A one month break couldn’t slow the stars of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. After coming up short in a battle for the ages at Brands Hatch, Jake Wright took advantage of a Dan Geren mistake to slip by and win the RaceCentre 100 at Phillip Island.
“I think it was the mistake that was able to get me the win,” Wright said. “(Geren) was faster than me the entire race, he was somehow able to get incredible pit stops and just gain seconds on me. I’m still shaking.”
Geren shocked the series by beating Wright for the pole. But halfway through the first fuel run, Geren went around by himself, handing Wright the lead. It looked like that was all the series point leader would need to walk away with the race, but a pair of excellent pit stops gave Geren a final shot at Wright.
It looked as if Geren had done enough to secure the lead, dashing in front of Wright as he exited the pits with 9 laps remaining. But Wright stuck an outside pass in the tricky turn two, and held on over the remaining laps for the win, his seventh of the season.
“That was scary. When I saw where he was coming out of the pits, I thought he was going to get me,” Wright said. “I think he decided to defend the inside in turn two so I went around the outside, we almost hit. That was a very tense pit exit.”
While happy with a career-best second place road course finish, Geren was dejected that another checkered flag got away.
“I ran over 1,500 practice laps, and I knew that was the only turn that would get me if any was going to get me,” Geren said. “Sure enough, I got on it a little too hard, and that was enough.”
Jason Robarge took home third, edging series rookie George Adams in his debut.
“I did not think I was going to be able to beat that guy, he was awesome,” Robarge said. “Just a smooth, smooth race.”
An intense battle for the final spot in the top 10 unfolded over the last six laps, with Jason Galvin, Dylan Lee and Ron Hacker even going three wide into turn one. Galvin emerged late, then stole ninth from James Krahula by a nose when Krahula ran out of fuel on the final straight.
Michael Gray brought home fifth in his home race, with Joe Flanagan, Brian Yaczik, Jorge Anzaldo, Galvin and Krahula the top ten.
13 of the 30 starters finished on the lead lap in the 46 minute race. 23 starters finished the race. Christian Steele was disqualified from the event for failure to adhere to race stewards, while Jonathan Goke, Ryan Bird and Patrick Taylor all saw promising runs end with wrecked race cars.
Wright extended his lead to 168, now over Geren who jumped Goke into second place. Robarge and Krahula round out the top five, with six races remaining in the 2016 season.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment continues a torrid final two months with a return to short track racing next week, in the Birky Trucking 125 at Iowa Speedway. The home track for many in the series, it also holds fond memories for series founder Anzaldo, who scored an improbable first career victory at the track last season. The Birky Trucking 125 can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday, September 21 at 10:40 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment or the Lionheart MX-5 Challenge, head towww.LionheartRacingSeries.com..