41 drivers took part in the 2 hour pre-race practice session leading up to the two lap qualifying session prior to the start of the opening race of Season #5 of the Big Red Racing, Fixed Setup Indycar Series held for the first time under the lights at Iowa Speedway, The BRR Iowa 175. Randy Freeman won the pole for the 175 lap event, posting a fast time of 18.145 seconds in his full fuel-laden vehicle, beating Eric Vanek, and Series Admin, Vincent Sciuto, who both ran an 18.166, by 2/100s of a second.
The race grid ultimately filled with 39 drivers, two having opted to not take part in the festivities at the blazing fast short tack. The beginning of the race was pretty sloppy. The first lap saw the yellow flag wave when series rookie, Christopher Shetzler, catch the apron exiting Turn 2, get loose and spin, collecting the Dallaras of Justin Petschauer and Johne Martin in the process.
The race restarted on Lap 7, only to be yellow-flagged before the leaders completed the lap when Russell Klaesson caught the apron entering Turn 3 and spun up into the wall. Everyone else managed to miss this one, with Russell the lone casualty.
Things did not go nearly as well on the next restart on Lap 13, which saw the worst accident of the night. Indycar Series rookie, Jesse Laboda, chose to try to go in the middle of two other cars exiting Turn 2 after the restart and there simply was not enough room. This resulted in him hitting Tom Heveron, causing both cars to spin. As they spun down the backstretch eventual winner, Matt Lambertson actually took some damage to his front wing when he glanced off one of the cars. Last season’s champion, Courtney Terrell, also got caught up in the aftermath of this when he got into the back of Carey Bettenhausen’s Dallara, as Carey was checking up for a spinning car in front of him. Unable to avoid Bettenhausen as he slid backwards through Turn 3, Dave Jinks spun down to the apron and collected John Holcomb. This accident eliminated more cars than any other accident of the night.
The ensuing restart on Lap 19 saw series veteran Renato Barnett catch the apron exiting Turn 2, resulting in him spinning down the backstretch where Andrew Hayes could not avoid him, and was also knocked out of the race.
The next restart finally heralded the start of some green flag racing. And it was wild! The lead was swapped several times, as were positions throughout the entire field. Unfortunately on Lap 42 former BRR Indycar Series Race Winner, Robert Bohanek, bumped Greg Feller going into Turn 3, after having lost several positions on the outside. Bohanek spun up into the wall and was eliminated from the race earlier than he had hoped for.
On this next restart, Randy Freeman, who was running third at the time, spun his tires and looped his car down into the infield, Luckily he incurred no serious damage, and was able to stay on the lead lap as race control opted not to throw a yellow for the incident. The result was a long green flag run that was eventually marred by an incident between Terry Mathiensen and Vincent Sciuto as they battled for second place Lap 72. The cars at the front of the pack had been trading places throughout this long run. Mathiensen had been leading the pack at the time, but was passed by Lambertson for the lead heading through Turns 1 and 2. Sciuto tried to follow Lambertson past into Turn 3. There was a little contact between the two, forcing Sciuto car onto the apron then subsequently back up the track into Mathiensen, who had been holding his car a little low trying to stave off the overtaking attempt. Both drivers were very apologetic to each other afterwards, realizing they both could have driven that corner just a little differently and not been eliminated from the race after running so well up to that point. Live and learn.
The next incident took place on lap 83, when Indycar series rookie Neil Frolich pushed out into another BRR Indycar rookie, Doug Heveron, exiting Turn 4. This led to what was probably the second worst carnage of the night, as two time series champion, Tim Doyle, along with Carlos Bolanos JR, were caught-up in the resulting accident, wrecking both of their cars. Moments later, BRR member John Ahles was unable to avoid the carnage in front of him as he got to Turn 1, clipped a couple of the damaged cars and retired with damaging his car beyond repair.
The final yellow of the night (though not the final incident) came on Lap 102 when Eric Davis and rookie Thomas G Elliott, made contact at the Start/Finish Line, sending Elliott spinning into the infield and resulting in irreparable damage to his car although Davis was able to continue.
Following this restart the race continued under green for the last 45 laps until the checkered flag finally flew. Although there were several on track incidents, race control opted not to throw the yellow again. The first of these incidents was shortly after the green flag was shown on Lap 109. Ted Severns pushed-up into Mark Schutte exiting Turn 2, resulting in Severens car loosing control and spinning into the wall. Schutte was able to continue. Eleven laps later, series rookie and eventual second place finisher Eric Vanek, pushed-up into Gary Borkenhagen exiting Turn 4. As a result, Borkenhagen ended the race in the wall after running in the lead pack for most of the night.
The final incident that eliminated a car from the race occurred just 27 laps from the end of the 175 lap race. This incident was actually very similar to the earlier accident involving Mathiensen and Sciuto. Aaron Foster was attempting to pass Doug Lierle low going into Turn 3. Slight contact between the cars forced Foster’s car onto the apron, resulting in his car pushing -up into Lierle who, as Mathiensen had earlier, was taking the corner very low trying to stave off Foster’s pass attempt. Foster spun around the back of Lierle’s car, and hit the wall hard. Although Lierle was slowed by the resulting damage to his sidepod he did manage to finish the race, but not before losing his spot on the podium to Freeman.
The end of the race was mostly clean, with Lambertson in front. The following cars shuffled positions occasionally, but following the Lierle/Foster incident, the race became a two car affair between Lambertson and Vanek. Vanek would get close, but never really mounted a serious bid for the lead. With just a few laps to go, the leaders caught some traffic that were fighting for position between them. Lambertson and Vanek ultimately caught some traffic as they came to the S/F Line for the white flag. One of the slower cars got a little loose off of Turn 4, causing Lambertson and Vanek to make contact right as they got to the line. The contact popped Vanek’s front-end into the air, although he managed to control his car once all four wheels regained contact with the race track. Lambertson managed to get through unscathed as well, but it was a hairy moment for the leaders with just one lap to go in the race!
Congratulations are in order for the entire podium: Matt Lambertson, Eric Vanek, and Randy Freeman, who managed to recover nicely from his earlier restart mishap. Nice job guys!
Next week the BRR Indycar Series is off to another short track, namely the one mile flat track located in Loudon, New Hampshire. This is kind of like jumping from the kettle, into the fire as New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of the most difficult tracks to race on in the iRacing track catalog. But it is a heck’uva a fun track to race the Indycar on; a real driver’s track. So get ready for some fun!
Big Red Racing
Big Red Racing has been going strong for eight years, and currently specializes in Fixed Setup racing utilizing the iRacing service exclusively as a racing platform for all of its racing series. BRR currently offers a Truck Series on Sunday nights, a Nationwide Impala “B” Series on Tuesday nights, the aforementioned Indycar Series on Wednesday nights and a brand new Impala “A” Series on Thursday nights. All use Fixed Setups. Simply visit Big Red Racing at www.bigredracing.org for more information, and to register as a driver for any of the series offered to join in on the fun. We welcome drivers of all ability levels.