Last weekend was a case of the Ugly, the Bad and the Good for iRacers at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
First the ugly . . .
Long-time iRacer Justin Wilson sustained an anterior compression fracture of the fifth thoracic vertebra on Friday in an incident during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio. Justin, who suffered a fractured wrist earlier in the season, was taken to the circuit medical center before being transferred to the local hospital, Mansfield MedCentral, where the diagnosis was made. He is expected to meet with IndyCar’s medical consultant Dr. Terry Trammell in Indianapolis today for further evaluation.
Needless to say, iRacers the world over wish Justin a full and speedy recovery.
The bad? iRacer Will Power had nothing but misfortune at Mid-Ohio, twice being caught-out by untimely full course cautions and finishing 14th in Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar race. With arch-rival (and series points leader) Dario Franchitti finishing second to Target/Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, Power now finds himself a daunting 62 points out of first place in the IZOD IndyCar Series with six events remaining on the schedule.
The good? Well there was plenty of good news last weekend. Josh Wise brought JR Motorsports’s “iRacing 2.0” Chevrolet home in a career best fourth place on Saturday night’s US Cellular 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Starting 18th, Wise’s big gain in the early stages came when crew chief Tony Eury Jr. elected not to pit under caution on lap 49. The bid for track position propelled Wise from 22nd to seventh. Wise maintained a spot in the top-10 over the next 100 laps and climbed to sixth before debris brought out a caution on lap 154. Eury Jr. called the No. 7 iRacing.com Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and fuel. A quick stop by the crew put Wise in fourth-place for the ensuing restart.
Wise fell as low as eighth as a green-flag run stretched the field out, but he clawed his way back to fifth prior to the final caution on lap 220. Making quick work of David Mayhew in the No. 33 after the restart, Wise slid into fourth place and solidly held the position until the checkered flag fell.
“What a great race for our iRacing.com team,” Wise said. “I’m so grateful to everyone at JR Motorsports, iRacing, TaxSlayer and all our partners. I had a blast out there tonight. We were legitimate contenders all night, and that is something our team can be really proud of.”
The Riverside. Calif. native’s fourth-place effort also makes him eligible for round three of Nationwide Insurance’s “Dash 4 Cash” Series, which awards $100,000 to the highest finishing NNS regular qualified for the program at the Richmond event in September. Wise joins Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as eligible drivers for the third round of the “Dash 4 Cash” Series.
Wise was not alone in earning a career best finish last weekend. iRacer Takuma Sato earned the best finish of his young IndyCar career at Mid-Ohio by driving the KV Racing Dallara-Honda to fourth on Sunday, while fellow iRacers Oriol Servia and Simona de Silvestro finished eighth and twelfth, respectively. And a shout-out to Simon Pagenaud who placed thirteenth after being called on by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as a last minute substitute for Justin Wilson.
And while he may not have done much official sim racing lately, iRacing member Brad Keselowski overcame some injuries of his own – namely a fractured left ankle suffered in a testing accident earlier in the week at Road Atlanta – to win the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 NASCAR Sprint Car race at Pocono Raceway. Meanwhile, a ninth place finish by iRacer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. helped solidify his place in the top ten in points and a spot in “The Chase” for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup title.