iRacing: TWR & QMS Finish Top 5 In iRacings First 24 Hours at Daytona
Newport News, VA – The month of January to some means play-off football and the approaching Super Bowl, which personally I do love both of those things. However, the month of January to race fans mean so much more than that. Daytona International Speedway has played host to some pretty iconic races in its time, most notable being NASCAR equivalence to the big game – the Daytona 500! However that is not the only iconic race at the famous facility early in the year. The 24 hour sports car endurance race is held every year during the last weekend of January and usually is the first big race of the year for the United States. How is this relevant you may ask? Let me take a few moments to tell you!
2015 marked the first year iRacing (the virtual racing simulator that brings driving real life cars to your bedroom) hosted a true 24 hour race! Since the addition of ‘Team Racing” to the servers, iRacing modeled the following weekend after the Rolex 24 Hour race to the real deal. Minus weather and time change (hopefully coming soon) it was a single session, 24 hours long, four different cars, and up to sixteen of your buddies, all going after one thing… the very first iRacing 24 Hours at Daytona win!
Luckily for us here at The Weekly Racer we were invited to compete on a team composed of several figures from Hampton, Virginia’s premier short track – Langley Speedway. Teaming up with Late Model Stock Car driver Brenden Queen (Queen Motorsports), Charlie Alexander – King Charles Photography, and what was supposed to be Landon Abbott who ultimately had to pull out of the race due to a miscommunication with qualifying, we formed what was known as QMS.
Brenden Queen qualified our #20 HPD with a fast lap of 1:37 earlier in the week placing us fifth on the grid. With Queen showing quickness early it was decided earlier we was the flagship of the team and start/finish the race. The original plans were to run two separate, three-hour sessions over the next 24 hours – there was a last-minute addition to the team, my father Mikey came on board with less than twelve hours on the clock to help spread out the driving time among the team. However, his race was over just as soon as it got started as he ran into a mechanical failure.
With the drop of the green flag around the 8:15 AM Saturday morning, it did not take long for Queen to start climbing towards the front. We would eventually take the class and overall lead within the first two hours of the race before a lapped GT3 traffic decided to run us off the course and into the wall damaging the right side of the car. This ultimately slowed us down about 5-10 MPH of the lead pace. However, Queen did not let up and was able to hold onto the top three before handing the rains over to Alexander.
As the hours ticked away you could tell the toll it took on some drivers as they began to over drive the cars, forget their breaking points, and really just made stupid mistakes. With the damage to the car, QMS had to re-evaluate their plan due to the loss of power and focus on keeping the car in one piece and bring home at least a top five! Of course with the distance of this race we all knew anything could happen to anyone, at any given time – and that’s exactly what happened.
About the sixth hour the overall leader was involved in a head on collision with a wrecking GT3 car coming out of turn five that damaged the front of the car pretty extensively. This made the team to spend a significant amount of time on pit road, losing multiple laps, and ultimately disconnecting from the race – much later into the night. Continuing further into the session, the car running P3 ran into engine troubles as well as they found themselves on pit road for over a half an hour handing over the podium spot –or so we thought – to QMS with Charlie behind the wheel.
Of course however this race is more than just a race, it was a test on the mind and Charlie found out first hand the effects of fatigue on a driver. Just laps before his final driver swap Alexander took the car into turn 5 and then into the turn five wall. “I don’t know if it was just a lapse of judgement or what,” Charlie told The Weekly Racer. “I took the car into the turn just like I always had and I don’t know if I was thinking of something else or what but I didn’t break hard enough and ended up in the grass, then into the wall.” He was able to make it back to pit road as the crew went to work fixing the car and handing the duties over to myself.
The impact with the wall cut another good chunk of speed from us and dropped us back to sixth in the overall standings. “I knew I had to hit my marks and not mess the car up anymore for Brenden,” Kern spoke on his final run in the car. “I knew there was a lot of time left in the race and plenty of opportunity for others to mess up, that’s the name of the game. I went out ran my line and focused on keeping the car as fast as we could on the road course side.”
Luck must have been on our side as the third place HPD car disconnected from the race, and the car running fifth ran into engine troubles that landed him on pit road for thirty minutes leaving him well over ten laps behind our team. This gave Brenden the car with the final three hours in the race with the third position just four laps ahead of us. However all hopes of a podium finish was wiped away when a GT3 car clipped Queen in the left rear going through NASCAR 3 sending us head on into the wall ending our shot at the podium. Hey, taking home a fourth place finish in our first 24 hour race, we were all pretty happy with that.
After the race we caught up with Queen and Alexander to get their thoughts on the race, any favorite moments as well as best and worst section of the track.
“Overall the race was pretty awesome,” Alexander said during the cool down laps. “It was pretty cool to have us all on the sim watching Brenden complete the twenty-fourth hour. Honestly, I struggled everywhere! I guess I was a little faster going into one but had a really hard time in the final turn coming back onto the oval. I always wanted to give it a lot of gas and ended up wobbling and even losing it a few times.”
“I love the whole track,” Queen said. “My favorite road course by far even though I struggled getting into one. It was very easy to over drive. Taking the overall lead and holding for as long as we did was probably the highlight of the race for me. I do have to agree with Charlie though, it was cool when everyone was there at the end to see our team complete the twenty-fourth hour.”
We also caught up with Mickey after the finish of the race to get the run down of what failed.
“I was pretty upset not to get the seat time for the team,” Kern told us after the race. “This would have been the longest I have ever been in the car since coming to iRacing, I was looking forward to getting better and learning the track more. Twenty minutes into my run every time I made a right hand turn the wheel would never really come back to center. Every lap I was having to turn hold the wheel just about upside down to go straight, it was very hard to go through the gear box and even stay on the track. That is when the team decided to pull me out the car. Of course I was pissed, but I understood.”
The 24 Hours of Daytona not only a first race of its kind and more than likely to be brought back next year even better. It was the first of a series of Road Warrior Series where drivers will utilize many different cars and tracks to test their skills in the sim world. Click the image below for the official rundown!