By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Yet another win, this time at the virtual Las Vegas Motor Speedway, for Boyd Hoggan locks him into the Midwest Sim Racing Association (MSRA) Premier Series Round of Eight.
At Las Vegas, Hoggan scored his 13th MSRA win of the 2021 season in the Ram Welding 267. However, the journey to that win included a spirited battle for the lead and two attempts at iRacing overtime. The number of lead changes matched the number of competitors on track, 19.
Hoggan swept the first two Stages and started the final Stage in the lead. However, on the short run, his virtual No. 96 Bobby Dale Earnhardt Legacy eSports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE slipped behind fellow playoff driver Chris Civera. Next to take the lead from Civera’s No. 62 Gas & Go Racing Ford Mustang was polesitter Ralph A Hutchison. The trio traded the lead back and forth for the next 25 laps until TJ Crampton’s virtual No. JEM eRacing Toyota Camry took the top spot.
Civera briefly took the lead once more before Hoggan recaptured the top spot. This time, Hoggan wouldn’t look back. The Canadian cruised until a caution waved late in the race for an accident between Crampton and last week’s winner Logan Helton on the backstretch. With six laps to go, the caution pushed the race into overtime.
Hoggan was forced to try to hold off both Gary Sexton and Hutchison on the restart. It appeared that the field would take the white flag when the caution waved once more. Jacob Shorba’s No. 30 Great Lake Motorsports Ford Mustang spun into the outside wall in Turn 4.
With another chance at overtime, Hoggan prepped to keep the competition at bay once again. On the restart Sexton’s virtual No. 13 Diamond Hands Racing Toyota Camry kept pace with the Legacy eSports driver. Hoggan used the bubble of air between the virtual NASCAR Cup Series cars to keep Sexton behind. The strategy worked as Hoggan took the checkered 0.104 seconds ahead of Sexton. Hutchison, Braxton DeWeese, and Jeff Shutt completed the top-five.
“This is one that I’ve had circled for a while,” explained Hoggan. “I like this place. We had one stolen from us last year. But we closed it out. It was more trying to keep (Sexton) at bay. I wasn’t sure if he was going to get to me going into Turn 3, but if I closed it off early enough, I knew I could get a little bit of a push from him with the air bubble. Was just trying to use that to the best of my abilities, still not the best at it, but I finished another one off.
“We’ve already started working on Texas. It’s similar to what we brought here. You saw what the result of that was. I’m excited for Texas, really excited for Kansas. Even if we haven’t won one by then, going into Martinsville, I think we’ll be alright. We’re more worried about Phoenix at this point. You can use Martinsville, Richmond to get a baseline going to bring over to Phoenix. Once it’s official, then we’ll go to work on that car.”
Helton, Civera, Crampton, John Mullins, and Klayton Hoffman rounded out the top-10. Playoff drivers John Theodore, Shorba, Joseph McWhorter, Steven Davis, Vincent Arthur, finished 12th through 16th respectively. Ryan Strunk was the lowest finisher of the playoff drivers in 18th.
In total, the race was slowed nine times for 32 laps. Two big wrecks, one at the start of Stage 2 and the other at the start of the final Stage swept up playoff drivers. Arthur, Strunk, and Theodore were in the first with the virtual No. 27 Diamond Hands Racing Toyota briefly rolling on its’ side. The second wreck also involved Arthur and swept up Mullins’ No. 64 Bull Ring Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
Arthur, Helton, and Hutchison could mathematically lock themselves into the Round of Eight next weekend at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway. Meanwhile, the cutoff for the next round is currently held by Hoffman. He has a five-point cushion of Mullins. Strunk and Theodore are six points back with Davis 11-points back.
1. 96-Boyd Hoggan , 2. 13-Gary Sexton , 3. 51-Ralph A Hutchison , 4. 15-Braxton DeWeese , 5. 42-Jeff Shutt , 6. 63-Logan Helton , 7. 62-Chris Civera , 8. 61-TJ Crampton , 9. 64-John Mullins , 10. 12-Klayton Hoffman , 11. 91-Brandon Davis , 12. 27-John Theodore , 13. 30-Jacob Shorba , 14. 32-Joseph McWhorter , 15. 92-Steven Davis , 16. 24-Vincent Arthur , 17. 20-Ben Myatt , 18. 77-Ryan Strunk , 19. 44-Derek Whitford .
Lead Changes: 19 among six drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Boyd Hoggan 1-6, Ralph A Hutchison 7-11, Joseph McWhorter 12, Ralph A Hutchison 13-16, Joseph McWhorter 17-28, Vincent Arthur 29-30, Joseph McWhorter 31-32, Vincent Arthur 33-36, Boyd Hoggan 37-47, Joseph McWhorter 48-54, Ralph A Hutchison 55-72, Boyd Hoggan 73-99, Chris Civera 100-125, Ralph A Hutchison 126-128, Boyd Hoggan 129-137, Ralph A Hutchison 138-140, Boyd Hoggan 141-143, TJ Crampton 144-154, Chris Civera 155-157, Boyd Hoggan 158-184.
Laps Led: Boyd Hoggan 83, Ralph A Hutchison 33, Chris Civera 29, Joseph McWhorter 22, TJ Crampton 11, Vincent Arthur 6.
Hard Charger(s): 15-Braxton DeWeese (+11).
Caution Flags: Nine for 32 laps.
Margin of Victory: 0.104 seconds.
Time of Race: Two hours, three minutes, 57.850 seconds.
Average Speed: 133.587 MPH.
Pole Winner: 51-Ralph A Hutchison, 29.958 seconds (180.252 MPH).
Fastest Lap: 51-Ralph A Hutchison, Lap 184, 29.818 seconds (181.099 MPH).
Stage 1: 96, 24, 32, 51, 13, 15, 77, 27, 62, 30.
Stage 2: 96, 51, 15, 13, 62, 63, 30, 61, 64, 42.
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