If you read forums all over the net you will see many views on the right way to run an oval race, i have been working hard on this these last few weeks and below is my conclusion to a fast time. Setups: Without doubt this does indeed play a significant role in a good finish position more than maybe on a road track. The reason being is that it just is not as simple on a banked corner to just get out of the way of others unless you have very good control over your car. You can’t just drop a gear or slam the anchors on to allow a pass like road tracks it just will either send you into a spin or into the wall. Oval races tend to be closer with more cars running in close proximity than road courses. You really do have to have a stable setup to get high positions in any race but in ovals unless your setup remains almost the way it was when you started you will find yourself buffing the scratches out of your cars side after the race. This brings into play tires and how your setup will affect them over 90 laps or so, too much hard turning and camber will rip your tires in 20 laps and leave you wall scraping the next 30 laps until your pit stop. I unlike most it seems enjoy a very tight car, this is something that is very much user orientated and unless you are comfortable with a setup you just cannot drive it. Setups on iRacing to me seem far too loose and tail happy so I have to spend an age getting the car tighter and drivable. It is no use setting your car up for a long run when in fact you have never done more than 10 laps practice with this setup because you will find 20 laps in it can be un-drivable. Do a setup check over at least 40 – 50 laps with high and low fuel. Make sure you practice with others as being in a draft will have a dramatic effect on your handling and with a high camber track this could spell a long stay in the pits repairing your car because of massive under steer behind another car. Get your setup to your liking is the start but by no means the be all and end all. Track: Knowing the track is an obvious one but I think most people new to this sort of racing do not really give this enough Kudos. It’s 4 turns and all the same direction in the main and how hard can that be? Well I can tell you it can be very tough because even on short ovals the turns all have different compositions of entry / exit angles and cambers. This means each part of the turn is different from the next with more than one line in and out. For instance when I first started in ovals I was sweeping into the turns meeting the apex and allowing the car to move to the outside of the track AKA Road racing. This can work but I have found it to be slower on most tracks and as such time can be gained by taking a very early apex and keeping it in tight until the actual camber of the track pushes you out. This some may not agree with but in the short space of time I have been oval racing I am consistently beating A licence individuals that have been in iRacing for years. You really have to try in practice all sorts of lines to find what the fastest one for you is. I am one of very few that takes this early apex and the others follow each other around I am almost always alone in cutting into the corner early however I generally meet them with far more speed at the actual apex. A small tip here too is to adjust the weight ballast front to rear and visa versa as this will greatly affect your turn in without even touching any other setting. Again practice on your own and then with others to see what they do before trying a race and giving yourself –20 SR. The Car: Know your car, understanding its little quirks is something you MUST do. Some are very loose no matter what you do so you will need to be aware of every little twitch and what this will mean in the next few meters. Good Force Feedback is going to be essential here and trust me when I say that having your FFB setting right will save you seconds over a long track. Every little bump and dip with make your car react in a different way but if you fail to notice it due to incorrectly setup FFB then you won’t know what’s going wrong until your rubbing up the wall like some loveable cat. Pit Stops: I cannot stress enough how importants it is to get your pit stops done at the right time during the race. I have found many people will use every chance they can get to drop into the pits for fresh rubber and maybe a topup of fuel. While it may on the surface seem like a very good idea it means you loose track position and that means you may have to re-take 10 cars or so before you get back to where you were. Tires advantage goes off in a couple of laps so in reality you have in the main gained nothing at all. I have made up so many places and kept them due to being intelligent about my stops, i make a stop when i need to or within a very narrow window. Cautions in ovals are a thing that happens more often than not and in fact only once so far have i had a caution free race. When these happen look at the laps you have done against laps to go. I look at it this way, on a 90 lap race if i have done less than 30 laps its pointless heading to the pits unless every person does. If its between 30 - 50 i go in as not only will my tires last the remaining race distance but my fuel will on a complete fill up. All you need to do on any track is test your car in race trim to see how many laps you can go until your tires are gone or fuel runs out. With this in mind you can then use this to your advantage. I see drivers go into the pits 3 - 4 times during a race and be well behind me at the end. Do not over estimate fresh tires 4 laps and they are no better than a set that has done 20 laps. You: Yes I said you, because you are the most important part of the whole process and unless you keep your eyes open it’s never going to end well on an oval. More than ever you need to be totally aware of what is going on around you at all times. Seeing someone is slower into a corner will not give you anything but laps of headaches behind them unless you plan your route. You see although I say there are more than one route on an oval if your setup is made with the fastest one for you in mind then any deviation on a high camber track will no doubt mean you come to grief. You need to watch and learn pacing yourself behind and see where exactly it is you will meet at the apex and adjust your speed accordingly. This part is little different from road racing but remember it is far harder in most instances on a high camber oval to adjust your line mid corner as the banking will be working against you. I do find late breaking up the inside works well with ovals but you need to be somewhat alongside before you attempt this. Oval racers tend to sweep down from up high regardless of your intentions if you are slightly too far back and they cannot see you. It took me about 3 weeks to really understand this technique and be able to pull it off without a massive SR loss. Being on a mic is also imperative in my view because you can not only tell someone your under them but you can plan your passing with backmarkers far easier. Remember if its hard for you to be offline then it’s going to be hard for them too and no one likes to slow to a crawl to let the leaders though. I lapped some people in my last race 4 times on a long oval and not once did we have a problem because i communicated with them and allowed them to choose which side i was going to pass. Remember the voice comments by iRacing telling you that you are clear or have someone high and low is for guidance but cannot be completely trusted. They get it wrong quite a lot which means if you cut back into line in front of someone chances are you hit them. Above all relax, yup it is hard to do and only a few races will sort your nerves out but it is so important to relax because tightness in your arms means your feel through the steering is reduced. This takes away any good things that come from well setup FFB. The Secret: To be honest there is none at all because it’s a mix of everything, there is no golden secret the fast guys are keeping from you that will instantly make you seconds faster, i promise. Learn your car learn the track & set your car up the way YOU like it and all will come in time. Running with others in practice is very important, so remember that and do it. To Finish: You may or may not disagree with my writings here but my race finish positions are speaking for themselves, i more often than not finish in the top 3 no matter what split i am in. If i can get better which i can i could be really competative in the top splits when i get there. I hope you enjoyed my writings so join me again next time. Feedback is always appreciated so leave your comments in the box below.