It was a round of consolidation for the Lionheart Series last time out, with the top 4 in points occupying 4 of the top 5 positions at the end of the final lap at the picturesque Mid Ohio road course. While 2nd in points Dan Geren got the pole, it was championship leader Jake Wright leading the most laps enroute to another impressive road course victory. 3rd in the championship – Andrew Kinsella held of a late race charge from Michael Goodman to finish 4th. The odd man out in the top 5 was rookie Adam Blocker who finished 3rd. Although Blocker is not a part of the championship discussion due to a mid-season start to his campaign, Blocker has demonstrated considerable pace and will surely be learning everything he can for next season. After Mid Ohio, Jake Wright holds the lead of the championship by 24 points over Dan Geren. Kinsella sits 3rd 101 points back with Michael Goodman a further 53 points back of Kinsella for both the Rookie of the Year and the main championships. Jason Galvin moved up to 5th place, 204 points back of Wright. For Kinsella, Goodman or Galvin, it will take some bad luck for both Geren and Wright to truly get back in the championship fight.
Which brings us to Iowa. Previously when the league visited the D-shaped oval in season 3 only 3 of the 33 starters finished the race. League founder Jorge Anzaldo prevailed in the chaotic 143 lap race. Season 4 saw Anzaldo collecting his first ever Lionheart pole. Ian Adams would go on to win his first ever Lionheart regular season race. If the race is even half as chaotic as season 3, Iowa could very well prove to be a definitive round in this year’s championship.
No one has more to lose coming into this week then championship leader Jake Wright, however, no one is on as big a role as Wright either. Forget finishing the race, the last time Jake Wright finished outside the top 10 was way back in week 8 at Pocono, 11 races ago. In the past 5 races alone, Wright has two wins, two 2nd places and a 6th. With those kind of results, it’s no wonder Wright has stretched out his lead over Geren in recent weeks. Will Wright be able to avoid the carnage and stretch the lead even further?
One man hoping to gain ground is Dan Geren, who has also won 2 of the last 5 races. Geren is famous for putting in more testing miles at a track then any other man in the Lionheart series, often logging several thousand laps on an oval before race day. It has certainly shown in Geren’s 7 poles this year, not to mention him pushing Jake into one of the closest championship fights in league history. Often, track position can keep drivers out of trouble. Will Dandy Dan be able to use his qualifying prowess to steer himself to victory Wednesday night?
The final race winner of the last 5 has been Andrew Kinsella, who won on the progressively banked short oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kinsella also won on debut way back at the first event of the season at Homestead Miami Speedway, another progressively banked oval. Iowa Speedway just so happens to be a progressively banked oval. Could it be that this type of track surface suits Kinsella’s driving style? It will have to if Kinsella holds out any hope of coming away with the title. With the season quickly winding down, Kinsella will need to make up serious ground in very short order.
League founder and season 3 race winner Jorge Anzaldo is known for his patient driving style and letting races come to him. With the potential for carnage at every turn on the extremely quick oval, this methodical approach might just leave him in victory lane once again.
Brian Yaczik is another driver who has shown some serious speed on the short ovals this year. A strong 2nd place at Phenoix in round 2, coupled with strong drives at both Milwaukee and New Hampshire has shown that Yaczik has the speed to challenge on these short ovals. While he has had horrible luck this season, what better place to turn that luck around then a track where the unexpected often happens?
Dark horses to watch this week, include Joe Branch and Tony Showen, who bring a nice mix of short track proficiency and patient race craft to Iowa. Justin Weaver and Woody Mahan are two rookies to keep an eye on as well.
You can find the live race broadcast for the Birky Trucking 125 at 10:35 EST on Wednesday October 11th on the GSRC YouTube channel and iRacing Live.