The UCRL NASCAR truck series in iRacing is a fantastic series we support here at Simrace247, recently Justin Kirby claimed victory at Historic North Wilkesboro.
If there was ever a series that brings relentless racing on a knife edge, its the UCRL NASCAR Truck Series in iRacing. Scott Bolster gives the full race report as Justin Kirby takes victory at Historic North Wilkesboro.
The Ultimate Conquest Racing League was formed in 2019 with the intent on bringing unique, classic-themed racing to the iRacing community. Its initial endeavor was to resurrect the defunct Dallara IR-05 Indycar and utilize it into a representative, historical schedule which lasted three full, successful seasons until the development of iRacing New Surface Model outpaced the now non-supported IR-05 which made the car exceptionally difficult and unrealistic to drive.
The league moved on to resurrecting the legacy Generation 6 Monster Cup Cars in similar fashion and using historical schedules to grow the league further. However, once the classic 1987 NASCAR Cup cars were announced, the league had an opportunity to maintain a series with classic cars that would be supported long-term. The Top Gun Cup Series was born and is one of the UCRL’s popular series.
The next evolution in the UCRL was exploring the unique combination of using a modern racing platform with a classic, historic schedule. The Man Cave After Dark Truck Series was conceived and while the first season in 2021 showed moderate success, the second season, which is in the home stretch of the 2022-23 campaign, is a resounding success.
Constant fields of 25 or more drivers are in the process of wrestling iRacing’s modern NASCAR Camping World Trucks through a grueling, 20-race schedule based on the 2001 Craftsman Truck Series.
In the early years of the Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR had created a bridge between the grassroots short tracks and the top echelons of NASCAR by having a schedule that was heavy on short tracks.
The UCRL has captured that essence of those early years of trucks on a mixture of short tracks and speedways in the MCADTS.
There are fewer tracks that showcase what the soul of the series is about than the virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway which the series visited this past Thursday evening for 175 laps of exciting short track stock car racing.
The 2022-23 Championship Point standings are still very tight as the series was closing in on the final three races. Drivers near the top of the standings were working the multitude of scenarios that the Drop Weeks could play out while they made strategic plans for how they’d attack those final rounds of the season.
One thing was certain, however: with several bad finishes earlier in the season for many of the championship contenders, a solid finish at North Wilkesboro was essential to remain within reach of the championship.
Qualifying, as with many short tracks, was tight with only 0.367 seconds separating the pole sitter and the last place driver who didn’t have issues during their qualifying efforts.
Jordan Wentzel put his #81 Chevrolet Silverado on the pole with Brent Kirby on his outside on the front row.
After the field took the green flag, Jordan was able to get out in front and remain there for the opening 72 laps until John Williams Sr. lost the rear end of his Silverado on the exit of Turn 2 and spun into the infield triggering the race’s first caution.
This timely caution brought all of the trucks to pit road for a full tank of fuel and new tires and removed all remaining need for fuel strategy as all drivers could make it to the end of the race without needing to pit again for more fuel.
“Cautions breed cautions” is a common phrase in oval track racing as the drivers are bunched back up for the restart and aggression gets turned up as drivers are eager to gain any positions they can pry away from their competitors and the second yellow flag was quickly brought out on the first lap after the green flag resumed the race when Tony Japps was a bit too aggressive trying to maneuver under the lapped car of John Williams Sr and made contact, sending Williams around also collecting Peter Porzuczek.
Wentzel maintained the lead on the restart on Lap 83 and once again, another incident brought out another caution on lap 87 when Brent Kirby tracked too far out of turn 2 and into the truck of Christopher Bouchard who had made his way up into the third position after starting at the rear of the field.
Once more, Wentzel controlled the lead after the green flag dropped once more while Jasper Crawford hunted him in second place and Bouchard continued to haunt the outside line trying to get enough traction out of the corners to wrestle second away from Crawford.
The fight for the lead heated up as Bouchard finally made his way past Crawford and began to stalk Wentzel as he clawed for any position that would compromise the preferred line of the leader.
While the top two drivers fought for the lead, Justin Kirby, who had stopped again under the previous caution for fresh tires, made his way from his restarting position of 6th and into third place.
Bouchard’s multi-lap, relentless attack on Wentzel had cost his tires’ performance as he demanded all the grip they could muster which allowed the fresher tires of Kirby to prevail for second place.
After getting around Bouchard, Kirby quickly ran down Wentzel and finally muscled his way past on lap 129 to take over the lead of the race.
As Kirby marched off and extended his lead over the waning tires of Wentzel, Matt Greathouse lost control of his truck entering turn 3 on lap 135 and brought out another yellow flag creating a battle of inches as the leaders pulled onto pit road for their last fresh set of tires for the sprint to the end of the race.
Travis Bennett attempted to steal the lead on pit road with a gutsy two-tire change which put him at corner exit door-to-door with Kirby however a pit road speeding penalty on pit exit thwarted the gains of his strategy call.
Thirty-five laps remained as Kirby took the green flag to restart the race and jumped out to a truck-length lead while Bouchard and Wentzel both fought each other and the rest of the hungry field.
A mere two laps later series owner Scott Bolster and Peter Porzuczek got together on entry of turn one causing an accident that brought out the caution flag once more.
The final restart saw Kirby jump out in the lead again while Wentzel attacked on his outside while simultaneously holding off the challenge of Bouchard.
Over the following laps Jasper Crawford made his way around Wentzel and into third place.
The checkered flag fell on the 18th round of the season with Justin Kirby claiming victory; Christopher Bouchard finished second and Jasper Crawford earning his season-best finish in third place.
Full Race Replay
The final two rounds are on speedways: World Wide Technology Speedway and the finale under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
If you wish to check out more on the UCRL:
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Ultimate Conquest Racing League is a Sim Racing e-sports league that focuses on bringing unique, classic racing to enthusiasts.