The sixth week of the NASCAR iRacing Tour Modified Series brought the sim racers to Lucas Oil Raceway and marked the half way point in the season for the modifieds. A 19 car field would take the green, with the Untamed Motorsports duo of Chris Forster (pole) and Jerold John on the front row. In fact. Untamed Motorsports swept the top five starting spots with Keith Jeffery, Rick Webster and Kyle Odaynik occupying places three, four and five on the grid, respectively.
The opening laps were intense as the track’s wide surface enabled wheel-to-wheel sim racing throughout the field. The first eight laps went green before Wicked Autosports teammates Seth DeMerchant and Christian Pedersen made contact as Pedersen got loose and slid into DeMerchant. With nowhere to go and little time to react, Steven Mastro and Christopher Alcares also were involved in the incident.
After the ensuing restart the field completed ten more laps of green flag racing before Shawn Bagby missed his marks entering Turn 1; a costly mistake as his car climbed the wall and ground along the length of Turns 1 and 2. The racing resumed shortly thereafter with Forster and John running just a few tenths of a second apart while maintaining the top two positions.
Lap 40 brought the third caution of the night as David Bodio got loose off of Turn 2 and spun harmlessly to the infield.
“I had a top five car,” said Bodio. “I was just struggling to get into clean air.”
Bodio’s stationary race car triggered the yellow flag with Pedersen, re-arranged rear-end and all, shown in the fourth position after climbing from the back following his earlier spin. This yellow proved important for the leaders as all the cars on the lead lap took the opportunity to dive onto pit road. Subsequently, John won the race off pit road and Forster was forced to restart from the second position.
Just eight laps after the restart the yellow flag flew once again as the exit of Turn 2 claimed more victims when Jeff Sharp lost the handle and slid into David Knowles and Christopher Alcares damaging all three cars.
“I came into the race looking to drive a clean race and stay out of trouble. I got the first part taken care of . . .”- Christopher Alcares
“I came into the race looking to drive a clean race and stay out of trouble,” Alcares explained. “I got the first part taken care of, just good tight racing; very hard to pass.”
Lap 58 brought the restart of the race with John leading Forster, Pedersen, Jeffery and Petey Zehler.
With 26 laps to go the battle for the lead heated-up as Pedersen was all over John’s back bumper and ‘give ‘n take’ was slipping away as the checkered flag grew nearer. As the two leaders came off of Turn 2 Pedersen had a nose to John’s outside. John gave him just enough room for his car and nothing more. Unfortunately, Pedersen tagged the wall and bounced down into John’s right rear destroying both cars and ending both sim-racers’ night early. Also involved in the incident was Zehler who was having an awesome run in the top five but had nowhere to go and tagged Johns spinning car.
“I found some grip up by the wall and managed to get to the right rear of Jerold’s car,” said Pedersen. “He gave me the room I needed but I bobbled.”
With two prime contenders out of the race it fell to Chris Forster, Keith Jeffery, Seth DeMerchant and Kyle Odaynik to decide the winner in a 15 lap shootout. However, the top four positions remained unchanged in the final laps with Forster taking his second victory of the Thursday Night season.
“I was trying to save tires and Christian caught us,” he said. “I let him go thinking they would burn their stuff up, they made contact and that put me back out front. From there I just tried to be smooth as I pulled away.”
“I thought I had a shot if I could get under Chris and take his line away off the corner,” said runner-up Jeffrey. “I just couldn’t get there.”
Travis Butler who took home a 6th place finish said “ I was able to get a decent finish by staying clean and out of trouble for most of the night.”
Next week the Tour Modifieds rumble into Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway with teammates Christian Pedersen and Seth DeMerchant atop the points. An historic venue for modifieds, Stafford’s tight corners mean there won’t be much room to pass, so tight racing will again be the theme.
Thursday Night Standings
1. Seth DeMerchant 560
2. Christian Pedersen 542
3. Rick Webster 480
4. David Bodio 478
5. Jerold John 466