The Red Sox Racing League began Season Two of 2012 at the Daytona International Speedway’s road course.  Despite giving considerable thought to using the recently released Cadillac as the Class B vehicle, league officials decided to stick with the Corvette C6R for this season.  “We may switch to the Cadillac for Season Three, or add a third class if we can build both fields”, said Jeff Thomas before the race began.  “But we needed a little more time to hammer out the fixed setups and did not want to rush into this season with a car that wasn’t fully tested.”

The “RUF Automobile Presents 24 Laps of Daytona” was billed as a 24 lap race of endurance.  With eight new drivers hitting the track as members of the RSR league, it also had the potential to be a test of patience.  Pre-race testing sessions proved valuable as several drivers were able to adjust to several changes made to the HPD in iRacing’s recent update.  Less aero, increased low end torque, reduced braking performance and higher top end speed means the car has to be driven less aggressively this season.

Les Turner’s qualifying lap time of 1:35.948 just edged out Brad Vincent’s 1:35.972 to earn the defending league champion the pole.  John Koscielniak (3rd), Terry Daul (4th), Andrew Gantman (5th), and David Weiss (6th) all posted 1:36+ laps times.  Bill Hadden (7th), Ed Sutcliff (8th), Andrew Feldman (9th), Wilburn Gildersleeve Jr. (10th), Jeff Sharp (11th), David Berry (12th), Joshua Friedrichs (13th), Kevin Kyle (14th), Divina Galica (15th), and Gary Jorgensen (16th) rounded out the starting grid for the HPD Class.

Reed Rundell earned the pole in the Class B field with a lap time of 1:40.469.  Dean Moll led the outside of row two with a time of 1:40.594.  Patrick Guerin (3rd), Corey Hastings (4th), Scott Husted (5th), Casey Carpentiere (6th), Jeff Thomas (7th), Tommy Rhyne (8th), and Greg Harris (9th), completed the Corvette grid.

The problem of accidents caused by rapidly accelerating Corvettes hitting the rear of the slower starting HPD field reared its ugly head in several races during the Season One calendar, yet despite extensive off season discussions about how to prevent green flag incidents between the two classes, league officials gambled by not implementing new rules to force a gap between HPD’s and C6R’s during the pace lap at Daytona.  The gamble didn’t pay off as three cars suffered heavy damage when the lead Corvettes attempted to overtake the tail end of the HPD field in Turn One at the start of the race.

Most of the HPD field got a clean start and managed to avoid the mess caused when Rundell’s Corvette slammed into the rear of Jorgensen’s HPD at the entry of Turn One.  The contact turned Jorgensen hard to the right and into the side of Moll’s Corvette.  Jorgensen and Moll both slid off course and came to a stop while the rest of the field drove past.  Drivers are normally concentrating hard for the entry of Turn One, but the high speed corner proved to be the downfall of many drivers as seven different incidents were recorded there during the race.

The rest of the field settled into a nice rhythm on Lap One, and Gantman was sitting comfortably in fifth place when he self-spun in the Bus Stop on the back stretch on Lap Two.  Everyone else avoided his car, so Gantman rejoined the hunt with only his pride hurting from the incident.  Kyle was the next to succumb to aggressive driving when he spun exiting Turn One on Lap Three.  He tapped the inside wall, but was able to continue racing.

Having survived the Turn One incident on the start, Moll was in 23rd place when he destroyed his car on Lap Three.  The incident began when Moll’s car lost grip as he drove over the infield grass exiting the Bus Stop.  Unable to stop his forward momentum, Moll held on for a wild ride as his car slammed hard enough into the outside wall to lift all four wheels completely off the ground.  Amazingly, no one else was collected in the incident and Moll was able to walk away from the accident without injury.

Lap four saw Hadden overshoot the entry of Turn Five and give up 6th position as his car lightly tapped the tire barrier.  Jorgensen’s race ended a lap later when he failed to negotiate the exit of Turn One.  The resulting spin and hard contact with the infield wall took the front end off his car.

Things calmed down a bit for several laps before Friedrichs executed a beautiful 360 spin in Turn Three of Lap Nine.  Jeff Sharp came barreling through the corner as Friedrichs’ car was facing the wrong direction on the track, but neither driver panicked and both escaped without contact.

Kyle had a race full of mishaps, but looked like he might make it to the finish line before a final error on Lap Twenty-Three totaled his car.  Weiss had a great view of the accident and for a brief moment, looked as though he might have to drive under Kyle’s airborne car while it was flipping through the air.

In yet another demonstration of why the RSR league is considered one of the cleanest group of online drivers, there were only 64 incident points during the 519 laps completed by the 24 drivers who started the race.  Most of those were 1-off incidents which did not involve accidents.  Koscielniak, Daul, Sutcliff, Sharp, Galica, and Hastings earned bonus points for completing the race without incident.

Class A results:

Turner led the first four laps of the race before giving way to Vincent.  Vincent almost gave the lead back when he overshot the entry of Turn One on Lap Twelve, but Turner gave him room to rejoin the track and didn’t force the issue as their cars gathered speed for Turns Two and Three.

Turner hounded Vincent up until the pit cycle, but tagged the pit wall on exit. There was no visible damage but the 01 TeamDraft Batmobile lost 6 mph out on the banking, ending his chances to catch Vincent who slowly pulled away and went on to a 10 second margin of victory. Koscielniak was 26 seconds back when he crossed the line for third place.  Daul and Weiss rounded out the top five spots.

Berry (6th), Sutcliff (7th), Friedrichs (8th), Sharp (9th), Gantman (10th), Feldman (11th), Hadden (12th), Galica (13th), Kyle (14th), and Jorgensen (15th) completed the HPD scoring. Gildersleeve Jr. practiced and qualified 10th for the event but did not start the race.
 
Vincent, Koscielniak, Turner, Daul, and Weiss hold the top five spots in the Class A Championship.

Class B results:

Rundell’s lap one incident ruined his chances for a podium finish and allowed Hastings and Guerin to battle for the top spot.  Hastings held the early lead before giving way to Guerin on Lap Eight.  Guerin (83), and Hastings (86), battled hard for the C6R class lead and pitted together on Lap Fourteen.  A costly error by Hastings missing his pit stall forced the driver to come back down pit road for service the next lap.  The mistake ended any chance he had of challenging for the win. Guerin went on to take the checkers and earn his first RSR victory.

Hastings held on for second place in his first RSR start.  His incident free race also earned Hastings a bonus point which gave him a one point lead in the C6R championship after one event.

Rhyne finished third, while Husted (4th) and Thomas (5th) rounded out the top five.  Carpentiere (6th), Rundell (7th), Harris (8th), and Moll (9th) completed the Corvette scoring.

Hastings, Guerin, Rhyne, Husted, and Thomas hold the top five spots in the Class B Championship.

Next Race:

League members travel to Virginia for the “The Virginian 30 at VIR” on May 17, 2012

Race Results:
http://rsr.ileaguerace.com/champ/show_event_result/Red-Sox-Racing-League/1544

League Standings:
http://rsr.ileaguerace.com/champ/show_champ/Red-Sox-Racing-League/285

League Video Site:
http://www.youtube.com/user/draftin11

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