According to my stats page at the iRacing members Web site, the last NASCAR truck race I ran was in April, before that it was May, 2009. I always liked the truck, but it is that difficult middle ground between where people are striving to get into the upper-level oval cars and also is where most of them haven’t developed a great sense of patience. That lack of patience was very, very evident in this race and I noticed it early enough to know what to expect as the race went on.
I ran qualifying shortly before the race and completely screwed it up. I didn’t get any incidents but only got one clean lap after lightly scraping the wall and then running the damaged car for a really slow time of 32.626 – about a second off my own mediocre pace!
Surprisingly that qualifying time put me sixth on the grid in a field of 18 because most of them didn’t bother qualifying (sigh). I was carrying number four on my truck so knew most of the field held a lower iRating than me, so theoretically I should be finishing ahead of them…Chicagoland is a wide open race track and I really didn’t understand a couple of times in this race when I felt someone driving into the side of me. Every time my truck started to push, I lifted and stayed in my lane. Still a little frustrated after this race as you can probably tell…
Still, the start was good. It was a little crazy, but good. My sixth-place starting position wasn’t held though as I got freight trained on the inside by a group of trucks before Hugo Lindner scared me a bit by appearing a little too close in my window. I took an extremely wide line to avoid him and this let a bunch of others through.
On lap four there was a spin ahead, I ended the lap in 13th. After pitting along with everyone else I decided to stay at the back until about lap 50. I restarted 15th and dropped to 17th, the final running position by lap 11 when a car spun ahead of me (again). I pitted and came out last.
On lap 23 when a car spun ahead of me (again – yes, no joke) I stayed out when everyone else pitted and then pitted the lap before the green so I’d remain last for the restart on lap 28. Shortly after the restart a car hit the wall and I passed a few other damaged cars, moving up to 12th.
On lap 32 and on lap 36 there were more spinning cars ahead of me which did not bring out a caution.
Lap 39 saw another caution as someone spun (not ahead of me this time). I stayed out and took first-place. The restart came on lap 40 and I had trouble staying low out of turn four as a car was on my right side. I had to lift and this let him and another truck by on the high side. We ran three-wide towards turn one and I lifted out entering the turn, sacrificing my position to avoid the inevitable wreck everyone else seemed to want to be involved in. I fell back to seventh-place.
Another caution came out on lap 44. I pitted. The restart came on lap 46 and I didn’t put the power down very well but still managed to hold tenth-place. I passed Shawn Holbrook for ninth a few laps later but again we had our run broken when the yellow flag flew on lap 52.
The next restart came on lap 55. I got a good restart but got stuck behind the truck of Robert Sklenka. I felt I was a little faster but couldn’t get enough of a run on him. I just settled in behind him and ran in ninth until the next caution, lap 64. I made my final pit stop under this caution and restarted on lap 67 in ninth-place.
Lap 69, a spin ahead of me. I did not pit, neither did anybody else ahead of me. I restarted on lap 74 in seventh-place, spinning the tires as I did so. Then, to my great surprise, there was another spin ahead of me.
So we restarted for a one-lap shootout to end the race. I restarted in sixth and after contact was made ahead of me (sigh), I managed to bring the truck home for the finish in fifth-place after avoiding the incident.
|1||13||Rob Munoz||80 laps||6||31.656|
All in all I am very pleased with a fifth-place for a race I just dropped into and ran with an iRacing setup. I felt like I could have done more but the sheer amount of cautions just did not let me get a clean run. Everybody pitted under every caution I did, there wasn’t even any strategy anybody could use to overcome the situation. It’s a real shame when races go like this, but as I said above I am glad I recognized early what I needed to do and dropped back out of danger until it really mattered. I’m especially pleased to have recorded no incident points.