Difficult season start in the DOM.
Rudy wrote a little story about his experiences racing the iRacing replicated Impala Sprint CUP car in the familiar SFH Livery and his #8.
The first of 3 sub seasons 12 of 36 races in the Deutsche Online Meisterschaft (DOM) flew by. The DOM hosts a huge regular grid (35+) of DETACH club drivers (+2 dutchies) that enjoy racing ovals. There is always someone on track that runs an equal pace. Racing is good most of the time, but as oval racing isn’t as common in Europe compared to the USA there’s a road racing mentality seen quite often, more give n take please.
Rudy runs the DOM with the SimSync Pro Racing Team, drivers whom he met and competed against in IRSS late fall of 2011. Being his first races with the Impala CUP car the experiences of the team were very helpful. Thank you guys for taking me onboard and sharing our joys and frustrations!
Below there are a few words on the races from the first third of the season.
Race 1 – Kentucky Speedway (1.5mi)
DNS (did not start): Rudy was side lined as the license to be on the grid was not yet obtained.
Race 2 – Chicagoland Speedway (1.5mi)
40 Drivers were on the grid of Rudy’s first race official race in the DOM. In practice the pace was pretty good. In qualifying Rudy ended up 2nd on the grid just 0.020s off the pole. The race pace was great, especially on the mid and long runs. Rudy was able to maintain a top 5 position for the #8 the entire race. A late yellow caused a sprint to the finish where Rudy had a tough battle to eventually bring the car home in 3rd place. A great result in such a huge and competitive field.
Race 3 – New Hampshire (1.0mi)
DNS: Vacation J
Race 4 – Daytona (2.5mi)
Two car tandems everywhere. A benefit of being in a large team is there are a lot of teammates to draft with. Shortly before the race a little change in the engine cooling resulted in tandems that had to switch at least once every 2nd lap to prevent engine trouble. Team SimSync who dominated pre-season Talladega Superspeedway went into this event with confidence. A lot of work went into the race set to allow stable tandems. Unfortunately that resulted in midpack qualification. Rudy positioned his #8 at the 18th spot on the grid in the middle off the 43 cars counting grid. No worries, as a tandem there should be enough time and space to find a way to the front.
The race itself was a bit of a surprise, due to the front tandems not being able to pull away from the pack there was old school pack racing and little room to gain spots. The #8 of Rudy ran together with the #65 of Ralph Krause, but could not find any clean air until green flag pit stops in lap 45. After the green flag stops the field was spread out and the #8 and #65 found themselves in a lead group of 4 tandems. Unfortunately a yellow came out and everything went back into a big pack of cars. As the last stop was made and hanging just outside the top 10 the #8 and #65 made it 3 wide in an attempt to move forward. Quite a number of spots were gained but eventually a car in the middle got to high entering Turn 1 and collected the #8 ending it’s race and dropping to 38th place on the final standings.
Race 5 – Phoenix International Raceway (1.0mi)
The first track that really included braking. A nice stable setup for the #8 and qualified a good 2nd place on the grid. The race started off well. Looking at the race pace from it’s competitors the #8 was definitely at top 5 car. But as it’s a ‘short’ track trouble and strategy comes into play. Halfway through the first fuel cell Rudy pitted under yellow making him fall outside the top 10. With a bunch of cars on fresh tires chasing a bunch of cars on older tires thing are bound to get tight. In lap 71 Rudy went a little to wide coming off Turn for and made contact. Hard contact with the wall damaged Rudy’s car beyond repair and a 35th place finish that day.
Race 6 – Las Vegas Speedway (1.5mi)
With the recent wrecks Rudy didn’t want to roll the dice at Las Vegas. A lot of effort was put into the race set to make it as stable as possible. The #8 qualified 7th on the grid and started the race off slowly. Early in the race Rudy stayed out of trouble hanging just outside the top 5. After 2 quick cautions the green flag waved for the last time at lap 34 of the 180 lap race, which mean 156 laps of consecutive green flag racing. The #8 was a great car on the long run as was the #65 of Ralph who found it’s way forward through the field. For a long time it looked like the #65 and #8 would devide P2 and P3 between themselves, but being eager to get a bonus point for leading a lap the both of us lost ground on the #2 who pitted early. Working together the gap to the #2 was closed quickly, but the pass was very very hard. Eventually tires got destroyed trying to pass the #2 and Rudy hit the wall very hard in an attempt to get a run out of turn 4 that made him settle for 3rd place finish. A good race with multiple green flag stops, more of this please!
Race 7 – Richmond (0.75mi)
The short track that want to be a speedway. The race would be all about tire management and staying out of trouble. Although Rudy is not the biggest fan of short tracks he seems to be able to get around them at a good speed. Great qualifying lap put the #8 on the outside pole. After an early stop putting Rudy back in the middle of the pack Rudy noticed his car was great if not the fastest car out there on the long run. Even on older tires he was able to chase for the lead of the race. In lap 147 of 250 the #8 received a black flag for passing under yellow (a false one). Being on the outside and having to enter pit lane at the drop of the green Rudy waved in an attempt to notify his colleague drivers. Unfortunately they didn’t notice and as the #8 slowed down to create room to enter pit lane he got sent into the wall hard. After long repairs the # rejoined the track many laps down and finished the day in a disappointing P27.
Race 8 – Atlanta (1.5mi)
First time the #8 ran a coil bind race setup as a last minute swing around from conventional spring settings. The car felt sloppy and did slide off turn 2 a little. Taking it easy and a trouble free race was required as Richmond really set back any chance of going anywhere in the overall standings. Rudy put together a solid race. He started in 5th hang around the top 5 for the entire day. After 2 green flag pit stops the #8 got lucky with a yellow trapping all but 8 cars a lap down. With good tire strategy Rudy was able to go from 8th to 4th in the last 30 lap sprint to the finish. Green flag racing and a good finish to rebound Richmond.
Race 9 – Martinsville (0.5mi)
A track built for drama. The SimSync Pro team built a setup for their cars and they went flying around the paperclip. Good on the short runs, great on the ‘long’ runs. It didn’t take until half point that there were 2 cars holding the top spots, Ralph’s #65 was in first, Rudy’s #8 in solid second place.
Unfortunately disaster struck when the pace car pulled off and the green flag waved in turn 3!!!. Chaotic restart as it caught the whole field by surprise. Crossing the flag, both leading Simsync cars got a black flag… Why??? Disappointed both limped through pit lane and lost more then a lap in the process. Trying to get a lap back Rudy somehow scored another black flag putting him 3 laps down on the leaders. Frustrated and anxious to prove the raw pace his racecar had Rudy ended up passing more then 100 cars as he got put back in behind the lead lap cars each yellow that fell. Sad result as SimSync definitely had cars capable of winning.
Race 10 – Infineon (road coarse)
Right… Turns to the right and working the gear lever. Not a perfect, but a good spot on the grid for Rudy as he took the green flag. This race was all about saving the rear tires as long as possible. The winning strategy would be a stop, although trying it was soon obvious that Rudy needed a bit more fuel then some of his competitors. Still running strong in the top 5 Rudy went for a 30-21-20 pit strategy. A miscalculation at the second left the #8 between 2 and 3 laps short on fuel. Limping on the throttle, short shifting and a slow pace just to make it through the last 15 laps. The goal was to stay in 5th. That looked to be able as the leader put a lap on the conserving #8 with 2 (actually 1) more to go. The #6 car was on the bumper off the second to last turn and as the #8 bogged in the last turn to take the checkered the #6 was able to steal 5th spot.
Race 11 – Texas (1.5mi)
A race cancelled after 75 laps and rescheduled a week after. SimSync cars look strong on the long run, but would they still be strong after the update?
The rebound race proved to be quite the challenge. The new build made the old setups useless and gave us more realistic cornering combined with coil bind setups. Rudy’s #8 was nevertheless quick. A last second decision to tighten the car up a little bit on exit was a good decision. Qualifying 2nd on the grid # 8 challenged the #00 for the lead from the green flag. Soon the #8 was at the point and creating a gap to it’s nearest competitors. No surprise some early yellows to see the gap being undone. Soon it was obvious the #8 and the #2 would be running for the win as both were cars were evenly matched and could break away from the pack after each restart. A really late caution made the flag drop with just 4 to go. Wheel spin, sent the #8 in the wall and 2 others that needed to avoid the spinning cars caused quite a big one short before the flag. The #2 won the race and Rudy dropped to 8th. A good but disappointing result.
Race 12 – Bristol (0.5mi)
Bristol can be an impossible track to drive with the wrong setup under the car. The 60% cross weight and burning right front tires and some insight on how the real sprint cup cars are setup for Bristol (Nascar Performance). Big springs, less crossweight, and try get the right side tires balanced. The changes were spot on, the #8 was a bulled the first official practice and kept the gap all the way up till race day. Still unaware of what the #00 and the #29 would bring to the track for a long run, but a solid result was up for grabs. From P2 on the grid and taking care of the tires Rudy was running very solid. On runs longer then 20 laps the #8 was the fastest car on track and capable of running the low line to pass and lap. 3 cautions in the 350 lap race and the #8 was by far the fastest car on track. Shortly before the 2nd round of pit stops (under green) Rudy lapped the entire field. From there onwards Rudy was cruising to victory. At lap 315 a car spin right in front of the #8 caused Rudy to brake to hard and spin bumping the wall slightly. A pit stop with optional saw the #2 regain a spot on the lead lap by taking the wave around. The race stayed green till the end and the #8 caught the #2 to put it a lap down again and cruised to victory in a dominating run.!
The 1st sub season sees Rudy just outside the top 10 in points. As someone who enjoys building sets and having learned a great deal on the CUP setups, chassis geometry, tires and down force, Rudy is confident he and his SimSync teammates will have stronger cars as the season progresses. Running for more race wins should definitely be possible.
Sub season 2 kicks off with the 2.66 miles long Talladega. Also lots of setup challenges ahead with the recent changes. No time to get bored.