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April 26, 2022

1

PGRL S1 R11 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

26 Apr 2022
Pretty Good Racing League | Season 1 | Round 11
Premier Series | Dover International Speedway
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

Scott Eckrich with Graafix LC Motorsports took the checkered flag under caution tonight in the I Hate Octane93 on Twitch 200 with the Pretty Good Racing League at Dover International Speedway ahead of Mike Rasimas and Isaiah Dupre. Eckrich still holds onto the points lead going into the final round at Darlington next week. “Darlington’s not one of my strong suits. I’ve just really struggled at that place forever.”, Eckrich commented about the final round, “It’s going to be a tough one to try to defend the championship at.”

Don Runkle Jr. led the 30-car field to the green flag with Woody Mahan to his outside starting off the night’s action. Mahan had the stronger launch off the start and was able to overtake Runkle around the outside in turn four for the lead. Norm Pelletier quickly moved up into 2nd as Runkle fell back another position going into lap 5. Within the first 10 laps, Mahan built up a gap of over 1 second ahead of Pelletier as he pushed hard in the early stages of the race.

Brian Yaczik and Paul Pepper battled over 4th as both drivers were able to get around Pelletier. Joe Hassert secured 2nd place ahead of Michael Chrobok as Mahan continued to hold a strong lead over the field. Scott Eckrich was quickly negotiating through the field making a hard charge to the front from back in the pack with Jeff Ward trying to do the same only a few positions behind him on track. Going into lap 30, Eckrich was already in the top 5 and Ward had climbed up to 7th place.

Up 18 spots from where he started, Eckrich wasted no time continuing his push through the field and was closing the gap to Mahan reeling Mahan in within 0.7 with 40 laps completed. Ward fought his way into 3rd and was able to keep Eckrich within reach with Hassert and Yaczik following close behind being a little more conservative with their equipment. Lap 50 saw Ward overtaking Eckrich and taking the lead with Mahan dropping back to 3rd and Ward and Eckrich started to pull away from the rest of the field.

A caution on lap 56 gave a chance for the drivers to run through their first pit cycle as the entire field chose to take advantage of the opportunity. Eckrich restarted in the lead with Mahan to his side and Ward behind in 3rd. Unfortunately, as it is said, cautions breed cautions and a series of failed restarts followed in a chain reaction ending the night early for several drivers as the field struggled to get back into a groove. Mahan, Pelletier, Yaczik, Tommy Rhyne, and Pete Baskins were holding the top 5 spots choosing to not pit with the rest of the leaders as the field stacked back together for a successful restart attempt on lap 102.

The second half of the race started cleaner as the drivers showed more patience. Mahan dropped back to 2nd behind Rhyne with Yaczik pressuring from 3rd. Mahan continued to fall back with Eckrich making another hard charge to the front moving up to 3rd around Mahan within the first few laps off the restart. George, who also pit during the last caution with Eckrich, had made his way back into the top 5. Going into lap 118, Eckrich caught Rhyne and the two drivers battled hard over the lead with Eckrich able to secure the position two laps later.

George and Ward were running 4th and 5th behind Yaczik with 80 laps remaining. Mahan fell back to 7th behind Dupre showing signs of excessive wear as he was one of the drivers that chose to stay out to stretch the fuel as far as he could. Rhyne was able to stay close to Eckrich as Ward started battling over 3rd with Yaczik. Ward had the speed coming out of the corners but wasn’t able to find the momentum to finish the pass falling back behind Yaczik several times to block off George’s advance from behind. Ward took advantage of lap traffic blocking Yaczik to make his move to take 3rd place from the inside on lap 132.

As the green flag run stretched out farther and farther, Mahan’s strategy of waiting to pit and undercut the field was starting to look like a bust as fuel became a concern. One by one, the drivers who were leading off the restart 40 laps prior were forced to pit under green putting themselves two laps behind the lead and essentially out of contention. Mahan had to concede on lap 146 for fuel after almost a 90-lap run between stops. Eckrich and Ward were back in the front stacked tightly together and pulling away from Yaczik in 3rd by over 2 seconds with 50 laps remaining.

Ward dropped back from Eckrich as the leaders cautiously negotiated through lap traffic. More drivers were taking their pit stops under green flag conditions going into the final 40 laps. Ward had closed the gap back up to Eckrich and was aggressively trying to take the lead with Mahan overtaking both regaining one of his lost laps from his pit stop earlier now one lap off the leaders and back up to 9th place knowing that if Eckrich and Ward were forced to pit under green, he would be up to 2nd place behind Joe Alberico and ahead of Rhyne.

Lap 166 saw Ward pull down pit road under green with Eckrich pitting on the following lap. The risky strategy Mahan and Rhyne committed to did not pay off in the end as Ward was able to get back on track with fresher tires quickly enough to overtake Mahan and pull away as the new leader with 30 laps to go. Eckrich rejoined the field back in 4th and quickly went to work trying to close the gap to Ward running 3 seconds ahead of him. Lap traffic hindered Eckrich’s advance, and Ward ran away with the lead going into the final 10 laps.

With 8 laps to go, the first caution of the second half came out after over 90 laps of green flag racing. Eckrich took the lead followed by Rasimas and Parish as Ward chose to pit for fresh tires and rejoined in 5th. The green flag came out over the field with 3 laps to go, but an incident in the field brought the caution back out ending the race with Eckrich, Rasimas, Dupre, Ward, and Yaczik rounding out the top 5 finishers.

Scott Eckrich holds the points lead with 399 points after his win tonight. Thomas George sits in 2nd place 20 points behind the lead with Jeff Ward in 3rd with 362 points. Mike Rasimas and Brian Yaczik round out the top 5 drivers of the season with one round remaining. The Pretty Good Racing League now heads out Darlington Raceway for the season finale in the Imma Head Out 200 presented by The Joy of Driving on May 3rd with all of the action broadcast live at 8:50PM ET only on the Virtual Grip Network!

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