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Gorlinsky aces Atlanta for first '11 NiSWC victory

August 09, 2011, Tim Terry, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

John Gorlinsky led 117 of 162 laps en route to his second career NiSWC victory. (iRacing.com)

John Gorlinsky (Manasquan, N.J) drove to victory Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Race 13 of the NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship. Gorlinsky, who started from the pole, led 117 of 162 laps, including the final 33 circuits of the race. The driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet set the pace early as well, leading the first 53 laps before green flag pit stops shuffled the running order. This is Gorlinsky's first win of 2011 and second of his career after crossing the line first at Daytona last season.

"I still can't really believe it," Gorlinsky said in Victory Lane after the race. "We came up with some really good changes and finished up with the race setup on Sunday night, which is the earliest I've ever been done with a race setup. By the time qualifying ended and the race started, I was telling myself this was my shot to really make something happen."

Indianapolis winner Brad Davies (Wauchula, Fla.) brought his car home in second place after a hard charge at the end brought him to within a half second of Gorlinsky. Derek Wood (Lincoln, Neb.) rounded-out the podium positions with Chris Main (Germantown, Md.) and Josh Parker (Cranston, R.I.) completing the top five. Twenty drivers finished the event on the lead lap while 36 drivers were on track when the checkered flag dropped. Six different leaders exchanged the lead seven times in the race, which featured five cautions and took one hour, 38 minutes to complete.

In pursuit of his second consecutive victory at Atlanta, Steve Sheehan (Schenectady, N.Y.) started on the outside of the front row and had the makings of a solid run in the No. 6 Chevrolet. He ran in second for much of the race before a pit stop penalty on Lap 134 dashed his hopes for a third victory on the season.

"I was so focused on the pit stop that I messed up the pit entry," Sheehan said after finishing 21st. "I got a speeding penalty, went two laps down, and then the yellow came out. That sealed the deal for me."

Series leader Ray Alfalla (Cape Coral, Fla.) also ran near the front of the field early, but a pit stop on Lap 117 was destined to put him a lap down when the caution flew 20 laps later. Although he got the wave around to regain the lead lap, Alfalla was destined for a 12th place finish and departs Atlanta with 467 championship points to his credit. Among the other championship contenders, Thomas Hazard (Rochester, Minn.) regained second place in the standings by a single point over top freshman Brad Wright (High Point, N.C.) after they finished 11th and 13th, respectively.

Atlanta also marked the beginning of a new era for the NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship as this was the first race in the series featuring iRacing's all new tire for the Chevrolet Impala. The new tire is a key element of the iRacing 2.0 platform, which rolled-out for all members at the beginning of August.

The NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship next visits Chicagoland Speedway for Race 14. With only five races to go, Chicagoland could well have a significant impact on the championship picture. Although Alfalla has a hold on the top spot in the standings, Hazard, Wright and the rest of the series drivers are not about to let the Floridian cash that $10,500 championship payday without a fight. The race can be seen live, flag-to-flag on www.iRacing.com at 9 p.m. ET on Aug. 16.