Vital Track Position Earns Weeks an Elite Daytona 500 Win

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

The ever-evolving chess match that is superspeedway racing forces drivers to adapt their strategy, pushing them into coveting track position like Mathieu Weeks instead of laying back to avoid the mayhem. The decision to focus on track position earned Weeks his second Homeplace Beer Company Daytona 500 in the Elite Racing League.

Changes to the Car

Track position earned mathieu weeks a homeplace beer company daytona 500 victory in the elite racing league.
Mathieu Weeks. (Photo by Seth Eggert/Kickin’ the Tires)

With the real-life NASCAR Cup Series Ford Mustang and Toyota Camry receiving updates, their iRacing counterparts also got sweeping changes. Just over a week ago the Ford Mustang Darkhorse and Toyota Camry XSE made their debut on the motorsports simulation program. That left drivers and teams scrambling to get an understanding of the nuances of each car.

While the racing simulation doesn’t give the same ‘seat of the pants feeling,’ the changes are noticeable. Weeks felt that it was more difficult to pass at the virtual Daytona Int’l Speedway, and that it took longer to build the energy to make a run. Therefore, he aimed to take the track position early to be up front at the end.

Weeks took the lead for the first time in his virtual No. 11 Toyota Camry following the first round of green flag pit stops. He remained inside the top-10 throughout the remainder of the race.

“My plan when I come to these tracks is that I like to wait until the first green flag stop before I do anything to get a feel with how everyone is racing,” Weeks explained. “Once we made that first green flag stop, we were just going. I wanted to get up front. I knew track position really meant a lot now. With the body changes, the car feels different with the update last week. I just wanted track position to be able to stay up there and be up front at the end.

“That’s what we were doing. We worked with a lot of people and stayed up inside the top-10 all day long. After that last pit stop, I was like, we’re just going to stay out and stay up front the entire time. That was our plan.”

Weeks to the Lead

Track position earned mathieu weeks a homeplace beer company daytona 500 victory in the elite racing league.
Mathieu Weeks. (Photo by Seth Eggert/Kickin’ the Tires)

The newer cars led to a largely double file follow the leader affair. With one lane hugging the double-yellow line and the other painting the outside wall, the racing was mostly clean throughout the first 160 laps. As the final round of green flag pit stops occurred, an ill-timed bump caused a massive pileup that sent Casey Hatch flipping and collected defending winner Garrison Hogan’s virtual No. 36 Kickin’ the Tires Toyota Camry.

With the intensity increasing, caution after caution waved throughout the final 40 laps of the race. Of the seven cautions in the 502.5-mile event, only two waved before lap 150.

As league founder Chad Frankenfield made it three-wide on a restart with five laps to go, another wreck sparked to the outside of his virtual No. 15 Kickin’ the Tires Ford Mustang. That pushed the race into overtime.

Luckily for Weeks, he narrowly avoided that crash and was ahead of the remainder of the carnage. In overtime he slipped through to the top-three as the Belly Up Sports Cup Series field flew apart behind him, Joshua Clark, and race leader Nick Masse. Weeks masterfully jumped to the inside of Masse’s car and with a push from Clark, never looked back.

“It’s all on (Joshua) Clark, he said that they had all wrecked and if he hadn’t of pushed me in Turns 3 and 4, I wouldn’t have got it,” Weeks admitted. “Looking back, that’s probably one of the better ones for the race as it was, there were over 30 cars still on the lead lap, a lot of green flag runs. Hopefully it’s one of the better ones.”

The end of the race almost took a different turn. Under the final caution of the race, David Tooker lost connection to the iRacing server. Tooker had been running in second at the time, and like Weeks, had been up front all race. That advanced the outside line up a row, ultimately putting Masse to the outside of Justin Fuller on the restart and allowed him to take the lead at the scheduled distance.

Next for Elite Racing League’s Belly Up Cup Series is a trip to the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The results:

1. 11-Mathieu Weeks [16], 2. 48-Nick Masse [14], 3. 28-Joshua Clark [26], 4. 16-Jordan Owens [31], 5. 89-Brent Jones [29], 6. 15-Chad Frankenfield [21], 7. 8-Josh Robbin [5], 8. 64-Andrew Rucker [35], 9. 33-Alayton Norgard [19], 10. 46-Kyle Hanshaw [28], 11. 50-RC Enerson [11], 12. 25-Seth Rawls [17], 13. 04-Frank Foti [42], 14. 32-Dustin Duerr [15], 15. 5-Jonathan Cutlip [6], 16. 70-Jesse Rasimas [2], 17. 26-Justin Fortener [36], 18. 6-Justin Wadsworth [43], 19. 24-Michael Hossack [8], 20. 63-Robert Hill Jr. [39], 21. 10-Nick Indelicato [41], 22. 90-Scott Crump [24], 23. 3-Vincent Isabella [32], 24. 4-Ryan Schuld [13], 25. 84-Wyatt Knadle [23], 26. 99-Mark Rebilas [20], 27. 88-Tre Holmes [38], 28. 92-Ethan Stanley [22], 29. 21-Harrison Taillon [3], 30. 44-Michael Goodman [25], 31. 01-Ryan Gavel [30], 32. 9-Chris Wright [10], 33. 37-Ethan Birrel [9], 34. 51-Justin Fuller [12], 35. 19-David Tooker [4], 36. 18-Joshua Personette [40], 37. 91-Johnny Thomas [18], 38. 80-Justin Vandermaarel [27], 39. 40-Tyler Foti [1], 40. 77-Trey Eidson [34], 41. 36-Garrison Hogan [37], 42. 14-Casey Hatch [33], 43. 2-Jeff Green [7].

Lead Changes: 57 amongst 24 drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Tyler Foti 1-9, Ethan Birrel 10-19, Tyler Foti 20-21, RC Enerson 22, Harrison Taillon 23, RC Enerson 24-28, Harrison Taillon 29, RC Enerson 30-33, David Tooker 34, Trey Eidson 35, Tre Holmes 36-39, Chris Wright 40-43, Mathieu Weeks 44-46, Scott Crump 47, Jonathan Cutlip 48-49, Chad Frankenfield 50, Nick Indelicato 51, Justin Fuller 52-61, Vincent Isabella 62-63, David Tooker 64, Vincent Isabella 65, David Tooker 66, Vincent Isabella 67, Ryan Schuld 68-69, David Tooker 70-71, Josh Robbin 72, David Tooker 73-74, Chris Wright 75-79, Justin Fuller 80-81, Chris Wright 82, Joshua Clark 83, Chris Wright 84-88, Ryan Gavel 89-91, Chris Wright 92-93, Andrew Rucker 94-100, Garrison Hogan 101, Ryan Gavel 102-103, Scott Crump 104-106, Ryan Gavel 107-108, Justin Fuller 109, Ryan Gavel 110, Justin Fuller 111-112, Ryan Gavel 113, Scott Crump 114-115, Trey Eidson 116-117, Garrison Hogan 118, Ethan Stanley 119-123, Justin Fuller 124-126, Mathieu Weeks 127-132, Justin Fuller 133-144, Ethan Birrel 145-158, Casey Hatch 159-160, Chris Wright 161-167, Mathieu Weeks 168-190, Justin Fuller 191-199, Nick Masse 200, Mathieu Weeks 201.

Laps Led: Justin Fuller 39, Mathieu Weeks 33, Chris Wright 25, Ethan Birrel 24, RC Enerson 10, Tyler Foti 10, Ryan Gavel 9, David Tooker 8, Andrew Rucker 7, Scott Crump 6, Vincent Isabella 4, Ethan Stanley 4, Trey Eidson 3, Tre Holmes 3, Jonathan Cutlip 2, Casey Hatch 2, Garrison Hogan 2, Ryan Should 2, Harrison Taillon 2, Joshua Clark 1, Chad Frankenfield 1, Nick Indelicato 1, Nick Masse 1, Josh Robbin 1.

Hard Charger(s): Frank Foti (+29).

Caution Flags: Seven for 21 Laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.189 seconds.

Time of Race: Three Hours, One Minute, 40.037 Seconds.

Average Speed: 165.932 MPH.

Pole Winner: 40-Tyler Foti, 49.308 seconds, 182.526 MPH.

Fastest Lap: 3-Vincent Isabella, Lap 3, 45.140 seconds, 199.380 MPH.

Stage 1: 3, 10, 19, 5, 4, 51, 32, 15, 11, 01.

Stage 2: 11, 50, 4, 28, 51, 90, 9, 15, 36, 77.

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