For the second week in a row, Kenny Humpe visited victory lane in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing. This time, Humpe’s win capped a dominating performance at Auto Club Speedway in which he started from the pole and led five times for 97 of 125 laps. Chad Laughton finished runner-up, half a second behind the winner with Justin Bolton third, followed by Ray Alfalla and Nick Ottinger.
From the drop of the green flag, Humpe was clearly the driver to beat. After Laughton drafted by to lead the second lap, Humpe regained control and looked to pull away from the rest of the field, although a trio of cautions would keep that from happening.
The first two incidents were relatively minor but the third, which unfolded on Lap 25, looked like a crash normally reserved for superspeedways. As the field made their way through Turn Two after a restart, Ottinger came down a bit too far and made contact with Thomas Davis, causing Davis to lose his momentum. Tyler Hudson couldn’t slow down or avoid Davis and plowed into him, sparking a massive crash that collected more than a dozen cars including that of rookie standout Patrick Crabtree.
After the field was thinned by the big incident, the race took on a much calmer look as the next 66 laps went caution-free and included a round of green flag pit stops. Humpe’s was the strongest car for most of the run but Ottinger flexed some muscle near the end of the first stint and took the lead on Lap 47.
As the run wore on, the field started to separate even though the draft was strong with the reduced horsepower of the 2015 rules package. Ottinger looked to be about equal to Humpe on the long run, but Humpe got back out in front after Ottinger led for 14 laps and remained in command for the rest of the way.
Until the last caution flew on Lap 95, it appeared fuel mileage could factor into the race. Several drivers running in the bottom half of the field started saving gas and hoped to make it to the end on one less stop knowing it was their only hope of beating Humpe. However, the last caution ruined that strategy and also cost some other drivers who had short pitted, including Michael Conti.
On the last restart the field had one last shot at Humpe but none could take advantage. Even with the draft no one could mount a serious challenge the rest of the way, allowing Humpe to cruise to a relatively easy win.
Humpe also took over the series points lead with the victory and leads the standings by 14 points over Laughton. Two-time champion Ray Alfalla is third, 22 points behind followed by Cody Byus and Chris Overland. Crabtree, the points leader coming in, left Auto Club Speedway seventh in the standings after a disappointing thirty-fifth place finish due to crash damage. He sits just ahead of defending champion Conti, who has yet to find his stride in 2015.
Week Four sees the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series head to a 1.5 mile track for the second time this season as the series visits Texas Motor Speedway. It would be foolish not to consider Humpe the favorite, but look for Laughton and Ottinger to be strong as well. Can anyone in the field stop Humpe’s domination, or will the #58 car visit victory lane for the third straight race? Make sure to catch all the Week Four action by tuning into iRacing Live in two weeks’ time!