Alfalla Returns to Victory Lane
July 30, 2014, Jason Lofing, NASCAR.com
After a rocky start to his 2014 season, Ray Alfalla dominated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and made his long-awaited return to victory lane in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing. The 2011 and 2012 series champion showed he can still get it done by winning the pole and leading a race-high 40 of 100 laps en route to the win.
“Feels amazing to win at Indy again.” — Ray Alfalla
Chad Laughton was second, nearly two seconds behind Alfalla after battling with the winner for much of the race. Chris Overland came home third followed by Michael Conti. Bryan Blackford finished an impressive fifth after taking two tires on his first pit stop and hanging tough the rest of the way.
The win also bolstered Alfalla’s hopes for a third title . . . and delivered an emphatic statement about the strength of TeamSlipAngle.
“Everyone in the team finished in the top six, great effort,” Alfalla said. “Feels amazing to win at Indy again.”
From the drop of the green flag it was apparent Alfalla had a strong car but it seemed no one was going to be able to touch Nick Ottinger, who started second and sprinted out to an early lead before the yellow flew on Lap 12.
When the ensuing pit stops were complete, Alfalla found himself at the front again with Ottinger second. To make matters worse for Ottinger, he made a poor restart and fell to third as the field entered Turn One. Desperate not to let any more cars pass him, Ottinger pushed a bit too hard coming off the corner and pancaked the right side of his car against the wall. The damage was severe enough to knock him half a second off the pace and, in a race with only two cautions, he had no time to fix his car. Adding injury to insult, his engine expired four laps shy of the checkered flag, relegating him to a thirty-second place finish.
With Ottinger out of the picture Alfalla’s only real competition was Laughton, who hounded him for most of the race. Laughton may have been quicker on the short run but Alfalla was clearly better once the tires got worn and even with help from the draft Laughton could not keep up.
Laughton knew he had to try something strategy-wise to get the lead and decided to pit before Alfalla on his last stop, hoping an extra lap on fresher tires would put him in front of the race leader. The plan ended failed as Alfalla had a stellar pit stop and emerged from the pits in front of Laughton and led the rest of the way.
Alfalla’s win combined with Ottinger’s bad finish helped tighten the points with only five races remaining. Alfalla now leads the standings by two points over Conti with Laughton five markers back in third. Ottinger fell from first to fourth with his run and is now 21 points out of the lead. Overland is a new face in the top five, though with 32 points to make up he has some work to do if he wants to contend for the title.
It would be easy to say the twelfth event of the 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series season is just another race, but it figures to be anything but as the series makes its road course debut on the fast but technical Watkins Glen International race course. Grip will likely be at a premium as road courses are known to be extremely slick with the Gen 6 cars.
As for who is a favorite for the win, this race ranks close to Daytona in unpredictability. With their road racing backgrounds on iRacing, Jake and PJ Stergios figure to factor into the conversation, along with Conti who always looks impressive turning left in stock cars. However, one wrong move could lead to a visit with the powder blue guardrails, so even the best will have to be on their toes. Of all the races so far, this is the one not to miss so be sure to catch all the action from Watkins Glen on iRacing Live!