Ill-Timed Yellow, Fuel Strategy Bite Conti, Davies in Indy iRacing Playoff Race

JR Motorsports | 9/12/2019

Brad Davies eNASCAR FilterTime Indianapolis iRacing Michael Conti News The Dale Jr. Foundation

An ill-timed caution flag and fuel mileage cost Michael Conti and Brad Davies Tuesday on the virtual edition of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Track Specs: 2.5-mile oval / 80 laps

Conti’s start/finish: 10th/30th 

Davies’ start/finish: 13th/22nd    

            

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 12, 2019) – Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, even the virtual one, means fuel strategy is of primary importance. Both Michael Conti and Brad Davies, JR Motorsports’ drivers in the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series, fell victim to the nuances of getting the strategy right in Tuesday night’s event on Indy’s 2.5-mile oval.

Conti, who is in the playoffs in his No. 8 FilterTime/#GinaStrong Chevrolet, will have a much tougher path to the Championship 4 in the next event (at the virtual Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway) after finishing 30th at Indy. His finish leaves him sixth in the playoff standings, 17 points out of the fourth and final transfer spot, with just the one race to go.

Starting 10th, Conti rode in the top eight for the first 40 laps before the first caution of the day came out for a spin. During the ensuing caution period, Conti pitted and he and the team decided not to completely fill the car’s gas tank since the final run was just seven laps longer than the No. 8’s full fuel run. As the race played out, the majority of the field was able to stretch that distance on their final fuel loads, leaving Conti with another stop to make. When he hit pit road with 15 laps remaining, it put him deep in the field and even though a couple of his Playoff rivals ran out with one or two laps to go, he still wound up 30th. While that doesn’t mean the young New Jersey driver has to win at Charlotte, it makes the hill he has to climb to reach the winner-take-all final race that much steeper.

Davies, who missed the playoffs earlier in the season, had a similar experience in his No. 88 Sock It to Childhood Cancer Chevrolet. Rolling off 13th for the start, Davies tried to make some moves on the opening lap of the 80-lap event, only to get taken three-wide and be forced to back out of it. That put him in the far reaches of the top 20. Once the tires began to wear, Davies had the No. 88 arrowing toward the top 10 despite the dirty air that racing on the iconic speedplant tends to engender.

After the first round of pit stops, Davies was 12th and running lap times faster than all those in front of him with the exception of the top two. On track for a solid top-10 finish, Davies was caught between a rock and a hard place when the caution waved with 39 laps remaining. That distance was a few laps more than the 32-33 laps a full tank of fuel would carry him, even taking into account the reduced speed of the caution laps. Interim crew chief John Gorlinsky told his driver to push hard for as many positions as he could get in the time remaining, thinking that everyone else would have to pit for a few seconds of fuel before the checkered. After 10 laps of pushing, however, the leaders’ pace slowed dramatically to save fuel, and that meant Davies had to follow suit to make it to the end. Davies made it to Turn 4 on the final lap before he ran out, and he coasted down the long front straightaway to finish 22nd.

Corey Vincent earned the victory, with Blake Reynolds second and point leader Keegan Leahy third. Ryan Lowe and Casey Kirwan rounded out the top five. In the points, Leahy leads, with Zack Novak, Garrett Lowe and Reynolds the remainder of the top four. Ryan Luza is four points ahead of Conti in fifth, with just the race at the Roval on Sept. 24 remaining before the Championship 4 is determined.

Michael Conti, driver No. 8 FilterTime / #GinaStrong JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“The result tonight is tough to swallow. I feel like our FilterTime/#GinaStrong No. 8 Chevrolet was as good as it has been in weeks, but we just don't have to finish to prove it. Passing was difficult and track position was key, so when we got up to seventh, with fourth through sixth right in front of us, I thought we were set. The lap-40 caution really put us in a bad spot, as the pit sequence fell a few laps outside of our pit window. The additional downforce that made our car so good in the corners ultimately cost us a top-10 finish, as we ended up using more fuel because of the resultant drag from the setup. We had no exit plan when that caution flew; if we pitted and filled the car to the max, we would've still run out. So, short-filling and pitting with 15 to go was all we could do at that point. Our Championship 4 prospects look a little bleaker than they did after Darlington, but we're going to the Roval, and if there's anywhere this team can win, it'll be there. (Bobby) Zalenski will be the one to beat, but I think we can give him a run for his money. If we win, we're locked in so that's what we need to shoot for. That's our goal at the Roval - nothing less.”

Brad Davies, driver No. 88 Sock It to Childhood Cancer JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“It’s an unfortunate result tonight with how fast our car was. There were many different scenarios where I saw our No. 88 Sock It to Childhood Cancer Chevy finishing strong tonight inside the top 10. The only scenario I could think of where that wouldn’t happen would be if a caution came out with exactly 39 to go and turned it into a fuel-mileage race. Well, that is exactly what happened. I also feel really bad for our JRM teammate Michael Conti who is running for a championship because he simply could not make it on fuel and had to pit, giving up a bunch of valuable positions in the process.  If that caution had come out one lap before it did, nobody would have been able to make it. If it had come out one lap later, everybody could have made it without much issue. That’s the way it goes sometimes in racing. We just need to pick up the pieces and move on to the next race at the Roval in two weeks.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • November 2 08:30 PM ET
    O'Reilly Auto Parts 300Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 9 03:30 PM ET
    Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200ISM Raceway
  • November 16 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300

Kansas Speedway | 10/19/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Christopher Bell (P)31060
2Cole Custer (P)3095-11
3Tyler Reddick (P)3094-12
4Justin Allgaier (P)3059-47
5Chase Briscoe # (P)3057-49
6Michael Annett (P)3047-59
7Noah Gragson # (P)3042-64
8Austin Cindric (P)3029-77