Sim Racing

Marneef charged from P13 on the grid to win the highest SoF in IndyCar oval history.

Week Eight of the 2015 Season 1 IndyCar Oval sent the series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A total of 103 sim-racers decided to take the gambling on track in “Sin City” throughout the week. Blocking, bonehead moves, close calls, the draft, handling, lap traffic, pack racing, record Strength of Fields, tight sim racing and tire wear were just some of the storylines that played out throughout the week.

Brandon Traino (New Jersey) started on pole with Ryan Norton (Florida) on his outside. Niles Anders (Plains) started third with Christopher Demeritt (New Jersey) fourth, and Brandon Trost (Pennsylvania) rounding-out the top five starting positions.

Both Traino and Norton got off to excellent starts as Anders fell in line behind Demeritt. Norton immediately dived below Traino off of Turn Two as Trost looked below Anders. Trost continued moving up through the field, easily getting underneath Demeritt, as Anders fell behind Vick Caudill (Michigan).

Trost’s progress was slowed when he aero pushed behind the two leaders and slid into Demeritt, sending Demeritt into the outside wall. The contact sent the field behind them scrambling as they tried to dodge the wayard’s Dallaras of Demeritt and Trost, enabling Norton and Traino to break-away from the field. Meanwhile, several sim-racers, including Joe Branch2 (Indiana) and Nigel Marneef (Benelux) elected to simply ride a ‘safe’ distance behind the field.

Sim Racing

Trost’s rapid advance was halted when he and Demeritt (8) got together.

Caudill eventually found a way past Trost, who persistently tried to hold him off on the high side. Trost eventually fell behind Anders, then into the clutches of Tim Doyle (Atlantic) who attempted to get past on the inside, only to be forced to lift and fall back in line. The field began spreading out just as the caution waved on Lap 22: Pawelski had drifted wide off of Turn Two and slapped the outside wall. Just as the car started to spin down back into traffic, Pawelski yanked his steering wheel to the right, sending his car into a 360. Pawelski avoided collecting any of his competitors in his wreck, and everyone elected to pit under the resulting caution.

Norton and Traino made good restarts but were unable to break-away from the field; in fact, Caudill used the draft to swing by Traino on the outside. Behind them, Trost, attempted to follow Doyle below Anders, only to push-up and into Anders, sending Trost into a drift and Anders hard into the outside wall. Rob Unglenieks (Michigan) narrowly slipped through the wreck as ‘the sea parted before him.’ However, the incident did not result in a caution, enabling the front four to make a break-away.

Sim Racing

The sea parts for “Moses” Unglenieks.

Meanwhile, Caudill continued to use the draft to slingshot past Norton for the lead. Doyle followed suit in a bid for second, only to be thwarted as Norton attempted to reclaim the lead on the outside. Caudill finally cleared Norton, only for Norton to immediately dive below him and take the lead entering Turn Three.

Further back in the field, Trost, had fallen to eighth with a broken right front wing, and a damaged right-rear wheel guard. Trost struggled to keep up but fell behind Marneef and Terry Matthiensen (California). Marneef used Trost’s wounded DW12 to his advantage and drove by Matthiensen. Trost attempted to pass Matthiensen as well but, instead, made contact with the Californian. This time, everyone escaped any major damage as Trost drove away from Matthiensen who fell back into the clutches of Branch.  When Branch attempted to make a move on the high line in the tri-oval, he just barely hooked Matthiensen into the outside wall. Both sim-racers took a wild ride before finally coming to a stop in their mangled DW12s as the caution waved. Once again everyone elected to pit.

Sim Racing

Matthiensen and Branch pound the SAFER barrier.

Caudill gapped Norton by several car-lengths on the ensuing restar, only for Norton to draft and easily draft past into the lead. Caudill crossed Norton back over to retake the lead a lap later. Norton repeated the move on Caudill but, before the battle could truly be decided, the caution waved as Trost got into the back of Stefan Remedy (Canada). The impact sent Remedy spinning, while Adam Dock (Texas) barely snuck through without a scratch. Remedy spun up the track and squeezed Trost into the outside wall. Trost limped back to pit road before finally parking his car for the remainder of the race. Caudill and Traino pitted as the rest of the field stayed on track.

Norton and Doyle made excellent restarts to temporarily pull clear of  Marneef. In their wake, Doyle attempted to pass Norton on the outside to no avail. Norton repeatedly cleared Doyle, only for Doyle to attempt the same move again and again and again . . . ten times in fact, before falling back in line, giving Marneef his chance. Marneef was unable to make the move low, but finally passed Doyle as he pushed up the track behind Norton. Marneef quickly closed in on Norton and jumped by for the lead. Norton crossed over to re-take the lead a lap later only for Marneef to reclaim the lead again a lap later on Lap 70 . . . and never look back.

Sim Racing

Dock (7) somehow avoided Trost and a spinning Remedy (9).

Back in the pack, Traino finally started to move back up through the field, passing Caudill for sixth on Lap 75 and Unglenieks for fifth a lap later. Next Traino set his sights on Doyle, slowly reeling him in.  He attempted to pass Doyle on the low side to no avail, but easily swept by after trying the high side and crossing Doyle over for fourth in what would be the final significant overtake of the race.

Marneef won the 4347 Strength of Field, a new all-time record for the IndyCar Open Oval Series, by 3.675s over Norton and earned 270 points for his win. Traino finished third from Doyle with Unglenieks completing the top five. Marneef was the hard charger of the race, coming from thirteenth to take the win. Anders had the tough break of the race, ending up fifteenth and last, after starting third.

A total of 17 sim-racers took a trip to victory lane during the week in virtual Vegas. Five different sim-racers won a week-high two races each before the series packed up in “Sin City” for a trip across the digital Pacific to the “Land of the Rising Sun” and Twin Ring Motegi.

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