So, the sun sets on the second ISOWC Indianapolis 500, and just as at the conclusion of the Month of May, Yang Ou enjoyed the unique opportunity of drinking the virtual milk and kissing the digital yard of bricks. Starting all the way back in 28th position, Yang made his way methodically through the field, before dominating over the last 100 laps.
Yang’s was a last minute appearance, stepping-in to replace long-term competitor John Paquin, who should have been racing in his final IndyCar race, but was suffering from illness on the day. Yang paid tribute to Paquin in his post race interview, drawing memory on their battles and lauding the Indiana resident as one of the best to ever step into a virtual IndyCar. Of course, the driver change forced Yang to start from the rear, and he would have to make his way through a tough and competitive field.
The field itself was paced by none other than iRacing’s own Sean Siff, behind whom the nervous, anxious sim racers lined-up in their famous rows of three. Always one of the most exciting and dramatic starts of the year, from 110 MPH, Randy Freeman brought the field to the green flag, and mercifully, everyone not only made it through Turn One, but the first few laps.
Racing was intense from the drop of the green flag, with drivers running two, three, and once even FOUR wide along the famous 2.5 mile speedway. Although there was plenty of close action, the first 20 laps went green — and then it all went wrong. Battling for the race lead, Randy Freeman and David Ward came into Turn One side-by-side when just a matter of inches resulted in contact, and both drivers were sent into the SAFER barrier.
Surprisingly enough, both drivers were extremely angry concerning the incident, and there was a heated moment down in Pit Lane. In all the confusion, a miscommunication with the Pace Car meant that all drivers were forced to halt under a red flag condition on the Start/Finish line; all drivers save for an unfortunate Erick Davis, that it, who was involved in a collision in this process, putting him out of the race. This gave all drivers the chance to take a breather, after a long opening run, and make some changes to their race cars.
The green flag waved again with 26 laps scored complete, with Bud Weissert taking-up the race lead. The first round of green flag pit stops soon ensued, with a number of drivers making up positions as Tim Doyle, Ou, Ryan Norton, Michael Chinn and Michael DuTemple came to the fold over various portions of the run. The second caution of the day came about 10 laps after this green flag run, with Brad Sanford and Doyle having a moment into Turn One. Sanford was on the outside coming into the corner with Doyle making the move on the inside, and then clipped the SAFER barrier on the exit of the corner, forcing him to spear left, into the Armco on the Short Chute. Sanford’s anger wasn’t about Tim Doyle making a move, but the timing of it, and again, some heated words were exchanged.
The third caution of the day came via a single car incident, yet drivers were noting that there had been only three cautions over the course of the first 100 laps. Safe restarts proved to be ultra effective, allowing the field to get a degree of separation, rather than packs of cars sweeping down into some very tight corners at speeds above 220MPH. Perhaps even more surprisingly, when the green flag flew on Lap 102, it would be for the last time, forcing drivers to race flat-out, non-stop for nearly 250 miles.
Yang looked to have the race in the bag at many points from that moment on. But he had to save fuel and deal with what looked like an issue finding a gear at one point, allowing Chinn and DuTemple to stay close. In reality, however, the race was one for Yang to lose, and two successive sequences of green flag pit stops showed just how impressive he is at the Brickyard. Some other drivers were having great drives, including Sam Bonsett, who worked his way up to third come the final few laps. Tim Doyle, hotly tipped as a contender going into the race, struggled after a slight brush with the wall coming through Turns One and Two put-paid to his hopes for glory.
By taking his second Indy 500 victory of the year, Yang becomes the first driver to win a road and an oval race in the 2012 ISOWC Championship campaign, after winning a thriller in the rolling hills of New York at Watkins Glen earlier in the year. He also makes it impossible for a driver to win all three Triple Crown races on ovals, as Ryan Norton’s day came to an early end to put him out of contention of following-up on his Pocono win.
The final ISOWC Oval Triple Crown race takes place at Michigan International Speeday on November 16. To keep updated, and find out more, go to http://www.isowc.org