Round 18 of the NASCAR Xfinity iRacing Class B Open Series took place last night at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the top-split broadcast on iRacingLive. Whether in virtual or real-space, all drivers who grip the steering wheel and take control of their racing machines want to experience the euphoria that comes along with winning at the historic speedway – not to mention, the lovely taste of clay, shale, and rubber, after the traditional “kissing of the bricks.” At the conclusion of last night’s 50 lap sim-race, we added a new name to the virtual speedways’ long list of victors: Richard Hollyday. After starting deep in the field (20th) the sim-racer who calls Apex, NC home, led the final 13 laps when a pit-stop strategy call propelled his BBH Motorsports prepared Home Depot Ford Mustang to the front of the field.
“It’s huge, there’s such good competition in this series.” – Richard Hollyday
Even though the race featured a SOF of 5380 and included four pro drivers in the field of 31, the race was plagued by six caution flags, resulting in the field slowly putting around the 2.5 mile virtual speedway for 24 of the scheduled 50 laps. Although the middle portion of the race featured some hard, competitive sim-racing action, it was somewhat overshadowed by a rash of yellows and an “avoidable” late-race incident.
After the checkers waved, it was clear the race was made-up of three distinct segments. Through the first 14 laps, three separate caution flags were displayed, leaving was very little time for green flag sim-racing action. Race-winner Hollyday faced considerable adversity in the early going. On Lap 14, Keegan Leahy’s Chevrolet Camaro made substantial contact with the outside wall through the south short chute. Entering Turn Two, Hollyday made contact with Leahy’s rear bumper, spinning him out and triggering the third yellow of the race.
A lap later pit-road opened and many sim-racers were now within their pit-window to make it to the end of the race on a one-pit-stop-strategy. NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series regular Allen Boes ducked onto pit-road from second place, bringing most of the field with him. Justin Bolton inherited second place while pole-sitter Greg McKinney stayed out front, seemingly in control of the race.
Halfway, and it was still Mckinney setting the pace. However, six laps later Mckinney pushed-up the track exiting Turn Two and slapped the outside wall, caving-in his right front fender and relinquishing the lead to Bolton and his Monster Energy-sponsored Chevrolet Camaro. Bolton’s time out front was short-lived. Come Lap 33 second place runner, Ryan Lowe – who had shuffled Mckinney back to third – got a nice tow from Boltons out of Turn Two and rocketed past to the inside down the long backstretch.
Then came Hollyday’s crucial strategy call. On Lap 34 he elected to give up the 10th position and pit under the green flag for tires and fuel. Two laps later and the yellow hankie flew for the fourth time of the sim-race, ending the 18 lap green flag run.
Once the pit-road light turned green and business picked-up. Front-runners Lowe, Bolton and Mckinney all took on four tires. And even though Boes and some others on the lead lap had been on pit-road earlier and would have been able to make it to the end on fuel, the long green flag run had taken its toll on their digital Goodyears and they elected to hit pit-road for service as well.
The net result was that Hollyday emerged in the catbird seat. The only driver on the lead lap car to not pit under the yellow, he was now at the point . . . with only two laps on his tires.
Unfortunately, cautions do breed cautions and for the third and final segment of the sim-race, green flag racing was again, virtually non-existent.
On the ensuing restart, both lines get backed up and sim-cars start bouncing off each other from ninth place on back. Appearing to try and make a move for the 10th position, Edward Birch Jr. went to the inside of Logan Clampitt, but Nickolas Shelton was already to the inside of Birch. As a result, Birch and Shelton made contact and chaos erupted that saw a total of nine cars damaged, including those of Victor Bartlett and Brian Ammerman, second place runner in the point standings.
The field took the green flag for the final time with five laps remaining. Hollyday got a good restart and maintained the lead through Turns One and Two. Following directly in Hollydays’ tire tracks, Lowe began closing the down the backstretch. With a full head of steam, Lowe swung to the inside of Hollyday into Turn Three only for the yellow lights to glow for sixth and final caution of the race when Ammerman renewed acquaintances with Bartlett exiting Turn Two with disastrous results, unfortunately collecting Jonathon Goke in the bargain.
Although he crossed the row of bricks at pace speed a few laps later, Hollyday’s first win this year in the NASCAR Xfinity iRacing Series was still sweet.
“Well, I mean it’s huge, there’s such good competition in this series,” he said, “It’s always good to run competitively with these top guys.”
While Lowe had to accept a frustrating second place finish, third place was another story as Nick Furler drove his Chevrolet Camaro from 23rd on the grid to claim the final spot on the podium and earn your iRacingNight “Biggest Mover of the Race.”
Elsewhere, Mckinney and Tom Moustakas completed the top five finishers while series points leader Trent Ringler brought his virtual Dupont Chevy home P10 after an up and down night. And with Ammerman having a rough go of it finishing 21st – he now drops to third in the point standings – Ringler now enjoys an even larger lead of 433 points over second place, Michael Vanosdol.
Next on the agenda is the road course at Watkins Glen International on August 5th. Hollyday, for one, can hardly wait to turn left AND right.
“I’m looking forward to the road course in these B cars,” he said. “I really enjoy road courses, um, looking forward to the 24 hours of spa coming up soon, hoping to make top-split with my team there. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
Be sure to tune in to iRacingLive on August 5th, 9pm eastern, to see if Hollyday can keep-up his winning ways.