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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…

NASCAR racing in iRacing with the Trucks at Chicagoland.

NASCAR racing in iRacing with the Trucks at Chicagoland. Exciting side by side racing for the race start. Tim Wheatley's truck is far left.

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.

Fin Sta Driver Interval Led Fast Lap
1 13 Rob Munoz 80 laps 6 31.656
2 16 Jean Rupaner -00.122 37 31.616
3 3 Christopher Smiith -00.691 21 31.560
4 2 Andrew Burton -01.271 4 31.649
5 6 Timothy Wheatley -01.381 2 31.770
5 6 Timothy Wheatley -01.381 2 31.770

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.

Watch on Youtube.

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British-born U.S. Resident, Tim Wheatley, works for Image Space Inc., a developer of driver-in-the-loop simulation technology. He lives in Illinois with his wife and children.
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