My version of this event based on a 25% race length and a 4X pit stop frequency is a 67 lap race with a full fuel load providing an estimated 17 laps under green flag racing conditions. This would result in approximately 3.94 pit stops during the event.
I ran 21 laps in practice and had the fastest time with 32.838, 0.063 seconds faster than second place Joey Lagano. I executed only one pit stop during this session on lap 16 when my crew chief said it was time to come in. In the two lap qualifying session, I posted a time of 32.431 on the first lap which was good enough to secure fourth on the grid, 0.033 back from pole sitter A.J. Allmendinger.
Before the first lap was even completed, I fell backwards on a horrible start which resulted in an accident on the backstretch that knocked several cars off the track, but mysteriously did not result in a caution flag.
I would gather my composure and race up to 34th position by lap nine with heavy traffic in front of me.
On lap 14 I would cause an accident while several cars were pitting under green. While running in 26th position, I slammed into the back of the # 4 Red Bull car driven by Kasey Kahne which would send us both spinning and bring the yellow flag out.
Other than sudden deceleration, there is no modeling in the game to indicate an AI driver is getting ready to pit. There is no hand waving or the spotter saying the car in front of you leaving the track. I would come around and pit on lap 15 in first place much to my astonishment.
The race would go back green on lap 19 with my holding onto 26th position.
Racing hard in an effort to salvage something out of a disastrous start, I managed my way up to 13th position on lap 27 where I ran into this blockade.
I would pit under green on lap 30 having just taken over first place. Somehow this season I have managed to stay on the track one extra lap after the AI has pitted under green flag conditions, which is allowing me access to those five precious bonus points for leading a lap. After cycling out I would be in 26th position by lap 32.
By lap 41 I managed to make it up to 18th spot where traffic was beginning to thin a bit until cars started coming out of the pits. I managed to continue my inconsistent day when bungling a pass on Joey Lagano which sent me straight into the wall.
The hard hit prompted the crew chief to radio that it looked like I had some engine damage. For the second time in the race there was an accident with parts flying all over the track and no caution flag would come out.
From bad to what-the-hell worse: When attempting to pit under green on lap 43 while running in 30th position, I would lose control of the vehicle, spin around one driver only to fishtail the opposite way and take out Matt Kenseth on pit road.
I would be held in the pits for 30 seconds for not entering safely, and when exiting I would receive a black flag for not entering safely at a high rate of speed. After the drive thru penalty, I would settle in at a miserable 40th position where I would finish the race.
My newfound career as a back marker.
I would finish the event in 40th position, three laps down to the race winner Robby Gordon. This disappointing finish would boot me from the lead in the standings and drop me down to third place with 418 total points, 18 points away from second place Trevor Bayne and 58 points away from first place Denny Hamlin.