Mogren returns to Victory Lane at VIR
Ah, the Ole’ Oak Tree, not a race passes without drivers and fans reminiscing the days when the shady oak tree towered over Turn 12 until July 2013. Now the Son of Oak Tree has begun to grow just outside of the track barriers. Thankfully the Oak Tree continues to stand tall and proud on the iRacing Service. Drivers competed on the pre-2014 version of the circuit which was narrower with less curbing for drivers to take advantage of. The challenges presented at VIR rivals the revered Mount Panorama, another circuit that the series will be visiting in November, Although unlike the mountain, even experienced drivers on the iRacing service shy away from the challenges at VIR.
Eyes were on Bobby Zalenski after his difficulties at IMS earlier this month. Although Marco Mogren took pole, Zalenski returned to form with the 2nd fastest time only 15 hundredths behind Mogren. However, times were tight, with only a half-second separating the top 5.
With Mogren and Zalenski starting side by side, on the technical VIRginia International Raceway, diving into Turn 1 to claim an early lead. However, difficulty struck on entry has Mogren locked the rear tires approaching the corner, sending the Sick Sideways Tundra into a slide drifting toward the outside of the corner. Zalenski saw the opportunity and went for the inside lane. The front fenders of the two trucks would touch, straightening out Mogren. Zalenski would have the lead temporarily until a mistake in NASCAR Bend (Turn 3) would give Mogren back the lead.
As the race started to reach the mid-point, a freight train was forming behind Zalenski who had fallen 5 seconds behind Mogren. Through NASCAR Bend, Zalenski would check-up mid corner resulting in contact with Cammaerts costing Cammaerts the speed he had over Zalenski. Cammaerts would continue to pressure Zalenski through Oak Tree narrowly missing the tire barriers. As they came down through the Rollercoaster, Zalenski would crack under pressure drifting into the grass and losing 3 positions before reaching Hogpen. Zalenski decided to be the first down pit lane for tires hoping to get some clean air and find a rhythm to gain back positions in the second half of the race.
A critical mistake on Lap 8 as Cammaerts as slid through his pit stall, costing him time. Clampitt who had been hounding Cammaerts and Tom O’Leary for the first half of the race took the opportunity and made it pass Cammaerts exiting pit lane. However, on the end of Lap 10, Clampitt would run wide at Hogpen, which would send him for a spin, dropping him down to 6th behind Zalenski. The two would battle fiercely for a number of laps. Clampitt would keep filling Zalenski’s mirrors around every bend. On Lap 12 Zalenski would fold under the pressure running wide through Hogpen allowing Clampitt an easy pass on the inside.
Zalenski would continue to fall after using up his tires from his early pit-stop and battling Clampitt. In the closing laps, the 3 way battle for 7th, between Justin Kruithof, James King and Martin Kapal, was closing in. Kruithof would catch Zalenski on the final lap, and was looking for a position, but was unable to execute a safe pass. Kruithof decided to play it smart in order to stay ahead of his championship rivals.
Once again Radicals Online’s locked out the podium. This time Zalenski didn’t have a drop round to save him which knocked Zalenski’s point lead down 20 points. The question remains, can Mogren and Cammaerts can keep winning in the final 2 rounds to close the 40 point lead Zalenski still holds?
In two weeks we will visit a circuit quite familiar with all forms of motorsport, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Although NASCAR fans may be accustomed to the Xfinity series running here, expect some unique surprises from V8 SuperTrucks. Be sure to join us on October 13th for the RaceSpot Broadcast of Round 11 on the iRacing eSports Network.