This is where I started; I’ve done plenty of road racing in other games, and wanted to try out ovals. On my opening week the Street Stocks were at USA International Night. I spent some time learning how to drive at a reasonable pace before jumping in to my first race. I failed to set a clean lap in qualifying so started at the back, and ran as high as 6th until I turned the car round on the exit of 2 and smacked the wall on the inside. I then learnt about pit stops and all the keys related to that – I was sitting refuelling until I worked out how to turn it off and I was released. I finished 11th, which was fine – only a 2x, which is what counts.
I ran one more race that week – middle split of 3, qualified 2nd, finished 2nd. I decided that starting on the outside wasn’t fun into turn 1. Picked up 6x, one car-on-car incident.
The next week was Charlotte – Afternoon. An almost flat out track, turn 4 needs to be handled carefully though, with a slight lift into 3 as the tyres wear out. 2 races done, a 9x (luckily no change in SR) and a 4x (started 2nd, finished 3rd).
At this point I disappear off to Summit Point in an MX-5, but more on that later…
I return to USA International Day and find the grip isn’t as high as at night. Two 0x races – it is possible! – followed by a 4x. Only 0.02 off a D licence… so of course my next race is a 16x… One more incident in that race and I’d have been disqualified. It was a bad time, with incidents in front that I couldn’t avoid, picking up multiple car contact incidents. I was pleased to hang on to the end, but I was driving very carefully! A 2x and a 0x rounded out the week, and I picked up my D licence.
However, I’m not done with the rookies yet. There are no free oval cars in the D licence lineup, so you either spend some money or continue in the rookies. And yes, I’m sticking to making this as cheap as possible.
The next week was the last of the 4 tracks – Charlotte Night. More grip that during the daytime, which makes this track a flat-out draft-fest – much like Daytona or Talladega for the premiere NASCAR series. I started off trying to race… we’re here to learn, right? 4x, 10x, 4x, 12x, 0x, 8x… Not sure where that 0x came from, but it was now I gave up. If you’re after safety rating at Charlotte Night, there’s no point racing. Hang back so you can avoid the inevitable big one. If you’re not right at the front, you’re gonna hit issues.
I swapped between the wrecking and Charlotte Legends – now I’m a D licence holder I can race the rookie legend series… for which you need a D licence (effectively). It’s a rookie series because it’s free content and thus doesn’t count towards your licence promotion. I found a reasonable setup online and ran some fairly clean races, either 0x or 4x, but could only run the races later in the evening – during the day there were not enough people running the races and they were not official.
Back to the big oval – I ran a total of 15 races without qualifying. My highest starting position was 9/14 (I had a 10/17 which is slightly further up the pack). My iRating was relatively high, and it appears that iRacing ranks drivers that don’t qualify by their iRating, so I was normally at the front. I’d drop to the back on lap 1 and let the race shake out from there. My best result was 3rd…! The early races were all around 7th place finishes and kept my iRating going up, but the last 4 ran more cleanly and I ended up towards the back. No issues, though – many 0x races got my Safety Rating up above 4.0, which was the goal.
From there, I tried a C-class Street Stock race at Phoenix; the racing was much closer but, as fun as it was, it was nerve wracking on a single monitor. Here I would find the issue with graduating rookies; races are now less frequent and there is less turnout, and you can’t expect every race to go official. I switched to time trial to get my MPR requirement and claim my C licence.
And with that, I’m ineligible to enter the rookie Street Stock series… you’d never see me at Charlotte at Night again anyway, but I’d have run a few more races if I’d had the chance.