LAS VEGAS – Recap by Race Chaser Online iRacing Correspondent Shane Dougherty – Real Sim Racing photo –
It took a determined and laser-focused driver to conquer the high banks of Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Monday night in the =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series presented by Garry Mercer Trucking.
And for Anthony DeBaro, the end result couldn’t have been any sweeter.
DeBaro led 72 of 125 laps in the Sin City Showdown, including the final 23 after passing David Comstock late in the caution-free event, to notch his fifth career FTCS victory and second of the season in dominating fashion by way of a three-stop pit strategy.
“What a race, to go caution-free like that — congratulations to everyone on driving clean and smart tonight,” the race winner said in victory lane. “I’m very happy with the end result after how good a car we had all night long. This is a great start to our season.”
After scoring his fourth career GMercer.com Pole Award (and second-consecutive) during qualifying at the 1.5-mile oval, DeBaro led the field to green in front of Scott Eckrich and Mike Kelley.
While the field struggled for grip early on, DeBaro rocketed away by finding a groove up towards the wall in turns 1 and 2. This discovery soon became the reason DeBaro dominated the opening run of the race. Although the field remained close together, only Eckrich was able to stay in DeBaro’s tire tracks in the early stages..
The race would be uninterrupted until lap 30, when a handful of drivers — including leader DeBaro — elected to short pit for tires and fuel. This strategy call gave the lead to Eckrich, who would then visit pit road the following lap. While the cycle of green flag stops continued, Comstock kept his car on the race track, assuming the lead on lap 31.
Comstock, along with several others, would favor the traditional strategy of finishing out the fuel run. They would eventually pit, handing the lead back over to DeBaro on lap 47.
Green flag fever continued as DeBaro would once again stretch his lead over Eckrich and new third place driver Mitch Rollo, who started 10th. DeBaro would lead up until lap 61, where he made his second scheduled green flag pit stop. Eckrich would lead one lap before making his pit stop, handing the lead to a newcomer up front in Steel Horse Racing’s Greg Evans.
As the cycle of stops continued, Evans relinquished the lead on lap 66 to make his scheduled pit stop. This once again put Comstock in the lead, where he would stay out to hold the track position on older tires. Comstock would build a healthy lead for awhile, until the newer tires of DeBaro caught and passed him.
After a pit stop from Comstock on lap 82, DeBaro led over Rollo and Eckrich, both still remaining within closing distance. Only the top seven were within 10 seconds of the leader, with Carl Shedd, Joseph Theis, Jose Gonzalez, and Thomas George the other notable drivers in that bracket.
As pit stops loomed one final time, DeBaro’s sneaky strategy of coming in early began to catch on as Rollo, Eckrich, and Shedd pitted a lap or two prior. This would ultimately be irrelevant, however, as DeBaro retained the lead on lap 103 once pit stops cycled through for the final time.
DeBaro would work steadily through lap traffic while maintaining a manageable lead in the final laps. Although Eckrich put up a charge in the closing laps, it was not enough to catch the New Jersey native, who crossed the finish line 2.8 seconds ahead of Eckrich at the finish.
“I’m trying to enjoy this while it lasts because I know there’s going to be hard times,” DeBaro laughed, talking in regards to winning two of the first three races of the season. “Just trying to stay humble about it and keep doing what we’re doing. If we (as a team) keep running good races and are smart on pit road, we’ll keep bringing it to the end and have more nights like this one. Scott (Eckrich) was definitely right there with me, and if he had gotten off pit road a little better I think he’d have been right with me at the end.”
The dominating victory not only allowed DeBaro to stay hot on the race track but also in the points, where he holds a commanding lead over the competition. The driver of the Finning/CATerpillar Chevrolet sits 37 points up on rookie Theis through the first three races of the regular season.
Eckrich finished second and said after the checkered flag that he had little for DeBaro’s machine over the final run.
“I’m very happy with this run tonight,” the Steel Horse Racing driver said with a sigh of relief after the event. “I’ve had a rough couple weeks (in the series) so I’m just happy to have a solid points day here (at Las Vegas) and get some momentum going into the off week.”
Rollo charged around several machines inside the final 20 laps to round out the podium, backing up his Atlanta victory with a solid third-place effort.
“That was an incredible race, with it going green flag all the way,” said Rollo. “At the end there I pitted a little early, so I knew at that I had to save my tires a lot. I just saved, saved, saved — I hadn’t had to save that much all night long until then (at the end). When I finally started pulling (up) on those guys, I thought I might have a shot at a top three and just kept pushing. Happy it worked out for us to get on the podium, and I’m super happy Anthony got to victory lane tonight for the team as well.”
Comstock hung on for fourth after riding his two-stop strategy out the entire distance, with Carl Shedd completing the top five.
“I was committed to do the two-stop strategy right from the get-go,” Comstock explained. “I took a page out of (Eric) Brundies’ book from when he did it last fall at Homestead, and was just banking on not having a caution happen like it did to him on that day. The tire fall off was just way too much throughout the race for it to pay off at the end — I could gain during the cycle and get the lead for a while, but that last run with as new of tires as DeBaro had … it was impossible to hold him off.”
“Still a solid run for us, and we’ll build on this heading to Fontana with the new package.”
The =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series will return to action on Monday, March 21 with the running of the Auto Club 190 from the virtual Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, live at 9:30 p.m. ET on LSRTV and iRacing Live.
For more information on the Real Sim Racing family of iRacing leagues, visit www.realsimracing.com.
RESULTS: =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series; Sin City Showdown powered by SimXperience; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; March 7, 2016
- Anthony DeBaro
- Scott Eckrich
- Mitch Rollo
- David Comstock
- Carl Shedd
- Mike Kelley
- Jose Gonzalez
- Greg Evans
- Joseph Theis
- Thomas J George
- Daniel E Eberhardt
- Stefan Marinak
- Dwayne Vincent
- Nelson Rivera
- David Washington
- Christopher Hurlow
- William Amaker
- Nicholas Kohan
- Corbin Himstreet
- William Hale
- Scott Simley
- Steve Gottschalk
- Johnathon Caddell
- Rett McBride
- Sean Boundy
- Nick Silver
- Brennan Mercer
- Matt LaCross
- Kevin Linden
- Bryan Harvey
- Jimmie North
- CJ LaVair
- Rich Jette
- Tim Matthews
- Chad Cole
- Doug Roth
- Sean Casto
- Dan Murray
- Douglas Wyatt
- Scott Stenzel
- John Abbott
- Adam Blattel
- Mark Bratcher
Lead Changes: 15 between nine different drivers.
Lap Leaders: DeBaro (1-29, 47-60, 82-87, 103-125); Eckrich (30, 61); Comstock (31-41, 66-81; 98-102); LaCross (42-46); Evans (62-65, 89); Theis (88); Washington (90-92); Kohan (93); Marinak (94-97).
Laps Led: DeBaro (72); Comstock (32); LaCross (5); Evans (5); Marinak (4); Washington (3); Eckrich (2); Theis (1); Kohan (1).
About the Writer
Shane Dougherty is a veteran of the iRacing online motorsport simulation service, and a current competitor in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series (formerly the NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship), the top-level oval series on iRacing featuring the best 50 oval-track sim racers from across the globe.
The 18-year-old high school senior will graduate from Hartland High School this June and looks to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, majoring in web design.
Email Shane at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @DoughertyShane
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