From A Dig Motorsports’ “Tough Trucks” – The Monster Mile!
Monsters: As a youngster, most deal with the terrifying thought of some kind of evil doer lying dormant under one’s bed or in a closet waiting for the perfect time to pop out and cause harm. Usually, the natural progression of moving into adulthood takes care of these pesky creatures. Sadly, iRacers, along with our real-world counterparts still have one of these “monsters” to deal with. Miles the Monster and Dover International Speedway aren’t lying dormant, and they aren’t under your bed or in your closet. Instead, they look over the capital city of Delaware with a mile of Concrete, and open arms inviting racers from around the country to ride the high-banks and challenge The Monster Mile for a win! With enough testicular fortitude the challenge can be mastered, but be aware, ole Miles has been known to reach through the cracks a time or two, attempting to swat race cars into the stratosphere!
The speedway was built in 1969 and is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR schedule. 1995 saw the speedway become the second NASCAR venue to switch to concrete, and in 2000, Miles was spawned from the rocky, watery, cement mixture. All three national series still visit the speedway and real-world drivers often use words like: demanding, physical, challenging, wild, and fun to describe the experience of competing at The Monster Mile. “Bristol on steroids” has often been thrown around to describe the track, and after just a few minutes in the sim, the comparison seems almost spot-on.
Both tracks have high-banking, both are concrete, both have a “bowl” feel to them from on-track, and both speedways have walls on the exit of corners 2&4 that seem to jump out of nowhere – ready to imprint the right side of the race machine with that powdery, white, concrete residue – What does this mean for us sim-racers? Well, a tight, fast track where passing is tough, and in order to keep Miles at bay, the quickness of a drivers’ arms and accuracy of the right foot need to be razor sharp.
Hell, even the practice sessions here are intense! As the truck makes the leap downward into the corners, you really get the sensation of being on a rollercoaster, and one can only imagine the forces a driver in the real-world actually experiences at this place. I’ve ran Dover in iRacing before – which at that time was the Nationwide car – and I remember the setup being more “comfortable.” This week with the trucks, I’ve been fighting a very loose condition on corner exit, although, it sounds like the competition is in the same boat.
Continuing with a theme I began with my last installment of “Tough Trucks,” I will once again be reporting on racing action that does not include The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-On Silverado, fielded by From A Dig Motorsports. I enjoyed my uncolored view and take on the racing action from Charlotte, and I decided to do it again this week at Dover.
Our race of interest this week; is the top split, 2977SOF, 6:15pm race from Sunday evening.
It’s 6:22pm and the green flag is dropped for the 19 sim-racers. Pole-sitter, Marcus Lambert leads the field for the first three laps, when the first yellow of the race is displayed for a single truck incident involving the Pennsylvanian, #11 Ricky Ross Jr. Miles has claimed his first casualty of the race. It appears Ricky just lost it out of four, while running P7. Slamming hard into the inside wall, the crew was never able to get the truck back into competitive condition, leading to a 19th place finish, 38 laps down.
The race would go on, and the restart came on lap 7. Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself. Not even a full lap into the green flag run, and Miles has swatted another one. The Haas Automation Chevrolet of Ryan Hoepner, appears to get loose on the exit of turn 2, and in the attempt to keep the truck off the inside wall, he overcorrects and careens back up the track in front of over half the field.
The green would be back in the air, four laps later. Remember that history thing? Well, it has happened again. Not even making it a full lap after the restart and the yellow hankie is out again, this time for the third time in the race. The fifth place truck of Ethan Birrel, gets a poor restart from wheel spin, causing him to drop through the field. Entering turn 1, he is three wide with the #15 and #13 trucks of Damian Makut and Lynn Kincheloe, respectively. It appears the outside truck of Kincheloe, may have had some poor spotter communication. He chops down on Makut resulting in a five-truck pile up.
Lap 17; and we are green once again. The race would endure its longest green flag run of the race, 11 laps. During this stretch it had become clear that the #2 of Marcus Lambert and the #1 of Bob Bryant were the class of the field. Bryant had stayed glued to the rear bumper of Lambert the entire run – by the time the fourth caution of the race waived for a two-truck incident involving Ryan Hoepner and Santiago Tirres – they had gapped the third place truck of Royce Scrivano by nearly a full straight away.
Pit road is opened, and all of the lead lap trucks make the hard left towards their crews for service. But wait, two trucks decide to roll the dice and opt for track position over fresh rubber. James Allen will restart P1, still on original tires, and Derek Rouse will restart outside front row with fresher tires, but only marginally, 10 laps fresher, to be exact. I have a hard time seeing this as a race winning call, but stranger things have happened.
With 10 to go, the sim-racers have their right foots buried, and once again the green is in the air. The first two trucks with fresh Goodyears clear Rouse going into 1 and they are in hot pursuit of Allen down the backstretch. Out of 4, and Bob Bryant is a mere virtual inches, from the bumper of Allen. The Toyota’s horsepower is impressive and on full display down the front straightaway. Bryant dives to the inside of Allen entering turn 1, and begins to inch forward with dreams of completing the pass. It was not to be, yet. Caution lights erupt around the speedway and the race is under caution for the fifth and final time.
Another restart waits in the shadows, this time it will be for the win, and with only four laps to go showing on the scoreboard. A little bit of gamesmanship is played on the restart, and Allen jumps out ahead. It would be short lived, though. Exiting turn 2, Allen brushes the wall ever so slightly, but it’s just enough for Bryant and his fresh Goodyear’s to pull along-side and complete the pass entering turn 3. Pulling Marcus Lambert along, he completes the pass for second exiting turn 4, and once again two familiar faces are back in front. Bob Byrant’s crew was able to get him out in front of Lamberts on their pit-stops and he would take full advantage. He would stay in front of Lamberts Silverado until the checkers fell, taking the win. And, although the call to keep Allen and Rouse out on older tires would not earn them the virtual trophy, they would hang tough, and bring their trucks home to 3rd and 4th place finishes, respectively.
Although Miles gave a herculean effort and was able to crush a few virtual trucks in the process, a few lucky sim-racers were able to escape unscathed. We’ll call this meeting with the monster a draw!
Until next week: Keep ‘er outta the fence and off your lid!