Bristol Motor Speedway is regarded as the fastest half mile in the world of motorsports; it is also home to some of the greatest racing in the world. After acquiring the facility in 1996, Speedway Motorsports Inc. turned Bristol into a virtual coliseum of motorsports, one with permanent seating for 165,000 fans. More recently there has been an attempt to adjust the race track by adding progressive banking. This has eliminated the bottom line racing we used to so prominently enjoy as drivers attempted to get to the bottom of the track rather than defend the high line. With the progressive banking though, comes some benefit. Now drivers can run the high and bottom lines with almost equal speeds, providing some epic side-by-side racing.
One of the challenges the NASCAR iRacing.com Late Model Series drivers encountered at Bristol is being able to get a car that was fast enough in the opening laps without abusing the tires too much to make an attack at the end. Personally, I had a very good car on the long run but struggled to challenge the leader in the opening three laps, despite being faster at the end.
Week Three’s story comes from the 2827 Strength of Field race which saw championship contender Kevin J Myers take to the track. Myers started on the pole position and led until Lap 12 when he was involved in an incident and forced to have his car towed to the garage before being returning to the track. This allowed for Daniel Pope II to move into the top spot after starting second. With Myers out of the way Pope would glide to an easy victory, leading the final 58 laps, to capture 175 points, the week’s highest point’s race. In second just over two and a half seconds behind finished John Peters after starting from the ninth position. After an impressive climb Peters only collected some minor damage from hitting the wall. Colin Allman finished third after wrestling with Patrick Farrell3 who finished fourth and Dale Shaw who finished fifth. The trio finished eighth seconds behind the leader all separated by less than a car length from each other. Mike Rainville was the final driver to finish on the lead lap, 14.8 seconds behind our race winner.
In seventh place and the only sim-racer a single lap down was a lonely Kees Jochems, as Shawn Pierce followed in eighth two laps down and then Chris Wonnacott three laps down in ninth spot. Myers did not finish the race and parked it with 37 laps remaining. Jason Freeman gained a few positions after nursing a crippled car to the line. However, Brian Kolb, Bobby Timmons, and Jon Watson all had the same idea and packed their cars onto the haulers a bit early.
As the circuit returns to Lanier under the lights for Week Four, Nick Zautner sits atop the standings with 741 points to Heath Smith’s 724 points. In third lies Nathan Hammock (675) followed by Kris Marlow in fourth (654) and Daniel Mabry (647) in fifth. Kevin J Myers (633) is sixth with Peter Fisher (604) holding seventh. Colin Allman (589) is eighth followed by Josh Skroupa (556) and reigning championship winner Kevin Burris (520) in tenth. It is important to note that Burris is scored a week behind as he did not participate at Bristol. Other drivers in a similar situation are Chad Detillier, Robert ONeal, and Brandon Atkinson as well as Justin Wariner, Cody Dusty, and Andrew Simmons who are all within the top 25 in points.
As we look towards Lanier National Speedway, drivers will need to adapt to the new track conditions, as the races have traditionally been run under the sun rather than the lights. The cars should be a little bit faster, as the cooler temperatures enable the light engines to generate more horsepower than previously, but it remains to be seen what affect the lower temperatures and higher horsepower will have on chassis setup.
Check back next week for a full report.