Week 8 of the iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Series action saw the teams take to the banked turns of Iowa Speedway for close quarters combat on a 180 mile per hour track surrounded by an unyielding wall and with an even more venomous apron. The 0.875 mile four turn oval can support two lane racing in the IndyCar and either lane can be used to successfully pass if a driver and car are capable of doing so. Just under a thousand online race teams showed-up last week to battle in the cornfields of Iowa.
The IndyCar Fixed Oval Strength of Field race of 3750 saw 21 drivers vie for the win including series regulars Andre Castro (NY), Tim Doyle (Atlantic), Matt Lambertson (Penn.), Jonathan Goke (Mid-South), Matt Cooke (Canada). The week also attracted other sim-racers including road black striper Aleksi Elomaa (Finland) who ran up front in the top split of the iRacing.com 2013 Indy 500 with the likes of Doyle and was in contention to win until connection issues.
Once again it was Doyle who started on pole in his #1 Dallara and led 31 laps in a race that saw 10 lead changes and five caution flag periods for 23 laps. The first caution came out on Lap 2 as the #19 Pete Fitzsimmons II clipped the apron, spun and collected Matt A Kingsbury (New England). However both cars were fully repairable and continued on in the race. The field lined-up for the restart and saw Doyle off to a good start before the #20 of Chris C. Miller (Carolina) got the apron and collected the #15 of Jim Rasmussen (New Jersey) on Lap 8. In contrast to the first caution, both cars headed directly to the garage with massive damage.
Once again Doyle jumped to the lead on the restart and,once again, was quickly slowed by a yellow. #16 Brandon Trost (PA) clipped the apron in Turn 2 and collected #13 Troy Eddy (Atlantic) and #10 Danno C. Brookins (West). Kingsbury and Adam Dock (Texas) also suffered damage when Kingsbury slowed for the wreck and, with nowhere to go, Dock ran into the back of his Dallara. Both were able to continue without much affect to their cars.
Doyle maintained the lead on the restart until Lap 31 when Castro started making moves on the leader. At the very same time Aleksi Alomaa caught the apron but made the save and kept the race under green flag. Lap 36 saw intense racing throughout the field as Castro worked-over Doyle, Dock and Kingsbury made contact due to netcode with Kingsbury falling off the pace after the contact and making a great save to stay off the outside wall and keep it under green.
Coming into Lap 39, Castro finally cleared Doyle on the outside with Dave Judson joining in the fun to make it three-wide. Judson took second from Doyle who next found himself battling with Goke for third. Contact between Goke and Doyle sends the former leader wide and results in more contact – with Brandon Slong (Atlantic). Although Doyle somehow managed to hold onto P3, Goke grabbed the spot on Lap 44 only for Doyle to reclaim the position on Lap 48 as Lambertson (unsuccessfully) tried to make it three wide.
Two laps later and the yellow lights flashed again when Gary Mihlbachler (Ohio) clipped the apron in Turn 2 and slid into the wall in a solo incident. Castro maintained the lead on the restart but by Lap 60 Judson had moved to the bottom lane and begun a battle with Castro for the lead that was destined to run until the final lap.
Heading to the line it appeared as if Judson was going to take the win. However appearances can be deceiving. Just as Judson was rehearsing his victory speech, Castro ran over his right rear tire, flipping both cars into the fence as a surprised and victorious Goke crossed the line first. A seriously displeased Judson credited with second ahead of Slong with a chastened Castro in fourth ahead of Lambertson.
When all the virtual carbon fiber settled, the iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Fixed Series point standings showthe point lead (1448) is still held by Castro ahead of Lambertson (1372) and, with only seven races counted, Goke (1253). Fourth (1184) is held by Doyle as he continues to struggle with Troy Eddy (1157) rounding-out the top five after a rough week at Iowa.
Meanwhile, over in the iRacing.com IndyCar Oval Open Setup Series, Randy Crossno (California) continues leading the pack with 1074 points. Second position (1002) is Cooke followed by Lambertson (974) Michigan’s Rob Unglenieks (905) and DE-AT-CH representative Georg Naujoks (882).
The iRacing.com IndyCar Oval heads to the Twin Ring Motegi oval for Week Nine. The point championships will be drastically shaken up as drivers will have the chance to drop their lowest races and show who the true contenders will be.