Charlotte Motor Speedway once again welcomed the NASCAR iRacing Series with open arms, as we take our second visit to the North Carolina track in the 2014 season. Almost 800 drivers participated in at least one of the four races, with plenty more just driving laps in official practice sessions throughout the week. Kris Kelley was the quickest driver in terms of one-lap pace, setting the fastest time in qualifying – 27.809, guaranteeing himself pole position his races.
The first race of the week was won by Justin Bolton after a close battle with Allen Boes. Both managed to lead almost the same amount of laps (27 and 28, respectively), but it was PRO driver Bolton who came out on top. The delta at the end was a close .142s, with Boes still managing to get a runner-up finish, capturing 338 points compared to Bolton’s 351. Another Pro driver — Adam Gilliland — wasn’t too far away in third, just .7s off Bolton after the full 167 lap race at CMS. Logan Kress and Josh Jones rounded-out the top five, a few seconds behind the leading group at the finish, but crucially getting the high finishes they were looking for.
Arrey Ati was the victor of the second race of the week, and with a SoF of 3488, 223 points went to Ati for the win. Niklas Eckl came home a solid second, however he was 4.6s off Ati at the end – despite driving the fastest lap of the race! Changyoun Kim finished seven seconds off the lead in third after leading 13 laps and getting involved in a close battle with Jeroen Anema in the latter part of the race – with just .4s separating the duo as the crossed the finish line. Kevin Pommier led a considerable amount of the race, but unfortunately couldn’t convert this to a win.
Race Three saw 2013 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Tyler Hudson add yet another win to add to his total, but it was by no means an easy win. Malik Ray kept Hudson busy at the front, with just .440s the delta between the two drivers. So with Hudson leading 25 lap and Ray out front for just one… who lead the rest? The answer is PRO/WC driver Kevin King – who slipped outside of the Top 10 at the finish after leading an incredible 131 laps! Jason Karlavige was .710s off Hudson in third, closely followed by Dylan Jones with “Flyin'” Ryan Michael Luza moving up 10 places to finish in fifth.
The final race unusually provided the highest SoF of the week (5832) – meaning a massive 374 points were in store for the winner, which was Luza! After leading 75 laps and taking the fastest lap, Luza finished the week in style, taking victory by over a second to Hudson – who led a ‘mere’ 32 laps in comparison. Jordy Lopez Jr was a further second back in third after in a nice battle with newly-crowned 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Michael Conti over that final spot on the virtual podium. Chad Laughton wasn’t too far behind either, with just 3.1s covering all of the top five drivers!
With Matt Bussa not scoring points this week at Charlotte, the gap between himself and second placed Dwayne Vincent has decreased ever so slightly – however Bussa is still 300 points clear of Vincent and the competition. Vincent moves to a grand total of 6710 points in the 31 weeks of sim racing he has completed, which puts him around 390 points ahead of Kris Kelley, who holds third in the standings. From here on, the points become much closer, making position changes a common occurrence from week-to-week. Joshua Filyaw has a buffer of 200 points either side of him, which keeps him in a good position to retain fourth. William Green rounds out the top five, however, he has some strong competition in his mirors with the likes of Justin Bolton just 180 points behind, yet only counting 24 weeks! Bolton could be the one to watch in the next couple of weeks.
The NASCAR iRacing Series bids ‘goodbye’ to Charlotte Motor Speedway for this year – and says ‘Hello Again’ to Talladega, as we visit the Super Speedway for the second time this year. Can Luza continue to perform well and gain the high points? Can Vincent close-in on Bussa for the title? And what does Bolton have up his sleeves? Visit iRacingNews this time next week for a round-up of all the sim racing action at ‘Dega!