Ryan Doucette is a familiar face from Speed51’s coverage of sim racing, especially in Modified series such as the Speed51 Elite Modified Tour.
That experience proved crucial on Thursday night, as the Massachusetts racer dominated the first-ever event for the Race of Champions Invitational Series at virtual Concord Speedway.
Doucette carried confidence into the event, knowing that he had turned plenty of laps at the tricky half-mile tri-oval. Furthermore, he knew many of his talented real-world opponents would not have much sim racing experience.
“I’ve raced here quite a bit on iRacing,” said Doucette on the Speed51 broadcast. “Not necessarily in a Modified, but I’ve turned a lot of laps here in a Street Stock. I had a good amount of confidence coming into tonight.
“I knew I was going to be racing against a lot of good Modified guys I was familiar with, but not a lot of them had prior iRacing experience. I know that transition from real-life to iRacing can be challenging before you get the hang of it. I had a little bit of experience on my side, and it paid off.”
Doucette started on the pole, but lost the lead on the opening lap to Derek Hopkinson. Doucette would recover, taking the lead on lap 33 and leading the rest of the way in the 125-lap event.
While Doucette trusted the speed of his car, he was thankful for single-file restarts to help him maintain his advantage, especially after losing the top spot to start the race.
“Switching to single-file restarts definitely helped me. The double-file restarts, I’m not too great at those, especially considering I lost the lead on lap one.
“Fortunately, we were able to get it back. Once we switched to single-file, it’s really just making sure the guy behind you doesn’t get a run. If he does, protect the bottom going into turn one.”
Riely O’Keefe finished second in the race, unable to wrestle the lead away from Doucette despite late cautions allowing him to restart on Doucette’s bumper. O’Keefe admitted he did not have the speed to compete with Doucette for the win.
“Not unless there was a green-white-checkered and I would be able to hang with him,” said O’Keefe. “He just beat me every time in turns one and two. I’d gain on him in three, but he was just better in general.
“He was very good on the long runs. He saved his tires at the end there. I was giving him all I could in the closing laps and he just kept pulling away.”
Briggs Danner finished third, with Hopkinson coming home fourth and Tyler Truex rounding out the top five.
Fans who missed Thursday’s race can click here to watch an on-demand replay of the event.
The Race of Champions Invitational Series next Thursday, April 9 competing at the virtual Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). Click here to see a full breakdown of upcoming sim racing broadcasts on Speed51, including upcoming RoC Invitational Series events.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans