By: Stephen Mallozzi, eSports contributor
On a critical night for the Season 4 Monday Nigh Racing Rowdy Energy Pro Series playoff contenders, it was two non playoff drivers who stole the show at virtual Spielberg in the middle event of the Round of 10.
Hard Point Racing teammates Anders Krohn and Stefan Wilson dominated a majority of the 75 minute race. It was by no means a smooth event however, as many of the Monday Night regulars struggled to adapt to the transition from NASCAR Trucks at Talladega over to GT3 Porsches on a road course.
Right off the bat on lap one, chaos ensued as multiple incidents occurred across the racetrack, including one involving Brad Perez, who started fifth. Perez had a rough day, finding himself at the center of a number of wrecks and finishing a disappointing 21st.
That chaos didn’t end there.
Within the first few laps, more than ten drivers found themselves off the racetrack or spinning at different points, perhaps the most notable to do so being playoff contender Max Kennon, who would drop all the way outside of the top thirty early. Kennon would actually rebound to finish a very respectable 13th position.
After the first few laps, things calmed down significantly, with Wilson out in front and Krohn not too far behind. Those two separated themselves by over ten seconds by the time pit stops began about five minutes before the scheduled competition caution at the halfway mark.
The pit cycle was action packed, with a number of different strategies taking effect. A few drivers made critical mistakes, including Rajah Caruth, who was running third at the time pit cycles began.
Caruth, who started the day five points below the playoff cutline, needed a solid day to remain in points contention to advance. Early on, it looked like Caruth had the fastest car in the field outside of the two Europeans at the front, as he was running third and keeping pace with the leaders. However, a strategy miscalculation meant Caruth would have to bring it in with the pits closed right before the competition caution, earning him a penalty.
Caruth would then fight his way all the way back inside the top ten, until a spin and hard crash with Brad Perez sent him to the back with significant damage. Caruth ended the day 28th, two laps down.
The restart after more pit stops under caution saw new faces at the front, with Will Rodgers and Adam Cabot leading the field to green. However, it didn’t take long for the fastest two cars to find their way back to the front once again.
Rodgers led for a few laps, but eventually was overcome by Krohn and Wilson.
Krohn used a great restart to build about a second advantage on Wilson, and wasn’t caught until lapped traffic held Krohn up with just eight minutes left. An aggressive battle ensued which saw Wilson use a run to try and take the lead. Krohn and Wilson sent it into turn four, with Krohn hitting the turtle on the inside of the track, and washing up right in front of Wilson. This killed Wilson’s momentum, and granted Krohn an insurmountable lead that he held all the way until the checkered flag.
Behind those two, a fantastic battle for third occurred over the second portion of the race, consisting of half the playoff field. Adam Cabot, Will Rodgers, Colin Fern, David Schildhouse, and Josh Bilicki all fought hard behind the leaders, but in the end, Rodgers used his speed to run away with the final podium spot, with Cabot and Fern rounding out the top five.
The poor race by Caruth paired with a no-show from Kyle Busch and Preston Pardus puts those three drivers in a tough points position, and they will all likely face a virtual must win situation in Miami next week.