Following a dramatic and frantic Week 1 at Phoenix, the iRacing Sprint Car Cup entered the virtual plains of Florida for a heated 50-lap sim race at the 3/4mi. USA International Speedway. After a dominant Week 1 performance, PJ Stergios carried the momentum east, as he started from pole position, followed by Ronald Williams and Ronnie Wuerderman.
The small grid of 13, 800+ HP machines soon took the green flag. As Stergios picked-up from last week, running away from the rest of the competitors, the battle for the top five spots was the focus for much of the sim race. As the field screamed out of Turn 2, Wuerderman used the inside line to his advantage, taking Williams down the back stretch. But as Wuerderman attempted to catch and pass the leader, he found himself repelling the counterattack from Williams in his #7 machine. Williams stayed glued to Wuerderman’s back bumper and took back second place back just two laps later. Williams then fell in line behind Stergios, and the top three remained unchanged for almost 25 laps.
The battle for the fifth position was heating up, however, with the #13 of Fritz Kletke the locomotive of a four car train. Lap 7 saw the #2 of Bobby Sandt Jr make a move on Kletke going into Turn One; a sweet move, at that, as Sandt was able to hold the car on the bottom with no sign of a wiggle or a “plow” up the track. As Sandt went low, Jerold John followed, both drivers sliding-up a position. The third car in line, Michael Clement, also attempted to cut down low to make the move . . . a tad too late. He made contact with the left-rear of Kletke’s sprint car, and was sent into the inside wall as a consequence. Miraculously, Clement was able to save his machine with minimal damage, and kept the iRacing Pace Car in pit lane.
The Pace Car would not be held back all night, though. While running fourth, Sandt made contact with the break in the outside wall on Lap 22, launching his car into the air and into the catch fence in Turn Three, causing the sim race’s first yellow flag.
The sim racing resumed in earnest on Lap 27, as Stergios led the field back to the green flag. Any hopes of a long, green flag run evaporated when Kletke lost control of his machine out of Turn Two, triggering the second of three cautions.
The race resumed on lap 40 and, a lap later, Daniel Muse’s #10 Hooters entry was on the receiving end of a tap from the #6 of Steven Mastro. That tap sent Muse spinning in Turn 4 in front of more than half a dozen competitors but, luckily, no other cars were collected in the accident.
With just frou laps remaining, Stergios led the field to the final restart. Since the Sprint Car Cup features single-file restarts, all PJ had to do to make it back-to-back was to hold off a group of hard-charging sim racers for three miles, a group including one Michael Clement, who was able to race his way back to second place after his Lap Seven.
As the pace car pulled into pit lane one last time, Stergios needed every bit of grip out of his rear tires to ensure a fast, clean restart, and not allow Clement to make the winning move. As befitting a double (oval and road) pro, Stergios timed his restart to perfection, giving him the gap he needed to keep the hard-charging #4 at bay.
Stergios has shown the community that the new tire model isn’t affecting his performance this season. However, the tracks just keep getting shorter as, next week, the Sprint Car Cup heads to the racing capital of the world: Indianapolis. No, they’re not running the full, 2.5 mile circuit. And no, not the “Roval” either. They’ll be across town at Lucas Oil Raceway for a 50-lap brawl. The only thing separating Stergios from sweeping the first half of the shortened Season 4 is 34 miles of insanity.