Every week, NESN Fuel partner iRacing, the world’s premier online racing simulation service, recaps a race from one of its top series. This week, iRacing recapped the third round of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series, which determines the second half of the qualifiers for the 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series. Read more about iRacing here.
Jarl Teien scored his first win of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series season, surviving a challenge from Blake Reynolds and Garrett Lowe on a three-lap shootout to the checkers at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Teien inherited the lead on Lap 116 when many of the leaders pitted under caution for fresh tires. Teien, who was running fifth at the time, held onto first place thanks to a flurry of late-race cautions which kept the drivers with fresh tires from regaining their lost track position.
Reynolds finished second, just a few car lengths behind Teien. Lowe was third followed by Nolan Scott, who came from 25th on the grid with Adam Benefiel rounding out the top five for his best result of the young season.
The night started with polesitter Paul Kusheba jumping out to an early lead. He would go on to lead the first 25 circuits before Reynolds took away the top spot, passing Kusheba on the bottom of Turns 3 and 4.
Reynolds’ time at the front was short lived, however, as he could only manage eight laps at the front before Bobby Zalenski and Christian Challiner both passed him and took turns at the head of the pack. Challiner looked very strong on the long run but a caution during a round of green-flag stops cost him track position, which he would never recover.
Lowe was the main beneficiary of the caution and led the field to the green with the race approaching the halfway mark. Lowe went on to lead the entirety of the 32-lap run that followed before losing the lead to Darik Bourdeau during a round of pit stops under yellow.
Bourdeau looked strong at the front when the race went green, but Teien’s good fortune on pit strategy was the opposite for Bourdeau, as he decided to pit out of first place on Lap 116, handing the lead to Teien. Bourdeau could only rebound for eighth at the checkers, a solid result but one that likely left him second-guessing his strategy call.
Teien’s gamble was likely based on how the previous two NiPS races have played out. The races have tended to start with longer runs but as the laps wind down and patience wears thin, cautions breed cautions. Homestead was no exception as five of the nine cautions came in the last half of the race with three coming in the last 19 laps alone.
With Texas/PIR winner Ryan Luza missing the race at Homestead, Teien inherits the pre-drop points lead by 65 over Scott. Jeremy Allen is third after an 11th-place run with Zalenski and Marcus Richardson close behind in fourth and fifth, respectively. Luza’s missed race may not affect him a whole lot in the points due to the drop, but he must be on top of his game the rest of the season if he hopes to capture the championship.
With a third race of the season in the books the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series heads to Auto Club Speedway for Week 4. While the wide racing surface makes for exciting, multiple groove action in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, NPAS and NiPS races tend to be single groove, putting track position at more of a premium. If Homestead is any indication for what is to come, more sim racers have started to find speed and a third winner in as many weeks is a distinct possibility. Who will get a handle on Auto Club and position themselves for the home stretch of the sim racing season? Find out next week on iRacingLive!
All photos via iRacing