The NASCAR iRacing Series World Championship saw its first sibling 1-2 finish on Tuesday night when brothers Joshua and Chad Laughton crossed the line first and second respectively at Talladega Superspeedway. The brothers worked together off and on for much of the race and found each other when it counted, with Joshua getting pushed to the lead by Chad on Lap 84.
From there, it was all about having smooth restarts and quickly hooking up into a two-car tandem, which both brothers did perfectly en route to sweeping the top two positions. Peter Bennett finished third, Brandon Kettelle, who is always strong at the restrictor plate tracks, was fourth and Andrew Fayash III rallied from a thirty-ninth place starting spot to finish fifth.
Daytona winner Adam Gilliland started on pole and looked strong early as he led 14 laps. His tandem partner Matt Whitten also led nine laps early on as the two looked to factor into the battle for the win. Unfortunately, Whitten got caught up in a crash, leaving Gilliland without a drafting partner in the closing stages.
Starting up front at Talladega actually turned out to be a disadvantage. Only one driver (Chad Laughton) who finished in the top ten had a top fifteen starting position. It seemed as if nearly every contender for the win would get taken out shortly after they had made their way to the front.
The Laughton brothers avoided the carnage by staying just far enough behind the big packs of cars, giving themselves enough breathing room to avoid the crashes which caused the yellow flag to fly seven times during the race. In all, 27 of 94 laps were completed with the pace car leading the field.
Points leader Tyler Hudson came into Talladega with a slim lead in the standings and things took a turn for the worse shortly after the race got underway. Hudson was running near the rear of the field on lap four when he ran into the back of John Gorlinsky trying to avoid trouble ahead. The contact left Hudson with a crumpled nose and short on speed. He was quickly lapped and spent the middle portion of the race a lap down to the race leaders. However, the frequent cautions allowed Hudson to get the lucky dog and fix his damage which allowed the championship leader to salvage a ninth place result and extend his points lead.
Hudson was thankful he toughed it out, “When I went almost two laps down I was on the very edge of pulling it in for the night,” said Hudson. “Anyway, in the end Casey Malone really saved me. We were both torn up pretty bad but all things considered we made a plan and stuck with it ‘til the end and we backed ourselves into a top ten.”
Nick Ottinger looked to be in prime position to grab the points lead after Hudson’s early trouble, but fell victim to damage after contact on Lap 72 while battling Kettelle for the lead. Ottinger continued on and attempted to work his way forward but was collected in the big crash on Lap 91, which relegated him to twenty-first. He now sits 22 points out of the lead.
Ray Alfalla, who is now 29 points out of the lead, also missed a golden opportunity at Talladega. After starting dead last, Alfalla quickly moved through the field and looked to be a contender for the win. His luck ran out on Lap 67 when he was involved in a crash on the frontstretch. Alfalla did not lose a lap and continued on, but the car never had the same amount of speed and he finished twentieth.
Brian Schoenburg and Marcus Lindsey, who are fourth and fifth in the standings, failed to finish because of crash damage and are in danger of falling out of the championship hunt. They now sit 37 and 52 points out of the lead and will need the three drivers in front of them to have trouble if they have any hopes of rejoining the title fight.
Next up on the NASCAR iRacing Series World Championship schedule is one of the most famous circuits in all of motorsports; Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers will likely be thankful to have the final restrictor plate race in the rear-view mirror, but will have to contend with a track not well suited for big, heavy stock cars. This track favors the veterans so look for the top five in the standings to make a push to the front here.
After nearly four years, will this be the race in which Hudson picks up his much overdo first win? If he hopes to do it, he’ll surely have to deal with Alfalla and Ottinger, both of whom have been strong every week this season. Be sure to catch all the action from Indy in two weeks on iRacing Live and MRN.com!