PGRL S1 R9 Recap
12 Apr 2022
Pretty Good Racing League | Season 1 | Round 9
Premier Series | Bristol Motor Speedway
Sim Racing Software: iRacing
Jeff Ward with Graafix LC Motorsports took the mud-covered checkered flag tonight in the Laps for Muscular Dystrophy 125 presented by Patriot Media & Marketing Services with the Pretty Good Racing League in the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway ahead of Isaiah Dupre and Woody Mahan. “I’m wore out, that was probably the hardest I’ve ever drove a sim racing car”, Ward commented after the race, “Man it was a handful. It feels good to get that one for sure.”
Michael Whiting started the evening off leading the field to the green for the first heat race of the evening. Isaiah Dupre gained on Whiting from 2nd place being able to take away the inside line and overtake for the lead. Whiting stayed close behind but wasn’t able to challenge back for the lead before Dupre took the checkered flag. Rich Jette led the second heat with Don Runkle Jr to his outside. However, Jeff Ward had the best launch from a row back quickly overtaking the front row and taking the lead. Ward pulled away to an impressive 4.3 second lead before taking the checkered flag.
The third and final heat of the night had Travis McQuistion in the front with Norm Pelletier to his outside as the green flag came out. McQuistion had a good launch off the start and pulled away from Pelletier, but Woody Mahan caught the leader and tried to overtake from the outside with Scott Eckrich jumping both cars into the lead as McQuistion dropped back into 3rd behind Mahan. Eckrich was caught up negotiating around lap traffic which gave the lead over the Mahan who took the win.
Dupre had Ward to his outside as the field took the green flag in the feature event. Ward ran the highline well clearing for the lead very early with Mahan and Eckrich following him around pushing Dupre back to 4th place. Eckrich tried several times to overtake Mahan from the inside but couldn’t get enough speed coming out of the corners to stay alongside. Ward had caught the beginning of lap traffic early into the race as the rear of the field became very spread out.
Mahan and Eckrich closed the gap to Ward going into lap 20 and started searching around the track for a line to use to challenge for the lead. Mahan and Ward door slammed knocking both drivers loose and letting Eckrich get past Mahan into 2nd place. Eckrich was able to then use the outside line to overtake Ward and started to build a gap while Ward and Mahan battled over 2nd. Lap traffic hindered Eckrich’s run allowing Ward and Mahan to get back up to his bumper.
25 laps into the race, only the top 8 drivers were still on the lead lap with 14th place and back already multiple laps down. The 24 car field was spread out to all ends of the track complicating matters for Eckrich who had to continuously change lines to negotiate around the traffic. The dense lap traffic also forced the top 3 drivers apart as over a 1 second gap had extended between Eckrich and Ward as well as Ward and Mahan. With 50 laps completed, Dupre in 4th place was the last car on the lead lap.
Eckrich made hard contact with lap traffic that allowed Ward and Mahan to close the gap back up with both drivers overtaking the leader as Eckrich was forced to pull off track with damage from the incident. The competition caution was thrown out over the field on lap 60 for the only scheduled pit stop of the night with Ward and Mahan the only drivers on the lead lap. Dupre was the first car a lap down and was granted a pass around rejoining the leaders on the lead lap as the stewards threw the green flag back out for the second half of the feature.
Ward wasn’t able to clear Mahan off the restart and the drivers battled side by side for several laps before Mahan was able to clear for the lead from the outside line. Ward worked to stay with Mahan as Mahan wove through the traffic. Mahan and Ward came together a few times as the laps counted down. Lap traffic and over rotation through the corners caused Mahan to check up and Ward wasn’t able to avoid, but in every case both drivers were able to quickly recover and continue racing. After a more severe instance of contact between them, Ward gave Mahan a chance to recover instead of overtaking showing the sportsmanship and respect between the battling leaders.
With 25 laps remaining, Dupre had managed to close up the gap to the lead battle to within 3 seconds after starting from the rear of the field on the restart. Ward was able to clear Mahan for the lead with 20 laps to go along the outside line and started pulling away with the end of the night in sight. Ward made contact with McQuistion that sent McQuistion around and collected Mahan giving him significant damage and allowing Dupre to take away 2nd place going into the final 10 laps. Mahan was forced off track with damage leaving Ward and Dupre the only cars on the lead lap.
Mahan was able to quickly fix the necessary damage for the stewards to allow him back on track in time to hold onto 3rd place, 2 laps down ahead of Thomas George. Ward took the checkered flag unchallenged with a 4 second gap ahead of Dupre. The dirt proved too much for some drivers as almost half of the field retired early for the night with no one making it to the end without an incident or two.
Scott Eckrich holds onto the lead in the point standings with 326 points. Thomas George closed the gap slightly now 16 points behind the lead. Jeff Ward moved up to 3rd in the standings after tonight’s win now at 289 points. Michael Chrobok and Mike Rasimas round out the top 5 going into the final two rounds of the season. The Pretty Good Racing League now prepares for the chaos of Talladega Superspeedway for the Chuckles I’m in Danger 250 presented by MC2 Editing Services on April 19th with all of the fast-paced action broadcast live at 8:50PM EDT only on the Virtual Grip Network!