Week 18 saw a return to Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR iRacing Series with drivers coming into the week with more experience than they previously had at our last visit to Daytona back in Week 1: better understanding of the car, as well as how to set up the Gen-6 for bump-drafting around its 31-degree banked corners. Logan Sheets set the fastest qualifying time of the week (44.874s) – although having the pole doesn’t have the effect that it does at the other style of tracks the NASCAR iRacing Series uses.
In the Open Series, Kyle McCormick took advantage of a 6090 SoF race to score the most points of the three races that took place at Daytona. The win, coupled with a +102 iRating gain, surely made for a great day at the office for McCormick. Shane Dougherty was a close second just .2s behind McCormick – keeping the race close right until the finish! Patrick Crabtree scored 365 points to add to his fight for No.1 in the Standings. Casey Tucker won Race Two of the week by just .09s, showing his skill at super-speedways. Seth DeMerchant kept Tucker busy with such a small delta at the finish – once again making for a great online race. In the final race of the Open week, Nicholas Morse made-up four places from his fifth place starting spot to capture 363 points for winning at Daytona. The top three were separated by just .05s under the bright lights, making the last race was a thriller, with plenty of DWC drivers falling to the bottom of the field.
In the Fixed Series, iRacing Pro Series driver Brandon Chirburko got the best of the competition by scoring a win in the last race of the week – which also had the greatest SoF (5545). Chubirko narrowly held off runner-up Jason Karlavige with Steven Eszenyi just behind in P3 – and just .3s covering the top nine finishers. Eszenyi did manage to get a win in the first race of the week, but Chubirko’s high SoF win carried the most points. In the second race of the week, Connor Anton took his Gen-6 to Victory Lane – with a relatively big gap to second place finisher Gonzalo Romero of around .4s. Mike Johnson then edged-out Eszenyi in Race Three by just .014s – and gained a massive +115 iRating boost in the process!
Week 19 moved to New Hampshire Motor Speedway with the action carrying over from the previous week. NHMS has a very different driving style to Daytona since the circuit layout is a lot smaller – and much less banked! – leaving drivers with little time to adjust between the two tracks. In the Fixed Series, Justin Bolton came out on top by winning the first race of the week – which had the highest SoF attached to it. Bolton claimed 312 points from the 150 lap race, 28 of which he led. Matt Bussa led the most laps, but couldn’t parlay his advantage into victory. Jacob Harberts finished a close second – just .5s behind Bolton at the end.
The Saturday races (Rounds 2 and 3) witnessed a ‘Finnvasion’ with Jere Seppala taking Race 2 and Aleksi Elomaa leading 114 laps in Race 3 and finishing half a second clear of Tim Blum in P2. The final Fixed race of the week saw NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Ray Alfalla return to Victory Lane in the NASCAR iRacing Series, by beating Bussa by almost .8s after 150 laps completed. Race Four saw half of the total race distance run under caution, meaning strategy was important for success. Brandon Chubirko and Alex Warren filled-out an all ‘black stripe’ top four, with the closest A licence driver being John Reed in P5.
In the Open action at New Hampshire, Adam Gilliland stood tall above the rest, winning the 6170 SoF online race at the start of the week. Gilliland fought-off a hard charging Tyler Hill who finished second ahead with Michael Conti just .7s back in third. Gilliland scored 396 points for the win, pushing him right up the leaderboard! In the second race of the week, Kenny Humpe was dominant, starting from the pole and leading 127 tours of the 150 lap online race, securing the win by over 2.6s to Chad Laughton. Corey Vincent was just behind in third, only .1s behind Laughton as the two crossed the finish line inches apart. Shane Miller and Chris Overland were also close behind – in P4 and P5 respectively.
In the final race of the week, Humpe was once again the victor, with the delta to P2 slightly smaller – Humpe still seemed in control, taking fastest lap and leading 128 laps of the race. Ryan Lowe managed to get a good result with 332 points awarded to his second, with Matthew Nichols rounding out the podium finishers, with just .8s separating third place from the winner.
After a two weeks we revisit the scoreboard for both the Open and Fixed Series, counting the past weeks racing at New Hampshire. DXRacer’s Patrick Crabtree still leads the Open field on 5390 points, with Steven Eszenyi in second – only counting 18 weeks, meaning he could close up when the points even-out at the end of the season. Tucker moves up to P3 after success in both weeks, with Bolton just 19 points behind in fourth. Jordy Lopez Jr rounds out the top five on 5175 points.
The order of the Fixed Standings remains unchanged, with Dwayne Vincent leading Matt Bussa by just over 250 points. Bussa is a few weeks behind Vincent – but nonetheless being the No.1 driver in the Fixed Series still takes skill. Steven Gilbert is still in the third, 20 points back from Bussa, with Bolton holding the same place in both Fixed and Open in the NASCAR iRacing Series (P4). Kris Kelley fills out the Fixed top five.
Next week the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts Week 20 of the NASCAR iRacing Series as we get close to deciding who will make the jump up to the PRO licence in the Open Series – and the battle at the top of the Fixed Series carries on for another week! With the rescheduled iRacing Indy 500 taking place at the same track – this could draw other sim-racers into giving the Gen-6 a go at Indy, so we may see a boost in sim racing participation for Week 20! Check out iRacingNews next week for a round-up of all the action at IMS.