As the NASCAR iRacing Series replicates the real 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup, its finale could be nowhere else but Homestead-Miami Speedway. We didn’t quite get the big SoF’s that the rest of the season provided – but there were still plenty of opportunities to turn your season around under the bright lights of the season finale. Speaking of which, two of the series’ brightest stars shone in qualifying as “Flyin” Ryan Michael Luza lived up to his nickname by putting in the fastest lap of the week: a 31.534s, just .004s faster than championship leader Matt Bussa!
Homestead was sure to provide some amazing sim racing.
Race One produced the highest SoF race of the week, with an almighty 352 points awarded to the victor due to the 5473 SoF. “Flyin’ Ryan” Luza left qualifying high above the field – and remained there to dominate the proceedings, leading 238 laps of the 268 lap race distance. He enjoyed a winning margin of two seconds between himself and Brandon Kettelle, who made his way from P25 all the way up to the runner-up spot to score 340 points. Christian Pedersen was another two ticks back from Kettelle in third with Thomas Lewandowski right behind but not unable to make the pass to move up inside the top three. Justin Bolton rounded-out the top five with a nice drive from P18 to finish just under five seconds behind Luza.
Steffen Nobis narrowly won Race Two. Despite leading almost 200 laps, he only managed to keep Marc Melcher behind by .380s to secure the win. Runner-up Melcher had the pace – and showed it by setting the fastest lap. However, Nobis put up a heavy defense and kept the #3 car behind him to the line. Andy Glazik moved down one position in 268 laps, but as Crabtree showed in the Open series – consistency really is key in this series, resulting in 211 points heading Glazik’s way with his third place finish. Joshua Frank and Patrice Langlet finished fourth and fifth, respectively, both having a bit of breathing room either side of them in the final laps to secure their positions.
Tyler Hudson put himself at the top end of the field with a win in Race Three of the week. Hudson had his work cut out to hold onto the 297 points he gained from the 4624 SoF – with strong competition in Thomas Davis just .3s behind and with Jordan Werth and Ryan Lowe also in close contention. All three waited for a slip-up from 2013 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion, which never happened! Hudson led 120 laps, compared to Werth’s 92 and Lowe’s 42. Werth was about seven seconds behind at the finish, with Lowe a further second behind with Chuck Sweeting completing the top five finishers.
The Final race of the week – and indeed for the season – was toughly fought out between two of the three drivers who had won races earlier in the week: Luza and Hudson. Luza started from the pole and drove brilliantly to keep Hudson at bay after coming P18 at the start. The race was fairly even with regard to most laps led, with only Luza (92) leading more laps than Bussa (73) laps. After 268 of those laps, the gap between Luza and Hudson was just .9s, with Blade Whitt rounding out the podium finishers an additional 1.9s back from Luza. Adam Benefiel and Thomas Lewandowski crossed the finish line for the final time in 2014, the top five blanketed by just 3.5s and providing some great sim racing for the spectators.
After 36 long weeks and 144 races, this week’s final race brought down the curtain on the NASCAR iRacing Series Fixed for 2014. Having been in the right place to win the championship for a fair few weeks now, Bussa sealed the deal in Homestead, bringing his season’s points total to 7982. Dwayne Vincent lead the championship for the first part of the season, before succumbing to Bussa’s inexorable effort and finishing a worthy season on 7676 points. Hudson leapfrogged the duo of Kris Kelley and Joshua Filyaw in the final going to finish third on 7006 points – 83 more than Kelley and 101 more than Filyaw. Justin Bolton comes home a few behind Filyaw in sixth, with Werth, Green, Michael Conti and Hansard completing the Top 10. Kelley earned the Division 2 championship with Jay Heishman taking the Division 3 crown.
Normally I use the final paragraph to give a brief introduction to the next week and ask – “Will anyone catch Bussa?” But since this is the final week — and the answer to that question is “Nobody!” — I’d like to thank every sim racer who took part in this season’s racing – over 4300 of you drove in at least one official race this season. Congratulations to Matt Bussa on the 2014 NASCAR iRacing Series Fixed championship – and to every winner in each division; there were some close battles towards the end of the season, up and down the field. It was a pleasure writing for the series – and I hope to see many of you on track soon!