With only four weeks remaining in the season, the NASCAR iRacing Series made its last stop of the season at Martinsville Speedway. After last week’s wild card race at Talladega, point leader Tyler D Hudson has a lead of just over 700 points second placed Landon Harrison. There is also one good battle in the points for third place between Jordon Westfall and Kyle McCormick who are almost 100 points apart.
Thursday night was the first night of sim-racing for the series for the week and saw Marc Melcher grab the pole with Scoot Johnson taking second on his outside. The race took a turn for the worse for the pole sitter early. As Melcher was coming-up on the first incident in the race, one of the cars in the crash clipped the lead car ending Melcher’s day. In the wake of the accident, Hudson (who’d missed the previous week’s action) took the lead for the first time on Lap 39. When the second yellow of the night flew, however, Hudson found himself-back behind a lot of cars after some stayed out.
By Lap 190 Hudson had worked his way to the bumper of the Chris M Hall’s leading Chevy SS. Hudson was just biding his time, trying to force Hall to make a mistake and on Lap 195 Hall did just that. The leader lost it coming out of Turn Four and the pure wheelman in Hudson was able to just miss the spinning Hall to retake the lead.
After a few more cautions that saw some cars take-on just two tires, Hudson had to work in some more traffic. When the last yellow was shown on Lap 233, Hudson pulled a fake-out on pit road on leader Matt Bussa, to take the lead with Timmy Hill in second. The final restart came with about 20 Laps to go and Hudson did not waste any time pulling-out to a lead to take the win. With Harrison coming home third, Hudson was able to add to his point lead in the first race of the week.
Saturday brought two more races for the NASCAR iRacing Series drivers, the first of which saw Harrison Widelitz and Chad Pruitt on the front row. Starting up front helped those two sim-drivers stay there much of the race with Widelitz leading the most laps. As the laps wound-down, however, Jordan Werth worked his way to the front and snuck-out the win over Widelitz and Pruitt, with Melcher coming home P4.
Soon after the end of Race 2 it was time for the third online race of the week, this time with Hudson was on the pole from Brenden Koehler. Hudson and Koehler were the class of the pack for the first part of race, but that did them little good when it counted most. In contrast, Michael Conti started P18, made it to the front and took the lead on Lap 63. He gambled by pitting during a yellow on Lap 74 – falling all the way to last place – but charged back to the front, taking the lead from Aleksi Elomaa on Lap 136 and never looking back. Hudson would come home in the second spot, adding to his growing points lead over an absent Harrison.
Sunday night was the last night of racing for the series at Martinsville for the 2013 season. Widelitz was on the pole for a second time with Malik Ray to his outside, each of them looking to be a good bet to take the win during the first 20 laps. After the first few yellows, though, the tables turned and put Matt Bussa who started in the ninth spot and Brodie Kostecki who started from eleventh spot as the two to beat.
As the race unfolded the drivers were able to get a good long green flag run all the way until the last few Laps. Leading the race, Kostecki encountered a slower lapped car as Conti closing-in with Bussa lurking in the background. Kostecki made heavy contact with the lapped car sending the car into Conti. The crash ended the chances of Kostecki and Conti to close-out the week on a winning note, as the victory went to Bussa.
When all of the virtual dust and sheet metal settled at The Paper Clip, Hudson had added to his growing lead over Harrison with a win and a second as Harrison’s best finish came in the form of his P3 in the week’s finale. As far as the battle for third in the points, that could well come down to the wire between McCormick and Westfall as neither gained much ground at “Marty.”
With only two weeks to go in the season the series will make its last trip to the Lone Star state at Texas Motor speedway for the penultimate round of the inaugural NiS.