The first week of the 2014 Season 2 iRacing.com Indycar Oval Series started off with a bang as the series went to Auto Club Speedway for only the second time. A total of 65 sim-racers took part in races throughout the week. The story of the week was the ability to keep up with the leaders.
Christopher Demeritt (New Jersey) started on pole with Miguel Angel Martinez (Iberia) starting on his outside. Denis Garese (France) started third, with Ron Meier Jr. (Midwest) starting fourth, and Brandon Trost (Pennsylvania) rounding out the top five starting positions.
Demeritt had an excellent start as he caught Martinez and Garese sleeping. Demeritt opened a five car gap before he even reached the start-finish line. Trost took advantage of Martinez and Garese’s slow starts, and passed them on the backstretch. Trost’s pass allowed Demeritt to extend his lead. Demeritt’s large lead didn’t last as the field behind him fell in line as they attempted to run him down. By lap 12, the field had, led by Trost, had pulled up to Demeritt’s gearbox.
After catching up to the leaders, Michael Amrtstrong2 (Indiana) started making his way to the front, passing Connor Cross (Ohio). Cross fell from fourth to eighth and last in the lead pack as the field freight-trained by. This theme repeated as Garese was next to fall to the back of the lead pack. Meanwhile, the second pack led by Vick Caudill (Michigan) had fallen nearly five seconds back.
The lead pack’s breakaway didn’t last as the caution waved on lap 17. Joe Branch2 (Indiana) got loose exiting turn 2. He then got clipped by Tim Holgate (Ohio), sending Branch barrel-rolling down the backstretch. Holgate miraculously escaped any damage as Branch continued to roll into the catchfencing, ending his race. The resulting caution allowed the second pack to catch up to the leaders. Martinez was the only one to stay off of pit road, taking an alternate strategy to the rest of the field. Demeritt overshot his pit stall and dropped from the lead down to fifth.
Martinez had an excellent restart as Armstrong spun his tires behind him. Demeritt’s bad luck continued as he passed Armstrong before the green flag. Demeritt pitted for a black flag a lap later. Armstong’s issues on the restart caused the field to become spread out as Martinez and Trost gapped the field by six car lengths. Demeritt’s pit exit also hindered the progress of third place Brad Sanford (Texas) and those behind him as they attempted to catch up to Trost. Demeritt immediately moved up, and off the apron, forcing the field wide. Sanford caught Trost a few laps later as Martinez had opened nearly a straightaway lead.
Demeritt slowly worked his way back up through the field, trying to return to the lead lap. Within only five laps Demeritt had worked his way up behind Sanford. As Demeritt attempted to pass Sanford, the two made contact, sending Sanford wide and into the outside wall. Demeritt passed Trost a lap later, and became the leader of the pack, as he chased Martinez down. The field fell into a single file line, as Demeritt and Trost pulled away from the pack. Martinez pitted on lap 48, giving Demeritt his lap back, and handing the lead over to Trost. By this time, Demeritt and Trost had opened up over a half a straightaway lead over Cross, Meier, and Garese.
Green flag pit stops started on lap 64 as Holgate was the first to peel off to make his stop. Trost and the rest of the leaders came down pit road a lap later. Meier, trying to get down to the pit speed limit spun head-on into the inside wall. The damage to Meier’s car was too much and he parked it before he reached his pit box. Trost had an excellent pit stop as he doubled his lead over Cross.
Demeritt stayed out an extra three laps, trying to extend his own lead over Trost and remain on the lead lap. After his pit stop, Demeritt had opened nearly a two second lead over Trost’s lead car. Demeritt’s strategy paid off as he was able to stay on the lead lap until a late race yellow flew. The caution flew with only four laps to go as Paul Jennings (Carolina) and Martinez made contact, sending Jennings up into the outside wall. The contact with the wall sent Jennings back down the track, and in an attempt to avoid pit lane, Jennings spun his damaged car back up the track. Jennings attempted to catch the pace car and complete the race. The damage to Jennings car was so extensive that he spun several times before finally parking on the backstretch infield.
With the race ending under caution, Trost won the 3535 Strength of Field race, the highest of the week, and earned 220 points for his win. Cross finished second, with Caudill third, Martinez fourth and Garese rounding out the top five finishing positions. This was Trost’s second of three wins throughout the week. The only other winner during the week was Caudill.