Although the ITSR Power Series’ season ten schedule features just one short track, the seven-eighths mile Iowa Speedway played host to a doubleheader last Sunday night, giving drivers two races – and two chances to score big points – in one day.
The action started with a daytime race on a hot, slick track. Championship leader Chad Dalton put his #77 Toyota on the pole position with a lap of 23.607 seconds. Scott Simley qualified second followed by Matt Delk, Tim Johnston, and Corey Davis.
Early in the race, Dalton and Simley battled side-by-side up front, trading the lead several times before Simley pulled ahead on Lap 10. The top five stayed within a second of each other as the laps clicked off, and when tires began to wear, the sim racers searched for grip from the bottom to the top of Iowa’s progressive banking.
Around the halfway point of the 70-lap race, championship competitors Dalton and Johnston came down pit road to begin a cycle of green-flag stops. Most of the leaders followed in the next five laps, but when the yellow flag flew on Lap 38, the drivers who had yet to stop gained the advantage and were able to pit under caution.
Davis took over the top spot ahead of Terry McCuin, Brian Motisko, and Rich Jette, while Johnston, Dalton, and the other former leaders took a wave-around to get back on the lead lap. Once the race restarted, Davis pulled a second ahead of McCuin, but another caution on Lap 53 shuffled the running order once again.
CJ LaVair stayed on track to inherit the lead while Johnston and Motisko pitted for two tires, and Davis and the rest of the lead-lap cars took four. On the restart, Johnston took the lead and Davis followed him into second place before another quick caution slowed the field.
With seven laps remaining, the race restarted for the final time. While Johnston and Davis raced for the lead, Dalton spun while racing with Delk, relegating the polesitter and points leader to a 20th-place finish.
Up front, Johnston held off Davis and his fresher right-side tires to put the American flag-themed #54 Camry in victory lane. Jette finished a season-best third place followed by LaVair and Jeff Gilmore.
After a short break to make repairs and pull out backup cars, the sun went down and the speeds went up at Iowa. In qualifying for the second race, LaVair won the pole with a blistering lap of 22.431 seconds. Dalton, Adam Hallock, Simley, and Delk rounded out the top five starting positions.
As in the first race, Dalton and Simley found themselves battling up front, with Dalton taking the lead on Lap 9. The second race also started with an extended green-flag run, with the first yellow waving on Lap 30 after three-wide racing gone wrong in the midfield.
Following the restart, another long run began, and the action up front remained close between Dalton and Simley. Running half a lane lower in the turns, Simley was able to get alongside Dalton several times but couldn’t quite edge ahead. Simley eventually slipped back after contact with a lapped car on Lap 58, and Johnston took over the second position.
The lead battle wasn’t the only close race in the field. McCuin, Motisko, LaVair, and Rick Thompson had a competitive battle for fifth place that ended when LaVair and Motisko made contact on Lap 65, bringing out the race’s second caution.
The restart with four laps to go set up a showdown between two familiar foes: Dalton and Johnston. In this race, Dalton made the final restart count and he scored his third win of the season after leading 67 of 75 laps. Johnston, Thompson, Delk, and McCuin completed the top five.
After the doubleheader, the battle atop the points is just as close as it was entering Iowa. Dalton still leads Johnston by a single point with three races remaining before the end of the regular online racing season. The next stop is the Chicagoland Speedway, where Dalton has two Power Series wins and will hope to continue his Windy City success and blow by the competition.