Nick Ottinger of Gale Force Racing scored his first victory of the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a tense late-race battle with Slip Angle Motorsports’ Ray Alfalla and The TEAM’s Kenny Humpe.
The race came down to a restart with three laps to go with Humpe in the lead, Alfalla alongside and Ottinger behind in third. The race looked like it would go to whoever on the front row restarted the best but that all changed when Humpe and Alfalla made contact coming off Turn Two after the green. The contact sent Alfalla into a slide and while the two-time series champion made a wonderful save, the loss of momentum put him out of contention for the win. When Alfalla was sliding Ottinger got by him on the bottom groove and set his sights on Humpe.
Humpe, the winner of half the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze races so far in 2015, seemed unlikely to make a mistake but that is exactly what happened as Ottinger pressured him into Turn Three. Humpe drove in a bit too hard, developed a push, and had to lift-off the throttle which gave Ottinger an opening to attack. With the inside groove the preferred line at Indy, Ottinger easily completed the pass and pulled away to win by half a second.
“This GFR team deserves this win as much as the 05 team,” said Ottinger after the victory. “They deserve so much credit to me being back up running near the front again.”
Allen Boes (Fast Lane Motorsports) finished runner-up as Humpe faded to third, while Danny Hansen (Drill Isle) came from forty-second on the grid to finish an impressive fourth and Thomas Davis rounded out the top five.
Early in the evening Alfalla appeard to have the car to beat after starting on pole. During the first run he comfortably led without much of a challenge from Ottinger, who ran in second. He briefly lost the lead to Corey Vincent (Premere Motorsports Group) who decided to stay out during the first caution on Lap 24 as he had already short-pitted a few laps earlier. On the restart Alfalla used the fresh tires to his advantage and quickly regained control of the race and began to distance himself from the new second place driver PJ Stergios (Last Row Motorsports).
As often happens in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, cautions breed cautions near the conclusion of the race. All was going smoothly for Alfalla when the second yellow flew on Lap 61, right outside of the fuel window. During this round of pit stops Alfalla lost the lead to Humpe which proved decisive in the outcome of the race. Several drivers near the back decided to play strategy and top-off the lap before the restart in hopes of saving enough fuel to make it to the finish if the race stayed green. The rest of the field would have to hope for enough yellows.
Fortunately for those who chose to stay out and stretch their fuel, five cautions in the last 35 laps allowed for plenty of conservation and took fuel mileage completely out of the equation.
With his third place effort Humpe stretched his huge lead in the standings to 110 points over Alfalla with five races left in the season. Despite slipping to a seventh place finish at Indianapolis, Alfalla now holds a comfortable 40 point advantage over Chris Overland, who found trouble at The Brickyard and finished nineteenth. Stergios and Bryan Blackford round-out the top five ahead of Chad Laughton, who was a no-show for Indy.
The next race sees the sim racers turn right and left as the series visits Watkins Glen International for the only road course of the 16 race schedule. Both Humpe and Alfalla have shown they’re no slouches at the road courses but all eyes will be on Ottinger and defending series champion Michael Conti after their fight to the finish in last year’s event. Can Humpe win his sixth of the season or can Conti salvage a disappointing 2015 with a victory? Find out in two weeks’ time on iRacingLive and MRN.com!