August 6th, 2015 by JaimeB
The second and final set of driver eliminations in the Season 4 iSuperChase Championship playoff for the iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series are complete following the final trip to Talladega, and the final feature race on the year. Last Friday night, fans, and drivers alike, were treated to a Superior 6 Round Finale straight out of Hollywood. Nearly all of the transfer positions were not locked until the checkered flag flew on the race, causing many drivers to fight in desperation for what they felt would be just enough to qualify into the Championship Race with a race ending 1 lap shootout.
Before the round ended, it had to start, and Feature Race 16 was the place. Daytona International Speedway played host to the 3rd Chase race of 5, and the opening round of the Superior 6 Round. The 6 drivers who had advanced were the top 6 finishers from the prior 2-race Super 10 round, the opening set of eliminations for the iSuperChase. In the opening round, Seth Demerchant and Rodney Wofford won both races, and therefore locked in, not having to worry about eliminations based on accumulated points, and that story would ring true for the Superior 6. The final daytime event in Daytona Beach saw Seth Demerchant pick up his 3rd win on the season, and 2nd in 3 weeks just as he had done in the Super 10 Round. This would lock the #32 Chevrolet into the Championship 3, and with a record of 2-0 in the playoff when facing elimination by winning both round-opening races.
For much of the 2nd Talladega race in the Chase, and final race in the second round, it looked with Rodney Wofford was going to complete the Wicked Autosports Round sweep with a win, just as both he and Seth did earlier in the chase, but would not be able to hang on in a set of late race restarts. In fact, in the end, it was Seth Demerchant in control of the field for a single 2.66 mi shootout to the checkers. In Hollywood script action, on the outside of the front row in p2, it was Hannerick Motorsports’ Josh Ball’s #48 Chevrolet, who with a push from Wofford who would end up with a p3, would go on to scrape by the #32 on the top side of the race track to win at the stripe, as the majority of the field crashed post checkered.
This win, allotted the #48 the automatic bye into the Championship 3. However, in the final points tally, the #48 was p3 of 6 drivers, and still above the cut line regardless. It was the additional points by taking the win as opposed to finishing in 2nd, that put the #48 over the marker and into the transfer spot, meaning, that if Josh Ball had finished second, or 0.020 seconds slower, they would not have had sufficient points to transfer.
With 2 of the 6 spots of qualifying spots being taken up by Chase Drivers for the second consecutive round, there only remained 1 spot for points to take advantage of. It ended up being Rodney Wofford, who although as we said didn’t quite get the win again, still managed a podium result coming in tow behind race winner Josh Ball for a 3rd, who would snag the final ticket.
That final transfer spot was a mere 2 point differential, over a tie for 4th with Season 1 Champion Frank Buccialia and Jason Oltmanns. Oltmanns, who appeared the safest into the night with a 18 point gap over the cut line after Daytona, was involved in 2 late race wrecks, and was forced to watch the last lap on the sidelines without any input on his fate. Buccialia, dejected after the finish, was disappointed that a p5 was not enough to get ahead of Rodney Wofford, who entered the night 2 points ahead of him, and also finished 2 spots ahead of him to hang onto 3rd overall. Josh Hanner’s #24 was the third and final driver to be eliminated, finishing 6th in the round 12 points behind a qualifying positions, just did not have the speed they had all season when it mattered the most. A late race slip from the top 5 to 9th was not enough to overcome a 10 points deficit he entered the night with, cutting his title hopes short.
It really is crazy to think that all the drivers who didn’t have the win to lean on before the green flew in Talladega, Alabama, were at a single point, running 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 on track early on. The competition, and the drama, definitely picked up with the Superior 6 cuts, after a conclusion to the Super 10 that saw no drivers go above or below the cut line in the round finale, and a rather anticlimactic end to the first ever playoff eliminations in the history of the iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series.
So as we said at the end of the opening round, now we have 7 down, and 3 left. Who is the favorite? You have Seth Demerchant, Josh Ball, and Rodney Wofford. It is not surprising that the three Supreme 3 Championship drivers represent 2 of the strongest teams in the series this past season. You can make a case for any of them, especially considering like we saw in the Superior 6 Round, there is no point bonus for a win in the prior round, so all 3 drivers are tied into the finale.
This makes the math very simple for the most part, beat the other 2 guys your racing against, and you win the championship. Although it may sound easy, the format for the Finale in Florida 400k at Daytona is what will throw the added twist into the pile. The Season Finale event is one of the series’ endurance event, featuring a elongated lap count and open qualifying, in comparison to the Feature race’s, that have heat qualifying, and a much shorter main distance of typically 30-45 laps compared to the 100 we will see under the lights at the virtual World Center of Racing.
Seth Demerchant enters as quite possibly the favorite, being tied for most the wins on the year with 3 total, 2 of which coming in the last 4 weeks in chase races. Those last 2 make him 2-0 when facing elimination, as he has never had to go into a elimination race facing that possibility. You could also mark that up as he has never had to face elimination yet, and Daytona will certainly bring lots of pressure. Demerchant has finished 1st, 3rd, 1st, and 2nd in the 4 chase races so far, that’s pretty damn good. If you’re a fan of a driver riding momentum and possessing sheer driving ability, I’d place money on the #32.
The other driver with 3 wins on the year, that Demerchant is tied with, so happens to be his teammate and title running-mate Rodney Wofford. Wofford, who if you count them all including non points paying races, has much more than 3 checkers under his belt on Season 4. Wofford swept Daytona Speedweeks at the start of the season, winning the iSuperShootout, his respective iSuperDuel, and the Daytona 250 for the season opener. It seems fitting Daytona will be the site of the title fight if you’re the #7, who has owned that racetrack all year. Wofford is looking to work with Demerchant to stay up front until it counts, and then take what he feels is rightfully his when the time is right.
The challenger, if you will, who hasn’t taken the loud and aggressive method his competitors have up until last week, is the #48 of Josh Ball representing Hannerick Motorsports. Ball, who qualified into the chase earlier in the year with a win, picked up his second on the year last week to make the Supreme 3 title contenders. If it is going to take some outside assistance to get to the front and stay there, the #48 has the support of the biggest team in the series, including several other chase caliber drivers, Josh Hanner, and Mark Jogenson Jr. They may be able to use the endurance format to their advantage, and take home the title in a group effort. The 48 may have been conservative early, but if the door banging two wide outside pass for the win last weekend was any indication, you can be sure they will be going for broke with everything on the line.
So with that the stage is set. 7 title worthy drivers are gone, and 3 remain. To some the names left on the board are exactly what they expected, and to others, it may come as a surprise. The only thing we can guarantee, is that with 3 drivers tied with 100 laps to decide the Season 4 iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series Championship, nothing, is guaranteed. You can watch all the action LIVE on LiveSimRacingTV – The Voice of Sim Racing and home to the upcoming NASCAR iRacing.com Pro Series, this Friday, August 7th, beginning at an early time of 8:15pm EST/5:15pm PST for the iROC (International Race of Champions) Finale, before the main event, the Finale in Florida 400k.
For more information on the iSuperSpeedway.com Racing Series, visit isuperspedway.com.
For more information on upcoming LSRTV broadcasts, visit livesimracing.com, or through Facebook at facebook.com/livesimracingtv.