New Name and Car Highlight Round Three of Newly Branded UCORA Top Gun Cup Series
The third round of the UCORA Throwback Cup series brought two new items to the table, a new car and a rebranding for the series itself. On the vehicle side of things, the league has made the move from the ARCA Menards Chevrolet (reminiscent of NASCAR Cup Cars ca.1995-2007) to a true classic with the newly unveiled 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Thunderbird. The stock paint scheme for the cars are replicas of Dale Earnhardt’s Wrangler number three and Bill Elliott’s Coors’ number nine.
As mentioned above, the series itself has undergone a rebranding and, as a result, undergone a name change. To help set itself aside from other “throwback” and “classic” leagues on iRacing that are rising in popularity with the new vehicles, and release of North Wilkesboro, the series will from round three froward be the Top Gun Cup Series. The new moniker, an homage to the classic 80s film of the same name, will no doubt help this UCORA league stand out amongst the other leagues paying tribute to racing of years gone by.
On the racing side of things this week, the action was brought to the 3/4 mile Richmond Raceway, a track which NASCAR has visited since 1988. Prior to September of that year, races were held on the old Richmond track which measured just a hair over a half mile in length. That track played host to many memorable moments, including Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt’s classic clash in turn three when racing for the win. Or the time, again, Earnhardt drove down the frontstretch hanging out his driver’s side window to clean his windshield. The final race before the track was reconfigured to its current state was won by Neil Bonnett.
After a 10 minute long qualifying session it would be William Moore and Jon Hall starting on the front row. Rolling off in the third position would be Todd Laribee who entered the night first in the points standings. Winner of the last round at Rockingham Speedway, Erik Jeffers, would start his night from the 14th spot.
Two hundred laps would be the race distance for the drivers to tackle in order to determine the victor. In the early going, it seemed the race would settle into a long green flag run. However, before the race hit the quarter length mark, caution flag fever began to plague the race. With the new vehicle, some drivers found the limit quicker than others, resulting in the rash of incidents. The issue was only compounded further by differing strategies as some drivers chose to pit for new tires and others not, resulting in a major difference in speed between fresh and old rubber.
The biggest accident of the race came with 45 laps remaining when Erik Jeffers got loose exiting turn two while running in the fourth position. With his back end swinging, Jeffers made contact with Todd Laribee which sent him spinning and slamming into the wall with the rest of the field baring down on his stricken car. At least seven cars were involved in the melee. Laribee was immediately apologizing to Jeffers for the incident via the voice chat. Jeffers, however, was not upset in the slightest, assuring Laribee that it was simply an accident and no more than a racing deal. The crash was only one of 18 total caution flags.
The race would end with a long green flag run that was extinguished by a caution with two laps remaining, ensuring the race ended under caution. When the dust settled, it was Justin Kirby taking the win with a car that told the story of the race, see the photos below.
Behind Kirby in second and third Jon Hall and William Moore, both who at one point in the race looked to be the favorite. Hall led the most laps, showing the way for a combined 69 laps. Coming home in strong fourth place was points leader Todd Laribee who continues to show strength in the early weeks of the Top Gun Cup Series.
In the days after the tumultuous Richmond race, the decision was made to modify the rules of the Top Gun Series. In an effort to provide a stronger and better league, the following changes have been implemented:
- Drivers are no longer allowed any quick repairs.
- Any driver involved in two cautions will be parked for the remainder of that event.
- New minimum registration requirements for competitors, including:
Minimum of C License and 3.00SR
Minimum of 1 year on the service
New drivers are on a 10-race evaluation period where they can, if they do not meet expectations, be removed from the league.
'The first two items may be waived in special cases of real-world driving experience or someone who primarily races leagues (this will be verified).
Also being implemented will be tire limits for each race as well as restart violations. In the early days of the series, it is great to see action being taken to help create not just a good place for classic racing, but the best place for classic racing.
The new changes will go into effect at the Darlington Raceway in round four of the Top Gun Cup Series. That race will be Thursday June 25 at 9 PM EST.
By Todd Rose