The iRacing Late Model Tour returned to the state of Virginia once again this week, to a little track called Langley Speedway. This track measures just under three-eighths of a mile, and is virtually flat. It makes for some good, tight racing and a lot of fun in a Late Model. The feature race of the week ran on Christmas Day, but there wasn’t a lot of holiday cheer in the air.
Stan Bragg Jr. captured the pole for the race. Carl Sundberg started on the outside of the second row. Bragg took charge early, moving out to a commanding lead on the first lap. Carl Sundberg wasn’t quite up to speed and found himself contending with Tony Mangini and Joshua Hicks. On the second lap, Sundberg was relegated to fourt position, as Mangini and Hicks moved up a spot. Everyone lined up single file, hoping to stay within sight of Bragg, who continued to pummel the field. The single file field only lasted a few more laps.
Joshua Hicks decided he’d had enough of looking at Tony Mangini’s back bumper on lap five. As the two headed into turn one, Hicks tried to make a move. The cars made contact and both slid high on the track, allowing Sundberg to return to the second position. Hicks and Mangini continued to claw at each other, a situation which finally ended up with Mangini pinching Hicks against the outside wall coming out of turn four. Hicks then dropped back to sixth position with little or no damage to his car.
The race continued without incident for twelve laps. Hicks wasn’t finished with Mangini yet, though, and managed to run him back down. This time, Mangini got the raw deal and ended up back in seventh position. Mangini then checked on the back stretch and was knocked out of the way and into the infield by Ronald Arch. Mangini called the tow truck and went to the pits.
Hicks saw more trouble when he was pinched low on corner entry by the lapped car of Randy Lamberti. Hicks couldn’t hold the car low and slid up into Lamberti, who spun around and was sitting in the middle of the track, facing the wrong direction. Lamberti quickly got the car turned around, nearly taking out the leader of the race, Stan Bragg Jr. Bragg took evasive action and held his lead, but not before losing two seconds of his lead over Sundberg.
Yet again this week, we have a case of an inexperienced racer, at least one lap down, blocking the leader. I’ll say once again that this should be a rules infraction that is protestable under the sporting code. Lapped cars wouldn’t get away with these shenanigans on any real track that I’m aware of. This time it was Randy Lamberti who had some sort of notion that he should block the leader, despite having no chance of ever winning the race. For all of three laps, Bragg went low, went high, and did everything he could to pass Lamberti, and he was intentionally blocked each and every time.
Bragg showed a lot more patience than I would have, but finally his patience wore thin and he pushed Lamberti up the track. Bragg and Sundberg were able to pass the dirty driving Lamberti as he gathered it in. Ronald Arch then did what I probably would have done, and simply punted Lamberti out of the way. Lamberti got his car going again after the spin, and promptly collided with Joshua Hicks and Maxime Plante on the back stretch. This crash effectively ended the race for Hicks, Plante only spun around and made no further contact.
The leaders caught Lamberti again later in the race. After trying to pass Lamberti for two laps, Bragg once again pushed him up the track in turn four. Bragg had cleared Lamberti, but Lamberti dove into turn one and intentionally took out the leader, collecting Carl Sundberg in the process.
Maxime Plant then inherited the lead, thanks to the tactics of Lamberti. Bragg was towed into the pits, then returned to the race. He was able to get one of his two lost laps back despite the fact that he spent much of his time beating the bumper off the Joshua Hicks car.
Maxime Plante held on to win the feature at Langley Speedway, followed by Ronald Arch. Bas Van Bree finished third followed by Andre Leite. Stan Bragg Jr. rounded out the top five.
Next week, the iRacing Late Model tour will visit Richmond International Raceway, a place that should be filled with water and stocked with catfish. Every iRacing Late Model driver will hit the wall coming out of turn two many, many times, but it won’t move a millimeter. Richmond can be fun if you just lie back and take your time, but if you try to get aggressive or drive over your head, your race will most certainly end early.
In the mean time, Tony Mangini had returned to the race and he was looking for trouble. He found it once again on lap thirty-two, once again with Joshua Hicks.