The NASCAR iRacing.com Late Model Tour made its fourth stop of the season at South Boston Speedway — aka SoBo, a .4 mile oval with twelve degrees of banking that offers loads of tight door-to-door action. The online race of the week was stacked with great competitors and claimed a 2054 Strength of Field and saw Paul Kudlick line-up on pole position with Todd Sipe, Jeff Kendrick, Josh Northcutt, and Mathieu Rioux rounding out the top five on the grid.
Kudlick fired-off of Turn Four as the pace car dove off the track and jumped out to a quick lead. The rest of the field stayed tight with several rows of side-by-side racing before Austin Penney got loose into Turn Three and shot down into car of Randy Koshatka. The contact sent Penney’s ride across the nose of Koshatka and into the right rear quarter panel of Rioux. Jason Mcclatchie tried to get by the melee on the high side only Rioux to catapult into his Chevy Monte Carlo. As the drivers tried to regain speed, Aaron Jackson got sandwiched between Mcclatchie and Koshatka, sending Koshatka into the inside wall on the front stretch.
Meanwhile, the top five settled-in with Kudlick at the point followed by Sipe, Kendrick, Northcutt, and Michael Allen. Northcutt made a move under the yielding Kendrick on Lap 13 to take over the third spot before heavy lap traffic on allowed Sipe to close on the bumper of the leader four laps later. Meanwhile, Mcclatchie gave up the battle to to keep his mount straight after the first lap wreck and headed to pit lane for repairs.
By Lap 24, Sipe was more nipping at Kudlick’s heels: he drove it very deep into Turn Three and nailed the leader square in the bumper. Kudlick made an amazing save to keep the lead, but Sipe wasn’t backing down; nor was Northcutt who was looking to make it a three-way battle. Finally, on Lap 28, Sipe got a good run under Kudlick to grab the lead and immediately began stretching his advantage even as the hard-charging Brendan Costello picked- off another position on his way to the front pack.
Jump to Lap 46 and the top three are within ten car lengths of each other. However, the race would change completely when Sipe encountered lapped traffic. Lap 50 saw Jackson move to the high groove to yield for the leader, but without offering Sipe an abundance of racing room. Racing out of Turn Four, Sipe drifted up into Jackson sending him around off the nose of the lead car. Sipe was able to continue, but fell to sixth during the ensuing mayhem while, up front Northcutt was looking to capitalize on the wounded car of Kudlick, who found himself back in the lead after Sipe’s misadventures.
Lap 54 brought more heavy traffic, allowing Costello to further close-in on the leaders. Kudlick had another close call when he dodged a lap car and got loose into Turn Three as Northcutt, wisely keeping his distance, moved to the high side. All the while Costello kept coming and planted his hot rod on Northcutt’s bumper by Lap 60. Costello clearly had the fastest car late in the race, Kudlick and Northcutt were not making any mistakes to allow a pass. Indeed, the leaders stayed flawless through the last ten laps of heavy lap traffic, keeping Costello at bay. Thus Kudlick took the checkers followed closely by Northcutt and Costello, with Penney and Kendrick rounding- out the top five ahead of Sipe with Michael Allen the final sim-racer to go the distance on this tight track.
1. Paul Kudlick
2. Josh Northcutt -0.180
3. Brendan Costello -0.428
4. Austin Penney -6.036
5. Jeff Kendrick -7.298
6. Todd Sipe -8.228
7. Michael Allen -14.546
8. Paul Massey -1l
9. David Rudolph -2l
10. Jason Mcclatchie -3l
11. Randy Koshatka -4l
12. Mathieu Rioux -5l
13. Aaron Jackson -23l
The Late Model tour travels to Hampton, Virginia to attack the flat, 1/3 mile oval in Langley Speedway next week. Another small, tight track will continue to test the drivers’ patience and abilities. Those looking to bounce back from a tough week have their work cut out for the week.