Returning from the holiday break, the sim racers of the Speed51 Elite Modified Tour came together over the world wide web to begin the final three-race stretch of the winter season. Taking on the tight and tricky confines of South Boston Speedway. Many felt coming into the night it might take the perfect performance on the night in both qualifying and the 80-lap feature to get the job done.
In the end, that’s just what happened, with real-world Modified pilot Bryan Narducci rising to the occasion, leading all 80 laps to win his first race of the winter season.
“I had a mindset going in. I talked to a couple of guys that race this series, and we all agreed that depending on where you qualified, it was going to decide where you finished. I knew it was a short race, 80 laps, and I knew coming from the back was pretty farfetched,” Narducci said after the race.
To start the night, the confident Narducci felt a bit uneasy in practice, but the Connecticut racer drew upon the same skill and mojo that has netted him a mess of SK Light Modified wins at Stafford Speedway and Thompson Speedway, as well as the last two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III National Titles, to turn the evening in his favor.
“After the first five laps of practice, I was a little nervous because I was not fast at all. I kept working on how to drive the setup, when to get off the brakes, because I thought that was killing me, and ended up going to the top of the leaderboard in practice. I said to myself that I had to back it up in time trials, and ended up doing that. Makes it easier to avoid all the wrecks when you’re up in the lead.”
Despite leading, the biggest threat to ‘Flyin Bryan’ were the lapped cars in front.
“At the end there was a couple of lapped cars in front of me, and I was hoping they wouldn’t spin or hit the wall. But they were very respectful of me being the leader, which was really good. I could feel the tires start to give away a little, and it was starting to get free if I cracked the gas a little. I was easing into the throttle with 15 to go to save what was left.”
But, after electing not to pit for tires, tire wear was on Narducci’s mind with each restart, especially with Chad Frankenfield hanging around.
“Then we had the yellow and I knew there were a couple of guys that had newer tires, and I was a little worried they’d get up there. But, with the single-file starts, that kept them further back, which helped. Then I got that final run to get away from Chad a little bit, and nursed it to the finish.”
For Frankenfield, he felt he had done everything in his power to run for the win. It was a matter of waiting for a mistake from Narducci. A mistake that never came.
“It was tough, I think we were about even on pace. It was just on the restarts he’d get out, and I couldn’t reel him back in. The car was a big handful; you had to be close as could to that apron to make time. Passing was almost impossible, I think this was the first time we’ve done single-file restarts this season, because it is so tough to get two cars through the corner. My only option was to get to his bumper and maybe knock him out of the groove, but I couldn’t get close enough. He was flawless all night.”
Speed51 Elite Modified Tour points leader Brandon Wilkinson finished third, to prop up his points lead; with Ryan Blanchard and Chuck Sweeting rounding the top five. Speed51’s own Patrick Hahe wheeled home in sixth, Joshua Personette seventh, points contender Gerald Campbell eighth, with Chris Fritz, and Lyle Johnson completing the top 10.
An on-demand broadcast of Tuesday night's race can be viewed on Speed51 by clicking here.
Two races remain on the Speed51 Elite Modified Tour winter season. Next up is Martinsville Speedway on Tuesday, January 14.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Content Specialist – Twitter: @Connor51CT