January 18th, 2016 by Ken Rodriguez
Homestead, FL – The drivers of the HPP Simulation Grand National Series roared onto the high banks of the Homestead-Miami Speedway last Wednesday night for Round Two of the 2016 season. Forty sim racers took to the track for 100 laps of intense sim racing action on the fast-paced 1.5-mile speedway.
The pole sitter for the HPP Simulation 150 came as no surprise, as once again Gary Whitson planted his #13 Whitson Motorsports Chevrolet at the top of the scoring pylon. Brody Hays in the #37 put together a brilliant qualifying effort to secure the number two spot, with Ty Hester’s #68 Toyota right behind him.
The first 39 laps ran clean and green, featuring plenty of close-quarters racing and bold strategy calls. Michael Chrobok, in the #7 HPP Simulation Chevrolet, was the first of the top five drivers to duck down pit road, making a pit stop on lap 30 and signalling to the rest of the field that tire management was going to be key for the race.
There were many contested battles during the first caution-free stint as Gary Whitson, Michael Chrobok, Josh Jones, Brian Yaczik, Ty Hester, and Steven Whetten all jockeyed for front-running positions early on. The event saw a total of 17 lead changes throughout the race between a dozen drivers.
In the end, it was Michael Chrobok from Toronto, Canada who emerged victorious, changing only two tires during his last pit stop – a risky move that gave him critical track position over Josh Jones #40 One8 Racing Chevrolet as the laps wound down.
During his post-race interview, Chrobok was gleaming with excitement as he spoke with the press in the winner’s circle. “I felt the only chance for me to put the #7 HPP Simulation Chevrolet in Victory Lane was to gamble and take two tires. We took the gamble and held them off and it paid off for us in the end,” he said. “We knew Josh had taken on four fresh tires and he was coming on hard at the end and I was praying for a caution to come out and it did.”
Josh Jones, who started the race in seventh, proved to be a hard charger all night long, threatening at every corner but ultimately settling for second. Bryce Whitson, driver of the #00 HPP Simulation Chevrolet and teammate to race winner Chrobok, rounded out the top three for a strong showing for the Whitson Motorsports team at the Florida track.
Eric Barile, behind the wheel of the #26 Chevrolet, picked up the M-SPEC Hard Charger of the Race Award, advancing an impressive 30 positions from his qualifying spot while accruing only two incidents. Barile, who started 37th, spent 11 laps in the lead before settling for a strong seventh place finish.
After two of sixteen rounds of the 2016 HPP Simulation Grand National Series, the standings are set with Josh Jones leading the way with 87 points scored. Will Warstler sits in second with 82 points, followed closely by Gary Whitson with 81. Currently, a mere 13 points separate the top five drivers and with the bulk of the races yet to be decided, it is still too early to tell who will emerge victorious in the Pursuit of the Pedals.
Tune in next Wednesday, January 20 at 9PM ET on iRacing Live (www.iracing.com/live) as the HPP Simulation Grand National Series hits the high banks of the Atlanta Motor Speedway quad-oval for the Sim Racing Apps 125, an 82-lap affair on a worn and slick surface that will no doubt leave you hanging on to the edge of your seat!
Until then, visit RaceiROC.com for more information about the HPP Simulation Series and to get in on all the action that the iRacing Online Championship has to offer.