Week 4 of the NASCAR iRacing Series brings the online racers to Bristol Motor Speedway, the shortest track on the calendar. With its small straights and 30-degree banking, Bristol still provides great yet fast racing. Qualifying proved very close with laps of around 15 seconds, meaning there was no time for mistakes on a hot qualifying lap. With BMS being so unique it is a popular track among many of the sim-racers with just over 1200 drivers taking to the track to try and close the gap to their Division leaders.
In the opening Fixed race of the week, it was Paul Kusheba carrying on from where he left off last week, once again getting the win he needed to score the highest amount of points (325) in the biggest SoF online race in Bristol. Kusheba and P2 Dillon Rafferty were equally fast although it was Kusheba who was in the lead when it counted: at the checkered flag. Rafferty led almost 120 laps and claimed the fastest lap of the race, but wasn’t able to deny Kusheba the win. Malik Ray finished P3 and with 11 cautions throughout, Ray was always within touch of the lead duo. Ray eventually finished just over 2 seconds behind winner Kusheba.
In the second race of the week it was pole-sitter Matthew Wright who beat the field to the finish despite some fast competitors such as Ray and Ryan Lowe – who held the fastest lap. Wright’s solid pace from start to finish proved decisive as to who was going to win. Jordan Werth continued his consistent pace to grab P2 with Eric Hansard completing an incident-free race to P3. Lowe who finished 4th led 145 laps – over half the race distance – but was unable to convert that to a win.
For the third Fixed race of the Bristol week it was French driver Simon Crochart who dominated proceedings after taking the lead on Lap 18 from poleman Josh Skroupa, whose race finished a lot early than expected. Crochart then led every single lap from that point onwards bar seven and also collected 0 incidents, which is an achievement on a small track such as Bristol. P2 went to Alistair Topley who was 2.647 seconds behind Frenchman at the finish, with Kevin Pommier a further 1s back in P3. However with this being a relatively lower SoF (3436) Crochart could not capitalise points wise on his excellent performance.
The fourth and Final Fixed race of the week had Ryan Lowe make the most of his pace this week at Bristol after missing out on the win in R2 despite being the fastest car on the virtual track. However, the roles were reversed and Lowe only led 18 laps compared to his 145 in R2, but it was enough and crucially at the right time for Lowe to capture his first race win this week, with NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series defending champion Tyler Hudson narrowly missing out on the win in second. A wreck on the final corner of the lap allowed Hudson to finish 0.014s behind Lowe at the checkered. Heath Hindman started P3 and finished there, thanks to a very consistent drive. The credit for the most laps lead goes to Dillon Raffurty, leading 226 out of the 250 laps but, like Lowe previously, he was unable to get the win at the end.
In Race One of the Open series it was Kusheba who took his Gen-6 Chevy SS to victory lane, just as he did in the Fixed races at Bristol. Race 1 was the second highest SoF race of the week handing Kusheba 380 points in his championship quest. Kusheba and P2 Malik Ray led almost the same amount of laps, but Kusheba edged ahead of Ray towards the end and held it to the finish by a relatively comfortable five seconds. In third was NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Danny Hansen a further three seconds behind Ray.
Race 2 saw the largest points haul as the highest SoF of the week (5929). With very consistent points and positions coming into the Bristol week it was Jordy Lopez who managed to hold on at the end of the race and cross the finish line first, with 380 points to go with the win. Lopez Jr showed he had the pace to be up the front, securing the fastest lap on Lap 194. Danny Hansen continued to show his good form with a second place finish and, despite leading a considerable amount of the race, Ray came home third. Hudson, the championship leader coming into Bristol, struggled during the race and finished two laps down.
In the last race of the week, a new face appeared at the top of the NASCAR iRacing Series results in the form of Patrick Baldwin. Baldwin took full advantage of the opportunities others awarded him, taking the lead and staying there ’til the checkered flag dropped on the NiS at Bristol. With that Baldwin took a handy 372 points away from the online race, making himself one to watch come the end of the season. Jordan Westfall finished .139s behind winner Baldwin to take second and NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Justin Trombley finished third. Fourth place finishers Ryan Lowe held the fastest lap as well as finishing less than five seconds behind the winner, underlining his pace.
So after the action at Bristol, the Fixed series sees Dwayne Vincent continuing to score consistent results and — by doing so — keeping his virtual car at the top of the standings. Moving up to second is Kusheba with 977 points (54 behind Vincent). However, Kusheba is one week behind so we might see him move up once drop weeks become a factor. Third placed Jesse Atchison and Matt Bussa are separated by a single point, so a good finish for either could promote either one of them. Like Kusheba, Bussa is a week behind so be sure to stay tuned to see how this battle plays out.
With his win this week Jordy Lopez Jr jumps to the top of the Open series standings with a healthy 224 points advantage over second place, which is held by NASCAR iRacing Pro Series driver Justin Bolton. Hudson slips down to third after an unfortunate race this week. Rounding out the top five are Chad Laughton and Patrick Crabtree, not too far behind the top three points-wise.
Next week we move to the newest addition to the NASCAR iRacing Series: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The Gen-6 cars have never run here in this series so the sim-racers will need to learn to drive and setup their Chevy SS and Ford Fusions in order to be competitive next week. Who will be able to knock Lopez off the top of the leaderboard? And can anyone stop Kusheba in Fontana?
Be sure to check out iRacingNews to see who heads to victory lane in Fontana.