One of the greatest features of iRacing is that as a league administrator you have the ability to create your own schedule. The 16th Street Racing league is a unique blend of tracks in that we go to places the IZOD IndyCar Series is currently attending, has attended, or has never attended. It creates a pretty diverse and, in my mind, “ideal” schedule.
This past week we were at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NHMS will be making its return to the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2011 and, being that I absolutely love short track racing in the Dallara, I felt it was important we include this track in our schedule. New Hampshire is incredible! It’s a very unique track in that you can’t run the bottom and you have to train your eyes to see the apex as the middle of the track and not the yellow line. I’m a big fan of running on the high side but unfortunately it’s the slowest way around the track at most places. At New Hampshire you really have to hang the car out on the high side, come off the throttle just a touch, and mash right back to the gas coming off… all while trying to be sure you don’t kiss the wall on exit. As you can probably imagine setup is super important here.
Practice, as it is at most short tracks, was treacherous. Lots and lots of spins. I did my best to get out and get some time running with cars in traffic to see if I needed to add in some front wing to compensate for understeer when behind cars. I finished practice in P6. Overall, I felt I had a good car for the race and was quite confident going into qualifying.
The style of lap you run here in qualifying is quite a bit different than race laps. The line is different and it’s much more aggressive. You turn in extremely late, wide-open on the throttle, until the car starts to understeer, lift off about 1% throttle and get right back to it. I hit the perfect line on my second lap and actually went flat through turns 1 and 2! I hadn’t done that before and I was SURE I was going to be up front. I put down a 22.593 which was good enough for 7th position. Not quite the blazing lap I thought it was but still pretty decent. Yang Ou once again took the pole position. Tim Holgate, Pat Dotson, Tim Doyle, and Bryan Heitkotter rounded out the Top 5. Martin Plowman would start right behind me in P9 while Will Power would start in 13th position.
Racing here is always a little bit scary. You really have to drive in your mirrors and be sure no one is trying to dive underneath you. If someone gets under you and you squeeze them down to the yellow line it’s pretty much a guarantee that they will spin, taking you and others out of the race. My plan was to let those by who were in a hurry and try to settle in and be there at the end.
From lap 1 on I knew I was in some trouble. Following behind 6 cars gave me WAY more understeer than I had anticipated. I immediately started putting more and more weight-jacker into the car trying to get it to turn. For whatever reason it never came in. I was having to come completely off the throttle and coast the car into the corners just to miss the wall. I was trying to hang around hoping for an early yellow so I could pit and add some front wing to the car. On lap 10 I moved up to the high-side to let Vincent Sciuto get by. He must have taken an awkward line through the corner and started to push up the track. His gear box just barely clipped my front nose, causing my car to snap loose, I saved the car but made a slight kiss of the wall. This contact bent my suspension and then sent me across the track where I collected Martin Plowman. My day was over before it started. Thankfully I didn’t take out Martin as he somehow made it through the wreck undamaged.
The race went on to showcase some great battles between Yang Ou, Tim Holgate, Niles Anders, Tim Doyle, Pat Dotson, Ryan Murray, Andrew Kristensen, Giorgio Ponti, and Panther Racing blogger Neffry Aawg.
Through a combination of great pit strategy, a super-fast car, and some good clean racing Niles Anders was able to pull away with the victory. Tim Holgate, Pat Dotson, Ryan Murray and Andrew Kristensen rounded out the Top 5. Blogger Neffry Aawg put together his best finish to date with a 7th place. Real life drivers Will Power and Martin Plowman finished 22nd and 11th respectively.
So far this season we’ve had 5 different winners in 5 races. It really shows just how competitive this league has become. It’s been fun to see everything develop… we’ve gone from being a league with about 15 drivers weekly to fields pushing 30+. I hope to continue to see things grow and get more competitive (although I’m going to need to practice more!) .
We WILL be having some races broadcast for everyone to watch later this season. I’m not able to give specific details but rest assured everyone will be able to watch AT LEAST one of our races this season (iRacing member or not).
This week we head to Watkins Glen for 136 miles around the hilly New York road course. This place is great and we always have a big turnout for this event. Watkins produces some great racing due to it’s super fast corners and wide track. Look for an exciting (and hopefully victorious) update next week!