The ninth event of the sixth season of the Monday Night Racing (MNR) league was held on Monday, January 9th at Richmond Raceway using the Super Late Models. This was race one of the first round of the Season 6 playoffs.
I’ve been excited about this race all season. Richmond Raceway is one of my favorites, and typically one of my most competitive tracks to race on iRacing. The super late model has lots of horsepower and is challenging to drive, which fits my style.
I showed great speed in the league practice race on Sunday night, which gave me even more confidence for race day. I entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed with seven bonus points from the regular season. I used that momentum to qualify 5th, which matched my expectations for qualifying. I quickly moved into the top three and began contesting the lead.
I made a move to the inside of Ryan Vargas for second, which he conceded as we entered turn one. It took me over 20 laps to finally catch up to Chase Cabre for the lead, but once I caught him I took over the lead for a few laps before having one of the most fun battles I’ve ever had on iRacing to defend the lead from him. That battle quickly turned into a four-way battle between Cabre and me, as well as Adam Cabot and Ryan Vargas, to which I came out of in second place behind Cabot.
The first caution flew just after lap 60, which was only about 20 laps until we would be making a green flag pit stop. Most drivers, including myself, took four tires and fuel. I restarted third for the first restart of the race.
Several quick cautions slowed the race pace down quite a bit, and we unfortunately never got a long green flag run again the entire second half of the race. After about 30 more laps, we got a caution that ultimately changed the entire outlook of the race. We were borderline on being good to the end on fuel, which led to Adam Cabot, myself, and Joey Padgett staying on track while almost the entire rest of the field pitted. This was a mistake on my part, as looking back on it I probably should have pitted.
Several cautions later I did just that. I restarted 26th on the freshest tires in the field with only about 25 laps to go. I instantly charged through the field in front of me and made my way all the way up to 16th in only a couple of laps before another caution flew. By this point, the cautions were consistent and it was tough to go more than 2-3 laps green flag. This made passing tough in my situation because I needed as many green flag laps as possible with my tire advantage.
After several more cautions, I finally lined up in the top 10. A shot at the win was almost out of the window, but I still had hopes for a top 5. I got beat and banged around off of turn four coming to the white flag and a crash ultimately occurred right behind me, but the caution came out before we officially took the white. This meant the race was set up for a green-white-checkered finish. I got a good jump on the final restart and moved up into 6th or 7th as we took the white flag.
This time we made it, meaning the race was official. I was bottom of three wide as we crossed the line and the two cars to my outside hit each other off of the corner exit. Although I left plenty of room, the contact between the two to my outside sent the middle car spinning into me and ultimately destroyed my car just after the white flag. I had to limp the car back around to the checkered flag, finishing in an extremely disappointing 26th.
Taking the white flag I had a decent points buffer going into next week, but after the last lap crash, I will have to dig myself out of a pretty big hole in the next two races before the bottom four playoff contenders are eliminated. I currently sit 11th in the standings out of 12 playoff contenders.
Monday Night Racing heads to Daytona (Legacy) with the ARCA car next Monday, January 16th. All of the action can be caught live on Podium eSports or on Eric Estepp’s YouTube at 7:45 PM EST.