Marcus Lindsey’s troubled 24th place finish last week at Phoenix International Raceway seems like the distant past after he grabbed his second win of the young 2011 NASCAR iRacing.com Pro Series (NiPS) season at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday evening. Unlike his win in the season opener at Texas, Lindsey did not have the car to beat in South Florida. Instead, he was in the right place at the right time on a late restart and took full advantage of the opportunity to lead Daniel Pope II and Michael Conti across the finish line.
The bulk of the online race was led not by Lindsey, but by teammates Pope and Richie Davidowitz. After two quick cautions to open the action, the race went green for nearly the rest of the 133 lap distance. Pope, who started in the second position, passed polesitter Patrick Baldwin and was unchallenged for the top spot for the balance of the event. Pope’s car had so much more forward bite up off the corner that it was impossible for anyone to get a run on him.
With the field spreading-out over the long green flag run, pit stops would play a big part in determining the outcome of the race. As the leaders peeled-off for service, the lead changed hands with Davidowitz passing Pope during the pit stops to assume control of the race. Lindsey also made up time during the exchange and closed up to Davidowitz’ bumper as the laps started to tick down. In fact, Lindsey grabbed the lead a couple of times but Davidowitz fought back, retaking the lead on Lap 107 and increasing his margin. It looked as if he was on his way to his first NiPS win of the season when the caution flag flew with just a handful of laps remaining.
The third yellow of the race bunched the field and gave Pope, Lindsey, and Kevin King one more shot at Davidowitz. Coming out of Turn Four to take the green flag on the Lap 125 restart, Davidowitz spun his tires, which caused a scramble behind him. Lindsey edged ahead as Davidowitz tagged King and both cars spun into the inside wall on the front straightaway, sparking a major incident.
This led to one final restart, giving Pope a last chance to overhaul Lindsey and grab the win, but he just could not do it. Clean air proved to be the difference once again with Lindsey crossing the line two tenths of a second ahead of Pope to claim the victory. Conti finished a strong third while Davidowitz held onto fourth despite his late incident and Matt Whitten rounded-out the top five of the rather clean race.
Although he missed his chance at a win, Davidowitz’ fourth place effort enabled him to grab the series points lead by six points over Lindsey. Chris Overland and Whitten are tied for third, 21 points behind the leader, with Landon Harrison another five markers back in fifth position as the series hits the one quarter mark.
Next up on the NiPS schedule is another 1.5 mile race track: Atlanta Motor Speedway. The extremely fast speeds combined with a slick racing surface will keep even the smoothest drivers on their toes the entire distance. Lindsey once again should be the one to watch as he has won both races at 1.5 mile tracks so far this season. Will he notch his third win or is it another driver’s turn to shine on the high banks in Hot ‘Lanta?