With the first seven weeks of the NASCAR iRacing Class A Fixed Series taking place on what many consider NASCAR’s forte—ovals, hundreds of sim racers from all across the world made at least one start during the week on a not so cliché NASCAR speedway. Sonoma Raceway played virtual host for Week Eight of the series which saw many names near the top of the leaderboard that are not immediately recognizable in the oval racing community.
If you’ve joined iRacing in the past two years or so, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen this week’s top strength of field winner in an online event with you. Between both oval and road racing, this week’s winner has only competed in 31 events since the end of the 2012 season. Jim Shedlick (Carolina) masterfully wheeled his No. 2 Chevrolet SS into Sonoma Raceway’s victory lane after starting from the pole position and leading all 15 of the event’s laps en route to a 15.979 second margin of victory. The second place driver, Ricardo Goncalves Silva (Brazil), started from the second position in the No. 6 Toyota Camry and was able to finish off the event with only one incident point to his name—a great feat all in its own. The final spot on the podium went to Texas Club member Paul McCullough who started from the sixth position and went on to finish third in the No. 4 Toyota Camry. The final two spots in the top five were occupied by Kevin Shelton2 (Indiana) and Matthew Kingsbury (Mid-South) who started from the third and fourth spots, respectively. The 3077 strength of field saw no lead changes and no cautions under partly cloudy skies.
By earning the victory in the week’s top strength of field event, Shedlick was able to accumulate the most championship points for the week with 181. The second place driver for the week was top notch sim racer, Kenneth O’Keefe (Canada). O’Keefe is known around the iRacing community as both a very talented oval and road racer and he did not disappoint as he was able to earn 178 points for his victory during the week. One of the best sim racers in all the world once again showed why he is often put in the same category with the best of the best. Aleksi Elomaa (Finland) started an incredible 17 events during the week, but what makes that number so much more incredible is that he was able to go to victory lane in all 17 events. Leading all but two laps during the week, Elomaa masterfully handled the ten-turn course, which resulted in the addition of 175 points to his season total. The remaining positions in the top five were filled by Drake Alvarado (California) and NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series competitor Michael Conti (New Jersey). The two drivers earned 170 and 167 championship points for their efforts during the seven days of online racing.
To go along with his 17 victories during the week, Elomaa also started from the pole position in each of those victories. As to be expected, Elomaa held the top spot in qualifying for the week with a time of 1:12.775 around the 1.99-mile road course. The second place qualifier is a frequent contender for victory in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, so it should not be a shock that Conti was able to place his car in the second position overall with a time of 1:13.026. The third spot on the qualifying chart was filled by Tomoki Konno (Asia) who was just nine thousandths of a second slower than Conti for the second spot with a time of 1:13.035. The remainder of the top five was filled by Joshua Chin (Florida) and Madison Down (Australia/NZ).
With Week Eight now in the past, the NASCAR iRacing Class A Fixed Series heads back to a race track that is more familiar to most of the drivers in the series—Kentucky Speedway. Unlike Sonoma, Kentucky is a more traditional oval, on the outside looking in, at least, but don’t let the stereotype fool you. Kentucky is one of the most difficult tracks on the NASCAR circuit due to the bumps and dips you will find racing around the 1.5-mile speedway located in Sparta, Kentucky. Make sure to check back next week for a full recap of the action from the Bluegrass State.