The fourth event of the sixth season of the Monday Night Racing league was held on Monday, November 28 at Texas Motor Speedway (Legacy) utilizing the NASCAR Xfinity Series car.
For anyone that’s unfamiliar with iRacing, a Legacy version of a track is an older scan from a previous configuration of a racetrack, in this case, Texas Motor Speedway as scanned in 2009.
I was excited for this race because the NASCAR Xfinity car at an intermediate track fits right into my driving style and usually is what I excel in.
After racing in the multiple practice races that were held throughout the week, I was confident in my speed. During the pre-race practice session, it was obvious I wasn’t going to have the speed to contend for the pole, with my lap times lacking speed that I couldn’t seem to find on new tires. I had no concern about the race however, I knew that the more the tires wore off the quicker I’d get.
I qualified 10th, matching exactly what my expectations were for qualifying. After an early caution or two, it wasn’t long before I had picked my way through the top 10 and up into third.
The top three drivers, myself, Bailey Turner, and Carson Hocevar, broke away from the rest of the pack pretty quickly. We three managed a 2.5-second lead over fourth most of the entire first green flag run, and we all three matched each other’s lap times lap after lap.
The three of us, still with a growing lead on the fourth position, ran our fuel out completely and came to pit road nose to tail. We left the pits mostly the same, but with Turner getting a slightly better exit and extending his lead to around one second over myself and Hocevar.
The race for the lead had its first major shakeup just a few laps after the pit stops. Bailey Turner got collected with a lap car off of turn 2, which didn’t trigger the caution flag, and allowed me and Hocevar to take over the head of the pack.
Hocevar and I, dead even on pace, swapped the lead back and forth several times with me leading a total of 22 laps before it was all said and done.
A caution at around lap 80, with about 45 laps to go, changed the precedent of the rest of the race. A few more cautions after 4-5 lap runs turned the strategy completely upside down and put many drivers on differing agendas to finish the race.
My race changed completely after I pit on around lap 95. Although I now had the freshest tires in the field, I was mired back in 16th position for the upcoming restart. Unfortunately, as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, several of the cars in front of me on the restart came together, causing a massive track-blocking crash that saw me and several others get destroyed.
Thankfully I still had my quick repair, but I was out of tire sets available on pit road. This meant I had to use the same tires that I crashed on for the remainder of the race, which is never ideal.
With some risky moves and great work from my spotter/crew chief duo Robert Dorman and James Pike, I was able to drive from 31st up to 7th at the finish in just under 20 laps, on worn tires nonetheless!
Although I was disappointed that I didn’t win after having arguably the most speed of anyone the whole race, I couldn’t help from being content with finishing 7th after all that I had overcome in the last 35 laps of the race. My 7th place finish keeps me third in points standings, just one point off of the lead.
Race 5 of the season is next week, Monday, December 5th, with the IndyCars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Catch all the action live on Podium eSports at 7:45 PM EST, with the green flag dropping just after 8 PM.