Homestead-Miami Speedway played host to all the action of Week 3 of the NASCAR iRacing.com Class B Series (NICBS).   Arguably one of the most fun tracks on the iRacing service, HMS offers some of the best in side-by-side online racing thanks to the variable banking of its corners. “Variable Banking” is a new style of track construction that has surfaced in the past decade where the bottom of the track is less banked than the top, which gives the top side a slight grip advantage over the bottom — an advantage offset by the fact that the top groove is the long way around any turn.  Because of this, variably banked tracks see drivers using three to four grooves of the track to try to find the fastest way around.

HMS' variable banking enables competitors to run different grooves.

Track owners wanted more side-by-side racing, or simply more exciting racing for the fans. They have succeeded in this monumental task, at least in part because of the variable banking, as tracks like the Homestead-Miami Speedway are constantly seeing high attendance numbers. iRacing’s virtual HMS is no different as far as attendance numbers go, as 629 iRacers participated in at least one official race in the NiCBS last week. Unlike Phoenix International Raceway in Week 2, HMS saw plenty green flag racing and a minimal number of cautions. This brought the best out in the drivers they frequently had to wheel these 700hp beasts around the track on 50 lap old tires, making for some intense action throughout the week. This week, we’ll be looking at the racing from the 3137 Strength of Field (SoF) race that took place on Wednesday night.

The Racing
19 drivers took to the grid with Michael Patton grabbing the pole over Lance Williams and Jeff Dukehart. The race would only be slowed by two cautions for eight laps of the 100 laps. Green flag racing was the norm in this race. Michael Patton would lead the first lap, his only turn at the front, before being overtaken by the blazingly fast Lance Williams (78 laps led). Williams led up until just past half-distance when the first caution of the race came out.  Subsquently, Brad Mahar (11 laps led) held the lead for a few laps before Williams regained his spot at the top.

Williams looked to be a lock for the victory, but the hard charging Joshua Gerrald (six laps led), winner of the ETV broadcasted race on Friday night, took the lead with under twenty laps to go. He would led for some five laps before his King Pin Motorsports (KPM) teammate, Mahar, wrestled the lead away and went on to take the victory. KPM finished 1-2-3 with their drivers Mahar (197), Brian Macklin (186), and Gerrald (175) all cashing-in big points. Behind the KPM trio came Nick Williams (164) and Patrick Davis (153) to round-out the top five. Some honorable mentions also go to Jason Vannatta who led two laps and the always-strong Armando Vargas who led two laps as well.

The Numbers

Although Mahar scored the most points in a single race last week, he would not leave HMS with the most overall points for the week. Brandon Schmidt (187) and Gary Cooksey (180) departed South Florida with more overall points, leaving Mahar third on the week. In the end, after everything was said and done, Schmidt was the overall point’s leader for the 2011 NiCBS Season after Week 3.

Enough about points already; they’re enough to drive anyone crazy! Qualifying at HMS was very important as clean air was key to being successful, as were four fresh iRacing Raptor Tires. Schmitten Chassis Works (SCW) swept the top four spots with Schmidt taking the pole with a 32.05 second lap. Second was David Cater and Matt Whitten both clocking in at 32.09s. Ties were the name of the game as Cooksey took fourth with a run of 32.15s and, rounding out the top five, was Brian Macklin who running an identical 32.15s lap. If you’re wondering where Thomas Smith, the Week 1 and 2 overall pole sitter, ended-up, he clocked-in 11th.

The Time Trial Challenge (TTC) was just as close as qualifying and saw many drivers within hundredths and thousandths of each other. The winner of the TTC at Homestead was Thomas Smith, taking the top spot for the third week in a row, quite an incredible feat! His run of 32.94s put him only two hundredths over Dukehart. Ron Thomas took third, James Heater came home fourth ahead of Cooksey.

Looking Ahead
HMS was a fantastic week across the board: From qualifying to time trials to the races, the NiCBS competitors outdid themselves! Next week, the NiCBS will tackle the fast, but slick Atlanta Motor Speedway. Look for KPM and SCW to continue their dominance and for Thomas Smith to try and make it four in a row in the TTC.

Before I close, I’d like to wish all our US-based readers a Happy Thanksgiving . . . and best wishes to iRacers the world over!  We all have many things to be grateful for and one thing that I’m truly grateful for is the iRacing service. It puts people like me who are trying to start a racing career in a spot where it can become possible. I believe in iRacing and look for it to only get stronger as the years go on! Thanks for reading!

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