Fifteen drivers. Ten chase spots. One race and 100 laps to get it done.
While the objective for the 35 drivers in the Tim’s Corner Race to the Chase will be simple come race time, 15 of those will have an extra goal in mind and that is to be one of the ten in Chase for the Championship contention after 100-laps at the Richmond International Raceway. After all, when the checkered flag falls at the Virginia short track the ten sim racers who will duke it out for the GSRacing.net Truck Series championship will be decided.
The drivers in contention for the title are no strangers to sim racing and have been in these big race type scenarios before. The only driver that is currently “locked in” to a spot in the Chase is Thomas Hazard. Hazard has won a third of the races contested this season, including the first two to open the schedule at Michigan and Charlotte. Hazard and his #9 team also won at Texas, which was a part of the six top five finishes the team has accumulated this season. Hazard has a 29 point lead on Brandon Buchberger and a 73 point lead on the eleventh place driver in the standings.
With the maximum amount of points that can be obtained in a single race being 52 and provisional eligible drivers receiving seven points (drivers inside the top 25 that cannot make the race receive provisional points under series procedures), the most a driver can gain on a single night is 45 points. Buchberger’s lead on eleventh place in the standings is 44 points and that advantage can be credited to the consistency of one top five and four top ten finishes on the season, including a season high fourth place run in the Charlotte 150. Last season in the GSRacing.net Truck Series Buchberger finished eighth in the Chase. Buchberger will need to finish 35th to lock into the Chase.
Dylan Duval enters the Tim’s Corner Race to the Chase third in the point standings with 284 points, 42 behind the leader and 31 markers up on eleventh place. Keeping in mind that the magic number is 302 (which is one point more than the maximum of points that the currently eleventh place driver could leave Richmond with), Duval can lock himself into a Chase spot by finishing in 22nd or better on Thursday night. The #42 C2C Designs Chevrolet has two top five and four top ten finishes this season. Duval is attempting to make his first career Chase to the GSRacing.net Championship.
Chad Coleman sits fourth in points, 45 points behind leader Hazard and 28 up on eleventh place. Coleman is riding a string of six top twelve finishes heading into Richmond and if he can notch another top dozen run off, he will lock himself into the Chase. Coleman finished eighth in the 2010 edition of the Chase. One point back from Coleman sit Talladega winner Brandon Kettelle and Chris Overland. Both drivers can punch their ticket to the Chase with an 18th place finish at Richmond. Both drivers are in their first full time season in the series.
“There’s going to be some tough competition at Richmond. It will be about surviving the wrecks and finishing with a solid top fifteen.” — Andrew Berger
Brandon Williamson enters combat Thursday night as the seventh place point man. Williamson finished tenth in last season’s championship hunt and can lock himself into the 2011-12 edition with an eleventh place finish at Richmond. Williamson is 20 points up on eleventh place in the standings on the strength of three top five finishes, including one at the Milwaukee Mile in November.
The goal is simple if Jon Adams and Danny Hansen want to make it into the Chase after Thursday night – finish top ten at Richmond. A top ten run would lock the two tied for eighth in the standings into the run for the title. Adams has been in this situation before as he has finished on both sides of the fence in Chase clinching situations. In 2010, Adams finished eleventh in the standings, the first driver outside of contention for the championship. Last season it was Adams who finished third in the standings. The man famous in the community for his “Kurt Busch Rages During Interview” video on Youtube sat out last week’s event at Chicagoland after an altercation with another driver under caution at Iowa. Hansen on the other hand is coming off three straight top six finishes, including a fourth place run at the JDR Graphics 125 at Iowa.
Andrew Berger is the man on the bubble heading into the Chase and is on the cusp of making his second consecutive Chase for the GSRacing.net Championship. Last season Berger finished a very respectable sixth in his first full season with the series but admits that Richmond could easily be a wildcard. “Richmond isn’t one of my better tracks, but you never know how that race will go,” commented Berger on Tim’s Corner Unplugged this week. “There’s going to be some tough competition at Richmond. It will be about surviving the wrecks and finishing with a solid top fifteen.” Berger can lock into the Chase with a podium finish as he sits just a dozen points up on the other side of the bubble.
Allen Krier sits on the outside looking in at the Chase in eleventh place. Krier started off the season strong but in the last six races the team only has one finish (seventh at Indianapolis) that is better than 18th place. Krier finished seventh in the 2010 Chase but in order to get back to the top ten he will need to not only gain the 12 points needed on Berger, but will need to keep some stiff competition behind him.
Josh Berry and Nick Ottinger have both won races this season and have had their share of battles throughout the first nine races, so maybe it is fitting that they share 12th place in the standings with just one race before the Chase. They sit 13 points out of Chase contention and will each need to bring their “A” game to Richmond on Thursday. Byron Daley finished second to Berry on a last lap pass made by the #72 at Iowa and will also need some help to get into the Chase. Last season’s fourth place point man sits 17 points out of tenth in the standings.
The final driver in mathematical Chase contention is the two-time and defending GSRacing.net Truck Series champion Bryan Blackford. Blackford took the win at the Mason Baker Designs 150 at Indianapolis but fell victim to a ten point penalty earlier in the season at Milwaukee when he failed to lift when entering a wreck, which is an infraction under series rules. Blackford entered last week’s race 20 points behind the top ten but now has to deal with a 21 point spread between himself and Berger heading into Richmond. If anyone can overcome a deficit like one that is facing Blackford, it would be someone that has been in a championship situation before, right?
The winner of the race will receive a Derek Speare Designs Track Boss Button Box while the remainder of the top five will receive a cash bonus for their finishes. There is also a bonus for the top finishing truck which carries a Tim’s Corner logo in the race. Eligible drivers as of press time included Duval, Coleman, Krier, Daley, Richard Beasley, Carson Downs, Brian Schoenburg and Zach Hudson. Bonuses are also handed out throughout the chase for eligible drivers running the Tim’s Corner logo.
The Derek Speare Designs Phrase That Pays contest winner will also be announced during the mid-way point in the race. The promotion, which ran on Tim’s Corner Unplugged throughout the months of November and December gave listeners a chance to enter the draw by listening for a special phrase and sending it into the show. The winner will receive a Derek Speare Designs Track Boss Button Box.
The action gets underway at 9pm Eastern/10pm Atlantic on WebRacingNetwork.com.
About Tim’s Corner:
Tim’s Corner began as a weekly stock car racing column appearing on ScotiaSpeedworld.ca and MaritimeProStockTour.com, penned by track and series announcer Tim Terry. It has now grown to include basic media services for motorsport teams big and small. TimsCorner.ca, the official website of Tim’s Corner, also features Tim’s Corner Unplugged, a podcast hosted by Terry which focuses on the motorsports scene. For more information on Tim’s Corner and services offered, visit TimsCorner.ca!
The GSRacing.net Truck Series is one of iRacing’s premier independently hosted series. The Truck Series is in its third full season and is frequented by the top drivers in the sim community, including those from the NASCAR iRacing Series World Championship. Races throughout the 2011 season are conducted on Thursday nights with select races with live flag-to-flag coverage on ETV and WebRacingNetwork.com.