Every year the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is the first official, major race of the new year. If you have never watched the race it is something that I highly recommend doing. It’s something you don’t have to block off your entire day to watch, watch some during the morning when you wake up, hit the town for some errands, watch some more in the afternoon, have a fun time out on a Saturday, come back home and watch some more!
For the second year in a row iRacing.com, the worlds premier online racing game, will host its rendition of the famed 24-hour endurance race. In 2015 the service was proud to boast its new Team Driving option. Drivers from all over the world really can come together and race one car on multiple different computers, all running for the same goal – the checkered flag. 2016 is no stranger to new additions, as the sim racing company is always working to improve their product. This year teams will run the night setting at Daytona, which has already caused a learning curve adapting to cold tires. This year will also feature the new Corvette C7 Prototype for the races top tier division.
The Weekly Racer again has the privilege of not only running this year’s race, along with returning teammates; Brenden Queen (LMSC Driver), Charlie Alexander (King Charles Photography), and my father Mickey Kern, but also being one of the primary sponsors on the car. This year the team has added one hell of a driver/team owner, South Carolina’s own Steven Burnett. Owner of Excel Sim Racing, Burnett has spent most of, if not all of his time as an oval racer but has shown early in testing he will be one of the major driving forces for the team.
The season finale was finally upon us this past Monday evening as the driver from the NASTRACK & More league took to the banks of Daytona International to settle the “ole score.” Nothing about this night of racing said “let’s go out there and conserve. Both the team and driver championships were up for grabs, oh and its Daytona so anyone could come from tenth to first in the final lap to steal the win.
Time to break some scenarios down for you; More went into the race leading the team points, NASTRACK would need to sweep the top ten to be able to steal the title. Steven Burnett & Kieth Maiato were tied for the driver points and with each position on the track being one point it came down much like how the 2014 Sprint Cup title did, finish ahead of the other guy and the championship is yours.
The garage opened for practice promptly at 6:45 EDT and drivers from both teams wasted no time putting laps into the books. Things were shaping up to be a barn burner too with the top ten split dead even in times during practice. Back for just his second race of the season, #92 Guy Driggers Red Six Camaro set the fastest time of the entire night with a 45.825 (196.4 MPH).
Moving ahead to qualifying it was the #40 car of Andrew Burton capturing the pole for NASTRACK. Posting a time of 48.770 seconds, which comes out to about 184 mph, which is pretty sporty for the Xfinity style cars here on iRacing. What made things really fun was the fact the top 22 cars were only separated by a tenth of a second! The remainder of your starting five were, #27 Chris Simard (48.775), #92 Guy Driggers (48.776), #37 Parker Traves (48.779), #30 Steven Burnett (48.781). On the flip side to that, there were a few cars who either missed qualifying or decided not to lay a lap down, those drivers were Keith Maiato, Bruce Boyer, Jesse Call, Gary Maiato, Kevin Cornelius, Laurie Meson and Michael Almand.
With the field set and the cars finally on track we were all but ready to get things underway for the fifth and “final” round of the NASTRACK –vs- More Challenge. However, the electronic world thought other wise as the #07 of Billy Howard just takes a hard right into the wall just past the start finish line and jolts back down the track causing a train reaction of carnage. “I don’t know what happened,” Howard said on his way back to the garage. “It’s the second week where when we get the restart it feels like as if I have a flat tire.” He was able to drive his car around to the attention of his crew and use is one and only free reset of the evening and rejoin the field.
NASTRACK -vs- More Challenge coming to the green flag for Round #4 at Michigan.
After a week away from the simulators the stars and cars of the NASTRACK & More Sim Racing leagues packed up their haulers, don’t worry all cars and motors were accounted for, and headed towards the Midwest track that is Michigan International Speedway. On deck The Kirsten’s Dream 150, a 75-lap feature placing some of the best sim racers on the very rough, very quick, 2-mile D-shape oval. A very special event as we hit the track not only to crown a winner but in my mind to pay tribute and raise awareness for childhood cancer. Fellow sim racer Randy Hughes lost his daughter to the courageous battle with cancer. We hit the track in her honor and I suggest everyone hit the Facebook page created in her honor Kirsten’s Dream Foundation.
Right out of the gate familiar names from both leagues found their names nestled at the top of the leaderboard. Keith Maiato would top the charts as the only car to post a time in the mid two’s (40.257), the rest of the field found themselves running three’s & four’s. You know you are going to have a barn burner when the top sixteen of twenty-eight cars that took time were only separated by two tenths of a second.
Though Maiato was fastest in practice he was not able to duplicate those results in qualifying, posting a time only tenth fastest on the field. Don’t worry though I will just go ahead right now and let you know not to count him out just yet! Travis Wall, sporting a new color scheme again this week, posted the fast time of the session with a 40.337 (178.5 mph) to grab the pole. Todd Marcotte, Shawn Pierce, Steven Burnett, and Chris Simard would round out the top five all posting times within a tenth of a second of the top spot!
Round three of five in the NASTRACK -vs- More Sim Racing Challenge wrapped up this past Monday just after the mayhem that was the Daytona 500 qualifier. Needed to supply your racing fix with more but didn’t know where to go? Your always guaranteed to find some interesting door to door action on the very popular iRacing server. Don’t have the program, don’t worry! The folks over at Checkered Flag Interactive have you covered from flag to flag! Along with past races in their archives follow the LINK HERE to check out some of the replays from this series amongst other races they broadcast.
As teams unloaded in the heart of NASCAR and took to the high banks of Charlotte Motor Speedway for practice, it was clear we were going to have a barn burner on our hands. Keith Maiato captured his second pole of the series Monday night coming off the victory the week before in California. Keith posted the fastest time in qualifying with a 29.232 (184.73 MPH) second lap time. Other familiar faces were among the top of the charts as well; Travis Wall, Steven Burnett, and Chris Simard all posting times within eight thousandths of a second of each other.
Twenty-six B-Class cars hit the grid for the CreekFire.com 120. 80 laps under the lights with only 50% of fuel in the cars to again ensure the need for teams to make pit stops. Once the green flag was displayed to the field the leaders waisted no time turning the heat up! The top four drivers spent the first eight laps door to door while the rest of the field tried to settle in single and click off some fast times.
Just as I said that however, the #01 of Richardson gets loose coming off turn four and clips the #62 of Clifton Savage sending them both for a ride through the grass in the dog leg bringing out the nights first of five cautions! All but the top five cars took the long slow 50 mph trip down pit road for four fresh tires and to get off sink with the leaders in hopes of pit strategy playing in their favor. Travis Wall leading the field back to the relatively short green flag run before the field was placed back under yellow flag conditions. Jeremy Jordan, driver of the Hendrickcars.com #48 made contact with the #12 machine of Bruce Boyer due to a technical glitch with the server or main machine.
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