Editor’s note: James Falcon Pratt will be contributing a regular series of articles on the 2015 NASCAR iRacing Series to iRacingNews. Like 99.9% of his fellow iRacers, Pratt is not an immediate threat to knock the likes of Matt Bussa, Patrick Crabtree or, for that matter, Michael Conti, Tyler Hudson and Ray Alfalla off their pedestals, but will offer his take on the Open and Fixed series from the perspective of Division 4.
The 2015 NASCAR iRacing Series season opens with the running of the Daytona 500 this week. Divisions have not been set as of this time; rather, they will be setup sometime this week just before the first Open race on the 18th. If the system works as it has in the past the division you are placed in will be done by iRacing on the day the divisions are set and they may not match the division you are already set into for the presently running 2015 Season 1. This is as it should be, start the NASCAR iRacing Series where you are at the very start of the 2015 season.
I have done a lot of solo testing and, unlike laps turned with other cars all around, you can test with 100% tape on the car and run a full fuel run without overheating. After testing with 80% and 60% tape I have decided that I will most likely start the race with the 60% setting. You could start the race with 100%, but when you make your first pit stop the system will not let you leave the pits with more the 80%. This is not known to everyone, so it is possible some will get stuck in the pits, but most guys have learned this hitch. I plan only to kick it up to the 80% level if we are spread out around the track when the final pit stops start taking place.
This is a week I just could not wait for. As I am not the best setup builder, the Open should be interesting. My setup is one offered to me by someone else and it is much faster that I could obtain from the setup I ran last season. In the first season, 2013, we only had the Fixed series and I came home third. That season the series did not run the Daytona 500, the first races of the real world season. My finish was in the Daytona race run later in the season. In 2014 my finishes at this track were 11th and seventh in the two Fixed races. The Open races were less impressive with a 17th and 16th place finish. This makes my average finish on this track a 10.8, not one of my top 12 average finish tracks from this series.
This season the plan is to drop back and try to find a very small group to run with. If I can find a group of say five or six cars that would be very good. Let the top two push and set the pace for us and fill in if needed should someone get hot. There will be those up front that will push from the start as if it was the last 10 laps, there always are. Those drivers will be part of the first caution. As a result of dropping back from the lead pack I hope to be there at the end.
Why this style? Well that is easy. Of the five finishes to date (third, 11th, seventh, 17th and 16th) I only finished all the laps in two of the five races. Those were the third and seventh place finishes. The key to Daytona is clearly staying out of the carnage and making it to the end.
This season I will be running with my Fuel Mileage Guru in the pits (Software Guy). The plan will be to get word from him regarding the point in the race that will let me short pit ASAP and still make it to the end. With the expectation of the proverbial late yellow this should provide the wave-by if needed or the ability to stay out and take the poll when the yellow flies. With his help I plan to be there at the end and have a shot at my first Daytona 500 win.