NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series (NPAS)
The NPAS rolled into California for round three at Auto Club Speedway with Alex Bergeron keen to make an impression after missing the show at Las Vegas the previous week, qualifying in as the last Pro-license-holding driver.
When the green flag fell, Bergeron took off from the outside lane in 22nd place, the #12 machine continuing in top 30 for the first eight laps before the caution came out. A few short runs and a couple of cautions had Alex avoiding some of the carnage around him and making the most of opportunities, pitting to make some setup adjustments in order to give the car a better handling balance and effect some minor repairs picked up in the melee. Alex restarted from the back of the field.
On the next green flag run, drivers through the field started pitting past lap 90, preparing for a 30-40 lap run to the chequered flag. The original plan for the team was to pit on lap 95 and go to the end, but Alex wanted to take a risk and go as long as possible, as with a car that lacked short-run speed the feeling was that a long-run gamble on a late caution would pay off. Unfortunately the caution didn’t come out so Bergeron had to pit on lap 112 as the tank had run dry, but losing a lap to the leaders; Bergeron did at least lead 15 laps of the race, the first time an Apex Racing car has seen the front of the field in a NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series event. Fortunately with fresh rubber, Alex was able to get back to the lead lap before a two car wreck brought out the caution again just five laps after he pitted, leaving a two lap run – effectively a green-white-chequered.
About half the field of drivers who were on some 30+ lap old tyres stayed out whilst others pitted, including Bergeron. Restarting at the back in 33rd, Bergeron was more or less locked into position. However a big wreck mid-pack had the track blocked. Bergeron, showing his wreck avoidance and car control skills yet again, managed to throw the car to the apron and then some, almost clipping the wall. Clear of all the wrecking cars, there was just one more hurdle – the grass in turns 3 and 4. Thankfully with a dirt racing background, Alex drifted the car through the grass perfectly under control to recover and cross the line under caution in a respectable 22nd position.
For a day where the balance of the car was never quite good enough to challenge the top ten, the team was pleased enough with the result. With just two races under his belt in NPAS, Alex Bergeron has two top 25 finishes and positioned 31st in the points standings. Next it’s on to The Great American Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway after a week break next week and with a new build and the updated low-downforce package being applied, it’s a great chance for us to close in on some of the lead cars and improve further.
The race can be viewed here.
NASCAR iRacing Series (NiS)
The NASCAR iRacing Series was at The Paperclip short-track of Martinsville Speedway. With an update out for iRacing which brought the 2017 NASCAR rules package to the sim, it was a week of learning the changes required to both the setups and the driving style – limiting the week’s activities. But that didn’t stop many drivers from taking on the challenge.
The first race slot was on Wednesday 9pm EDT/Thursday 2am BST, accumulating five splits of 32 drivers. The top split had a Strength of Field (SOF) of 4308 and fifteen cautions. It was won by Apex Driver Development Program (NASCAR) member Thomas Keene, leading 39 of 250 laps. Having started 13th, he quickly worked himself into the top 5, then into the lead. The other notable top split finisher was Apex DDP (NASCAR) member Joshua Witherspoon, who started 29th and worked himself to 5th by the chequered flag.
Next race slot on Thursday 3pm EDT/8pm BST had three splits of 26 drivers. In the top split, Apex DDP (NASCAR) members Tyler Armstrong and Scotty Rienschield finished 2nd and 5th respectively. Armstrong had started 3rd and led the most (161 of 250) laps, but lost out in the end. The second split had a SOF of 2243 and Apex DDP (NASCAR) member Matthew P Coleman started 22nd, finishing up 4th.
The third race slot on Friday 9pm EDT/Saturday 2am BST had seven splits. In the top split, with a SOF of 4574, Tyler Armstrong had another strong finish in 5th with Apex DDP (NASCAR) member CJ LaVair had a good showing in 13th after starting 26th.
The final slot of the week on Sunday 10am EDT/3pm BST had five splits. Nigel de Jong flew the flag for Apex Racing UK full team in the top split that had a SOF of 4110. Putting it on pole in qualifying, de Jong went on to lead 45 laps, bringing the car home in 3rd.
Next week is Texas Motor Speedway, an iRacing and NASCAR favourite which should hopefully see some big grids, high strength of fields and an opportunity for us and all of our academy and Driver Development Program drivers to continue our push through the new season of NASCAR iRacing Series. Hopefully we will see you all on-track for what promises to be some great racing!
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