Updated: May 22, 2020
Next up on the COVID Cup Calendar was Virginia International Raceway - and with a lap of over 2 minutes - it was a very long lap - especially in the Skippies. Half of the track was made up of a single, long, straight - which meant slip-streaming was crucial and with only 15 cars qualifying there was little opportunity to do so.
Having only learnt the circuit in the past 48 hours - Truswell was slightly on the back foot going into this round of the COVID Cup Series. Three spins on his outlap, two off-track adventures on his first flying lap (both in the tricky final sector, the latter being the final corner where he'd go off at on the following lap) another mistake on his second - before nailing it on the third would prove to be a very challenging session for Truswell. He'd line up on 10th place.
Pole would go to Zac Burke who'd was making his debut in the series. Drivers Outside 107% Rule (2:18.949)
No Time - Teammie Van Weert No Time - Ronald Verweij No Time - Nicholas Daman
The grid was set and ready to race - being so early on in the championship, every point was to fight for.... The lights went out and the field was released and it was a good, clean start from everyone - Truswell knew it was a long race, so hung conservatively around the outside of turn one.... Disaster then struck! P3 and P4 - Martyn Pearson and Naser Teymourian respectably, both spun out going into the second turn - Dodds (behind, P5) would have no-where to go but slide gently into the side of Teymourian whilst the rest of the field escaped unscathed. Verweij would have a look around the outside of Truswell on the run up to South Bend, but would run out of track before going for a wild rallycross adventure to find the circuit once more...
the leader would also come into trouble, losing the back end at South Bend (nearest corner in picture). Despite an impressive save, he would in turn lose the lead to a hungry Dylan Christie Honeyman (lead of three cars in picture) would then also get a little bit sideways into South Bend - Constanduros (In blue) would also have to counter-steer, but would have much more momentum to make a move, but s he too went a little deep, there was not enough time to avoid the slow Honeyman.
Constanduros made contact with the rear wheel of Honeyman's car - sending the front of his (Constanduros') car skyward - he would land on all fours with an uncomfortable thump.
Roodenberg (right) would take full advantage of this and pass the both of them. The pack passed Oak Tree and were flying down the straight - Christie lead from Burke (previous leader) from Bradley a little further back.
Behind in Wood was under no pressure from 5th place man Roodenberg.
Despite an attempted move on Roodenberg through Oak Tree, Constanduros would only lose time and momentum, and with a much better run through the corner, his launcher, Honeyman, would find a way to get a alongside.
Further back still, Pearson (Martyn) would find a way past Van Weert on his climb back up the field as Honeyman's broken rear wing hampered down-force along the back-straight, allowing the launchee back past. At the end of the first lap - the gaps looked as follows: The top two were in a close dice for the lead, Bradley was hunting Wood down for third, a little further back.
The next gaggle was led by Roodenberg who would spin at the final corner, giving 5th position to a very grateful Constanduros who was being chased closely by a damaged Honeyman, who in turn was under threat from Truswell. Behind this group, Banks, who was making his debut - would make a position on the spinning Herring - who would unfortunately lose 5 positions and collect Van Weert whilst rejoining - in addition to the already spun Constanduros. Pearson, who was making a comeback, would then pass Banks on the straight - putting Pearson in 8th and Banks in 9th after the first lap.
Through all of this, Daman too would benefit- gaining a short-lived 10th, before Verweij too would pass him on the straight. 16th to 11th on one lap is definitely something to be proud of
Just outside of his slipstream was Dodds, who was catching up after his incident with Teymourian.
Having recovered from their various incidents - Herring and Roodenberg would round up the rear with a damaged Van Weert joining Teymourian in the pits. Truwell would catch both Honeyman and Constanduros and pass them both before the kink on the way to turn 2
Truswell would then go wide on the exit of turn 2, allowing Constanduros past with both Honeyman and Pearson hot on their heels as Banks and Verweij eagerly watched on from the back of the train.
This cluster allowed Verweij (green) to pass Troy banks, in addition to giving Pearson another position - passing Honeyman for 7th.
Truswell would then make an ambitious move at the top of the hill before South Bend - this clean move would pay off - but only for a couple of meters. Pearson would storm past both of them - having the slipstream of both cars as well as being able to go flat out due to not fighting.
Truswell was taken by surprise at Pearson, so hit the brake pedal, Constanduros was not expecting this - and despite at first managing to avoid Truswell, Truswell had scrubbed off more speed than Constanduros expect, and was (Truswell) was unfortunately spun - losing 6th - and losing the chance to have a huge battle.
Into Oak Tree, Constanduros then braked on the grass - and with half a dozen cars heading towards him, there was only one way it could end...badly.
Somehow - all - including Daman who spun by going around the outside of the spinner - managed to avoid Constanduros.
Truswell would make two positions (the two spinners) from this - but had a lot of work to do to make up for the incident. It was going to be a long race.
This incident unfortunately broke up a simply exhilarating battle for 5th place - the cars were spread out, and as they were outside of each others slipstream, little overtaking could be done. Verweij and Banks were able to get past Honeyman on the straight following Oak Tree.
Truswell also made a mistake at the final corner (A common occurrence) allowing Daman and Roodenberg past. Teymourian was also released from the pits at this point following a long tow and repairs.
Honeyman's rear wing was causing significant damage to his race pace as Dodds was the next to go by on the start finish straight, as Daman managed to pass Herring for 10th.
The race had fallen into a disappointing lull. Christie was still chasing Burke for the lead - but wasn't close enough to make a move, Wood was a good 6 seconds behind with Bradley not able to fight as he too was a couple of seconds behind Wood.
As Bradley came into the braking zone for turn one, Pearson (5th) would only just be starting his third lap. Verweij was slightly closer, having Pearson in his sights, but could do nothing but try and close the gap.
As the race wore on - the gaps would only spread.
Banks would have a look at trying a move on Verweij - but backed out for the time being.
Roodenberg did eventually manage to pass Daman after catching him a few corners before. Despite a good battle with Herring, Truswell would go wide at the final corner, and lose not only traction, momentum and the position too.
Banks would try and get up the inside of turn one under braking, but would over-shoot slightly, allowing Verweij to get the cutback. Verweij would only temporarily keep the position as he'd go wide at turn 2 - allowing both Banks and Dodds to get past. Dodds would then use the straight (in picture) to get past Banks.
Verweij would end a torrid lap by spinning out at the last corner - losing 8th place from Honeyman and 9th place from Roodenberg.
The only hope of any battle now entirely laid on Dodds and Banks, and the two leaders. Constanduros was also having an incredibly tough day as he was lapped by the leaders as he started lap 5. Verweij's day was about to get severely worse than it already was, he'd go wide at the last corner, but keep his foot in, to try and lose as little time as possible - as a bump would spit him the other way...even whilst heading towards the barrier at 86mph, he still had his foot planted...until the revvs died and he knew it was too late.
On the brighter side of thing, Truswell had managed to catch Herring - they'd go side by side down the start/finish straight before it was a battle on the brakes, both were equal. Herring being on the outside meant that he could straighten up his wheel quicker, giving him the better run out of the corner and in turn the position - but little did Herring know, that Daman had spun at Oak Tree, rolling slightly back on track to continue his race
This broke Herring's steering and suspension - but fortunately Truswell was able to get off much better off - only damaging his front wing and non-essential components of his suspension.
Half way into the race, and things were still looking a little less than thrilling... Things only start to get better on Lap 9 (of 14) when a speeding Teymourian manages to catch and pass Daman using the slipstream gained from the long straight. He'd swiftly deal with Truswell on the following start/finish straight.
Wish less than 5 laps to go things were finally heating up again, Martyn had finally caught up with his Pin-Stripe Twin Bradley, the laps were counting down for Christie to find a way past Burke, and Daman was hunting down Truswell.
On Lap 11, Martyn made the move on Bradley on the long back-straight - it was a long time coming, but the move was definitely worth it.
Bradley would try and go down the inside of Pearson on the following lap, but to no avail. Martyn would later make a mistake going into Oak Tree, firstly going in a bit deep, before touching the kerb, unsettling the car, before just beyond the kerb on exit. Bradley would hunt Pearson down until the braking zone when he'd accidentally turn in a little bit too early, just clipping the back of Pearson's car - Bradley would try to avoid the spinning car but unfortunately additional contact was made.
Bradley would give the position back, and aside from Bradley's nose-cone, both cars were absolutely fine. Daman also found his way past Truswell - sending it down the inside of turn one and somehow avoiding Truswell in the process!
The following lap, Truswell would use the slipstream to get back past Daman
Banks would then get into trouble on his final lap, just getting a wheel onto the kerb at the final corner, spinning inwards and clonking the barrier, damaging his right rear suspension. the last two cars to cross the line before the leaders finished the race were Daman and Truswell who were still tightly scrapping for 11th place, but more importantly the leaders came around the last corner nose to tail, Christie pulls out of the slipstream, they are absolutely side by side as we come to the line who's going to take it and by 0.008 Seconds Zac Burke takes the win!
25 seconds up the road, Wood finishes in an impressive 3rd place from 6th on the grid.
Pearson holds off Bradley for 4th place - 0.2 separating them.
Dodds would finish a hard days work in 6th, while Roodenberg would finish 7th from 11th.
Teymourian would certainly earn his 8th place - especially after the contact he had. On the final lap Truswell did find his way past Daman, but Truwell and Daman would both brake a little too late - Truswell would lock a tyre, whilst Daman would hit the back of Truswell. Truswell would get the position in the end followed by Daman. Herring and Constanturos would round out the finishers a lap (or three) down. whilst Banks would end up in the pit-lane after his earlier accident
After this third round, the championship was blown wide open - with anyone down to 6th place able to steal the championship lead!