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From the (Virtual) Driver’s Seat: Monday Night Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

Presley Sorah details his experience from the sixth race of the sixth season of Monday Night Racing, from Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the NASCAR Cup Series NextGen car. PC: Robert Dorman

The sixth event of the sixth season of the Monday Night Racing (MNR) league was held on Monday, December 12th at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP) using the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen car. 

Even in the virtual world of iRacing, every driver has their strengths and weaknesses. After conquering one of my strengths last week in the IndyCar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this week, I had to tackle one of my weaknesses, road course racing in a stock car.

Going into the race, I had a couple of ideas that I thought would help me throughout the event. Luckily, I ended up helping myself out by qualifying in 12th, which exceeded my expectation.

With CTMP being a road course, Monday Night Racing rules dictate that the event goes according to time, rather than a set number of laps. Monday’s event was 80 minutes, with a competition caution at the 35-minute mark.

When the race got underway, the chaos began instantaneously, with a multi-car accident happening directly in front of me giving me minor nose damage, and another single-car spin in front of me giving me even more. Luckily, I only lost a couple of spots.

From there, I began to settle into a rhythm and started to pick off some positions. I wasn’t very competitive on new tires, but as the tires continued to wear, I became much more competitive.

Throughout the race’s entire opening stint, I rode in line behind Bailey Turner, climbing my way inside the top 10 before finally making my first pit stop several minutes before the only caution break of the race.

On the pit stop, I elected to take fuel only, which cut precious seconds off of my pit stop time, allowing me to cycle back into the top 10, remaining in the same position when the caution flew 10 minutes later.

Under the caution break, the decision to pit was split down the middle, when it came to the leaders, but my spotter-crew chief duo Robert Dorman and James Pike decided it would be best to return to the pits and top off with fuel, which only cost me a couple spots.

On the subsequent restart, I was able to survive the always-chaotic opening lap, but it was the second lap that really wreaked havoc on my race. I got super loose exiting the final corner, which shuffled me back a couple of spots.

Even though I saved the car, it put me in a difficult position for the next corner, where I got tagged from behind, sending the car into the grass, and eventually the tire barrier. The contact destroyed a toe-link in my car and dropped me to 12th. From there, I was forced to drive a wounded car until I could take a fast repair on my next pit stop.

Thankfully, despite all of the carnage, I didn’t lose that much time while the car was broken, allowing me to remain in contention for a top-five or top-10 result, as I started picking up spots again.

With only 25 minutes remaining in the event, my chances for a good finish went completely out the window, when I overdrove turn eight and clipped the grass – which with iRacing’s newest update, is much less forgiving. Then, I broke sideways and slammed into a tire wall.

After that incident, I had 10 minutes worth of damage, which my crew elected to wait out, in hopes of collecting a position or two in the closing minutes of the race. Despite being locked into the Playoffs already, I am still in the battle for the regular-season title, so every position matters.

When it was all said and done, I finished the race in 22nd, far below where I would have wanted considering my performance in-race. That one small mistake caused a massive points shift and cost me about 15 spots in the race.

As disappointed as I was – and still am – about the result, I’m still not out of the hunt for the regular season title, which rewards a handful of very important Playoff Points. Exiting CTMP, I sit second in points, 14 behind Adam Cabot, with two races until the post-season.

The seventh event of Season 6 of Monday Night Racing will see the series head to Auto Club Speedway in California with the 1987 NASCAR Cup Series cars. The racing will begin at 7:45 pm ET on December 19th, exclusively on Podium eSports.

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