News & Media


iRacing: Ottinger scores second win of season

May 30, 2012, Jason Lofing, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Nick Ottinger (Claremont, N.C.) scored his second win of the 2012 NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship season, holding hard-charging pole-sitter Brian Schoenburg (Moorpark, Calif.) at bay on a late restart at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the latter's motor expired with four laps remaining. After starting eighth, Ottinger ran at or near the front throughout the online race and took advantage of misfortunes that befell Ray Alfalla (Cape Coral, Fla.) and Steve Sheehan (Schenectady, N.Y.) to move into contention as the laps wound down. After grabbing the lead from Byron Daley (Bronx, N.Y.) with 29 laps remaining, Ottinger took the checkered flag ahead of Alfalla, Kevin King (Sammamish, Wash.), Patrick Baldwin (Torrington, Conn.) and Daley, hoisting himself squarely into the middle of the championship picture in the bargain.

The last quarter of the 200-lap, 300-mile race was packed with action. The final scheduled pit stop on Lap 165 saw Schoenburg pit from sixth position and make a risky move by adding tape to his car's grille in the hope the rest of the race would consist of short, green-flag runs. The strategy gave Schoenburg more downforce and speed than anyone ahead of him, and he quickly started picking them off, one by one, as his temperature gauge steadily climbed. Two quick yellows enabled his engine to cool, but the last 13-lap run proved too much for the virtual V8 and Schoenburg fell to a 26th-place finish.

It was a disappointing end to a strong run from Schoenburg, who fought back through the field after early crash-damage repairs cost him his track position. "In the race we had a really good car. I was able to drive up to seventh after having crash-damage repairs and was running down the top five," he said. "Best car I've had all year."

The dash to the checkers also spelled doom for Sheehan, dominant for much of the race, when Schoenburg got into the back of him. Even though he was the one who got spun, Sheehan took the blame. "On one of the restarts I got loose and got shuffled back to fourth, and was being pressured by Brian who had taped up and was getting huge runs at the tail end of the straightaway," he said. "I had to play defense and [messed up] Turn 1, checked-up, and got myself run over."

Points leader Alfalla also was around the front for most of the race, but pit strategy did not fall his way as he was trapped a lap down when a yellow flew during the night's only round of green-flag pit stops. Adding insult to injury, he also damaged his car in a pit-road collision. After taking the wave-around, Alfalla restarted in 23rd, with a now ill-handling car. No matter, the defending champion calmly drove back to the front and capitalized on Schoenburg's misfortune to claim second place at the finish.

Contrary to much of the 2012 season, the first half of the race produced most of the evening's yellows flags. Many sim-racers, including the normally competitive Robert Hall (Hampton, Ga.) and Brad Wright (High Point, N.C.), were fighting loose race cars at the outset and ended up spinning by themselves. After making adjustments during pit stops -- and with a few less cars on the track -- the field calmed down in the latter parts of the race, producing long, green-flag runs and good, hard racing throughout the pack.

After an eventful race, the top two positions in the season standings remain unchanged. Alfalla retains the top spot, extending his lead to 17 points over Michael Conti (Woodland Park, N.J.), who rebounded from early trouble to finish seventh. With his win, however, Ottinger moves up to third in the points, 41 behind Alfalla. King now sits fourth, 67 back, one better than fifth-place Schoenburg.

Steve Sheehan led 89 laps and set the fastest lap of the race, but saw his hopes for a top finish dashed when he got together with Brian Schoenburg. (iRacing.com)

Next, the iRacing.com Series World Championship season visits a unique track on the schedule: Pocono Raceway. The Tricky Triangle demands a great driver and excellent chassis setup in order to be in the running, and pit strategy likely will play into the outcome, as well. Ottinger was strong there in the NASCAR iRacing.com Pro Series before getting wrecked, but the World Championship field is stronger and both Alfalla and Conti will be looking to keep Ottinger from gaining any more ground in the points race. Make sure not to miss a second of the action by tuning into iRacing Live in two weeks' time!