October 22nd, 2017 by Richard J. Clarkson
In last Friday night’s 11:15 p.m. running of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series race powered by iRacing at the simulated Talladega Superspeedway, Rex Nelson outlasted the competition (SOF 2395) and took home his 172nd career oval victory.
Nelson’s NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet started fourth. But by lap five, working with his early-race drafting partner, Donald Sadusky, Nelson, the Peach State driver, had already managed to get his bowtie to the front of the field and let it sniff the clean air.
Out front is the perfect place to be to miss the big one.
On lap five—the terrorizer of twisted simulated sheet metal, the colossal carnage curator of busted V8 engines, the sultan of sending spinning race machines to their deaths—the big one, unfurled itself.
Nelson held the point. Sadusky pushed, exiting Four. The race for third on back was a three-abreast bump-drafting high-speed mechanical dance battle. But someone missed a step.
As the 2.66-mile track’s banking faded away, exiting the corner, the row of trucks in the middle lane, led by Roy Hyde, got squirrely. Jack Ritchie, the driver tucked up tightly behind the tailgate of Hyde’s truck, had, in hopes of pushing the middle line to the lead, given Hyde’s truck a shot.
But the bump-drafting maneuver didn’t work.
Hyde lost it. His green-and-grey, pink-numbered race truck jumped to the left, out of control, careening across the nose of pole sitter, Adam Lecy’s truck, the third race machine on the inside line. Hyde’s Silverado had also simultaneously clipped the right rear of the second place runner’s truck, and Nelson’s drafting partner, Sadusky. Chaos bred.
Sadusky’s Chevy turned sideways and bolted up the track, blocking the racing surface for Dustin Harris, Korey Inglin, and Zach Duncan. Sadusky’s bowtie slammed into the side of Ritchie’s; Ritchie’s truck then pinned Chris Kuchta’s Chicago Blackhawks Toyota Tundra to the outside SAFER Barrier.
Eleven competitors suffered damage in the incident.
One of those was From A Dig Motorsports’s driver, Scott Smith6. “Hellfire,” he said, after the race, sitting inside the make-believe media center, “that’un there at the beginnin’ was’uh close’n! Hell, I’z just all calm and stuff, ya know, The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy out for a sunny afternoon cruise, right outside the top-ten, everything goin’tuh plan, waitin’tuh unleash my sneak attack, when, all of’uh sudden… smoke. Yeah, I saw smoke and the white tailgate in front of me check-up real hard like. So, I mashed the binders and steered away from that black truck that was’uh comin’ back down the racetrack. Easy peasy, know what I mean, Vern? Open track… I had plenty of it. Then that durn four truck looped it. Right in front of me! Tore up my left front somethin’ fierce, man. I hate the stupid Blackhawks… Go Pens!”
After servicing The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy under both of the race’s cautions, the From A Dig Motorsports pit crew had managed to get their driver back in contention.
With seven laps to go, Smith6 found himself in the second position. His black-and-white bowtie glued to the back of Michael Kearns’s machine. As the trucks roared down the back straightaway, JC Bowman’s Kelly Blue Book bowtie closed in on Smith6 and The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy.
Entering Three, Bowman tried to give Smith6 a shove. But the timing was off: Bowman bump-drafted Smith6 as the Floridian was turning into the corner: alignment skewed. Spin.
Smith6’s Chevrolet skittered and danced about on the apron, but the veteran sim-racer kept his truck off the wall and out of harm’s way; however, From A Dig Motorsports’s race stead had lost the lead draft.
After contact between Kearns and Michael Eplee on lap 26, resulting in Eplee’s truck smashing into the inside wall, Kearns deftly maneuvering his speeding truck down pit lane, the race was now up for grabs between four drivers.
On the final lap, as the tailgate quartet exited the tri-oval, Rusty Robison sensed the time was right and pulled out of line, challenging Nelson for the win on the high side. But the Mid-South driver didn’t have any help. Robison finished second, Bowman came home in third, and Mike Owens finished fourth. Andrew Schmier rounded out the top-five.
Gary Wells Jr. grabbed the sixth position, followed by Hyde, Smith6, and Brian Miskell Jr. in ninth; Ritchie closed out the top-ten.
After their late-race side draft moment of miscue, Eplee finished 12th, Kearns right behind in 13th.
From starting on pole to finishing 18th, this week’s Jack Links Tough Luck of the Race Award goes to Lecy.
Sadusky finished 21st. Kuchta finished 22nd, dead last.