iRacing Awards $30,000+ to World Championship Sim-Racers
For second consecutive NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze race, underdog wins
Drivers are using iRacing's detailed and accurate representations of NASCAR tracks to hone their skills in the comfort of their own homes.
Partnership marks his second high-profile online sponsor of the season
Green flag waves for 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series on February 25
Winner played fuel-strategy game to notch first NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze win
Laughton had what it took to get to the front ? and stay there ? at Michigan. With the way Chad Laughton 's 2014 season has been going, everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he would find victory lane. The time finally came last night. Laughton won his first race in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing at Michigan International Speedway after passing series points leader Michael Conti during the final round of stops with 30 laps to go. Conti finished second after a late-race try for the lead followed by Nick Ottinger and Mitchell Hunt with Justin Bolton recording a strong fifth place finish. After the final round of stops was completed, Conti appeared to hold back and ride in line behind Laughton, biding his time. The two were joined by Ottinger, Hunt and Kenny Humpe in a five car lead draft. By the end the draft was cut to three cars as both Humpe and Hunt experienced "self-inflicted" difficulties with their cars. With 13 laps to go, Humpe got loose off of Turn 4 and hit the wall. The damage took its toll on Humpe's handling and he started to slide back. Two laps later Hunt too was bitten by Turn 4 and had to lift, dropping him too far behind the front three to make a charge. After riding around behind Laughton for nearly 30 laps, Conti made his move down the backstretch with two laps to go. He got a strong run off Turn 2 and began to draft up on Laughton as they approached Turn 4. Conti dove to the bottom, but Laughton made a bold move and shut the door on him. Conti, unwilling to use the very bottom of the track, fell back in line behind the race leader but did not have another shot at the win. Instead, his focus shifted to defending second from Ottinger, which he managed to do. Despite falling short on picking up another victory, Conti remained positive. "Coulda, shoulda, woulda, all that matters is that we are still leading the points, finished second in a great field of cars, and have a lot of momentum heading into the second half of the year," he said. Ottinger was also pleased to come home third, knowing how important consistency is in the quest for the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze championship. "Smart racing up front and thoroughly enjoyed it," he said. "Tried waiting for the 5 to make his move and it just was not happening." The race was briskly run and competitive with 13 lead changes among six drivers. Only two cautions slowed the pace, both of which occurred before Lap 25. Unfortunately for some drivers, they could not make it a lap before chaos broke out entering Turn Three. Brian Day did not realize he was three wide and came up slightly into Thomas Lewandowski , setting off a melee that collected several strong cars including those of Ray Alfalla and Brian Schoenburg . With all of the top five in the series point standings having good runs, there was not much movement at the top of the leaderboard. Conti still leads with a nine point gap back to Ottinger. Laughton inched closer with his win and now is 18 points out of the lead. Jake Stergios is fourth after a mediocre eighteenth place showing at MIS and Alfalla is fifth after rallying for a tenth place finish following his early trouble. With half the 2014 season in the rear-view mirror, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series heads to Kentucky Speedway to kick-off the second half under the lights. Kentucky is known for being one of the most challenging 1.5 mile tracks on the schedule thanks to its narrow groove and numerous bumps. A setup that is not only fast but can handle the bumps without losing grip is key to a strong result. There is plenty of sim racing remaining in this season, but the trio of Conti, Ottinger and Laughton have looked nearly unbeatable in recent weeks. If anyone can unseat them it might be Alfalla, who is still without a win in 2014 but who has looked much better in recent weeks. Can Alfalla or someone else steal the show, or will a familiar face taste victory once again? Find out in two weeks' time on iRacing Live! "Coulda, shoulda, woulda . . ." ? Michael Conti
Conti sweeps past Stergios and Overland as Hansen triggers a race-ending caution. Michael Conti pulled-off a surprising victory Round Seven of the 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series at Dover International Speedway Tuesday night, beating Chris Overland , PJ Stergios and Nick Ottinger on a restart with three laps to go. The win was Conti's second triumph in the last three in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series events. With nine laps of sim racing remaining Conti appeared destined to finish no better than third as Ottinger and Joey Brown both passed him with 15 laps to go and were not struggling as much with their tires. Things changed drastically, however, when Brown spun off of Turn Four on Lap 191, bringing out the caution flag. Even though only three laps would remain in the race when the green flew again, most of the leaders decided to pit for tires due to the massive tire falloff. Two drivers, Stergios and Overland, decided to roll the dice and stay on the track. Ottinger was the first car off pit road with four new tires and lined up third with Conti on his outside in fourth, also on new tires. Both drivers hoped the front row would not spin their tires and that the race would stay green long enough to regain the lead. The restart saw both Stergios and Overland get away with minimal wheel spin; fairly surprising considering their tires had over 50 laps on them. Instead, it was Ottinger who spun his tires and nearly swerved into Conti. Ottinger's bobble gave Conti any lane he wanted in Turn One as he looked to overtake Stergios and Overland as quickly as possible. Conti chose the outside lane, hoping the two drivers in front would keep their cars near the bottom. The plan worked to perfection as Conti took the long way 'round, using his fresh rubber to make a sensational three-wide pass for the lead. And not a moment too soon: the yellow flew just a couple seconds later when Danny Hansen got spun around battling for fourth. With only three laps to go, the race ended under yellow, giving Conti a somewhat unexpected win. "What a finish!" said Conti, who moved into the series points lead with his victory. "(I) can't say the car was the best it could have been tonight, but it was good when it counted." Stergios finished second and Overland was third as the two just missed-out on pulling a big upset. Ottinger had to settle for fourth while Peter Bennett rounded-out the top five with a quiet but solid run. Tire management was critical from start to finish as drivers could only go about half a fuel run before their lap times literally fell off a cliff. Conti started on pole and jumped out to a comfortable lead, but as the run wore on his car developed a bad push while Ottinger and Brown stayed more consistent. About half the field chose to pit once their tires began falling off, but that move backfired when the caution flew for the first time on Lap 49. Normally this would not have been a big deal as the cars that pitted could take the wave-around and get their lap back, but at Dover cars commonly go two laps down while pitting. With only two cautions in the first 190 laps, the drivers trapped a lap down never had a chance to recover. Thus only 13 drivers finished on the lead lap, far lower than normal in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series. The final run of the race before Brown's accident was the most interesting in terms of tire wear. Drivers knew they could not go the distance on fuel, but they had to balance pitting early to take advantage of fresh tires while risking being trapped laps down. Conti pitted a few laps before Ottinger and Brown and pulled out to a three second lead after the round of stops was complete. As the laps ticked down, Ottinger and Brown slowly started cutting tenths off of Conti's lead. By 20 laps to go, those tenths became closer to half a second as Conti's Chevy SS hit the tire performance cliff hard. In fact, he looked to be dead in the water as far as competing for the win before he was saved by the caution for Brown's spin. The win vaulted Conti into the championship lead. He leads Ottinger by eight points while Jake Stergios sits 16 points behind after a 13th place finish at Dover. Chad J Laughton fell to fourth after connection issues caused him to finish 32nd and Ray Alfalla is fifth despite finishing P19 after being trapped a lap down on the first round of pit stops With their visit to the fastest one mile track complete, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze competitors shift gears as they look forward to another fast track up next on the schedule ? Michigan International Speedway. Long green flag runs at the wide and fast track are commonplace and it would not be surprising to see fuel mileage heavily influence the outcome. Look for Ottinger, Alfalla and Hansen to be strong as they ran up front all race earlier this season at Michigan's sister track, Auto Club Speedway. Will a familiar face make another trip to victory lane or will fuel mileage and unpredictable tire wear usher a new driver to victory lane? Be sure to catch all the action in two weeks' time on iRacing Live ! "What a finish! . . . (I) can't say the car was the best it could have been tonight, but it was good when it counted." ? Michael Conti
Brown's tire gamble paid-off in with a win over Humpe in the Bluegrass State . Joey Brown came up clutch in the pits and on the track at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday night en route to his first victory this season in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing .com. Brown, who had hung around the front all night, made a gutsy two-tire call during the final round of pit stops with 16 laps remaining which put him in front of Ray Alfalla, Chad Laughton, and Nick Ottinger, all of whom appeared to have stronger cars. While Brown's strategy got him out in front of the fastest cars, Jake Stergios had his own plan to potentially steal the win. Stergios chose to forgo pit road entirely, hoping his old tires would get more caution periods to cool down. When the race restarted on Lap 154, Stergios' strategy appeared to immediately pay off as a crash in Turn One involving Ottinger, Michael Conti and Brandon Hauff brought the yellow and the pace car back out. The crash spelled the end of the night for Conti, who entered the evening as the series points leader and exited the virtual Bluegrass State with a thirty-second place finish. The race restarted with nine laps remaining and this time the field got through the first corner cleanly, allowing Brown to make his move on Stergios. Brown's fresh right side tires completely overmatched Stergios, who relinquished the lead entering Turn 3. It was not clear sailing for Brown though as Alfalla got around Stergios as well and was in hot pursuit of the lead with four fresh tires. Just when it looked like Brown was done, Alfalla came under attack from Justin Bolton and Kenny Humpe. This enabled Brown to edge away before another caution bunched the field back together and set up a decisive one lap shootout. Brown knew he needed a perfect restart due to his tire disadvantage and he delivered, gapping Humpe by a car length by the time the drivers crossed the start-finish line to take the green and white flags. Humpe gave it everything he had but fell just short of picking up his second win of the season. Bolton finished third ahead of Alfalla and Adam Gilliland rounded-out the top five. On a night where most of the field struggled with handling problems on Kentucky's bumpy surface, Alfalla and Laughton showed extremely impressive pace only to be bitten by strategy at the end. Still, both could hold their heads high at the end of the night, especially Alfalla who has struggled with his pace thus far in 2014 and is still looking to find victory lane. Conti's poor finish, combined with Laughton's eighth place run made for a major swing in the series standings. Laughton now leads the championship by six points over Conti, with Ottinger a further six points behind after limping home twenty-eighth last night. Alfalla, despite his struggles by his lofty standards, is fourth and Stergios is still in the mix in fifth after his Hail-Mary strategy netted a solid ninth place result. With Conti looking to stop the bleeding with just seven races remaining in the season, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series shifts to what may well be his best track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In fact, anything less than a win would be a disappointment for Conti after winning there in dominating fashion the past two seasons. Can Conti make it three in a row at the Magic Mile, or will Laughton continue his torrid stretch and snatch it away? One thing is for sure: there will probably be some bent fenders along the way. Be sure to catch the intense short track sim racing action on iRacing Live in two weeks' time!
Earnhardt Jr., others pulling for MLB's Royals RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is a fan of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, which might come as a surprise given the geographical distance between Kansas City and Mooresville, North Carolina. A dedicated Washington Redskins fan on the gridiron, Earnhardt Jr. keeps tabs on the Royals because of a friendship forged by KC manager Ned Yost and Earnhardt Jr.'s father, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt. Yost and the elder Earnhardt hunted together, and Yost attended races as a guest of the Richard Childress Racing team while he was working with the Atlanta Braves. The manager, who wears No. 3 on his uniform out of respect for Earnhardt, has followed Junior's career through the years, even staying up late to watch this year's rain-delayed Daytona 500 won by Earnhardt Jr. "I read a couple of articles where he said he was real pleased with how we did in Daytona," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at Kansas Speedway , site of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET). "Knowing his friendship with my dad, it's pretty cool that he is watching me. That meant a really good deal to me. "He is a genuine guy with a genuine appreciation and friendship with my father. It means a lot to me that he follows me still to this day and I want to see him do well as much." The Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985. Tuesday night, they defeated the Oakland A's in an American League wild-card matchup. On Thursday, they beat the Angels in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. Both victories came in extra innings. The series moves to Kansas City this weekend, with Game 3 in the best of 5 series slated for Sunday night -- not long after Earnhardt Jr. and his fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers wrap up the opening race in the Contender Round of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "I have seen him in different circles," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said of Yost. "He has been on iRacing (a simulated racing series) a little bit over the last several years, (I've) seen him on there. "Just different things, but we don't really have consistent contact with each other, but there is a mutual respect for sure." Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards spent time with the Royals earlier this year, throwing out the first pitch when the team hosted Tampa Bay in April. "We actually had an (invitation) to Ned Yost to come out there to the … track but we are glad he can't because of all their success," Edwards said. It's been a huge week for fans of Kansas City sports teams. In addition to the Royals' success, the Kansas Chiefs are coming off a huge win over the New England Patriots in Monday night's NFL matchup. Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray all hail from the region, and Bowyer said it would be huge if a local driver could pick up the win Sunday. "Look at the story line that Kansas City has had this week -- if somehow a Kansas City driver could win this race, that would be unbelievable," the Michael Waltrip Racing driver said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation