byus led 108 of 167 laps, with Gilliand only leading 36. Bolton was a competitive third, just .1s off Gilliland with Conti making it an all ‘black stripe’ top four. Nathan Wise was the victor of another star-studded online race at Atlanta – making the most of others’ mistakes to claim 381 points towards his ‘Pro’ campaign. Casey Tucker was a close second with Crabtree just behind. In the Final Open race, Ray finally got the result he wanted after the week’s tricky race two. Even though the SoF was a tad lower than the other races, Ray still earned 342 points for winning the race. Bolton was a second back with Finland’s Teemu Iivonen closing-out the top three.
With the Fixed series also providing four great races at Atlanta, the driver who stood above everyone else was Thomas Davis. Davis was the victor of the 5006 SoF online race, despite only leading 11 laps of the 163 lap race. Pedersen and Cullen Brown led the majority of the race (70 and 65 respectively) but couldn’t capitalize on this feat. Davis scored 321 points that Race One of the week granted the winner. Race Two witnessed Matthew Moose win by over .2s to Alexander Hurst. Moose started in P4 and made his way to lead to score the top split victory. Ryan Michael Luza once again put in a dominant performance to win Race Three of the Atlanta week, leading 138 laps and setting the fastest time of the session for good measure. Second in the standings Dwayne Vincent was 18 seconds off Luza at the checkered flag, with Benjamin Truflandier coming home third. In the final race of the week – Malik Ray continued in the same fashion he finished with in Bristol. For the second time in as many weeks, Ray captured the final race in the Fixed series. After leading only nine laps, Ray pulled out a 3.8s lead over William Green to put his Toyota Camry into the Winners Circle. Dalton Baldwin was close behind in third, narrowly beating Bolton for the final step on the podium.
PSRG’s Crabtree still leads the way in the Open Series – and with drop weeks becoming a factor when we talk about potential champions of this Series. With only 22 weeks of racing actually counted in the points hall – the others who were a week or two behind have started cutting into Crabtree’s lead. With 7263 points, Crabtree has a 159 point advantage over Bolton – who has been slowly moving-up in the standings the last couple of weeks. Casey Tucker holds third with 6910 points, just a few shy of Bolton. The top three enjoy quite a gap over fourth and below, with Tyler Hill around 300 points behind on Tucker’s total. Saying that, Hill is down a week, which should help him in the last week. Corey Vincent has the final place in the top five, with many of the drivers outside of the T20 trying to make a last bid effort to run in the Pro Series.
The Fixed Series saw Vincent take the lead of the standings once again, demoting Matt Bussa to P2 overall. Vincent – with 25 weeks counted – sits on 5675 points, with just 61 markers separating the pair. Bussa has only counted 20 weeks, but this doesn’t discount Vincent’s efforts. Steven Gilbert remains unchanged in third, comfortably sitting on 5175 with a buffer behind him – and a small gap in front. Kris Kelley is fourth with Conti rounding out the top five with 4739 points . . . in 17 weeks. Now that’s some sim racing!
Richmond International Raceway hosts the final week in the NASCAR iRacing Open Series, with the championship on the line and Pro licenses on tap for all the drivers inside that Top 20 region. For some, the last week could make – or break their season – so all the pressure will be on working on setups during the week, and performing in the confines of the online races. Can anyone throw Crabtree off the Top Spot? Find out next week, right here at iRacingNews.