Race Weekend Central

MNR Review: 1,300 Incident Points in Season Opener

This MNR Review is presented by Monday Night Racing.

Monday Night Racing’s Summer Series got off to an inauspicious start earlier this week with a 100-lap race from Daytona International Speedway with an 18-caution, two-and-a-half-hour, nightmare-inducing race that you can guarantee used all three attempts at a green-white-checkered. Four drivers were disqualified, including Ford Martin for intentionally wrecking DJ Cummings under yellow. Most of the competitors’ incident count approached or eclipsed 40 points and 52 of the race’s 110 laps were completed under caution.

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James Bickford Wins Caution-Plagued Monday Night Racing Summer Series Opener

James Bickford benefited from a melee on the final lap to pass Dale Tanhardt for the win but unfortunately, the conversation must begin with the 1,300 total incident points the field racked up.

1) Cautions: A Recipe for Them

Welcome to Ryan’s kitchen, today we’ll be cooking up an American classic: the caution. We’ll start with our base to work with, a superspeedway, and not a particularly wide one like Talladega, nope, we’ll be using the Daytona International Speedway where two-wide racing is expected and three-wide is doable with some patience and precision. Speaking of patience and precision, we can leave those in the cupboard, we won’t be adding any of that.

I understand that plate racing on iRacing can lead to cautions and some races can get out of hand. Believe me, I’ve watched the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series before. Now cooking is difficult, we’re going to make mistakes, let’s add in a little secret that helps wash away our mistakes: fast repairs. Did you absolutely destroy your car on lap six by doing something dumb? You need not fret; our fast repair is here.

Instead of taking a slow approach to cook this meal, we’re going to do it as quickly as we possibly can with a four-week sprint calendar that leaves little room for clawing back any lost ground. Now this format is not inherently a bad thing, but the tone of a special edition summer series, as opposed to a normal Monday Night Racing season, on only superspeedways, as opposed to a traditional calendar, lends the mind to turn down its seriousness-level. A laid-back summer bash was the goal, but getting too laid back produces the result we saw on Monday.

Now all that’s left is to throw all of our ingredients in the oven and see what a race with a total of 1,300 incident points looks like… it’s not good.

2) No One is Above the Law

One of the four drivers disqualified from Monday night’s race was none other than league co-founder Ford Martin.

“Rules are clear guys, don’t intentionally wreck under caution, I don’t care who you are,” race director Paul Sutton said after disqualifying his fellow co-founder Martin from the evening’s proceedings.

It’s not yet clear if Martin will receive a one-race ban for his actions. It would not be unprecedented as Collin Fern received a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Presley Sorah in last season’s final race.

3) It Will Get Better

Changes are already on the horizon. There will be no fast repairs moving forward and the field size will be cut down.

Starting the season with fast repairs before yanking them is the same turn of events that occurred during last the season of Monday Night Racing. I get the argument behind giving fast repairs, especially for a shortened summer bash series that leans more towards emphasizing fun than it does gaining a competitive edge. I also understand the argument for not giving them out as it may make drivers wearier of potentially dicey moves.

I think it was the right decision to have them at the start of the season and I think it’s now the right decision to take them away after seeing the result it helped produce. Cutting the field size down should also help clean things up.

4) Number 4: Gen 4

Alternating with the NASCAR Next Gens on superspeedways for the MNR Summer Bash will be the Gen 4 cars on some of the best tracks iRacing has to offer. Next Monday the MNR field will go to Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Gen 4 cars.

The racing we see there should bear no resemblance to Monday night’s festivities and that couldn’t be a more welcome treat. Later in the season the Gen 4 cars will go Chicagoland, Auto Club, and Homestead-Miami Speedway… I’ll certainly have some of that, please.

5) A Fern in the Rough

Ironically, the brightest spot in the evening came from a driver who was suspended from the race: the aforementioned Collin Fern. Fern was slapped with a one-race ban for intentionally wrecking Presley Sorah in the final race last season, but his suspension elevated him into the commentary booth. His humor was needed more than ever on Monday as the 100-lap race stretched further and further into the night and he delivered.

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