As the NASCAR iRacing.com Class A Series went south for the always thrilling trip to Daytona, everyone knew it would be a big week. But what happened shattered expectations across the board. This trip to Daytona was unlike any in the past, as it marked the first time official online races on iRacing’s digital version of the the freshly repaved Daytona International Speedway surface. Laser-scanned to identically match the massive 2.5mi superspeedway, the “new” Daytona afforded iRacing members the thrill of competing on the same proving grounds as their physical world counterparts Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Greg Biffle & Co.
The iRacing.com software utilizes “Strength of Field” (SoF) to determine how many points are paid-out at the conclusion of the race. The SoF is determined by the average of each ‘scompetiting driver’s personal iRating. The more highly-rated drivers in the race, the higher the SoF, thus paying-out more points following the checkered flag. This week history was nearly made at Daytona for iRacing highest ever SoF, missing the mark by a mere 27 points. The current mark of 6184 was set in the inaugural NASCAR iRacing.com Pro Series race in 2009, prior to the introduction of the “Snake Split” system which levels the playing field in the iRacing series. Monday night at 9:00PM EST thirty drivers took part in a NiCAS race with an SoF of 6157, handing-out an unheard-of 395 points to the winner.
Matt Whitten led the field to the checkers in the big race, with a push from Adam Gilliland. Kevin King, Robert Hall and Jason Karlavige rounded-out the top five in a race that paid out 300+ points to the top seven drivers. Although Whitten had the most impressive win on the week, his three starts hurt his points average, handing top honors to Gilliland with 381 points. It was a huge week for point payouts as an incredible 85 drivers scored 200 or more points in a week stuffed with huge races.
As expected, record numbers of drivers took to Daytona’s high banks for Week Four of the season. A total of 1,760 online racers strapped-in and made a charge in the week-long racing event. Joey Schmidt of Benelux hit the track twenty-six times, winning eight races and tying for most starts on the week with Eastern Canada’s Jerry Lucier. A whopping 344 drivers took the green flag five or more times over the course of the week, proving that Daytona is the most sacred place in stock car racing. On top of that, thirty-one drivers made multiple visits to victory lane, in what could only be described as a huge week for online racing.
When all was said and done, Hall and Jared Crawford continue pacing the NiCAS Division One points standings, with Hall holding a one point advantage over Crawford. Karlavige and Gilliland are third and fourth in a season where we are close to surpassing the points total of last season’s champion despite being two weeks shy of the halfway point.
Next week drivers and teams will go from full-throttle, pack-style racing, to the flat and tricky mile known as Phoenix International Raceway. Finding grip on the exit of the turns, all the while not making the car to tight on entrance and through the center will be key for anyone hoping to find victory lane. It will be tough to nail the balance on the setup, but history tells us it can be done. Expect more big points and more big names, next week at PIR.