Week 6 of the NASCAR iRacing Series brings us to the world’s fastest paperclip. Martinsville Speedway is the classic track that pops into everyone’s head when they think NASCAR racing. While it may be a little more than a bump and run strategy, it isn’t much more. Last week I talked about running low bumpstops so that we can seal the splitter on the straights a little bit easier. Martinsville produces the same challenge, but I take a little different approach.
I haven’t seen very many pro teams’ set-ups for Martinsville (because neither the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series nor the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series race here) but I can tell you that I value splitter height more than some do here. Let me explain what the significance of low splitter height is for a short track. The lower your splitter is in a corner (without bottoming, of course) the more downforce your car produces. Instead of the air getting under the car (which creates copious amounts of drag) it sends the air over the car. It will also hit the spoiler at the rear of the car, which gives even more control to the car.
Martinsville is easily my favorite track on the NASCAR circuit. Not only have I sim-raced it more than is sane for me but I have raced very similar tracks in real life. Granted, I can’t compare 900 hp to a Legends car, but I can justify that my driving style is correct. In iRacing, I have tried adjusting the splitter height to carry the braking zone, carry the corner and exit. I have also tried letting it hit on entry and center while getting it sealed on exit. In theory, the latter should work. And it did. Sort of. I had been struggling so hard to find a correct height that I had neglected to use my sway bar.
Now that I’m done rambling about the splitter, let’s work on the fine-tuning. Obviously, the biggest and easiest way to change the behavior is ARB pre-load and cross weight. However, you will most likely find that getting a good roll through the center will turn your car into a dump truck on entry. Work on adjusting the center before you move to entry and exit. The exit should be inherently good with a good center. Entry will be determined by your brake bias. Brake bias is the percentage of your brake input that is transferred to the front calipers and the rear ones. The brake bias in iRacing refers to the percentage on the front.
I don’t want to tell you to get up and wheel it, but you gotta get up and wheel it here. To get the maximum speed at Martinsville, you must run hard every lap. There is a very fine line to walk when you want to find speed. Don’t lean on the RF or RR more than the other. If you need to lean on both for a few laps, fine. However, you will absolutely kill your run if you punish them unevenly.
Let your haters be your motivators here. Well, anywhere actually. Passing will be near impossible without aggressive moves. Restarts here are worth four car lengths. Make sure you accelerate as the leader is about to go so you can put yourself in a favorable situation into Turn 1. If you can take it three wide, do it. Chances are, they will battle in front of you for laps and you will lose seconds at a time. My final words of advice: don’t be scared.