Tyler Hudson showed once again why he is a former NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze champion and the current NASCAR iRacing Pro Series points leader with a dramatic victory at Kentucky Speedway. As the laps wore down, Hudson, along with Corey Vincent and polesitter Thomas Davis, were locked in a tight battle for the lead. Davis had held the top spot since the last round of green flag pit stops but his tires were giving-up and Hudson was steadily cutting into the lead.
After a couple failed attempts at a pass, Hudson finally got position on the inside of Davis coming off Turn Two with three laps remaining. As the two drag raced down the backstraightaway Vincent, aided by the draft, took it three wide on the bottom hoping he could steal the victory. Hudson held-off Vincent entering Turn Three while also completing the pass on Davis to score the win, his second of the season.
Davis wound up second after leading a race-high 54 laps and, while he was obviously disappointed about his missed opportunity, the finish helped him in the championship standings in his quest to make the top 20 and lock into the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series.
Vincent was third, followed by Mitchell Hunt who appeared to have the car to beat early before fading a bit in late going. Last week’s winner Josh Berry rounded out the top five.
Despite just two yellows to bunch the field, Hudson, Davis and Vincent could not shake each other. The three, along with Hunt, ran nose-to-tail for most of the night. Hudson’s pit strategy at the end appeared to pay off. He chose to stay out longer than Davis and Vincent, which cost him time in the short run but gave him the fresher tires for the final run to the finish. The fresher rubber paid-off almost immediately after the stop as Hudson quickly dispatched Vincent for second before running down Davis for the win.
The victory also helped Hudson build his series points lead heading into the final race of the season next week at Daytona. He now leads by eight points over Vincent while Kevin King is third, 22 points back, just in front of Tyler Hill who is 24 markers behind the leader. With Daytona looming any of these four could easily capture the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series title, but King and Hill will likely need both Vincent and Hudson to be involved in some sort of trouble in order to take the crown.
The battle for the final positions in the top 20 (the cutoff for being an automatic berth in the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series) could very well come down to the final corner on the final lap. Incredibly, only 20 points separate eighth placed Allen Boes from Rob Ackley in twenty-third. With positions that tightly packed, drivers fighting for transfer spots will have to weigh the risks of getting in a big crash while battling for the position that may punch their ticket to the world championship.
What strategy will competitors play at Daytona? For drivers like Hudson and Vincent, it probably depends on where the other is running in the race since keeping track of one other driver is not too taxing on the mind. When it comes to the group battling for the top 20 however, some will likely try to race to the lead to be ahead of any big crashes; others may choose to hang back from the pack in hopes of avoiding a wreck that way. Whatever the strategy, the final few laps of the season are almost guaranteed to be tense.
Who will bring home the crown? Will the battle for the top 20 come down to last-lap theatrics? Find out next Tuesday night on LSRTV as the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series concludes what has been a fantastic sim racing season at Daytona International Speedway!