Kyle Johnson Uses Savvy Strategy to Win Wild 906 SIM League Street Stock Special
One of the great things provided to users by the iRacing service is an abundance of track and vehicle options to choose from. This week, the 906 SIM League took advantage of those options by visiting the virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway in Street Stocks. It was the first time the League has tried a different selection of vehicle. A trademark of official iRacing hosted Street Stock schedules, the Charlotte Motor Speedway is to the division as Talladega or Daytona is to NASCAR. Big packs, drafting, and oftentimes big wrecks are all hallmarks of Street Stock races at the track. Saturday night’s 906 SIM League race was no different. However, a change was made to the car settings to force drivers to make pit stops during the 80 lap race. Scott Hoffman and Cameron Clifford led the field to the green flag after a 10 minute group qualifying session saw the two drivers claim the front row. It only took a few laps before the first crash claimed a total of four drivers. Though the crash ended at the exit of turn two, it all began on the front straightaway when Michael Langtagne and Todd Rose made contact entering the quad oval. The collision sent Langtagne spinning through the infield, allowing him to escape damage free, while Rose pancaked the outside wall. (Below)
As cars scattered, debuting 906 SIM League participant Jeff Ives lost control in turn one, made contact with Kyle Johnson, before being struck by Rose who had just recovered from the front stretch incident. Rose careened down the track in to Derek LeBresh and then into the outside wall. Both the Rose and Ives vehicles took wild tumbles before each driver reset their car to the pits. (Below)
Todd's thoughts: I really hated to see a crash that early in the race, but it was really just a product of the circumstances. Mike had been having some connection issues that we were discussing heading toward the start/finish line. He had asked if his car was still blinking/bouncing, which is a sign of connection issues. (You may have seen similar instances in NASCAR iRacing events.) When I looked over to see is when we made contact, he came up a little bit, but I really came down hard on him. Jeff did a heck of a job holding on to his car as long as he did. He was just trying not to hit me and let Kyle back on track when his car got out from under him. I really hated to see his race ruined that quickly. I’m hoping Jeff joins us again next week! The second caution of the race flew not much long after the first as Duane Franklin and Scott Bolster went tumbling through turns three and four. Under the cation, Todd Rose was awarded the Lucky Dog Free Pass to get one of two laps back while the leaders took to the pits.
Just past the 30 lap mark another caution would fly and slow the field again. Again, Rose was awarded the Lucky Dog, putting him pack on the lead lap.
The racing up front was wild following the restart with the lead pack battling hard. Scott Hoffman and Cameron Clifford took turns swapping the lead while other battled for position as well. With the hard racing, something had to give, though. Contact was made and sent Hoffman spinning down the track into the path of a helpless Robby Iverson. For whatever reason, no caution flew from the automated iRacing program.
After the incident, two pairs of tandem drafts appeared (Below). The leading tandem made up of Nick Leisner and Kyle Johnson, the following tandem consisting of Curtis Aho and Todd Rose. The two pairs, separated by several seconds, quickly approached the final 25 laps of the race and the final pit stop.
Rose, Leisner, and Aho all made the move to pit road simultaneously, pitting on lap 57. Absent from the pit road was Kyle Johnson who remained on track running one extra lap before pitting. All four drivers would exit the pits and immediately realize the dire fuel situation they were in.
With his one lap extra of fuel, Kyle Johnson was able to stretch his fuel to the end to take the win. Like Rose last week, Johnson only had one lap of fuel to spare. Meanwhile Leisner, who was in second, ran out of fuel on the last lap, half a lap from the finish. Rose ran out exiting turn four while Aho ran out at the line. While Leisner fell to sixth place, Rose grabbed second and Aho third. “My strategy going into the race was to stay back and avoid the wrecks until the field separated a little,” Johnson said after the race. He continued about his strategy, “The call to stay out one extra lap was on purpose because at the end of the race I had one extra lap to go for fuel than the rest of the field so I didn't have to conserve fuel as much.” “It feels good to win, especially with all the great competitors we have in this league.”
Third place Curtis Aho, who had worked with Todd Rose all race long, regretted the pit call looking back. “If we would have saved and maybe pitted on lap 59 or 60 then just run flat out we would have had a chance,” Aho pondered on what could have been done differently. Nick Leisner, who was half a lap away from second place, had an inkling about his fate as early as his trip to pit lane. “I knew making my last pit stop that I was really going to be stretching it on fuel. With about 15 to go, I knew that my Laughing Clown Malt Liquor Chevy was in trouble,” Leisner stated. “I tried saving as much as I could, eventually surrendering the lead to Johnson, but I came up a lap short, and ran out in turn two on the final lap.”
Todd’s thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised to make it back on the lead lap, let alone finish second. I have to give a big shout out to Curtis Aho. I had messaged him before the race about working together to try finishing one-two as the draft is so important at Charlotte. We ran a bunch of laps in tandem during practice, then again during the race. Using a dedicated team channel, we could talk to each other during the race about what to do. We were a bit surprised by the fuel at the end, as our mileage was a little lower than we anticipated. A one-two would have been great, but second and third was a great result after the early race crash, especially for me. Below are full results and the current points standings after four weeks of racing in the 906 SIM League. Under the photos are links to the 906 SIM League Facebook page and iRacing homepage for more info regarding both.
By Todd Rose