Thursday, May 26, 2022

Colin Fern Uses Strategy and Speed to Claim Second Monday Night Racing Victory at Iowa

PC: Monday Night Racing | Twitter

In a wild, action-packed, and flat-out strange race at virtual Iowa Speedway, Colin Fern found himself victorious in the Monday Night Racing Sim Seats Challenge Truck Race.

After duking it out upfront with fellow playoff contenders David Schildhouse, Will Rodgers, and Ryan Vargas, it would be Fern’s brains rather than his speed that would bring him to victory lane.

During the final round of pit stops beginning on lap thirty, Fern would extend his run another ten laps, being one of the only drivers on the lead lap to do so. Things fell Fern’s way when a caution flew with 20 laps remaining. The Brandonbilt Motorsports driver trapped a majority of the field a lap down forcing them to take the wave around. He would restart with the freshest tires, and faced no challenge the rest of the way.

It took a lot to bring us to that point however. Early on, the race was fairly calm, with Anthony Alfredo jumping out to the lead ahead of pole-sitter Rajah Caruth. Alfredo would lead all the way up until the first round of pit stops, which happened under caution following a lap 34 wreck involving Brad Perez, Shane Gusbergen, and Brandon Brown. Alfredo would fall to fourth on pit road, while David Schildhouse would steal the lead with a blistering pit stop.

Right after the ensuing restart, Caruth, who started from third, would get loose off of turn four and fall outside the top ten. Caruth, who had a fantastic race last week to get into the round of seven, would then cause a huge wreck by turning Preston Pardus back into the field. Caruth would have to start in near last place for the next restart on lap 49. By lap 66, Caruth was fighting with Adam Cabot, who struggled all night long, for a top fifteen.

Caruth’s stint at the front might not have lasted long, but he was arguably the most influential driver over the course of the race. On lap 69, Rajah would turn Gabe Wood, bringing out another caution. Caruth would lose a lap on pit road making repairs. After pit stops and a Garrett Smithley pit road penalty, the top four would all be playoff contenders: Schildhouse, Fern, Will Rodgers, and Ryan Vargas.

Max Kennon would be the next playoff driver with issues, as on this restart, Kennon would get a drive-through penalty for a restart violation and lose a lap. Up at the front, we saw an epic four-car fight for the lead between the aforementioned playoff contenders. Fern would power to the lead on lap 78 but would cede it almost immediately after a big slide out of turn four. Then, Fern, Schildhouse, and Rodgers played a game of leapfrog, swapping positions numerous times over the next thirty laps.

When pit cycles began, the race looked like Schildhouse’s to lose, as he was pulling away from the pack. Vargas would be the first of the front four to pit. However, he would be busted for speeding and go numerous laps down. Rodgers and Schildhouse would pit next, just a lap apart, and come outside by side. It was all for naught though, as Fern got the caution he needed when Gary Sexton and Adam Cabot collided on the frontstretch. This changed everything as Schildhouse and Rodgers, who seemed to have the best trucks, would end up needing a wave around. Meanwhile, this was massive for Rajah Caruth, who stayed out during the pit cycle and found himself the first driver a lap down, earning the lucky dog. This would allow Caruth to rebound to an impressive 11th place finish. Max Kennon would also get back on the lead lap.

After a return to green with four laps to go, another huge crash occurred heading into turn one, taking out ten cars, including Cabot. Schildhouse meanwhile had the save of the season, and somehow prevented his Chevy from hitting anything, even though his truck was completely sideways. This would create a green-white-checkered situation, and surprisingly, the field made it around in what was a calm finish to an incredibly eventful race as Fern walked away to take the checkered flag, locking himself into the Championship Four.

Cummings, Smithley, Talladega winner Matt Stallknecht, and Justin Melillo would round out the top five. The next highest finishing playoff driver was Rodgers in eighth. Schildhouse would end up a disappointing 15th after leading a majority of the event. Meanwhile, Vargas and Cabot have created tough points situations for themselves by finishing 28th and 30th respectively. You can view the rest of the running order below:

  1. Colin Fern
  2. DJ Cummings
  3. Garrett Smithley
  4. Matt Stallknecht
  5. Justin Melillo
  6. Robby Lyons
  7. Steve Auffant
  8. Will Rodgers
  9. Preston Pardus
  10. Anthony Alfredo
  11. Rajah Caruth
  12. Brad Perez
  13. Devon Henry
  14. Brett Baldeck
  15. David Schildhouse
  16. Max Kennon
  17. Gabe Wood
  18. Michael Massie
  19. James Bickford
  20. Brandon Brown
  21. Seth Eggert
  22. Joshua Slate
  23. Garrett Miller
  24. Mike Clay
  25. Kase Kallenbach
  26. Mark Rebilas
  27. Gary Sexton
  28. Ryan Vargas
  29. Ford Martin
  30. Adam Cabot
  31. Shane Gisbergen
  32. Bryan Cook


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