Round 14 of the XCAL’s inaugural season brought the drivers and fans back to USA International Speedway for the second time this year. Earlier in the week sim racing fans witnessed a surprise winner of the fastest heat which placed Jarrod Davis on the pole for the first time this season. Davis was able to muscle his Street Stock Camaro from third to first in a wild, two-lap dash beating Mark Arthur and Spencer Prete.
The field took the green flag amid extremely hot conditions. Drivers thus had the task of battling not only each other but temperatures upwards of 90 degrees, creating slick conditions. This, however, would not play a major part until later in the race.
Davis jumped into the early lead and fended-off numerous battles for the top position until Lap 12 when he finally surrendered the point to Brock Colson after a small bump in the back. That fender-to-fender action brought-in Michael Cosey Jr. for a three-wide challenge for the lead on the next lap. Cosey led Mark Arthur up another spot to second, which is how the top spots ran until the first set of pit stops unfolded during the second caution of the race on Lap 49.
Championship points leader, Mark Arthur, was able to take over the lead and earn bonus points toward that championship. He sported a new paint scheme this week honoring the recently fallen iRacer, Larry Gavel, who passed away from cancer this past week. Arthur’s day, however, would end with him unable to keep the points lead. Lap 92 saw William Perry get loose and pin-ball around. Unable to get slowed down enough, Arthur hit Perry square in the back. Arthur spent numerous laps in the pits getting the damage repaired but the engine ultimately overheated and expired just past mid-way in the race.
Multiple leaders emerged through various fuel strategies but the race was ultimately all about survival. After only a handful of cautions in the first third of the race, the final third saw various wrecks from 10th place on back. One of these would set up a shootout.
With seven laps to go the green flag flew for the final time as Cosey Jr led his teammate Spencer Prete and Rolling Thunder driver Aaron Hillibush around the speedway. Hillibush held off a quick challenge by Derek Colson, a huge bump- and almost run. But the real excitement did not happen until chaos erupted with three laps to go. A chain reaction accident mid-pack sent the cars of Colson, Daniel Smallwood, Aaron Keith and eventually Christopher Moody into a pile. When the cars tried to get going the leaders were entering the same piece of real estate and had to take quick action to avoid. Cosey went high to miss near contact with Keith and Prete was able to slip past with two laps to go. From there Cosey tried to get back to the bumper but was ultimately disappointed with a second place finish. Hillibush charged through the chaos to a very close third.
After the race, Spencer said he was “disappointed to win like this” when asked for his reactions to the last three laps. Cosey’s demeanor said the same as he was upset with the same circumstances. The only driver on the podium to manage a smile and a cheer was Hillibush, who came back from a wrecked race car last week to score his fifth top five of the season.
In response to the number of cautions seen during this race and the unfortunate incident at the end of the race, XCAL officials announced they would be looking to tweak some of the rules and that any changes would be released on Sunday.
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