During the event I had some concerns about how ASC was working. There were some times where I would pass whole lines of cars without the draft (a bad sign at a restrictor plate track) just to be passed by them later, in what seemed as if the game was adjusting to my driving ability.
I ran the next event on the BullRing schedule, the California race in which I had the fastest time in practice and the pole position. The seesaw effect of ASC was in full bloom there, and actually worse than at Daytona. It seemed as if the cars would slow down to allow me to pass everyone for the lead after a pit stop, to just fly by me shortly thereafter as if they were on afterburners.
Having clearly seen that ASC is a training wheel device for new racers (I actually had hoped it would be more of a challenge to match the AI to me than an aid to allow me to match to the AI), I decided to scrap the whole effort and start fresh with the BullRing modification. I ran a test race at New Hampshire with the AI set at 95% with no ASC.
I finished the race in around 22nd position, and the game tagged me with a suggested AI setting of 93%. New Hampshire is no cake walk – it is a relatively flat track that requires braking and the racing line is definitely to the outside much like that at Darlington. Using these results (the 22nd place finish and the suggested 93% AI), I decided to start the new championship at 95% AI and no ASC:
Simulation mode, 15 minute practice and Happy Hour, 25% race length, 4X pit stop frequency, 42 opponents from the BullRing 2011 Daytona car set, manually set opponent strength at 95%, yellow flags, double file restarts and realistic weather.
Practice went off well with my having run 10 laps for a time of 48.900 which put me in sixth place overall. The track temperature was 57 degrees. Qualifying went great with laps of 48.771 and 48.545 which gave me the pole position by 0.805 over David Ragan. The track temperature was 44 degrees.
With 4X pit stop selected, the projected laps for the full fuel load at the start were only 10 laps. While running in the front, the vast majority behind me ducked into the pits on lap seven. I followed suit on lap eight when my crew chief warned I was running low on fuel. After a pit stop of 15.8 seconds, I would cycle around to be in 10th position by lap 10.
On lap nine, Joey Lagano jammed me up in the tri-oval and I hit the wall hard which caused damage that would have to be repaired on the next pit sequence, when I came in at lap 17 after having just taken over first place the lap before. This pit stop would take 28 seconds for repairs due to the mishap with the # 20 car. By lap 19 I would cycle around to be in 24th position.
With the other racers pitting, I moved into the lead on lap 23, only moments later to cut down on the # 83 car driven by Brian Vickers. I would spin out but recover without hitting the wall or any other vehicle, and come around to take the yellow flag in first place.
I would pit the US Army car under caution on lap 25 and have a fairly decent pit stop of 14.9 seconds. I came out of the pits in second place. The green flag waved on lap 29 and I was back into first place two laps later at the 20 to go point of the race.
The next pit sequence came on lap 34 when I rolled in with the lead and had a slightly slower stop at 16.6 seconds. I would cycle around at lap 36 to be in 11th position, and have the lead again by lap 40. The final pit stop of the day came on lap 43 when I came in first and had a stop of 15.3 seconds.
I would cycle around at lap 45 in 6th place and take the lead the next lap when the leader had to pit. The white flag came on lap 50 with my leading the field, and although I had to dodge some lapped cars, I finished race in first place for the win, an astounding 37.97 seconds ahead of # 11 Denny Hamlin, having lapped the field all the way up to 19th place.
The huge disparity in the finish – almost 38 seconds – can be fully attributed to the 4X pit stop frequency setting which resulted in the necessity for five actual pit stops among all the competitors. Although there was one caution flag to bunch everyone up, the three pit stops after the race went back green certainly broke the field apart and separated the men from the toys.
The win and the laps led gave me 185 Championship Points (screw “The Chase” crap), and put me 10 points ahead of second place Denny Hamlin.
Oh crap! (X2)
Oh crap! (X3)