The inaugural season of the American SimRacing League’s Elite Series featured the Class C Trucks, with 38 total drivers taking part in at least one race. Seven total drivers found their way to victory lane during the 14 race season, demonstrating that ASL provides one of the most competitive series on the iRacing platform.
Speedweeks kicked off at Daytona with William Kempf taking the pole position. The subsequent Twin Duels under the lights were frantic, with Ross Cado and Adam Matz each taking the checkered flag in two action-packed sprint races. In the marquee Daytona 200 the following weekend, part-time driver Jason Mullis heartbreakingly ran out of fuel on the final lap, giving up a sizable lead to drivers who topped off during an extended green flag run. Travis McDaniel edged out Jeff Hollingsworth for the win and an automatic playoff berth.
Polesitter Trent Ringler eked out a win over Mark Jenkins after dominating the late stages of the race. Loudon proved to be a tough challenge for the 31-truck field, with eight cautions slowing the pace. Early front-runners Duane Hunt and Todd Guess each got caught up in accidents, ruining promising races.
Daytona winner Travis McDaniel looked like the early favorite in an exciting race that featured 14 lead changes. At the end, Bentley Glaser held off Darryn Clement, Charles Woods and William Kempf for the narrow victory.
Daytona Road Course:
Mirroring the NASCAR series’ move from Watkins Glen to the Daytona Road Course, ASL’s drivers were put to the test on the brand new NASCAR configuration of the famed road course. Polesitter Steve Yenisch looked like a strong bet to win ASL’s first road course race after leading more than half the laps. Unfortunately, off-track excursions ultimately cost Yenisch and Johnny Avila shots at the win. Adam Matz pulled away late from Duane Hunt and Bentley Glaser to take his first ASL victory.
World Wide Technology Raceway:
In one of the more competitive races of the season, late-race cautions set up an intense sprint to the finish at Gateway. Bentley Glaser took advantage of fresh tires at the end of the race and made a late charge to bring home his second win of the season.
Lucas Oil Raceway:
In an impressive showing of clean, but tough racing, the field of 28 drivers managed to make it to the finish with only three cautions. Polesitter Trent Ringler dominated from flag to flag, leading 141 of the 150 laps.
No one showed more consistency during the regular season than Johnny Avila, however the stars never aligned for a win until the Lady in Black appeared on the schedule. Avila held off Steve Yenisch for his first series win and helped solidify his positioning as the regular season points leader.
The digital recreation of the famed North Carolina short track truly demonstrated the parity found in the Elite Series. In fact, as many as 10 different drivers found themselves battling for the lead at various stages of the race. Jeff Yenisch found himself in position to pull off an upset win late in the race after narrowly escaping a wreck in the closing laps. The final restart proved unkind to Yenisch, as Bentley Glaser made a late-race pass for his third victory of the season.
What happens when you put a bunch of asphalt drivers on a dirt track? As it turns out, unpredictability and excitement. Bentley Glaser and Travis McDaniel each won heat races leading up to the 100-lap main event. The feature was considerably more chaotic, with a total of 17 cautions thrown. Jesse Bunnell proved to be the best driver on dirt that evening, and stayed ahead of the many wrecks behind him to take home the victory.
While only two yellow flags appeared at Talladega, their impact on the race couldn’t have been greater, as only four trucks emerged from the “big one” completely unscathed at the end of the race. Jason Mullis avenged his heartbreaking loss at Daytona earlier in the season, narrowly holding off Michael Trevarthen and Adam Matz for his first series win. Fortunately for the drivers near the cutoff line, his status as a part-time driver meant that he would not be able to steal one of the precious remaining playoff slots.
Extended green flag runs were featured prominently in the regular season finale at the venerable Charlotte oval. Polesitter Sean Bradley dominated the early stages of the race, but Johnny Avila and Jeff Yenisch emerged at the end with slightly fresher tires than many of the other front-runners and pulled away late to battle it out for the win. Avila held off Yenisch for his second checkered flag of the season and maintained strong momentum entering the playoffs.
Iowa (Playoffs Round of 12):
Despite failing to make the playoffs, Todd Cray had shown considerable speed and was a threat to win several times throughout the regular season. Cray looked poised to run away with the victory at Iowa after sitting on the pole and leading nearly two thirds of the race. Unfortunately, pit strategy took him out of contention, and Trent Ringler pulled ahead from the pack late. His decision to pit during the final caution for tires proved to be the right strategy, as an extended green flag run forced many competitors to pit road for fuel. Jeff and Steve Yenisch, also playing the same strategy, rounded out the top three. Unfortunately, the playoff dreams ended for Jesse Bunnell, Travis McDaniel, Michael Trevarthen and William Kempf after pit strategy mishaps or accidents took them out of contention.
Texas (Playoffs Round of 8):
Few races epitomized the clean, but competitive nature of ASL’s roster better than the season’s penultimate race at Texas. A total of nine drivers led at various stages of the race for a total of 25 lead changes. Once again, pit strategy and green flag conditions ruled the day, as only two caution flags flew. The top five were under a blanket during the late stages of the race, with Johnny Avila narrowly taking home the win over a hard-charging Todd Guess. Steve Yenisch, Bentley Glaser and Adam Matz also secured their spots in the championship four with top five finishes. Perhaps the most shocking result of the evening was favorite Trent Ringler starting deep in the field, and ultimately heading to the garage after being caught in an early wreck. Jeff Yenisch, Joshua Sarif and Duane Hunt also failed to make the championship four despite solid top-10 showings.
Phoenix (Championship Race):
After qualifying on the front row, Bentley Glaser put himself in great position to buffer himself early in the race from his fellow championship drivers. Unfortunately for Steve Yenisch, Adam Matz and Johnny Avila, their qualifying efforts outside the top 5 put them far behind early, and the caution-free racing at Phoenix forced them to try to make up ground on track. This proved to be too much, as Glaser and Todd Cray ended up pulling away from the field over the course of the race, with Glaser closing out the race win and the inaugural ASL Elite Series championship.
Regular Season Champion: