After an exhilarating week at Iowa Speedway for Week 3 of the iRacing.Com Sprint Car Series, drivers found themselves back on a short oval. Not seen in the iSCS schedule for some time, Thompson Speedway was a new challenge for the majority of iRacing’s finest sprint car drivers. Featuring a richer history with auto racing than most other tracks in the USA, Thompson opened in 1940 with their first feature event showcasing what are now branded as sprint cars. 72 years old and still one of the most popular short tracks in the country, the legacy of the sprint cars at Thompson lives on through the iRacing.Com service.
The turnout for Week 4 wasn’t as impressive as Week 3, as a majority of drivers were taking part in Thanksgiving festivities in the US. However, five races were held during the week with 61 entries split between the events. In qualifying, Binder showed that he was no stranger to the track in lieu of its absence by posting the best time of the week with a 17.576s qualifying lap, putting him firmly at the pole position in the races he would enter. PJ Stergios had the second fastest time with a wicked lap of 17.666s, only two one-thousandths of a second faster than third place Fred Lampela.
The first sprint race of the week was held on Tuesday, with PJ Stergios leading the 19-car field to the green flag. With two cautions early in the race, the field got into a rhythm and much racing was seen throughout the pack. However, Stergios put a regal distance between himself and the second place machine of Leila Wilson. Taking the checkered flag, PJ had a 10 second lead over runner-up Wilson, who was hard-pressed in holding her position from many challengers behind her.
“Can someone remind me how to breathe now?” Wilson asked in her post-race remarks. “I forgot when the green came out.”
“Can someone remind me how to breathe now? I forgot when the green came out.” – Leila Wilson
Jacob Fredriksson brought home his first podium finish of the week, and Ronald Williams came home in fourth. Even with fighting a loose car for much of the event, Randall Faulks continued his memorable rookie season with a top five finish.
While many were devouring turkey and other delicious food on Thursday, it was a different kind of turkey night for eleven sprint drivers in the iSCS. Thompson’s simulated pavement once again heated up when the green flag waved, with Fred Lampela leading the field into turn one. With only one yellow flag displayed, a very long green flag stretch occurred, resulting with most of the field going a lap down save for the top five. When the checkered flag flew, it was Lampela who took home the trophy, leading all 50 laps of the event. Again the bridesmaid, Leila Wilson finished in second, five seconds behind Lampela. Michael Willard2 scored a podium finish with his third place racing close for position with Wilson, and Ronald Williams took his second consecutive fourth place. Tom Downey rounded out the top five.
“Racing at Thompson is sink or swim,” said Willard2 after he parked his sprint for the night. “It was tempting to bow out, but I don’t think any of us who jumped in ended up drowning. A lot of us probably could use some oxygen, though.”
“Racing at Thompson is sink or swim.” – Michael Willard2
Sunday saw three events that went official, and also witnessed the return of the reigning iSCS champion. The first event was filled with smoke, as four cautions made for almost half of the race run under pacing laps. In order to stay alive, the sprint had to be good on short runs, and Alan Binder showed he had the car to beat once again, taking the checkered flag. Fred Lampela was the runner-up, and James Lamb raced to a third place finish. David Ross , the last car on the lead lap, finished in fourth, and Jonathan Sykes2 limped home to his top five finish, 6 laps down.
In the highest SOF race of the week (2536), the last event on Sunday brought round two of the Binder versus Lampela show to the “Indy of the East.” Right from the start, Lampela was challenged by the Fast Finns of Petteri Kotovaara and Aleksi Elomaa, but Kotovaara broke loose and slid out, bringing out the first caution of the event. On the restart, Binder pulled away from Lampela again. Two more yellows came out during the race, keeping the field tight for the majority of the event. In the end, it was Binder taking his third win of the day. Lampela came in second, with Aleksi Elomaa completing the podium in third place. Petteri Kotovaara recovered from his early spin to finish in fourth, and Jonathan Sykes2 rounded out the top five.
By completing Week 4 with a 1-2-3 punch at Thompson, Binder stretched his lead in the points once again, 153 over second place Fred Lampela. With many familiar faces breaching the top five in points, the future of the iSCS looks bright. The question remains, however, if anyone has a bid to place on Binder for the 2012 Season 4 Championship. With Lanier National Speedway in sight, a higher participation week is expected, as the track is familiar to many in the iSCS. Will Binder reign once again next week, or will new faces be seen in victory lane? Come back to iRN soon for the recap of Week 5!
iRacing.com Sprint Car Series Championship Standings
1. Alan Binder (699)
2. Fred Lampela (-153)
3. PJ Stergios (-158)
4. Michael Willard2 (-285)
5. Leila Wilson (-306)