Short answer?  It means we have completed one third of the season, and run the Daytona 500 and the longest sim race of the season, the Coke 600. If my math holds up we have been scheduled to run 3,201 miles over 2,247 laps. Google Maps tells me that’s the number of miles covered by a drive from Los Angeles to Bangor, Maine; a cross country trip that would take 47 hours and cross 15 states, eight of which I have visited.

What makes the first third of the season so very different from the second third of the season?

What makes the first third of the season so very different from the second third of the season? This is best answered by starting with which of the dozen races are the same in these two parts of the season. Only Daytona and Bristol find a second race in the upcoming 12 races. That means we will have 10 races at tracks that were not part of the opening third of the season. On the other hand, as the first 12 races were all at different tracks, both Pocono and Michigan will see two races in the middle third of the season. Pocono will be host to 80 lap online races on Weeks 14 and 21. On the other hand, Michigan will host weeks 15 and 23 with Week 15 a full length race at 200 laps (400 miles) twice the distance of the Week 23 race. Indy will also hold a full length race in Week 20 with 160 laps as well as Watkins Glen with 90 laps. Also both of the road circuit races are scheduled for this part of the season.

At the start of the season I talked about a program I found called iSeason. It takes your data from your races and scores them providing a Driver Rating Score. The stats it uses are Finishing Position, Incs, Laps Down at the end and Laps Lead in the race. By not using standing points your IR and Split level are not factored in. This is as it should be as the rating is for YOU and you alone. You could save a file for as many sim racers as you wanted and compare the group, maybe next season.

The program was written by iRacer Jeffery Aldi. It is only set-up for 12 weeks, so the chart below will have a blank space between weeks 12 and 13 (and 24 and 25), but the first 12 weeks are not input in the program, seen here. The chart I made on the spreadsheet to follow the data.

Here is the chart from the rating in the upper left corner each week.

Note that my good finish at Daytona in the Fixed Series started me out with a very good rating whereas my mid-pack finish in the Open series started my Driver Rating well below average. The high points are noted and you can see my P3 at Bristol increased my rating in the Fixed. On the other hand, coming home 15th there in the Open dropped my rating. The two nice finishes at Talladega and Charlotte in the last three weeks kicked my rating over 80 for the first third of the season. On the Fixed side I have been solid keeping my rating above 85.

This was our last lap race going three wide into Turn 3 in the Coke 600. These three cars with me in the center were running for fourth through sixth at this point. The finish would see the high line win out and I would hold-off the car on the inside for fifth place (below). The racing was good this night and we had long green flag runs with fast stops under green. If every NiS race could be this much fun there would be packed stands at every race.

This will all wash in Week 13 as the numbers will start over as if it were Week 1 again. This means that as we roll into Dover for Week 14 a poor finish could see my new rating be something like the opening week at Daytona. I may make a test file and combine the first 12 weeks into one week and see if I can then keep the numbers rolling as they would if the program was built for more than 12 weeks. Only time and testing will tell if I can do this and make it work.

I also talked about my Fuel Guru in the pits. He works with the fuel you use over the laps you run. He can calculate the estimated laps you can run based on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 or 20 laps. If he uses a small number of laps he can get a quick final estimate, say after just three laps, but if Lap 4 changes from those first three the estimate to the end of the run changes a lot. This can be affected by pushing to make a pass or slowing to follow a slower car through a corner. I find that asking him to work on the numbers for 15 or 20 laps give me a better reading on – and lets me see if I am truly able to stretch my range over — a long fuel run.  He looks like this and he sits on my second monitor to my right. The 0 at nine o’clock tells me how many laps I have left based on his numbers and my remaining fuel. This is updated each time I cross the line. If it drops below 2 it is time to pit. The 0 at 3 o’clock tells me how many stops I need to make to reach the end of the race. When it drops to 1, I have reached the point where based on my fuel usage I can then short pit and make it to the end without needed to stop again.

I used this on Friday in the Open at Charlotte instead of running all the way to the empty tank that would have been some 20 more laps. The larger number at the bottom and the needle are the same data. This is not a fuel number, but the distance to the finish. In this case 1 would indicate that I have fuel to the end plus 1 lap. The yellow is pushing it (in my view) and if I am good for 3 or more laps it will be in the green. From half a lap to the good and shorter the needle will point to the red area. This will tell me to back-out of the throttle a bit or find a car to draft with. As the Fuel Guru takes data from your last set of laps, running in a draft for a lap or two can make the mileage tick up and that may be all you need to get that needle to point to the right.

The last third of the season is also interesting with the Chase and six of the tracks I love to run. More on that with the update after Week 24.

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