My version of this event based on a 25% race length and a 4X pit stop frequency is a 125 lap race with a full fuel load providing an estimated 47 laps under green flag conditions (yeah, right). This would result in approximately 2.65 pit stops during the event.
I ran a private test session at 62°F with a SE wind at 12mph and put down 47 laps when the car ran out of fuel. This was good intelligence as it indicated I could run three full laps after the crew chief warning and two full laps after the fuel gauge illuminated red before the engine started to cut out.
These laps gave me confidence with the Logitech controller I am using since my Microsoft Sidewinder Precision Racing Wheel flaked out on me. Sadly that confidence gained and the information gathered about laps and tire wear (thread bare at lap 47) would be of no use in the actual race.
In the race practice session I posted 31 laps before being caught up in an accident that in real life would have brought out a backup car (situations sadly not modeled in this game). Those 31 laps would give me the top time of 16.699, 0.181 better than second place Denny Hamlin.
Qualifying went stellar with a top time of 16.433, 0.122 better than second place David Reutimann, and going into the race itself I was feeling pretty good about my prospects, especially considering the poor outings that I have had the last two races.
There would be several accidents during the race, and at one point I was a lap down in 18th place. I managed to work my way back up through the traffic (which was quite fun while it lasted) until lap 68 when there was an accident in front of me and I had nowhere to go given the entire track was blocked.
This destroyed my engine and I did not even have the option to call a tow truck, only retire from the event. I accelerated the race to get to the end then forgot to save the replay which sucks because I like posting actual racing shots from the various cameras provided in the replay application.
There are two positive things that came out of this event even though I DNF’d: 1) I am gaining confidence with my stand-in controller, enough so that I won the pole at a difficult short track and managed to race with traffic much of the time, and 2) It is Bristol, meaning I was not the only one who had issues.
The accident at lap 68 was good enough to give me 29th place overall in the event, and I did lead several laps at the very beginning which gave me those five bonus points. The race was won by Terry Labonte with a speed of 76.914 due to the multiple caution flags, and only three cars would finish on the lead lap.
I slid down to 18th overall in points (still with the most wins at two) with a total of 536, which is a daunting 220 points off of point’s leader Denny Hamlin. Having opened the season with two straight wins, the past three weeks have me wondering what I have gotten myself into.