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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
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
Conti holds off a charging field in the closing laps After a short hiatus and a new tire on the cars, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing returned to action at Pocono Raceway Tuesday night with everyone looking to gain an edge heading into the stretch run of the season. When all was said and done, Michael Conti emerged with the victory, his first of the 2014 NPAS season. Brad Davies finished second and Ray Alfalla was third. Chad Laughton hung around the top five all race and scored a fourth place finish while Chris Overland rounded out the top five. Conti had the car to beat from the drop of the green flag, but his victory was not without controversy. With nine laps remaining, Conti was attempting to pass teammate Brian Schoenburg, who had just taken the lead on a restart two laps prior, going into Turn One. The two ended up going for the same piece of race track and made contact which sent Schoenburg spinning up into the outside wall, ending his chances at grabbing that elusive first career NPAS win. Conti avoided damage in the brush-up and took full blame for the incident. "I know how it feels to be wrecked out of the lead with less than 20 laps to go. It is painful, demoralizing, and ridiculously aggravating beyond words," said Conti. "I cannot stand that I took away this win from Brian and I hope that he can win in two weeks at Charlotte." Davies appeared to have a shot at Conti on the last restart, as he was one of just a few cars that could somewhat keep up, but a wreck before the field made it to the start/finish line caused the race to end under caution. Conti also dodged a bullet when the caution flew during a round of green flag stops. His strategy of pitting as soon as his fuel window opened up paid off because one lap later the caution flew and allowed him to pass all the cars still needing to pit and reclaim the lead. The new tire appeared to throw off several normally strong teams as most of the field struggled for grip which lead to nine cautions slowing the pace for 35 laps. Turn Three appeared to be the biggest trouble spot as several drivers battled extremely loose cars off the corner throughout the evening. However, loose cars did not create all the crashes. The field could not make it through Turn One on the first lap before the yellow waved when Joey Brown was a bit overanxious and turned Trey Eidson around on corner entry. On the ensuing restart it was Brown's turn for a spin when Richard Dusett clipped him going into Turn Two. After the early fireworks, Conti began to show just how good his car was as the race settled into some longer green flag runs. Other than the late-race restart when Schoenburg caught him sleeping, Conti was never challenged on the track. In fact, if it were not for some slow pit stops Conti would have led even more than his already impressive total of 81 of 100 laps. The large amount of wrecks also tightened up the points even more as frontrunners Kenny Humpe and Brandon Kettelle both found trouble at Pocono. Humpe was battling Danny Hansen for third when he slid up into Hansen exiting Turn Two. The two drivers lost control and pounded the inside wall, causing both of their races to end in disappointing fashion. With the series nearing the one-third mark, seven drivers sit within ten points of the championship lead. Laughton now leads the standings after five races. He holds a two point lead over Alfalla. Jake Stergios is third, five points back followed by Humpe who is another two points behind. Nick Ottinger holds fifth after a solid race, but is just one point ahead of Bryan Blackford with Conti another point adrift in seventh. After rising through the standings with his victory, Conti will look to keep his momentum going at the next stop on the NPAS schedule, Charlotte Motor Speedway. Conti and team clearly had a large setup advantage at Pocono and it will be interesting to see if this success transfers over to the 1.5 mile tracks. Despite this, Alfalla, Humpe, and the others will be working diligently on setups to catch Conti. Also, defending champion Tyler Hudson should not be counted out as he will return from his one week suspension. Can Conti score back-to-back victories, or will someone spoil the party? Find out in two weeks' time when the NPAS heads under the lights at Charlotte! Tune in two weeks from now when the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing .com returns for some Charlotte action on iRacing Live on Tuesday, May 20 at 9 PM EDT (01:00 GMT).
King of the restarts, Hansen beat Laughton (26) and Conti (5) to the line for the win at Charlotte. Danny Hansen survived a marathon race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last night and earned his first career victory in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing . After running at the front for much of the evening, Hansen took advantage of slip-ups by other front runners and delivered in the clutch on several late-race restarts where he out-dueled championship leader Chad Laughton . "I'm really not sure where to even start," said Hansen. "I don't think it has really even hit me yet, such an amazing feeling to finally get a win at something I had worked so hard at for so long." "Such an amazing feeling to finally get a win at something I had worked so hard at for so long." ? Danny Hansen Laughton had to settle for second, edging Pocono winner Michael Conti at the checkered flag. Brandon Schmidt finished fourth and Cody Byus came home with a solid fifth place. Hansen did not lead until 19 laps to go when he passed Laughton and Justin Bolton shortly after a restart. Laughton, who led a race-high 79 of 200 laps, looked to take the lead back from Hansen but a caution flag with 18 laps remaining slowed his progress and proved to be a key moment in the event, as the rest of the online race was broken up into very short runs by frequent cautions. The last restart was of the green-white-checker variety and began with Hansen leading teammate Conti to the green with Laughton in third. Hansen got the jump on the field and Conti slid into second, providing Hansen with a buffer between himself and Laughton, who had looked slightly faster on the short run all night. Hansen maintained a lead of a car length as he took the white flag while Conti and Laughton started to battle for second ? which is exactly what Hansen wanted to see in his mirror. Laughton, even with his extremely quick car, did not have enough time to clear Conti and challenge Hansen for the win. Early in the going, no one would have likely picked Hansen as a favorite to win even though he started from the sixth position. Ray Alfalla started on pole and led the opening five circuits before giving way to Joey Brown , who initially looked to be the class of the field. After an early yellow and subsequent pit stop, Brown came under attack by Laughton and could not hold him off. Brown started a slow slide back in the field as his car could not keep up on the longer runs. Finally he was involved in an accident with 12 laps to go, cutting his night short. Alfalla was likewise destined for disappointment, eventually coming home a distant eighteenth. After taking the lead for the first time on Lap 34, Laughton showed his muscle by being able to maintain the lead despite a strong draft which kept the leaders together. Laughton continued to lead as the race wore on toward the halfway point, but new challengers were appearing, namely Nick Ottinger and Kenny Humpe . Both drivers wound-up leading 33 laps, but Humpe looked particularly strong, especially on the long run. As other drivers started to fall off the pace late in a fuel run, Humpe maintained his speed and started to build a gap. Unfortunately, Humpe cost himself a chance at the win when he slid through his box during a pit stop under the caution flag while leading. The miscue put him back in the field and, with his car not handling to his liking in traffic, he slid to twelfth at the finish. Ottinger also had issues, though unlike Humpe his were not of his own doing. He chose to short-pit under green and as soon as he hit pit road the yellow flew. This forced Ottinger to drive through pit road without stopping so he would not go a lap down, which cost him all his track position and left him with too few laps to attempt a recovery back into the top five. This is when the door opened for Hansen to grab control of the race, which he did with his superb restarts. Despite his runner-up finish, Laughton failed to build much of a gap in the standings. His lead is now seven points over Conti, who has been gaining ground since his early season struggles and climbed from seventh to second in the standings with his third place finish. Conti is tied with Jake Stergios who continued his consistent start to the season with a quiet run to eighth at Charlotte. At the back end of the top five, Ottinger overtook Humpe for fourth and now sits just a single point behind second spot. Humpe is another four points adrift and sits only one marker ahead of Alfalla, who dropped from second to sixth after his poor run. After back-to-back exciting finishes, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series heads back to a short track as Dover International Speedway is next up on the schedule. With teams still struggling to figure out the new build, it would not be a surprise to see some familiar faces at the front of the field. One driver absent from the front lately has been defending series champion Tyler Hudson . He was involved in another accident early in the going at Charlotte and now finds himself twenty-fifth in the standings. Will Conti and Hansen continue their strong runs, or will there be another new face in victory lane? Tune into iRacing Live in two weeks' time to catch all the sim-racing action from the high banks of The Monster Mile!
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!