Pocono was the next location for the NASCAR iRacing Series as the teams drive themselves towards the midpoint of the season. ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ hosted some thrilling sim racing in Week 14 – even if most of the actual competition lasted only a few laps at a time what with the many caution laps over the seven races. Casey Tucker set the pole time of 52.149 seconds, and Teemu Iivonen was the closest sim-racer to that time over the course of the week.
The opening race of the Fixed Series saw NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Matt Bussa take the win after leading the field for 41 laps — including the most important one — round Pocono Raceway. He was one of three black-striped sim-racers to finish in the top three positions. Danny Hansen finished in the number two spot, just .287s behind Bussa, while Steven Gilbert was a further .5s back from Hansen in third. The field in the top split were really closely matched – with only 10 seconds separating the Top 23 drivers.
The second race of the week and had a much lower SoF (3183) due to the race only splitting four times – exactly the same as last week. Nonetheless Derrick Stone stole the win from Ben Zehner, with the gap being just 0.06s between the twosome – Pocono is beginning to sound like a super-speedway with how close the cars are to each other! Chad Chadstain was the winner of Split 2, with Martin Carroll taking the win after 80 laps in the third split.
Ryan Lowe was the first to pass the checkered flag in the third Fixed race of the week, but scored fewer points than he would have wanted thanks to the 3925 SoF. Lowe also secured the fastest lap – a second shy of the fastest qualifying times. Jordan Westfall took some time away from scribbling for iRacingNews to make his way through the field from 21st on the pace lap to runner-up at the end of the race, just .39 seconds behind Lowe. Adam Jackson brought the #23 car home in third, gaining +100 iRating from the online race! The top five were all within 1 second of each other – showcasing the talent of these sim racers.
The final fixed race at Pocono saw Pro sim racer Kevin King continue where he left of in the Open Series, leading 66 laps and securing the victory by .337s – just ahead of Jordy Lopez Jr. With 40 laps of caution a lot of the race was spent behind the pace car, not uncommon with this week’s racing. Alan Elwood rounded out your top three with Chris Hall and Seth DeMerchant taking P4 and P5 respectively.
On the Open side of this week’s online racing, Lowe used the experience gained in his Fixed win to add another victory to his name in the NASCAR iRacing Series – in the first Open series race of the week. Lowe scored an impressive 382 points – not the highest payout we’ve seen this year, but certainly enough to move Lowe up a few places on the leaderboard. The gap back to runner-up Patrick Crabtree was just under .3s – with Steven Eszenyi a further .1s back in the P3. No fewer than seven sim racers took a turn in the lead, with no driver leading more than 25 laps throughout the race . . . surprising considering 40 of them were spent behind the Pace Car!
The 5840 SoF created by the drivers in the second race of the week allowed NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Chad Laughton to take away 375 points from the online race. King was the closest driver to Laughton over the entire Pocono week, with just .5s splitting the two at the finish. Both drivers almost covered the same amount of laps in the lead (31 & 29) – but in Race 2 Laughton got the better of King. Kyle McKormick completed the top three, albeit some 2.6 seconds back from the PRO/WC drivers.
The Laughton-King battle continued in the Final Fixed race of the week, with King getting the better of Laughton second-time around! The slightly lower SoF meant Race Three’s points had no effect on the standings; still it was good to see the top guys having fun amongst the 38 laps run under caution. Shane and Ashley Miller filled out third and fourth, keeping the front two honest throughout the race, with Ashley finishing 1.5s back from King out in front. Many of the A licence ‘Road To Pro’ drivers (Lopez Jr, Burmeister, Dougherty – to name a few) found themselves in trouble and finished down the field.
So after 14 weeks of racing Crabtree extends his lead in the Open Series standings, with a 413 point gap to P2 – Steven Eszenyi. A solid result at Pocono moves Eszenyi up a few positions while moving a few guys who were at the top a place further down. Jordy Lopez Jr is 19 points back in third (4181) with Greg McKinney just behind in fourth. Those to watch out for are Justin Bolton in 13 weeks in P5 and Malik Ray on just 12 weeks – yet still close to the others on 3849 points.
On the Fixed side of the board, we see Dwayne Vincent still holding his own at the top of the standings. Vincent is only 20 points clear of Bussa’s challenge, but behind them there’s a gap of over 300 points to the rest of the drivers in the standings. Steven Gilbert holds third, with Tyler Hudson a further 50 points back in fourth ahead of Michael Conti who moves up to fifth, with a 200 point deficit to the top four drivers in the Fixed Series.
Week 15 of the NASCAR iRacing Series heads to Michigan’s digital Irish Hills. Traditionally one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, with its relatively long track length (2.0 miles) and its 18 degree banked turns Michigan International Speedway should provide some close and fast racing for the Gen6 Chevys, Fords and Toyotas. Can anyone replace Crabtree at the top of the Open Standings? Will Vincent be able to hold off Bussa? Check iRacingNews next week for a recap of the action at Michigan.