May 15th, 2018 by Randolph Chenowth
The opening round of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Championship Series saw the series at Volusia Speedway Park, one of the most unique tracks on the iRacing service. The short straights, sweeping corners, and specifically the curved back straight away catch out many drivers in the sim.
With that said, the season opener was expected to be a brilliant race and it delivered.
The first 4 heat races went fairly smooth. Drivers in transfer spots early didn’t take any silly risks, and drivers trying to move forward attempted some moves to get themselves straight into the show, with most failing to do so. The early track state did not lend itself to multiple grooves, but that changed as the night went on and the track sickened up.
The B main is where the track really started to come in. Drivers began moving up the track looking for speed, but due to the geography of the circuit and the relatively flat shelf some drivers were able to hook up the bottom and start putting on the first real side by side racing of the night. It was an early break away in the top 5. David Heileman was agonizingly close to snatching a transfer spot after a disappointing sprint car opener, but at the end it was Ricky Thornton, Mike McKinney, Virgil Graham, and Austin Carr who would take the last two rows in the 20 car main event grid.
The feature got under way and was dominated in the early going by teammates Howard Weaver and Garrett Niebruegge. They comfortably ran away from the field for the first 15 or so laps, but a pileup in the mid pack would stack them back up to their rivals.
The restarts in the mid point was a struggling topic for Niebruegge who went from looking like he had a comfortable 2nd place, to getting shuffled back into the depths of the field after one bad restart in particular and getting involved into an incident with about 15 to go.
The late race restart allowed James Edens to make a last race charge on Howard Weaver who had been able to stay clear of the melees behind. However the 07 of Weaver was flawless and didn’t succumb to the pressure. Edens was only able to have one shot of making a move into turn 3 for the final lap, but it wasn’t nearly enough which crowned Howard Weaver as your winner.
One of the topics during the prerace coverage was drivers who showed pace in both the sprint cars and the late models and Howard Weaver could not be a more perfect example. A 7th place run at Eldora in the sprints and a win at Volusia in the Late Models shows his multi car talent, despite identifying as a Late Model specialist.
It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this performance. The World Of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Championship returns May 21st as they take to the Dirt Track at Charlotte at 9PM eastern, and the Late Models will have their second race at the sole 1/4 mile track on the sim currently at Limaland on May 28th at the same time. Both tracks are the two most recent additions to the iRacing dirt oval content, and they will put on an exciting show. Be sure to catch the action presented by Racespot TV on iRacing Live and on Dirt Vision.