August 16th, 2017 by Richard J. Clarkson
Garrett Manes captured his 145th oval victory of the 2017 campaign in the top-split NASCAR Camping World Truck Series sim-race at the virtual Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 13—the 9:15 p.m. time slot.
Manes started outside pole in his digital STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Toyota Tundra and ran the first twelve laps of the race behind the rear bumper of Jagger Jones’s Texaco Havoline Chevrolet Silverado.
Then, exiting Turn Two, Manes received a gift: Jones’s pink-and-red-and-white race truck walked up the hill and slapped the outside retaining wall. Aerodynamically bruised, lacking speed and wrestling with a virtual race machine with its toe knocked out, Jones darted his Chevy towards the bottom of the race track, slowed, and dipped onto the apron, destined for pit road, a disappointing 19th place finish after leading the first third of the race; Manes shot past and looked back only briefly.
“Briefly” came on lap 29, after the third caution of the race.
The Hoosier, sim-racer Dustin Beck, after hovering around the tenth position for most of the evening, decided to gamble. After his androids went to work, changing only the right side Goodyears, Beck dropped his make-believe clutch and gassed up his bowtie, narrowly beating Manes out of pit lane and assuming the lead.
With eight to go the green re-emerged for the final time. Manes made quick work of Beck, diving inside of the Indiana driver into Three and putting his Tundra out front for the last time.
Beck’s gamble ultimately failed to pay off. Over the remaining laps, he struggled for grip and faded. He finished 11th.
Manes’s romp to the checkers wasn’t totally uncontested, however. Evan “Back in Black” Black stayed glued to Manes’s tailgate for the final four laps. On the last time through Four, Black let his Tundra slide up the racetrack, hoping to gain a massive run of momentum to the checkered flag, blowing Manes’s doors off and grabbing the virtual bling. But Black’s race truck needed a few more ponies under the hood. He crossed the finish line a truck-length back of Manes, runner-up.
Ronald Kingston finished third, followed by Brian Thome in fourth, and Jason Jacoby rounding out the top-five.
After the race had finished, the sim-racers beginning their cool down lap, mashing their radio buttons and exchanging pleasantries and final salutations, congratulating one another on a race well run, Manes remained stoic and simply uttered four words. “Thanks, guys,” he said, “good race.”
Blake Griffith and E J Lally are your Phillips’ Biggest Movers of the Race.
Griffith Started 18th and even suffered cosmetic front end damage on the second restart of the race. Trying to anticipate the start, Griffith nailed the throttle, causing his Silverado to claw into the computer generated asphalt and jump ahead. One problem: the sim-truck directly in front, Roland Johns, missed a shift. Griffith plowed into the back of Johns’s Bud Light Lime Silverado. But Griffith never gave up, he gained twelve spots from where he started and finished sixth.
Lally started way back in 22nd. And after hanging tough on the final restart of the race, he also managed to gain twelve positions over where he’d started, finishing tenth.
T Jason Odom brought his Piggly Wiggly-sponsored race machine home in eighth.
Johns, after mending his smashed-up tailgate, finished ninth. The Californian was also the highest finishing Class C driver of the race, earning him the honor of the Texas Instruments Fast Track to a Passing Grade winner.
The 40-lap sim-race was slowed three times for 11 laps.
The biggest incident came on lap 27 when Scott Smith6 and Michael Bumgarner made contact and slammed into the SAFER Barrier.
Smith6, piloting The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy, had position on Bumgarner entering One. Bumgarner, stuck behind the truck of Jacoby, pulled down on the side of Smith6’s truck, trying to side draft and slow his momentum. The two made contact. And very shortly after that, Bumgarner was in the wall, The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy riding the concrete barrier like an oversized skateboard trying to rail grind.
From A Dig Motorsports’s driver was available for comment after the race.
“Hell fire,” Smith6 said. “I felt like Clint Bowyer at Richmond four years ago. Some kind’uh itch came over me somethin’ fierce, boy. I ain’t know if it was ‘cause I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or if it were’uh spider bite! But I had to scratch it!”
Smith6 continued: “I reckon I ought’tuh apologize to that Bumgarner fella. Hell, I screwed up his race, too. Yeah, he’z blockin’ and we even made contact the lap before, exiting Two. I had’uh run and he wouldn’t get out’thuh way. But hell, we’z sim-racers, Jack. We battle for every inch.”
All this week the iRacing NASCAR Camping World Truck Series sim-racers will be duking it out at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. Turn some practice laps, spectate, or join a race and battle for every inch. Whatever you do, settle into that cockpit of yours and experience the thrill of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile on the best auto racing simulator in the business!