Week 3 of the iRacing.com Street Stocks Series headed to one of the oldest paved tracks remaining in the USA, namely Thompson International Speedway. Again it was good to see newcomers to the series this week boosting the field to 15 cars for this race.
The grid saw Andrew Simmons take pole position by three hundredths of a second, with Tim Standaert starting second followed by Derek Colson, the last sim-racer to set a qualifying lap — which meant the rest of the field would be sorted by iRatings.
The online race got off to a clean start with everyone making it through Turn One in one piece, Simmons taking the early lead from Standaert with these two looking to be the pace sitters for this event.
Near the back of the field a great battle developed between Joe Martin and Robert Land 10th position, with Mike Smith and Doug F Turner trying to close on the leading pack. Up front, meanwhile, Simmons pulling away from the trailing pack that was now headed by Colson, who got around Standaert, with David Fields and Jeff Kendrick in attendance.
Lap 10 saw the race’s first caution after Smith spun entering Turn One. The caution gave the field a chance to catch Simmons, who had pulled a three second gap on Colson while, further down the order, “outsider” Adrian Fryer moved into the top 10 at the expense of Smith. The first of the lapped cars, Martin got the Lucky Dog and was able to go round and rejoin the back of the field.
On the restart everyone got away safely with Simmons opening up another early gap again even as second place changed hands again with Standaert moving ahead of Colson and some great driving by Fields enabled him to get around the slower car of Lauritz Hansen.
Fryer got it all wrong exiting Turn Two, heading to the grass before coming back across the track to catch the trailing car of Martin, leaving him with plenty of damage to repair in order to get the car back on track. While all this was happening Smith managed to turn himself around going into Turn Three, before heading down the pit lane.
This brought out the second caution of a race of rapidly diminishing numbers as competitors couldn’t repair their damage and had to park it.
The restart saw Simmons jump to a early lead (again), getting away from a great battle between Standaert and Colson for the second spot. Further back, Fields, Hansen, Craig Turner and Martin continued their fight for the final top five spots.
At the halfway mark, the field had spread-out single file with Simmons leading the way from Colson and Standaert. Half a lap down the pack that was fighting for top five had become two cars running a second apart from each other, settling for position and championship points.
Lap 36 and the third caution of the day saw J.Martin spinning himself ‘round on the exit of Turn Two, luckily keeping off the inside wall and away from oncoming traffic. Nevertheless, the incident sparked the third caution of the race and grouped the field after Simmons had extended his lead to five seconds.
When the green flag waved again, Colson and Standaert both made great starts to try and maintain contact with Simmons, while Fields, Hansen and Turner resumed their fight for them top five and vital championship points.
Going into Turn Three one Martin didn’t see the slowing car of another Martin (J.Martin) and sent them both into the wall but somehow managing to avoid causing another caution. However, the resulting damage put an end to Martin’s race, while J.Martin brought it down pit lane where his team did a fantastic job to get the car back out in competition.
Simmons was now into lapped traffic which, thankfully, gave him plenty of room to go round the outside. As before, Colson and Standaert couldn’t match the leader’s pace and continued dropping back each and every lap. Fields and Kendrick were still having a close battle P4 that gave the others a chance to catch them.
The fourth caution of the day came when Land and Thompson spun on the high banking but managed to stay clear from passing traffic.
The resulting restart produced a familiar tale as Simmons (yet again) quickly gapped Colson and Standaert with the rest of the pack keeping it steady – all but Land, that is, who spun in Turn One and retired from the race.
At the white flags Simmons seemed to have the race in the bag, regardless of any thoughts Colson, Standaert, Hansen, Kendrick and Fields may have entertained about a last lap miracle. And in fact Simmons managed to hold these charges off to take the win and boost himself into P6 in the championship.