September 30th, 2017 by Richard J. Clarkson
Jack Walls won his fifth career iRacing oval race at the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Tuesday evening. The Mid-Atlantic driver started ninth in the 5:15 p.m. top-split sim-race and led 13 laps, crossing the finish line a mere .176 seconds in front of the runner-up, Scott Smith6.
The turning point of the race came on lap 26. It involved the two dominant race trucks of the 40-lap affair: Ryan Hoepner and Thiago Vieira.
After a dodgy restart that saw Joseph Heldt, restarting behind the race leader: Hoepner, beating the back bumper off Hoepner’s Chevy and wrinkling the nose of his Toyota, Hoepner then decided to test the limits of his four fresh Goodyear Racing Eagles. He drove his McDonald’s/Cessna Chevrolet deep into One. Vieira, having restarted second, on the outside, also prematurely anticipating the start, slightly steered his Skullcandy Tundra down the racetrack, Hoepner’s truck slightly came up the track, the two racers made slight contact. But at Loudon, contact, no matter how “slight” it may be, can ruin your race.
Both trucks nosed their machines into Turn Two’s inside wall. Vieira’s evening ruined. He finished 14th, six laps off the pace.
Also caught up in the incident was the Hoosier, Heldt. Trying to miss the spinning trucks of Hoepner and Vieira, Heldt made an evasive maneuver and quickly turned his truck to the right. One problem: Smith6 and The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy were already in the outside groove, foot to the floor, motoring past the carnage.
Heldt’s truck bounced off the side of Smith’s and spun circles. The Hoosier finished eleventh, the last racer on the lead lap.
When the third of five yellow flags flew, Hoepner screeched across iRacing communications and incredulously said: “Y’all know the leader re-starts the race, right?”
“Yeah, for sure he does,” Brian Rainville said, chuckling and presumably in disbelief, scored in sixth at the time of the incident, “but not this time.”
With seven to go, the green re-emerged. Walls lead. Smith6 ran second.
On the very next circuit around the 1.058-mile short track, Smith6, exiting Two, stuck The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy’s front bumper inside of Walls’s left rear, spinning his truck’s V8 into its power band, its race tires finding grip. A drag race down the backstretch ensued. From A Dig Motorsports’s black-and-white Chevy sailed off into Three, pouncing to the inside of Walls; a surefire bet to come out on the other side with the lead.
But just before Smith6 was going to overtake Walls, the fifth and final yellow flag flew for debris.
Rainville had the best seat in the house, running third at the time, watching the battle for the lead unfold. “Thought the five (Smith6) had ya there as the caution came out,” he said.
“Yeah, he would’ve had me, I think,” Walls said.
On the final lap of the race, while running in fourth, entering Three, Rainville first suffered contact from Tyler Pluff, and then got finished off in the left rear by Heldt. Rainville spun and finished 12th.
Smith6 still had one left in the chamber, however: it came in the way of two green flag laps, the final restart.
But Walls apparently had two left in the chamber, and a bulletproof vest; his Regal Entertainment Group Toyota Tundra strong as a tank. Walls held on for the win, keeping The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy at bay, if only by half a truck’s length across the stripe.
“God’uh mosey!” Smith6 said, post-race, probably sitting in his make-believe ButlerBuilt aluminum racing seat, soaking up his phony sweat with an invisible towel, dumping not-really-there water onto his head, cooling his temperature, frigidly freezing his emotions after a long, grueling race.
“I almost had’um!” he continued. “Hell, that was’uh crazy damn race! Shoot, on lap five I ran into a fellar. Sorry again, Cody (Adkins). Wasn’t expectin’ that other stupid Snap-on truck to try and pull that slide job on ya that damn early in the race. Yinz checked up, man. Hell, I’z on the binders. Ole girl just wouldn’t get whoad up in time. Thirty-foe hundred pounds a lot to get stopped, know what I mean, Vern?”
“Anyway, then there’z all these yellas, and then that ole stupid Snap-on truck bounced off the side’uh me, and then another damn truck bounced off the side’uh me, and then I had the lead but them idiots up in the tower ain’t gotta damn clue about nothin’ and made the wrong call, and then I almost won the race… Whew. These short track’z somethin’ else, son. We need more of ‘em, NASCAR! Put this daredevil business back into the hands of the real men, the racers who can feel their trucks just as if they’z another damn pair of arms and legs, riveted into place, Bear Bonded onto their bodies. A sort of mechanical symbiotic relationship. Finesse, man.”
After starting 14th, Smith6 brought The Black Dahlia Murder/Snap-on Chevy home 12 positions better, earning him the Phillips’ Biggest Mover of the Race Award. “Cool,” he said. “Yeah, I’m a mover and’uh shaker, hunny!”
After his incident in Turns One and Two, pitting to hammer out some sheet metal and bolt-up four fresh ones, Hoepner stormed back on the race’s final two restarts and finished third. Tyler Pluff finished fourth and Cody Adkins rounded out the top-five.
Keith Bridgman brought his Miller Genuine Draft Toyota Tundra home to a sixth place finish, followed by Troy Eaton in seventh, Joseph Crump in eighth, George Fehrenbacher in ninth, and Christopher Hussey2 finishing tenth.