iRacing Series: Pittman Out Duels Cavanaugh For First Win

Week 3 Lime Rock ParkLakeville, CT – It was that time of the season already to make the field start looking right. The hauler’s loaded up and headed north so to speak to the historic Lime Rock Park located in the beautiful hills of Connecticut. As the season has played out we have been crowning a new winner each week and this week was no different. Not sure if the idea of a road race or the institution of new rules scared some teams away as this week was the smallest field.

Frustration set in early throughout the garage trying to deal with the S turns as well as the up hill section of the track. The left and right turns did not seem to phase the 08 machine of Joseph Pittman as he was the fastest car on the track during practice with a fast lap of 58.029 seconds. Michael Cavanaugh, the current points leader, came into this week worried that he would not be able to keep his car on the track as a result of testing earlier in the week posted the second fastest time in the session. Coming across the stripe pretty much two tenths of a second slower than Pittman proved that both drivers had one hell of a shot at capturing their first win.

Qualifying was setup just a bit different while at the road course as all nine cars were allowed on the track at the same time. With the help of our guest race director Jesse Vaughn, spotter for the #28 George Brunnhoelzl in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Vaughn made sure the drivers were staggered to give ample room for each driver to get their best lap. Five minutes were given to the drivers to post the their best time and set the grid for this weeks thirty lap feature. Mike Cavanaugh was not only able to grab the top spot, but was also the only driver to break into the 57 second bracket with a 57.769 for his first pole award of the season.

Qualifying Times:
1. #25 Michael Cavanaugh – 57.769
2. #2 Justin Kern – 58.048
3. #05 Phil Ledwon – 58.255
4. #00 Brody Willett – 58.990
5. #08 Joseph Pittmann – 1:00.138
6. #18 Mike Chapman – 1:01.610
7. #99 Trace Williams – 1:02.966
8. #9 Alex Brock – N/A
9. #04 Caleb Conner – N/A

As the field doubled up coming out turn seven the field turned their heads to the flag man and waited for the green flag to drop. As the field started to get up to speed Justin Kern got up to speed a little to quickly as crossed the line before the pole sitter did and as a result received the black flag. “I don’t know what happened there,” Kern said after the race. “I think it was a mixture of nerves, the open track, and the difference in gear selection. Sounded like leader decided to try a different gear on the start their and we just beat him to the line. With these cars its hard to see left and right, it was a stupid mistake but we had to roll with it.” Cavanaugh jumped out to an early lead when the nights first caution flag waved as the 00 of Brody Willett & 04 Caleb Conner made contact and went off course.

This bunched the field up for their single file restart, and allowed for Kern to catch the tail end of the field after serving his stop and go penalty. As the green flag waved again over the field Cavanaugh wasted no time in creating a lead for himself. At one point Cavanaugh had spread the lead out to just over fifteen seconds before the caution flag waved over the field again signaling the half way point in the race.

Alex Brock, who came in tonights race as the third place driver in the standing ran into issues early and often. “I am not good on road courses,” Brock mentioned during the halfway point. “Just have not had enough time to test.” Brock would eventually finish eighth, fifteen laps off the pace with pretty significant front end damage. Kern who worked his way back to fourth spot after that black flag was happy to see the yellow flag for the half way break to allow for the tires to cool and to be able to pull up to the back bumper of the second place machine.

The green flag dropped on lap eighteen for the field creating a twelve lap shoot out to the end. It was back to business for Cavanaugh who jumped back out to a commanding lead. The top four cars of Pittman, Chapman, Kern and Phil Ledwon holding on strong were clearly the best cars on the track and took off through the S turns. With Cavanaugh starting to get back into his groove and extend his lead the battle for the third spot got underway, Chapman had it Kern wanted it. Going into turn one on lap 17 I believe Chapman drove into the corner just a bit to hard and ran off track, let me tell you once these cars got into the grass you were done for!

Just about the time that we were under another full course caution for an issue on the track that was away from the leaders. All but one guy was happy to see the yellow, that guy was leader Michael Cavanaugh and for good reason. As the field got back under green flag conditions Cavanaugh drove his machine a little to deep into one and slid up and off the track into the grass and hit the tire barrier in turn. This allowed Joseph Pittman, who had a strong car all day, take the lead while Cavanaugh fell back to the fourth spot.

The wild card in this game of UNO was driver of the #18 Mike Chapman, Chapman made a late pit stop for fresh tires on that last caution and drove through (not literally) the field to catch the leaders. Chapman was able to make a pass for the lead in the very tricky turn one as Pittman over drove the corner forcing his machine to hit the grassy noel. Took a moment for Pittman to regain control but by this time Chapman and Kern had already made the pass. Give it only a few laps though as arguably the two best cars were able to catch and pass Kern for the second and third place respectively and force Chapman to overdrive his car in one handing the lead again back over to Pittman.

The top three cars would spend the final three laps in what seemed to be a laid back cruise as they stayed within a second of each other allowing Joseph Pittman to capture not only the first road course win of the season but his first win of the season. After the race we caught up with Michael Cavanaugh to talk about his run. “Man if it weren’t for that late caution I think we would of had something there,” Cavanaugh speaking about the third and final caution of the evening. “We got into a real nice rhythm there before the halfway break, handled that restart good. Just that last restart I grabbed another gear and shouldn’t have probably and just drove the car to deep. Ended up in the grass, when you get in there you have no control of the car and we hit the wall. Think it messed something up in the front end and the car wouldn’t turn. Josheph had a strong car all day though so we can’t be to mad, on to Bristol.”

The teams will head back to their shops and switch out all their equipment and head towards one of the best short tracks ever built in my opinion, Bristol Motor Speedway. Practice is set to begin Monday August 25th at 7:00 PM EDT. Qualifying at 7:50 and the drop of the green flag for 100 laps of side by side racing at 7:55 PM.

Office Depot 45 Results
1. #08 Joseph Pittman; 30
2. #25 Michael Cavanaugh; 30
3. #2 Justin Kern; 30
4. #18 Mike Chapman; 30
5. #05 Phil Ledwon; 30
6. #04 Caleb Conner; 28
7. #99 Trace Williams; 28
8. #9 Alex Brock; 15
9. #00 Brody Willett; 11

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