News & Media


Conti regains form in Phoenix

April 03, 2013, Jason Lofing, NASCAR.com

Conti celebrates his first win of the season and his re-emergence as a NiSWC title contender.

Michael Conti’s first two NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship races had all the makings of a sophomore slump. Shockingly, he failed to qualify for the season opener at Daytona, then could not crack the top 20 the following week at Las Vegas. Mired deep in the standings, Conti needed a breakthrough . . . and he got one in a big way last night by leading 70 of 156 laps and winning at Phoenix International Raceway.

On a track that is among the most difficult to pass on the entire NiSWC circuit, Conti’s pit crew kept him in the fight, knocking-off quick pit stops every time the Main Performance Chevy needed service. Once the crew did their job, the driver did the rest en route to the victory.

“I didn’t expect this one! I had a great car this week thanks to all of the guys at JScho and Drill Aisle. This is so cool; the first win was great, but this one is absolutely amazing,” said Conti, a winner at New Hampshire in his rookie season.

Jake Stergios continued his strong start to the season with a second place finish. Brian Schoenburg was third, Vegas winner Marcus Lindsey finished fourth with Paul Kusheba rounding out the top five.

Conti started fifth, but quickly made his way up to third and began to run down polesitter Steve Sheehan and Joey Brown. When the first yellow flew on Lap 24, Conti’s pit crew went to work, giving him the lead for the first time.

"This is so cool; the first win was great, but this one is absolutely amazing."

-- Michael Conti

He held the lead until the next round of pit stops under the yellow. This time, Joshua Laughton had a slightly better stop and beat Conti off pit road. When the race restarted, Conti clearly had the faster car but was unable to find a way around Laughton.  The two battled side-by-side for many laps with Conti even lightly putting the bumper to Laughton on more than one occasion.

On Lap 102 and still stuck behind Laughton, Conti got the break he needed.  Once again a yellow slowed the field and all the leaders came down pit road for fresh tires.  This time it was Conti passing Laughton and Lindsey to be the first car off pit road with four fresh tires. Once the online race restarted, Conti made quick work of teammate Schoenburg, who was only took two tires, and set sail.

From there, the race turned into a series of short runs due to several crashes. Defending champion Ray Alfalla saw his day come to an end when Sheehan made contact with series points leader Tyler Hudson, sparking a massive crash which sent Alfalla flying over the wall separating the race track and pit road. Alfalla wound up thirty-sixth.

Through all the chaos, Conti remained cool and collected up front and kept getting such good restarts that no one could challenge him for the lead. Schoenburg held his own on two tires for much of the last 50 laps, but finally yielded the runner-up spot to Stergios. It appeared the Stergios might have been a little faster than Conti on a long run, but could not keep pace the first few laps after a restart, allowing Conti to build a comfortable cushion.

Despite some crash damage, Hudson held on for eleventh and by doing so, kept the championship lead. He now leads by nine points over Peter Bennett, who has quietly put together an impressive first three races including top ten finishes at Daytona and PIR. Lindsey is third in the standings, one point behind Bennett. Adam Gilliland and Schoenburg are currently tied for fourth, a dozen markers back of the lead and 14 up on Brandon Kettelle, who slipped to sixth.

With three winners in the first three races, including two drivers who scored their first NiSWC career victories, this season has had an unpredictable start, to say the least. Week Four takes the series to Texas Motor Speedway, and with defending champ Alfalla and 2012 runner-up Conti sitting thirty-second and seventeenth respectively in the championship, a couple more bad races could put them out of the hunt before the season hits the one-third mark.

Conti, fresh off his PIR win, looks to be in better shape of the two. Meanwhile, Alfalla keeps finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, something which simply has not happened the past two seasons. He still has plenty of time to turn it around, but he needs some consistent finishes to build some positive momentum.

        Averarge Lap Time Laps Completed Cautions Caution Laps Lead Changes      
        35.835 156 9 37 8      
Fin Pos Driver Start Pos Car # Interval Laps Led Average Lap Time Fastest Lap Time Fast Lap # Laps Comp Pts Status
1 Michael Conti 5 5 0 70 35.835 26.768 29 156 48 Running
2 Jake Stergios 15 41 -0.528 0 35.942 26.917 86 156 42 Running
3 Brian Schoenburg 4 55 -0.896 4 35.841 26.83

29

156 42 Running
4 Marcus Lindsey 9 1 -1.083 20 35.838 26.769 29 156 41 Running
5 Paul Kusheba 27 32 -1.764 0 35.829 27.005 106 156 39 Running
6 Joshua Laughton 7 40 -1.99 34 35.845 26.812 86 156 39 Running
7 Nick Ottinger 20 5 -2.118 0 35.743 26.992 86 156 37 Running
8 Jason Karlavige 12 60 -2.27 0 35.844 26.928 48 156 36 Running
9 Peter Bennett 25 69 -2.553 0 35.835 27.13 145 156 35 Running
10 John Gorlinksy 29 21 -3.185 0 35.836 26.883 126 156 34 Running
11 Tyler D Hudson 26 1 -4.112 0 35.843 27.021 107 156 33 Running
12 Adam Gilliland 13 81 -4.946 0 35.67 27.04 3 156 32 Running
13 Chris Main 36 38 -4.988 0 35.841 27.134 86 156 31 Running
14 Chad Coleman 42 28 -5.494 0 35.838 27.058 86 156 30 Running
15 Bryan Blackford 40 33 -5.711 0 35.841 27.009 145 156 29 Running
16 Andrew Fayash III 43 77 -6.128 0 35.84 27.121 4 156 28 Running
17 Brandon Schmidt 28 3 -6.963 0 35.859 27.149 106 156 27 Running
18 Richard Dusett 19 96 -7.266 0 35.869 27.205 4 156 26 Running
19 Cody Byus 39 27 -7.517 0 35.855 27.081 2 156 25 Running
20 Byron Daley 17 93 -7.581 3 35.783 27.038 48 156 25 Running
21 Robert Hall 37 30 -7.829 0 35.858 26.975 115 156 23 Running
22 Cyril Nousbaum 11 99 -9.393 0 35.889 27.081 2 156 22 Running
23 Patrick Baldwin 8 52 -10.537 0 35.952 26.968 2 156 21 Running
24 Michael J Johnson 34 39 -12.744 0 35.892 27.18 1 156 20 Running
25 Alex Warren 38 82 -14.688 0 35.9 27.121 106 156 19 Running
26 Thomas Lewandowski 6 16 -15.738 0 35.978 26.934 2 156 18 Running
27 Casey Malone 22 92 -18.393 0 35.937 27.15 48 156 17 Running
28 Steve Sheehan 1 6 -22.237 25 36.038 26.82 2 156 17 Running
29 Brandon Kettelle 24 80 -1L 0 36.134 27.114 106 155 15 Running
30 Landon Harrison 31 89 -1L 0 36.01 27.104 86 155 14 Running
31 Kevin King 21 29 -2L 0 35.147 27.034 111 154 13 Running
32 Landon Huffman 35 75 -6L 0 37.283 27.092 86 150 12 Running
33 Brad Davies 18 11 -6L 0 35.361 26.985 87 150 11 Running
34 Jared Crawford 2 83 -7L 0 37.575 26.835 29 149 10 Running
35 Carson McClelland 33 24 -17L 0 36.284 27.068 3 139 9 Running
36 Ray Alfalla 14 2 -17L 0 36.817 26.866 29 139 8 Running
37 Matt Bussa 41 34 -23L 0 34.999 27.112 30 133 7 Disconnected
38 Philipp Geiss 23 66 -28L 0 34.345 26.967 86 128 6 Disconnected
39 Dustin Mongtomery 16 8 -36L 0 38.836 26.879 29 120 5 Disconnected
40 Joey Brown 3 12 -47L 0 35.15 26.957 2 109 4 Disconnected
41 Carson Downs 10 97 -56L 0 31.439 26.808 29 100 3 Running
42 Chad J Laughton 30 26 -113L 0 29.95 27.17 30 43 2 Running
43 Danny Hansen 32 30 -114L 0 29.967 27.182 1 42 1 Running



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