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Defending iRacing champ Humpe claims Kentucky triumph

Kenny Humpe (The TEAM) kept his hot streak going at Kentucky Speedway by winning his third NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series race of the 2016 season. The defending series champion led 50 of 167 laps, the most of any driver, in what turned out to be one of the most competitive events of the season thus far.

Humpe closed the deal on a three-lap shootout that was punctuated by a caution on the penultimate lap with Humpe well in the clear. Michael Conti (Team Conti) finished second for his first top-five finish of the season. Conti was strong from the drop of the green and led 10 laps, flashing some of the speed that made him NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion in 2014.

Dylan Duval followed Conti across the line in third, just in front of point leaders Ray Alfalla (Slip Angle Motorsports) and PJ Stergios (ineX Racing). Duval looked to have a car capable of winning the race the last 50 laps, but cautions held him back from challenging for the win; he started 34th. 

Alfalla looked poised to battle Humpe for the win but contact with Conti under caution with a handful of laps to go damaged the rear of Alfalla's car and dashed any chance he had of keeping up with Humpe on the last restart.

The race was one of the more unpredictable of the season, as several drivers looked like they had a legitimate shot to win. Alfalla started on pole and led until pitting under green on Lap 35, where he lost the lead to Conti after the cycle of stops due to Conti pitting a lap earlier for tires. Alfalla methodically reeled him in, using his superior speed on the long run to take the lead back on Lap 55.

Alfalla pitted for the second time on Lap 68 and again lost the lead on the exchange -- this time to Justin Bolton and Humpe, along with Conti for a second time. Humpe went to the point on Lap 81 with Alfalla looking to keep pace, but Conti held Alfalla at bay, using the outside lane to keep his momentum off the corners. Alfalla was persistent though, and after four laps of working the bottom lane he cleared Conti, but could not run down Humpe before the leaders hit pit road for a third time.

Humpe maintained his lead after stops but a caution shortly after the round of stops changed the outlook of the race. While most of the leaders pitted for fresh tires, nine drivers decided to stay out with their slightly worn tires in hopes that track position would make a difference.

Tyler Hudson (One Up Motorsports) inherited the race lead as the field took the green flag on Lap 109. Hudson held the lead for the next eight laps before another caution bunched the field and drew everyone to pit road for fresh rubber. Humpe went from 12th to seventh on the run, but now did not have a tire advantage. After a crash on the restart, the race restarted on Lap 126 and Humpe started to make his move back to the front.

In 10 laps, Humpe was in third and had his sights set on Hudson in the lead. On Lap 140, Humpe drew alongside Hudson and completed the pass on the outside off Turn 4. Another caution with 17 laps to go could have derailed Humpe's chances, but a solid final pit stop and two stellar restarts let him hold the lead uncontested to the checkered flag.

Alfalla's fourth-place result combined with Stergios' fifth-place effort saw Alfalla build his championship lead slightly. His margin over Stergios is 13 points, with Humpe a distant third, 78 points back. Teammates Jake Stergios and Chris Overland hold fourth and fifth, 91 and 96 points adrift, respectively.

After four-straight races on 1.5 mile tracks, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series shifts gears for Week 11 as the SIM racing series visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Overtaking at the one-groove IMS is notoriously difficult; thus, qualifying is more important than usual. Alfalla's average start of seventh makes him the clear favorite, but a dark horse could be Cody Byus, whose eighth-place average starting position is second-best in the series.

Can Humpe or Stergios topple Alfalla, or will the two-time champ cross the yard of bricks for his second victory of 2016? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive!

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