After a week of high speeds at Phoenix International Raceway, it was time to dial it down for Week 2 of the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series (2013 S2). This week, the sprints would hit their first short track of the season – Langley Speedway. Just over 1/3 of a mile, Langley has been the host of many thrillers in the iSCS. With the low groove being the preferred lane by far, a game of patience is played out each event that is held at this track, and it’s no different with the sprint cars.
With 7-time iSCS champion Alan Binder taking a break for the week, a new challenger would have to step up to the plate to make some ground on the King. Fred Lampela took that charge, etching the fastest qualifying time of the week – 14.292s. Nobody else would hit the 14.2s range during the week’s qualifying runs. In the four races that were made official during the week, Fred would sit on the pole twice.
The first race of the week took place on Tuesday night, with 15 cars making up the grid for the feature. When the green flag dropped, the race was on. Steve Linder, the pole-sitter, found an early challenge by iSCS veteran and iRacing Pro-ranked driver PJ Stergios, and the two duked it out in the first 8 laps. Right behind them, Vinnie Sansone and Joe Quinn, two very familiar and respected names in the series, raced side-by-side for third place, waiting to pounce on Linder and Stergios. On Lap 9, Dustin Herner spun out by himself to bring out the first caution of the evening, giving the drivers time to catch their collective breaths. The restart came on Lap 16 along with the second yellow of the evening, when Leila Wilson spun Randal Robinson going into Turn 1. Offsetting her car a bit in the previous incident, Wilson spun by herself on Lap 25 in front of a pack of drivers – all were able to escape without harm.
A long green flag session was had after the initial yellows, and the top four raced away from the rest of the field. Scott Kelly found himself battling hard for fifth position as his car began to get tighter on the longer run. Cap Henry was able to slip by for fifth, and after Kelly relinquished sixth place to Justin Bankowski, he made a move to get back in line, unaware of the #10 machine of Cody White3, who attempted to sneak by with Bankowski. Kelly and White collided on Lap 48, ending the race under the yellow flag conditions. Stergios held off Linder for the win, his first victory of the season. Sansone stayed ahead of Quinn before the caution to complete the podium, and iSCS rookie Cap Henry completed the top 5.
Disappointed with his finish, Kelly still had good things to say about the race: “The racing at Langley tonight was probably the best ever race I’ve seen or experienced on iRacing at this track. Racing for position everywhere throughout the field! That was an awesome experience. Also wanted to say thanks to Cody White for showing class even after our incident.”
Wednesday hosted a 12-car race with Fred Lampela leading the field to the green flag. With only one yellow displayed for 5 laps, it was a long green flag run that demanded concentration and patience from all drivers. When the checkered flag waved, it was Lampela who took the win, four seconds ahead of iSCS veteran Scott Green. Cap Henry completed the podium in third, while Larry “Coon” Landry came from a seventh-spot starting position to finish fourth. Andrew Barman rounded out the top five with a respectable fifth place finish.
Thursday featured the only split of the week and also the last official races for this season’s visit to Langley. In the top split, it was Fred on point once more when the green flag flew, with Sansone trying his best to make a bid for the lead early on. On Lap 2, trouble struck as Michael Lampela squeezed Kelly on the inside in Turn 1, spinning both drivers. Kelly was able to spin his car around with minimal damage, but Lampela drifted up the track and collected multiple drivers, including Landry, Douglas Berryman, and Dayton Gank. Matt Berndt, who watched the wreck unfold right in front of him, impressively proceeded through the carnage without a scratch as the cars spun all around him. When the restart was given, Gank spun by himself, more than likely a result of the damage he took from the previous incident.
On Lap 22, Michael Lampela was involved in another incident as he spun around to bring out the caution again, just as his father, Fred, and Sansone were battling for the lead once more. With trouble striking Michael three times, he parked his car after the incident on Lap 41 that involved himself and Landry. This final caution set up a three-lap shootout, with Fred and Vinnie both giving it all they had. Coming off of Turn 4 to the checkers, Sansone jumped on the throttle too soon and spun as Lampela crossed the line in first. Sansone did finish in second even with his spin, and Cap Henry scored his second third-place finish for the week. David Cumbo Jr. came home in fourth, and Randal Robinson erased the memories of Tuesday night with his fifth-place finish.
“I feel very fortunate to get a win out of this one,” said Lampela in victory lane, “with my history of slip-ups on restarts & Vinnie’s ability to overtake on restarts, I felt my chances were dwindling fast… I feel very lucky.”
“I feel very fortunate to get a win out of this one…” – Fred Lampela
In the second split, Nicholas Howard scored his first ever sprint car win in only his second week racing with the series. In a caution-free event, Howard finished 2 seconds ahead of Cody White3. Craig Mintz completed the podium in third, and Marcus Dean and Jesse Costa completed the top five respectively.
“Its been my first short track experience with the sprint car, and I must say it is very challenging, yet some of the best racing I have ever had on the iRacing.com service,” Howard stated in victory lane. “Even though it wasn’t the top split I am still very proud and happy!”
With the first short track race of the season in the books, it’s time for the series to head to Iowa Speedway, one of the fastest and popular tracks in the series. Leading the iSCS points after Week 2, can Lampela continue to ride the momentum and challenge Binder for the win during Week 3? Stay tuned next week for the recap of the action from Iowa Speedway, here on iRN!
iSCS 2013 S2 POINTS STANDINGS – TOP 5
1. Fred Lampela
2. Vinnie Sansone (-31)
3. Steve Linder (-49)
4. Scott Green (-54)
5. Cap Henry (-63)