Summer is coming and the trucks are hauling in the heat!
With every championship there's a story of the veterans, the new comers, and champions. This season of V8 SuperTrucks is no different. The 2017 season started off with the addition of a mandatory pit-stop for 4 tires, and a number of new faces and teams coming from both disciplines of the iRacing Service, with a combination of Open Wheel and Tin-Top experience. Although with growth comes some element of pain. As the competition has tightened, drivers have learned how to manage traffic without the assistance of ABS, Traction Control, found in other series. Although incidents resulted, normally on starts or restarts, tougher penalties have been implemented to instill the importance of smart, respectful racing . As the season has progressed drivers have matured, while others still have lessons to learn. Leaders have become followers, and the landscape of V8 SuperTrucks has changed with quite a championship shaping up. As we break past the half-way point of the season on the 25th, some drivers are looking to maintain a position, while others are looking to climb up the standings after a rough start to the season.
Lets take a look at some of the key players as we enter the second half of the season later this month.
Bobby Zalenski (currently 1st)
The NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series rookie has one win, two podiums and one top 5 finish, he sits 1st in the Drivers Championship. However, the season has not been without its trials for the current points leader as penalties have made the last few rounds an uphill battle. Zalenski seems to have hit a turning point in Round 4, working through the field without penalty and, boasting the best long-run tire-wear at Silverstone last month. With these newfound skills, expect him to be even stronger in the 2nd half of the season.
Victor Lobato (currently 2nd)
Victor Lobato has turned into Zalenski's rival over the season. Originally teammates with Borja Valero
for JIM Racing Team - Black but had parted ways with the team and ran his first race as a privateer in May. Lobato has 4 V8STC Career Starts, two wins, and one top 10. Despite a rough start in Round 1, the Spaniard has made quite an impression. Lobato typically qualifies strong which has served him well so far, but it was clear that he lacks the proficiency at moving through traffic as Zalenski. This may provide difficulty for him in Round 5 if he doesn't qualify up front.
Sven Cammaerts (currently 4th)
Although Sven Cammaerts has 2 podiums this season, and has been up and down in the standings.
Cammaerts has shown he has the speed this season, but the Belgian has displayed trouble with consistency. We'll see if he can pull things together to get on the championship podium before the end of the season.
Borja Valero (currently 15th)
His first Career win at Silverstone has been a morale booster for the Spaniard after losing his
teammate Victor Lobato. Borja Valero had a rough start to the season being unable to finish any higher than 17th until his victory last month. Despite his misfortunes early on, he's worked his way into the top 15, and looking to climb further once the second drop round goes into effect after Round 6. The key will be strong finishes for the remainder of the season. Keep an eye on him as his performance may impact other championship battles.
Mika Eshuis (currently 17th)
This has not been the season Mika Eshuis has been hoping for. The Socks Out Racing veteran boasts 11
career V8STC starts, 2 career wins, 5 career podiums, and one championship podium. However this veteran hasn't been able to pull things together in 2017, despite a strong start at Interlagos. Recently parting from his long time roost with Team Buschfink Racing, we'll be watching to see if this change will work in his favor, or if the former "sideways birdie" has spun out.
The Teams Championship is being dominated by Off Camber Motorsports (Justin Kruithof / Daniel Thompson) who holds a 42 point lead over Torque Freak Racing Corkscrew (Georg Gruber / David Barraclough). However JIM Racing Team Yellow (Sergio Real / Josean Ibiza) is just 8 points behind 2nd place. Peak Peckers (Bobby Zalenski / Matt Bussa) have been steadily falling in the standings as Zalenski has been forced to carry the team for the last 2 rounds, despite their initial lead at the start of the season.
The New Build
With the roll-out of the iRacing 2017 Season 3 build, Drivers will be facing some adjustments at Spa. First the NASCAR Race Truck chassis' minimum ride height has been raised by half an inch. Secondly the GoodYear Eagle tire compound has been tuned for increased tire wear. Both changes will affect cornering behavior and setup. These changes will also force drivers to be more mindful of how they use the tires. We'll see what strategies are used and how drivers adapt to the changes. One thing is for sure though, Summer is here and the competition is bringing the heat! Be sure to follow us on social media, and subscribe to RaceSpotTV on YouTube to catch all the 2017 iAnalyze Racing.com V8 SuperTrucks Championship racing to come!