After last week’s dual 40 lap placement heats, Season 7 of the Vidane Racing League kicked-off on Friday night with the Art of Ruin 250 from Daytona International Speedway, using the iRacing Class A (aka NASCAR Gen 6) vehicles. By virtue of winning their respective heats, Adam Gilliland and Seth Demerchant started on the front row of the 41 car field. After the drop of the green flag, everyone fell into place and tried to just “ride” for the first part of the sim race, but the first caution of the night flew on Lap 4 when several cars checked-up in front of Travis Brown. The accordion effect shot Brown up into the Chevrolet SS of David Shutt, triggering a sizable wreck that also involved Del Campo, Grimm and Davis. Even though it had only been four laps since the start, many drivers decided to pit for fresh tires and a full tank.
The leader at the restart was Steve Bonesteel, and he would stay in the lead pack up until green flag pit stops commenced on Lap 25. The racing since the restart was fairly clean, and had spread out into two distinct packs…those who wanted to go for it early, and those who were content to ride in the back, out of harm’s way of the dreaded “big one.” As green flag stops continued, Gilliland found himself back in the lead of the cars which had yet to stop. On Lap 31, caution number two developed when Preston Purlmutter hooked the Vidane Series PR Director (yours truly) into the wall, starting a wreck that would damage five cars. Everyone took advantage of the yellow to pit, and Gilliland retained the lead for the restart on Lap 36.
After the ensuing restart, several drivers took turns leading the race, and there was some awesome racing up front until the yellow waved for the third time on Lap 45 after Allen Boes attempted to take it three wide between Knoblock and Gayman. Unfortunately, he drifted up into Gayman, turning him in front of the majority of the field involving nearly a dozen cars involved in the ensuing chaos, the night’s biggest accident. During the cleanup for “the big one” the entire field once again hit the pits for fresh tires and fuel.
With the restart right at the halfway point, Gilliland and Demerchant were once again on the front row. It was a short stint though, as the fourth and final caution flew on Lap 53 after three cars at the tail end of the field made contact, and effectively ended their nights. Only a few drivers decided not to pit on this caution, and the race went green for the final time on Lap 58.
With only about 40 laps to go in the 100 lap event, business picked up in a hurry! The lead changed hands almost every other lap, with Gilliland a part of almost every overtake. He would get passed by one driver, re-take the lead, get passed by a different driver, and then re-take it once again. This scenario repeatedly repeated…until those drivers who decided not to pit on the last caution took to the pits for their last stop of the race on Lap 76, thus beginning the cycle of green flag stops. Lap 79 saw a large part of the leaders hit the pits, led by Demerchant, and the following lap the rest of the field came down pit road. With everyone good to go to the end, it set up a frantic fight to the finish in the lead pack of 13 cars.
Throughout the final 15 or so laps, Gilliland was again at the front. This time, however, he was able to lead both lanes by staying in front of whichever line had the most speed. It worked for awhile, but with six laps to go, Ian Plasch managed to grab first place from “Giller.” The lead swapped five times over the final five laps, with Ian bouncing between teammate Demerchant to get him to the front, and Giller using Allen Boes’ front bumper to propel him back up there as well.
“That’s how a season is kicked off right!” — Adam Gilliland
The white flag flew with Ian out in front of Gilliland by about a foot, but with a great shove by Boes, Gilliland was able to clear Ian going into Turn 1. Ian decided his only chance was to try and push Adam and himself clear of the entire field, so he could have a run on Gilliland for the final time out of Turn 4. It almost worked, but Plasch fell .031s short of Gilliland at the checkered flag. Seth Demerchant, Alex Monteferrante and Allen Boes rounded-out the top five finishers, with Bolton, Hunte, Kress, Boesteel and Lee the remainder of the top ten, respectively.
“That’s how a season is kicked off right!” said Gilliland after the race. “Came in with a game plan to stay up front and be around for the end and that’s exactly what played out. That easily had to have been one of the funnest plate races I’ve ran!”
The win by Giller gave him the overall points lead, and with two of the top three positions, Plasch Racing Incorporated is currently atop the overall Team Standings.
The Vidane Racing League will be back on track Friday, October 24th with the Tears Tryhard 150 presented by GOMA in the Class B vehicles from Talladega!