May 25th, 2016 by Jason Lofing
Kenny Humpe (The TEAM) once again showed everyone why he is the defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion, leading 168 of 200 laps en route to a dominant victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Humpe started on pole and was only challenged by Ray Alfalla (Slip Angle Motorsports) before a late caution created a five-lap dash to the finish.
Humpe and Alfalla, along with nine others, chose to stay on the track for the shootout and hoped their track position would overcome worn tires. Corey Vincent (Overclock Motorsports) had been fast throughout the race and was the first car on four tires, restarting twelfth. When the green flew Humpe shot out to the lead as Vincent began to quickly pass cars using the top groove in Turns One and Two. However, Vincent’s run was cut short when Nicholas Johnston (HPM) and Dylan Jones (Nexxus) sparked a massive crash exiting Turn Two, causing the race to end under yellow.
Humpe took the win over teammate Justin Bolton, who came on strong in the second half of the race, with Alfalla coming home third ahead of PJ Stergios (ineX Racing). Dylan Duval’s fifth place result made it three cars from The TEAM in the top five. Vincent could only manage eighth on the abbreviated last run, but almost surely would have won if the race stayed green to Lap 200.
The race started with an 82-lap green flag run, complete with two rounds of green flag pit stops. Humpe and Alfalla were in another zip code early on with Alfalla the only sim racer within seven seconds of the lead by Lap 60.
After a yellow on Lap 83 for Adam Gilliland’s (Aftermath Motorsports) spin, Alfalla found new life in his car and challenged Humpe for the lead as the race approached the halfway point. Humpe was too strong though and held Alfalla at bay using the momentum from the outside lane.
The middle segment of the race had its share of carnage as cautions broke-up the runs and led to some differing strategies when everyone pitted on Lap 120. On this round of stops Trey Eidson opted for just right side tires and inherited the lead while Humpe had a bad pit stop and found himself fourth on the restart behind Bolton and Alfalla.
Humpe grabbed third from Alfalla on the restart before a huge crash in the back of the field brought the pace car out yet again. On the following restart Humpe was on the move again, this time picking-off Bolton after just one lap and setting his sights on Eidson for the lead.
Eidson and his old tires did not stand a chance as Humpe reeled him in after only four laps, but the pass for the lead nearly ended in disaster for both drivers when they went for the same piece of track off Turn Two and made contact. The impact sent Eidson into the wall, damaging his car, while Humpe continued unscathed and leading once again.
The last 65 laps were paced comfortably by Humpe, save for Alfalla having one more go for the lead with 11 laps remaining. As was the case earlier in the race, Humpe held-off the two time champion on the top as passing on the bottom proved difficult on old tires.
Despite missing-out on the victory Alfalla built on his championship lead and now sits 14 points ahead of PJ Stergios as the 2016 season reaches the halfway point. Humpe continues his rise up the standings and is now 58 points back in third. After a 14th place finish last night, Jake Stergios is fourth while Vincent rounds-out the top five.
With the first half of the season in the books the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series has a five-week break before starting the second half of the season at Chicagoland Speedway on June 28. The break, along with a new iRacing build due for release before the race, could shake-up who has speed when cars return to the track. Can Alfalla continue on his way to a third championship? Or, can Humpe continue his hot streak and complete an unprecedented comeback to win his second title in as many years? Be sure to catch the sim racing action when the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series reopens for business the evening of June 28 on iRacingLive!