iRacing: Second Round of League Challenge Proves To Be A Challenge For All
Round two of racing was among us this past Monday as teams unloaded at the Auto Club Speedway for the Doug Design 75 under the lights! Just like any track that runs under the lights it didn’t take long for sparks to fly. Much like any night gates opened for practice at 6:45 PM (EST) for drivers to work on their lines and put a fast lap down before things kicked off LIVE again on YouTube under the Checkered Flag Interactive channel – by the way a full video recap is available if you follow the link.
Similar names found their way back to the top of the leaderboard this week, the #54 of Steven Burnett posted a blistering time of 40.591 around the two-mile D shape oval. Keith Maiato and Travis Wall among the top three again, posting times just thousandths of a second off the top spot. ‘More’ drivers, Todd Marcotte & Chris Simard rounded out the top five all posting times in the 40’s. Not really what the NASTRACK guys wanted to se early on with the Challenge scoring set up to give points only the top 10 drivers when the checkered flag waves.
NASTRACK -vs- More Challenge Standings
To help describe the points award to the leagues, each driver is award points through the iRacing simulator individually; 43 points going to the winner, subtract one point for each finishing position behind them (i.e. P2=42, P3=41, and so on down the line). Within the challenge is a secondary points system award to the league. To qualify points for your league you MUST finish in the top 10 then, the winner earns 10 points for their respective league, with second bringing home 9 points, and so on down to P10 earning just one point for their league.
As qualifying wrapped up we found NASTRACK wheel-man Travis Wall on top of the charts posting the only time down in the sixes for that session with a 40.616 (177.27 MPH) to claim the first pole award for the NASTRACK Sim Racing team! Sharing the front row was the #27 Mt. Dew machine of Chris Simard posting a quick time of 40.775. Rounding out the top five were the #54 Steve Burnett, #4 Shawn Pierce, and #53 Todd Marcotte.
The green flag was displayed to the field for the second round of the NASTRACK -vs- More Challenge and it was just that – a challenge. Anything from drivers dealing with the rough surface to thirty cars on the track, encroaching walls, graphics card failure and internet issues – all which would be considered as mechanical failures in the sim world. No one was safe from technical failures of the evening, not even the broadcast team as they lost connection for a solid six to seven minutes before rejoining the fun.
The caution flag waved early and often in this one as drivers from the front to the back, dealing with all of the issues mentioned above. The first caution flag was waved not but four laps into the feature as Dan Little and Billy Howard got together on the back stretch. Two of the four total cautions happening before 12 laps were on the board as Jesse Vaughan & Call make contact and collecting five or more cars forcing them to use up their one and only reset. Lap 17 the field was placed under yellow flag conditions yet again due to another large wreck on the back stretch after yet another car got into the wall creating a chain reaction of collisions!
Luckily, however, we got all of those things – including a glitch in the broadcast – sorted out and set up a pretty interesting finish as different pit strategies played a major role in deciding this one. The broadcast was picked up at lap 30 just as the fourth caution waved due to the #38 of Laurie Melson getting sucked into the wall causing a collision between the #2 of Kern and #27 of Chris Simard allowing for the entire field to head down pit road for fresh tires and full tank of gas.
The field got the green flag yet again on lap 35 with Anthony Warren at the point thanks to a two tire stop, however that would not last long as the newer right side tires would prove to be the way to go. Travis Wall – who actually lost the lead momentarily during the broadcast drop – took the lead back before they even got back to the stripe with the #01 Ken Richardson hot in his trails! Richardson would make an attempt for the lead as lap 38 went up in lights while the rest of the field gets single file behind them. Wall and Richardson would spend the next handful of laps either battling for the lead or setting each other up for a pass, which was allowing the rest of the field to catch up.
First car to reach their bumper the #7 Canadian Mustang driver Keith Maiato and immediately started putting pressure on the leaders. Wall would eventually make a mistake allowing Richardson sole possession on the lead with Maiato behind him all the while falling back to the fourth position. In the longest green flag run of the evening we would crown a new leader on lap 49. Maiato with a beautiful move going into three that he was able to capitalize coming off of four and win the drag race down he front stretch.
That lead would not last long as Richardson powered back on the outside to make things difficult on Maiato. This would allow the top five cars, at times the top seven machines, to catch that lead pack and create some great nose to tail racing. That however would all change with about 20 laps to as Travis Wall and Shawn Pierce started the round of pit stops for the lead pack, Richardson and Maiato would head down pit road the following lap and the lead over to the #54 of Burnett for a lap before making his stop.
As everything cycled through Richardson regained the lead with just 14 laps left in the race with quite a bit of a lead of More Racing teammate Keith Maiato. Richardson looking to hold onto what he had and grab his first win of the series while both Maiato & Wall hunt him down. It only took about four laps for that seven car to close the gap and create a brand new race with just 6 laps on the board.
As the two come across the strip taking lap 70, Maiato dives under the #01 car as they head down into one setting up the drag race down the back stretch. Richardson holding on to the lead on the outside, Maiato was able to get the better run into three and clear the #01 machine before the exit of four taking the lead coming to four laps to go. Richardson was able to use the draft to catch the rear bumper of Maiato a few times but just did not have enough car left as Keith Maiato brings home the checkered the first time this season for himself and grabs Moore Racing their first victory of the season.
We were able to catch up with Keith during his post race interview in victory lane where he spoke about is decision to take two tires there at the end, what made the restarts so difficult there at the start of the race.
“Having raced with Ken I knew he was going to take two tires,” Maiato told CFI. “So I knew I had to do the same thing to at least stay up with him and just hope the guys behind us couldn’t catch us. [The] restarts were crazy because in the pack you get that real bad aero push. Which I didn’t realize till we started the race and I think thats what brings those bad chances for a wreck. Plus the track doesn’t really have a top groove with the set up we were running so your kinda forced to run on the bottom two lanes.
In addition he was asked to describe what the win meant not only for him but for the league and his thoughts going into the next three races.
“For the league its awesome,” Maiato said. “Im not real sure how many of our guys finished top ten, but at least Ken and I finished top two so thats good. For me it was just a great bounce back to the horrible pit stop I had the last week. As far as the rest of the series its gotta be the same things really; just run my race, avoid the wrecks and stay nice and smooth on the long green flag runs like tonight.
We send things back over to the east coast as these two leagues will meet at Charlotte Motor Speedway! Which promises to be an exciting race, just about the same speeds from this weekend and not the same amount of room on the track. Gates will open for drivers at 6:45 PM (EST) for practice, Checkered Flag Interactive will have you covered starting at 8:00 PM. Qualifying set to roll off at 8:30 PM sharp with the green flag to follow!
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