As the iRacing season begins to wind down, the Late Model Tour bounced back to the northeast for a run at Thompson International Speedway. The racing line is somewhere from the middle to the top at this five-eighths mile oval, and if you get too low the car just won’t handle. Some drivers choose a more conventional stiff spring setup for this track because it is rough, particularly entering turn three.
Brad Hancock won the pole for the feature race of the week. The appropriately-named Phillip Thompson sat on the outside of the front row. Hancock got a good jump on the start and pulled away to a substantial lead immediately. The first four cars lined up single file on lap one. Further back, Paul Wisniewski had a meeting with the outside retaining wall coming out of turn four. His car bounced across the track and smacked the front-end of the car driven by Henry Taylor. Wisniewski continued on his journey, making light contact with the inside wall. Taylor made a 360 degree spin on the front stretch and didn’t lose too much time.
Phillip Thompson took a run for the lead on lap three, trying the low side on leader Brad Hancock. Since the low side is slippery and treacherous, Hancock held on for a while, but Thompson was patient and a little faster, and after about a lap he was able to make the pass on the inside. At the same time, Kyle Young moved under Russell Berry to take the third spot, and Hancock was fighting to stay off the wall as Young was also looking to take second from him. As Hancock came down the track, Young came up and both cars went straight into the outside wall. Young then collected the car of Rick Ricketts. Young spun out, but Ricketts kept it straight and continued on.
Typical Thompson racing continued with cars trying to find a way to pass, spinning out, and hitting the wall. Through this melee, Charles Harris charged from last place to second without an incident. It’s worth noting that Jonathan Bivens spun his car on lap seven and lost a lap to the leaders. Bivens went on to do what disrespectful amateurs do, and that is try to race the leaders despite being a lap down.
By the time lap twenty rolled around, the second through fifth place cars were nose to tail, stacked up behind the ridiculous Jonathan Bivens. By this time, Henry Taylor had captured second position. Taylor finally tired of Binvens’s silliness, and forced him up the track and out of the way of the real drivers, allowing them to pass cleanly. Taylor continued on, closing the gap on leader Phillip Thompson.
The race settled down for the next twenty-five laps. Thompson was keeping it consistent and smooth, trying to increase his lead. His pursuers did the same, hoping to close in on him. Thompson misjudged on lap fifty-seven and almost hit the wall. He gathered it in, but lost a lot of momentum, and, in a few moments, the lead. Thompson tried a little nudge to bump the new leader, Henry Taylor up the track, but it didn’t help as Taylor held on and sailed smoothly ahead of the pack. Thompson tried another pass on the low side but Taylor had the preferred line and held him at bay. Thompson gave it one more shot coming out of turn four on the last lap, but his car got loose and he lost second spot to S. Michael Allen.
Despite the first lap incident, Henry Taylor was patient and it paid off. S. Michael Allen finished in second spot, followed by Phillip Thompson. Charles Harris and Russell Berry rounded out the top five.
Next week, the iRacing Late Models head to North Carolina and Concord Speedway, a tricky tri-oval short track.