iRacing's championship: Alfalla wins third crown
RELATED: Full iRacing schedule, results Ray Alfalla (Slip Angle Motorsports) captured his third NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series championship, capping a remarkable season with a second-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . PJ Stergios (ineX Racing), Alfalla’s competition for the championship, won the race in a clutch performance but fell two points short of winning his first championship. The difference in the championship came down to laps led, with Alfalla's 50 giving him the bonus point for leading the most laps while Stergios could manage only 34 circuits at the front of the field. If Stergios had led 17 more laps, he would have taken the championship on a tiebreaker. The night started off with Alfalla starting on pole while Stergios rolled off 13th. Pole position gave Alfalla an immediate advantage in that he would have a very good chance at leading a lap early on and picking up an all-important bonus point. When the race went green, Alfalla did exactly that by jumping out to an early lead over Michael Conti and Justin Bolton. As the first run wore on, Alfalla's lead stabilized at around 1.5 seconds over Brad Davies, who overhauled Conti for second on Lap 28. Further back, Stergios had moved into the top five. A few laps later sim racers started heading into the pits for tires, but the two championship contenders stayed on the track not wanting to get trapped a lap down in case a caution flew. On Lap 41 the two pitted together with Alfalla winning the battle off pit road. However, due to running several additional laps Alfalla lost the lead to Conti with Nick Ottinger (Gale Force Sim Racing) in second. The first caution flag flew on Lap 58 when Ottinger was battling Davies and Kenny Humpe (The TEAM) for second. Davies got loose under Ottinger coming off Turn 2, hit Ottinger, and spun down into Humpe. Humpe got the worst of it, smashing into the inside wall and ending his night. Ottinger continued without damage and won the race off pit road during the yellow, earning the race lead. Alfalla did not wait long to reclaim the lead, doing so on a Lap 75 restart just before a massive crash happened behind him when Kevin King was hooked in front of the field. Nearly a dozen cars piled into the melee on the backstretch, but both Alfalla and Stergios were unscathed. After trailing Alfalla for much of the race, Stergios made his move on the next round of green flag pit stops. Stergios pitted before Alfalla and jumped in front thanks to his fresher tires. When the field cycled through pit stops, Stergios held the lead with Conti leading Alfalla for second. Stergios looked to be in prime position to threaten Alfalla's laps-led mark but another caution flew for a crash on the front stretch and bunched the field up again. Stergios hung on, though, winning the race off pit road and maintaining the lead on the restart only for the yellow light to flash again, forcing him and Alfalla to pit road again for another set of fresh tires. With 17 laps to go, the race resumed, this time with Taylor Hurst in the lead courtesy of a two-tire pit stop. Stergios and Alfalla both looked to pounce on the restart with the fresh tires and the next 10 laps featured phenomenal sim racing among Hurst, Alfalla, Stergios and Ottinger. Stergios finally took the lead from Hurst with nine laps to go, but was unable to secure the bonus point for most laps led. Alfalla also came through for second with Ottinger finishing third ahead of Cody Byus as Hurst slipped to fifth at the checkers. Alfalla's third championship brings to six the number of consecutive top-two finishes in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series standings, dating back to 2011. Stergios, to his credit, had the second-best year ever in series history. Both drivers had an average finish of fourth to go along with 13 top-10s in 16 races, but Alfalla was more consistent and had a better average starting position (sixth versus 12th). Jake Stergios won the battle for third in the standings, though he was well back of the top two. Chris Overland took fourth despite finishing 27th at Homestead as Dylan Duval also found trouble, finishing 31st, but taking fifth in the standings over Ottinger. With another season in the books, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series enters into hibernation until March 2017. Alfalla will once again bask in the glow of being crowned the best oval sim racer in the world at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the Ford Championship Weekend (where he will collect a check for $10,000 prize and third NASCAR championship ring), while the rest of the field has to wonder what they can do to knock him off his perch. His success is truly unprecedented in a field that is loaded with talent and gets more competitive each year. Congratulations to Ray Alfalla, 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion!
Ray Alfalla captures his third Crown
Ray Alfalla earned his third NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series championship, capping a successful season with a second-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Truex Jr. celebrates second crown jewel win of 2016
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway after winning the Bojangles' Southern 500, his second crown jewel victory of 2016.
Jason Redman's Indy experience as Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner
Jason Redman recaps his experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being named Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner.
Crown Royal Heroes: Jason Redman
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Jason Redman. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
Martin calls selection 'the crown jewel' of his career
RELATED: Photos from the induction day Mark Martin told the tale more than once on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day this week, about his connection to fellow inductee Benny Parsons. Martin was a teenager -- "a nobody," as he termed it -- with racing dreams carved from his earliest days of wheeling cars on dirt. Parsons, in the prime of his driving career in the mid-1970s, took time for the Arkansas youngster and his father, sharing advice over lunch in his hometown of Ellerbe, North Carolina. Talk about a follow-through. Martin, 57, joined Parsons among the five chosen for induction in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017. "It hasn't soaked in yet," Martin said by telephone Wednesday after the Hall's announcement. "I didn't expect it. It is, by far, the crown jewel of my career and I'm so grateful for the people that helped me get there." Martin wasn't in Charlotte to hear his name called; instead, he was on his way to Indianapolis, reasoning that he wouldn't be among the five inductees this year. Martin was named on 57 percent of the voting panel's ballots, third-most among the 20 nominees. Still, he took the unexpected nature of being selected to heart, saying, "If I would've been on the voting panel, I would've probably voted another way." Martin's credentials -- both his success and his longevity across four decades in NASCAR competition -- eventually won out in just his second year on the ballot. Martin won 40 times in NASCAR's top division and combined for 56 more victories in its other two national series. But Martin acknowledged the gaps in his resume, those that he came heart-wrenchingly close to achieving. Among those were his five runner-up finishes in the championship standings and his 0-for-29 career streak in the Daytona 500 , the sport's most prestigious race. After Wednesday's accomplishment, Martin said that Hall of Fame induction fills any potential voids. "Look, I don't have a Daytona 500 trophy and I don't have a championship trophy, and I said many times that when people would complain about my not having one of those, I would ask the question: 'How would my life be different if I had one?' " Martin said. "And I truly believe that my life would not be very different. But my life will be different from now on because I'm in that Hall, because that is my crown jewel. "That speaks of not one year worth of success, not one great achievement, but a body of work, and that's what I'm proud of."
Crown Royal Heroes: Piper Hill
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Piper Hill. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
Pursuing NASCAR's triple crown intrigues Bobby Labonte
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte quietly bowed out of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the tail end of the 2013 season. No retirement tour, no gifts. Certainly no ponies. The 2000 premier series champion has selectively dabbled in the sport since, however, with a handful of unremarkable starts at Indianapolis and the restrictor-plate tracks, knowing the pack racing may be his last remaining shot at picking up his first -- and likely final -- Cup victory in more than a decade. Labonte will run in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway , his second of a scheduled four-race slate in 2016. While not sure if this same type of deal will continue to be available to him in future years, the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte hinted at an interestingly hush-hush opportunity that could be coming down the pipeline later on this season. "I do have a couple other possibilities I am excited about that might come to fruition later on in the year that I didn't see coming around the corner but they are opportunities that might lead to something that I have been more excited about than anything I have done in my career," Labonte said Friday at Talladega. "Racing is still a big passion of mine and I know I am not going to go do a lot of things I used to do but there are still some opportunities out there that are still up on my radar that I would like to do." But what does he have left to prove? What racing goals remain? "That is a great question, too. Winning any race. It might be a bicycle race. Racing at the Sprint Cup level has gotten so intense that if you can't do it every weekend … (Talladega) is different as we all know. Last weekend and next weekend is different than here," Labonte said. "It is one of those things that I guess I kind of want to race more in a way but I don't want to race more in some ways. I don't want to do it every weekend but I know there are different series you can do that aren’t quite as strenuous as this. "My brother told me one time after about two years of retirement, 'You know, you will have a lot more friends later that you didn't know you had.' And that is true. I am enjoying that. As far as racing goes I am enjoying it and my opportunity is only four times right now through a little bit of what I want to do and a little bit from other people." One remaining goal is obvious: becoming NASCAR's first Triple Crown winner by notching a championship at each of its three national series levels. Labonte has the two arguably tougher feats down, winning the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) title by 74 points over Kenny Wallace in 1991, then taking his first and only Sprint Cup Series (then Winston Cup) title by a wide, 265-point margin over Dale Earnhardt in 2000. It's a long shot, and Labonte admits that "everything has to line up right," but he's at least considered the prospect of running for a Camping World Truck Series title. He has 10 career starts in the series, with one win (2005 at Martinsville). "It is absolutely something that we have talked about and met with some people about," Labonte said. "I couldn't just make it happen by snapping my fingers and we couldn’t quite get it all lined up. I definitely had it in my mind that it was something I really wanted to do. I would still entertain that but there is also a point where if you can chase the championship that is one thing, and you can do it in a lot of ways. "When I started racing when I was little, the passion was to race and win and that is what you want to do. You want the chance to do that. We did it back then and I think the Truck Series is very appealing to me. I loved it when I did a few of them for a couple of guys and won a race and finished in the top five quite a bit. It is definitely a different level and the garage area is a lot calmer there than it is in the Sprint Cup Series and it kind of, at this point in time, is very appealing."
Crown Royal Heroes: Michael Gallardo
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Michael Gallardo. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
Crown Royal Heroes: Chris Mintz
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Chris Mintz. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.