Week 11 saw the NASCAR iRacing.com Late Model Tour head to Connecticut to tackle Thompson International Speedway. Thompson is a 5/8 mile oval where the racing groove is the high line since the bottom can become a handling nightmare for many sim-racers, while the entry to Turn Three has a significant bump that will disrupt the handling of any car that hits it wrong.
In the 2051 SOF race Brad Hancock led the field to the green flag and got a solid jump over fellow front-row starter Phillip Thompson. The front four sim-racers would be single file by the time they cross the start finish line but the first incident developed before they completed the first lap. Paul Wisniewski smacked the wall exiting Turn Four and rebounded across the track into front end of Henry Taylor’s car. Wisniewski spun through the grass scrubbing little if any speed before making hard contact with the inside wall. Taylor, meanwhile, spun harmlessly on the front stretch, found himself luckily facing the right direction and took-off again without losing too much time on the field.
Lap Three produced the first attempt at a lead change, as Thompson took to the low side to pass Hancock. Holding the preferred groove, Hancock was able to fend-off the challenge him for a lap before yielding the spot to the determined Thompson on Lap Five. Meanwhile, Kyle Young tried to wrest third spot from Russell Berry2, who responded by over-driving the entry to Turn Three and giving Young a clean pass.
In the same corner Hancock would have to check up to avoid contact with the outside wall as Young attempted to clear him on corner exit. But as Hancock came off the wall, Young drifted-up and sent both cars careening into the front stretch wall, before sliding down the track in tandem. Attempting to pass Berry2’s slowing car, Rick Ricketts barely avoided Hancock . . . but not Young, who slammed into Ricketts’ right front. Although Young spun, Ricketts was able to save the car in the grass and continue on his way.
With passing at a premium here and the low side becoming unstable, the sim-racers looked for any opportunity to make a pass. Case in point was S. Michael Allen, who tried to take full advantage of the slowing cars ahead of him passing Ricketts. But attempting to overtake Berry2, Allen would misjudged his entry speed and drifted-up into his competitor. Berry2 was unable to hold-on after the contact and spun, collecting Mark Parker in the process.
Lap Seven produced just one, single car incident with Jonathan Bivens spinning in Turn Two and, as Thompson opened-up a full corner lead over the second-placed Allen, the action abated for the next ten laps.
Lap 16 saw Allen get stuck behind Bivens’ lapped car, enabling the circumspect Charles Harris to continue his incident-free run from last place to P2. Not wanting to lose second spot, Allen mounted a counterattack when Harris found himself stuck behind Bivens who – to the consternation of the lead lap runners — continued running the preferred groove. Before long Taylor passed Allen in the queue and, when Harris lost momentum after another unsuccessful attempt to pass Bivens, moved into second spot to completing the recovery from his earlier spin.
By lap 20 second through fifth was nose-to-tail, before Taylor finally forced Bivens to the top of the track enabling all the front runners to get past. Three laps later Parker forfeited P5 to Berry2 with a spin coming out of Turn Two and, on Lap 33, Allen passed Harris for third and set-off in pursuit of Taylor who was still chipping away at Thompson’s lead.
With Thompson looking to increase his advantage and his pursuers trying to reel-him in, the next 24 laps went incident-free. That unblemished stretch of racing ended when the leader has a major moment on Lap 57 and while Thompson managed to keep his Monte Carlo off the wall, he lost momentum and, moments later, the lead to Taylor. After getting back in line between Taylor and Allen, Thompson gave Taylor a bump in Turn Two on Lap 66 in the hopes of pushing him up the track and retaking the lead. Taylor, however, was not fazed by the contact and continued heading the field into the final laps.
Thompson attempted a low lane pass on lap 69 but, running the preferred groove, Taylor kept him at bay. Coming out of Turn Four the last time Thompson went back on the inside of Taylor but this time, rather than snatching the win, he got loose and yielded second spot to Allen. Taylor thus took the victory .158 seconds ahead of Allen with Thompson third from Harris as and Berry2 battled back to round-out the top five.
1. Henry Taylor 7. Rick Ricketts –19.990
2. S. Michael Allen –0.186 8. Paul Wisniewski –1L
3. Philip Thompson –1.574 9. Jonathan Bivens –1L
4. Charles Harris –2.286 10. Mark Parker –22L
5. Russell Berry2 –2.839 11. Brad Hancock –54L
6. Kyle Young –8.339
Week 12 leads the NASCAR iRacing.com Late Model Series to Midland, North Carolina’s Concord Speedway. As the final week of the season rolls around we can look forward to online racing action from the world’s fastest tri-oval short track, followed by an overall championship round-up.