The iRacing Silver Crown Cup made a stop to the famed virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their version of the Freedom 100. The 40 lap sim-race on Thursday had as much- if not more action than the real Freedom 100 ran last Friday afternoon. A mere one caution flag flew, giving the sim-racers 36 laps of racing, and a chance to kiss the bricks. Thomas Wargula snagged the pole position, with Eric Aumont on his outside.
After the 22 car field roared onto the back straight the #9 car of Eric Aumont took the lead and began to stretch out his lead. After the first quarter of the race was complete, Eric had over a two second lead without the oh-so important draft that played a key role in the outcome of the sim-race. As Aumont continued to stretch his lead, the lead pack was very settled. All the drivers seemed to mind their business and were setting up their moves for the final sprint.
Ryan Steele lead pole sitter Thomas Wargula, followed by Michael Clement and Steven Hunter. What seemed to be a freight train of 3200 horsepower was no match to the 800 horsepower locomotive conducted by Aumont. Vinnie Sansone was leading the second brigade with Doug Berryman and Donald FitzGerald following close behind. His small train was reeling in the lead pack of Steele, Wargula, Clement, and Hunter, but was nowhere near the pace to reel-in Eric.
By Lap 14, Sansone’s pack had caught the pack of Clement and Hunter, and were looking to make a charge for Steele and Wargula. And thus, having a shot at catching the runaway Silver Crown of Eric Aumont. By Lap 17, Sansone was ahead of Michael and Steven, having his sights now set on something more than a top five. But on Lap 26, the race saw its only caution, when the slow ‘Crown of William Martz made contact with Robert Reynolds, sending both spinning and ending their races.
As the field took the green flag, only eight laps remained. Aumont would have one more fight on his hands to fend off the charging ‘Crowns of Sansone, Steele, and Wargula. As the field took the green, Aumont lead Steele and Wargula into Turn 1, with Sansone leading the 2-by-2 action behind the leaders. As the field screamed down the back straight, Ryan Steele gained tremendous momentum through Turn Two, giving him the shot he needed. By the time the pack reached Turn 3, Steele was already on Eric’s inside, making the move for the lead as he came to seven laps to go.
As the laps continued to count down, it became certain that it would be difficult to pass Steele’s ‘Crown. With five laps remaining, Aumont made a charge to Steele’s inside exiting Turn 4, leading to Ryan being shuffled back to third as Vinnie Sansone overtook second. On Lap 36, Sansone looked to the inside of Aumont, forcing him to the outside, and allowing Steele to slip through off of Turn Two. With drafting help from Eric, Steele was able to muscle his car to the inside of Sansone halfway down the back straightaway. Each driver took a deep breath sailing into Turn 3, knowing only one will emerge onto the front straight as the leader.
10 miles remained in the 100 mile sim race, and Ryan Steele was back in control of the lead pack. As Eric Aumont and Vinnie Sansone went side-by-side into Turn 1, that allowed Steele to increase his lead. As the field took the “Two fingers” from the flagman, indicating two to go, Aumont was all over Steele’s rear end, waiting for his moment to pounce. As the white flag waived, Eric looked to Ryan’s inside, only to become the meat in the Silver Crown sandwich, as Vinnie Sansone made a bold move to force three wide into Turn 1. Fortunately for Vinnie, the moved prevailed. It was now between Sansone and Steele, as they were dead even as they screamed out of Turn 2. Aumont was making a comeback from the Turn 1 incident, as he looked to the outside of Sansone. It was not effective, however, as Ryan Steele saved his best moves for last, and claimed the checkered flag and “Kissed the Bricks.”
Next week, the iRacing Silver Crown Cup heads west to Phoenix International Raceway for some hot and heated sim-racing action. Last season, Vinnie Sansone was the man to beat on short tracks. Will he continue his dominance?