Twenty-one drivers took to AutoClub Speedway for a 100 lap event Friday night (March 21, 2014), competing in the fifth race of the 2014 Integrity Racing League Nationwide Open Setup Series. Anthony Yankello entered the weekend with the points lead and showed speed from the start, capturing his first GranStand Sim Racing Products Pole Award of the season, with a lap of 40.229s. Nick Ward landed the outside pole, with his best starting position in his rookie season in the series.
The event would see the first of five cautions on the first lap, as the #9 of Steve Mattocks self-spun on the opening lap. As the sim-race progressed, only the #93 of Patrick “Slim” Davis seemed to have the speed to contend with Yankello. However, Yankello held-off Slim until Lap 23, when Davis was able to get under the #8 in Turn Three. Davis’ stay at the front was short-lived as Yankello was able to regain the lead two laps later. Several contenders battled connectivity issues, including the #24 HPPSimulation.com Chevy of Chris Shetzler, who felt that he had a set that could contend for victory. Marcus Lambert and Nick Staller also had frustrating nights thanks to connectivity and hardware issues.
As the race approached the midway point, Yankello continued to lead, with Patrick Davis following closely. The next pack included the #36 Pro Powder and Paint Chevy of Jacob Fyfe, #71 Neil Frohlich, #64 Robert Cook, and #27 Michael Gingerella. Caution flew on Lap 47, when Fyfe got loose and spun. The caution provided the first opportunity for a strategic move. Teammates Yankello, Davis and Cook all pitted, handing the lead over to Neil Frohlich for the first time.
Frohlich held the lead until Lap 60, when Davis roared back to the front. Once again, the lead for Davis was short-lived, as Yankello regained the lead on Lap 68. Caution flew again on Lap 71, as the #36 of Fyfe and #27 of Gingerella made contact on the front stretch. The contact ended Fyfe’s night and set the field up for a run to the checkers. Slim was able to capture the lead once again from Yankello but — again– the #8 machine proved too stout and Yankello took the lead for good on Lap 78. Davis made contact with the wall in Turn Four on Lap 82, sending his car into the grass on the front stretch and ending his night, although no caution flew. Robert Cook drove his #64 Chevy to second place, but could not muster a challenge for the lead. Frohlich brought home third on the evening, despite a precarious journey through the grass early in the race. Nick Ward and Cody Kutzner rounded-out the top five for the event.
The online race marked the second visit to HPPSimulation.com Victory Lane for Anthony Yankello. His win was a display of dominance, as he captured the pole and led 75 laps of the 100 lap race. Integrity Racing League has donated $5 in the name of Anthony Yankello to Victory Junction, through a partnership with iRace4Life.org. This season the league will donate $360 through this charitable effort; visit iRace4Life.org to see how you can turn your passion for sim racing into a helping hand.
The Nationwide Series takes off next week, and will return on April 4, 2014 for 125 lap of sim-racing at Texas Motor Speedway.
Congratulation to the Top Five Finishers:
1. Anthony Yankello
2. Robert Cook
3. Neil Frohlich
4. Nick Ward
5. Cody Kutzner
Full Race Results Available at: http://integrityracingleague.net/wp3/nationwide-race-results/
Race Weekend Video Recaps Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwncsqVYbbAEepbFvD1Opig