The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment will head to Pocono Raceway for the third season in a row to contest the first leg of the league's Triple Crown. As always, the Dirtyblinds.com 300 will offer league members the chance to win numerous prizes including a winner's plaque, trading card set, hardcover book and custom prints.
The most important prize may be the double points that will be paid to each entrant. With the championship standings tighter than ever after six rounds, a win at Pocono could push a contender into the championship lead or give a struggling driver a much-needed boost. Conversely, an early DNF could have season-long implications and possibly even cost some unlucky sim racers a shot at the league title.
When it comes to Triple Crown races, there's little doubt that Team #NailedIt has become the most dominant team in Lionheart. Between Jonathan Goke's wins at Pocono and Indianapolis and Dan Geren's season-ending victory at Fontana, it's been a while since anyone else has visited victory lane in the league's biggest events. Unfortunately for Team #NailedIt's opposition, their winning ways could very well continue into 2017.
Defending race winner Jonathan Goke currently sits 15th in the championship standings due to disappointing results at Homestead and Watkins Glen, along with a missed start at Kentucky. However, Pocono just happens to be his favourite track – with good reason. Goke is the defending winner at the Tricky Triangle after leading 83 laps last season. The previous year, he won the pole and led 55 laps before finishing sixth. If that wasn't enough, Goke also won the recent Lionheart Retro Series sim race at Pocono in dominant fashion to take the first leg of that series' Triple Crown.
Dan Geren finished on the podium in every Triple Crown event last season including his visit to victory lane at Auto Club Speedway. He's won three poles already in 2017 and took the win at Motegi just a few weeks ago. Geren has already proven he can be fast at big ovals like Pocono. The only question he has yet to answer is if he can find a way to be faster than his teammate Jonathan Goke. There's little doubt the Iowa-based sim racer will be motivated because a win could easily push him into the championship lead.
While Geren and Goke may be the favourites, their fellow #NailedIt teammates Michael Gray and Ian Adams should not be overlooked. Gray currently sits third overall in the standings and has finished inside the top ten four times – including twice on ovals at Homestead and Phoenix. Adams, meanwhile, has struggled to post results despite showing strong pace almost every week. He's led laps at three of four oval events this season and started fifth last year at Pocono.
Outside of the #NailedIt paddock, there are plenty of sim racers who would love to earn themselves a winner's plaque. Andrew Kinsella could take a stranglehold on the championship with a win but Jake Wright, Brian Yaczik and Michael Goodman could all overtake him if they have a strong finish this week. Ryan Otis, currently sitting seventh in the championship, shouldn't be counted out either. Otis finished second to Jonathan Goke in the recent Retro Series sim race at Pocono.
Any list of potential threats in a Triple Crown event would not be complete without Joe Branch of Adrenaline Motorsports. Branch is easily the most consistent driver in the league when it comes to longer-distance races. The Indiana sim racer has finished no lower than fifth in five of the last six Lionheart Triple Crown events – including podiums in each of his last two Pocono starts.
Joe Branch's teammates Chis Stofer and Tony Showen are the underdogs to watch this week. Stofer has struggled through a slow start but last season's Kansas winner could easily turn his luck around at Pocono. Notably, Stofer finished on the podium in the last Triple Crown event at Fontana. Showen, conversely, had a strong start to 2017 that included his first career Lionheart pole. He's since cooled off in the last few races but could easily find his early-season speed again. Impressively, Showen finished third in the recent Retro Series event at Pocono after starting twenty-seventh.
Also notable this week will be the first Lionheart Indycar Series start for Brian Greenlee, who has been a regular competitor in the Lionheart Retro Series in 2017. His debut at Pocono seems appropriate since Greenlee recently drove his virtual Lotus 79 to a career-best fourth-place finish at the Tricky Triangle in the Retro Series.
The Dirtyblinds.com 300 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on May 3rd beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.