September 28th, 2013 by JaimeB
It has been some time since we last checked in to the fastest short-track racing series that iRacing.com has to offer. While the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series is currently racing through their Week 9 races, there were plenty of memorable moments to go around in the previous weeks. A return to the top from a past iSCS champion, an absence from a front runner, tight battles for division championships, and the return of the King (of iRacing sprints) are just a few stories from Weeks 4 through 6. In this week’s iSCS recap, inRacingNews takes a look back at how the race for the 2013 Season 3 title has evolved.
After an exciting trip to Bristol for Week 3, the iSCS set their sights on the popular Lanier National Speedway for Week 4. Always a populated track, a total of 30 cars qualified for the week’s 50-lap features, with Matthew Pilus at the top of the qualifying charts with his time of 12.562s. Just four one-thousandths of a second behind him was Vinnie Sansone, who had already proved he had upped his ante for another championship. Four time slots went official during the week, and of the five races that were run, there was only one repeat winner. The famous orange-and-blue colors of Sansone’s sprint visited victory lane twice during the week, capturing the highest SOF-rated races on Tuesday and Thursday, besting not only the Linder brothers but series veteran Fred Lampela as well. Lampela had a close call in Thursday’s event, as he spun by himself on Lap 12 but was able to save it and battle his way back to a second-place finish. Just a day before, Lampela took the checkered flag in Wednesday’s feature beating World of Outlaws driver Cap Henry to the line by 2 seconds. Steve Linder also racked up a good points night on Monday when he won the first race of the week, even after receiving minimal damage from hard racing with Nicholas Howard at the beginning of the race. Many familiar faces earned top 5 finishes during the week, including the likes of Ronald Williams, David Cumbo Jr., John Battista, Coon Landry, and James Wenzel. Eyes were also on Thursday’s second split race, where Justin Bankowski won the caution-free feature, with Edwin Jones and Michael Pares Jr. completing the podium.
The iSCS rolled into America’s Legendary Oval, the Milwaukee Mile, for Week 5. After not visiting this track for a couple of seasons, some drivers found some difficulty reintroducing themselves to the track’s characteristics and surface. One driver not in this category was Alan Binder, who made his dramatic return to the series after missing the first four weeks of the season. The eight-time iSCS champion was not only the fastest qualifier of the week (with a time of 26.857s), but he also completed a sweep of the week by winning all of the races he entered, which was four of the five races that went official during the week. While Binder reissued his trademark brand of domination to the series once more, other highlights were seen during the stay at Milwaukee. Coon Landry scored two runner-up positions, making Week 5 one of his best weeks of his season so far. If finishing behind Binder wasn’t highlight enough, on Wednesday’s event, Landry also finished ahead of “celebrity” guests Ryan and Tyler Truex, who finished third and fifth place respectively. Ryan Steele, Marcus Dean, and Pro/WC racer PJ Stergios were also seen on the podium during the week. Thursday’s top split feature was broadcasted by ETV Live!, and can be viewed on YouTube.
The only race that Binder couldn’t compete in was the second split event on Thursday, which saw Scott Kelly visit victory lane for the fourth time this season after leading all 40 laps of the race. Although Kelly put a 6-second distance between himself and the rest of the field during a long green flag duration, a late caution bunched the field back up again, giving drivers one more shot for the win. Chet Wheeler Jr. and Denny Clark finished second and third respectively, less than a second behind Kelly at the finish line.
In what is arguably the best multi-groove oval on the iRacing service, Iowa Speedway was the host of Week 6 festivities. With Binder back in contention, this meant qualifiers had to up their game even more to get a top grid position, especially in the top split events. Binder did score the fastest time of the week, with a 21.468s fast lap – almost a full tenth faster than the outside-pole qualifier, Steve Linder. In the first event of the week, Monday saw a caution-free race featuring not just the King of the iRacing sprints at the top of the leaderboard, but USAC star Christopher Bell keeping pace with Binder the best he could. When the checkers flew, Binder took his first win of the week, over 8 seconds ahead of Bell. Ronald Williams completed the podium in third, with Marcus Dean and Edwin Jones rounding out the top five respectively.
Tuesday also showcased a strong repeat performance by Binder as he beat a handful of skilled participants. On Lap 17, a nasty collision occurred when James Wenzel snapped loose and hit the wall, veering across the track in front of traffic. Randall Faulks was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he hit Wenzel’s car and sent it flying across the infield. The field, bunched up once more, got the lone restart of the night and blasted off to the finale. Capturing his second win of the week, Binder finished ahead of PJ Stergios, Sansone, Steve Linder, and Joe Quinn, respectively. Sansone and Linder recovered on Wednesday, as they raced hard for the lead for most of the feature, with Sansone crowned the victor after the checkers, edging Linder by .473s. Nicholas Howard scored a podium finish in third, with Coon Landry and Denny Clark completing the top five respectively.
The highest SOF of Week 6 was shown on Thursday, as 14 cars took to the banks of Iowa once more. Only one caution displayed in the 50 laps run for an incident involving teammates Scott Kelly and Leila Wilson, with neither car receiving anything more than overheated tires. After the laps winded down, Binder again crossed the finish line first, his third consecutive win for the week. Sansone came in second, still making a strong charge for the championship with his points total for the week. Steve Linder came in third, and behind him were Coon Landry and Ryan Steele, who had a close battle for position in the latter stages of the event. The replay of the top split event on Thursday, broadcasted by ETV Live!, can be viewed on YouTube. In the second split, Jon Watson took the win after capitalizing on an incident involving the leader, Joe Martinez. Edwin Jones and Shawn Russell completed the podium respectively.
The action wasn’t over at Iowa, however, as one last race was run on Friday. Without a doubt, racers and spectators alike were on the edge of their seats as an incredible battle for the lead took place between Coon Landry, Leila Wilson, and Nicholas Howard. During the dueling session, Howard tagged the wall, causing enough damage on his sprint that he would have to drop back four positions, watching his chance for the win disappear. It was between Landry and Wilson, and at the finish line, Landry was proven to be the fastest, finishing one second ahead of Wilson. Marcus Dean finished third, and Joe Martinez erased his memories of Thursday’s performance with a fourth place run. Howard completed the top five. Wilson’s replay of the race can be seen on her YouTube channel.
In the next iSCS recap, the third quarter of the season is analyzed, as the sprints head to three more faved short tracks: Irwindale, Phoenix, and Langley. Will Binder continue his march back up to the top? Will Sansone be able to hold him off to score his third championship after an 8 season drought? Find out next time on inRacingNews!