This week the Retro Series heads back to The Milwaukee Mile for the Turf Monkey 200. Turf Monkey is owned and operated by Lionheart league member Marty Davis out of Racine Wisconsin. Turf Monkey specializes in fertilization, weed control, aeration and dethatching, over seeding, snow removal and mowing. Don’t monkey around in your yard this season! Their slogan “We’ll make your lawn look bananas!” Visit www.facebook.com/turfmonkey for more information. New for 2018 the Retro Series has an increased distance at Milwaukee for a total of 200 miles.
Last week at Motegi, it was Alex Saunders who took his 3rd win of the season at Motegi, and first on an oval. Saunders has emerged in the Retro Series as a favorite to win the championship if he continues this pace. He currently sits P3 overall, just 6 points back from Dustin Wardlow for 2nd. Wardlow had a round to forget at Motegi, after getting damaged early in the race finishing 1 lap down in 24th. The win for Saunders did not, however, get him much closer to the point lead. Adam Blocker finished right behind Saunders in 2nd, limiting the damage as much as possible. Blocker currently leads Wardlow by 62 points, and Saunders by 68. Finishing 3rd in the race was “Big” Joe Hassert, who improved from an 18th starting spot to finish 3rd. The final 2 spots saw a pitched battle for the final laps, when Andrew Kinsella barely edged out Jake Wright for 4th place at the finish. Kinsella had to battle back from a mid-race penalty that saw the Canadian in 26th place at the mid-way point in the race. Wright meanwhile chose not to qualify, starting from the back and using pit strategy to bting himself to the sharp end of the grid. The result saw the defending champion move up to 5th in the championship, while Kinsella moved up to 11th. Both have missed 1 race so far this year. In fact, a number of drivers have missed 1 or more races. The retro series sees drivers worst 2 results dropped from their point total. Once factored in, these drop weeks will certainly paint a fuller picture of the championship standings. Look for those to be scored later in the season.
Bob Mikes was the winner last year at Milwaukee. Reports from the paddock are that Mikes will unfortunately not be defending his win this season as he will be unavailable on race night. This leaves the field rather wide-open for this weeks race. Blocker, Saunders and Wardlow will be among the favorites this year, as all 3 look to cement their candidacy for champion this year. All 3 will be looking over their shoulder however, as defending champion Jake Wright slowly creeps into view. Wright has had a relatively slow start to the year, however, the 5th place in Motegi might just be the result Wright needs to jump start his season. If it is, the others in the top 5 should look out.
10 different drivers led laps at Milwaukee in the S1 inaugural event. 33 drivers took the green flag with 22 running at the end. Only 14 drivers finished on the lead lap. 1 of those drivers was David Altman. Altman recently returned to Lionheart competition and after shaking of the rust at Motegi, could be a driver to watch at Milwaukee.
Short-track racing often produces unexpected results. One person who has had a good amount of success in Lionheart competition at short tracks over the years is Joe Branch. The soft-spoken Indiana driver has a knack for coming up big on short-track. Will Milwaukee be Branch’s coming out party in the Retro Series.
Jorge Anzaldo, still trying to break into the championship, is without a top 10 finish so far this season. The Raven Motorsports driver certainly has had some shining moments this season only to fall short from driver errors or gambles on fuel strategy not paying off. Last season at Milwaukee, Anzaldo qualified on the front row, led the most laps and finished P4. Could we see another strong drive this year at the Milwaukee Mile?
Raven Motorsports continues to lead the team standings for another week just -24 ahead of Adrenaline who scored the most points of any team after Motegi. 8 Ball sits in P3 in the team standings despite having a tough outing last week. The team championship is still wide-open for the taking. Who will help their team to one of the most hotly contested crowns in Lionheart history?
The Turf Monkey 200 can be seen live on Thursday, June 14th at 10:35pm Eastern, only on GSRC and iRacing Live.
From the desert sun to the jungle heat, the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation flies south to Brazil for the inaugural running of the Becida Bar and Grill 125. Becida Bar and Grill is the presenting sponsor for the Round 5 event. Scott Johnson is the owner of the establishment located in Becida, MN. Check out www.becidabarandgrill.com. The Becida Bar and Grill is a proud sponsor of the Skid Mark Motorsports race team.
In Phoenix two weeks ago, chaos reigned supreme, with 8 cautions slowing the race, before a grandstand 3 wide finish saw Jason Glavin edge out Adam Blocker and Brian Yaczik for the win by less then half a car length. Dustin Wardlow and James Brant rounded out the top 5 in a race that saw just 11 cars finish on the lead lap and 16 cars running at the end of the race.
There have been 3 different winners over the first 3 races. Will we have a 4th winner at the end of Round 4? Ryan Otis must surely be considered the leading contender of those who haven’t won. Otis was the only driver at the Glen who was able to stay with Alex Saunders as other competitors fell by the wayside. Other fast road course drivers to watch out for include Justin Weaver, Michael Goodman, Dustin Wardlow, and Andrew Kinsella. If those 4 can go mistake free for the whole race at Interlagos, look for them to factor in the battle for the top 5.
Or will Alex Saunders be able to dominate another road event. At the first road course race at Watkins Glen, Saunders put on a clinic. Leading every lap from pole on the way to capturing the win. He even had enough of a gap on second to back off in the closing stages to allow a battle between two lap down cars to go undisturbed. Will Saunders be the first driver to score 2 victories this season?
If not Saunders, perhaps Adam Blocker will be the one to repeat. The round one winner may be the only driver other then Ryan Otis to be able to keep up with the rookie Saunders on the road courses. Blocker is currently leading the points and is hungry to grab a hold of this championship early in the going.
The final piece to the road course puzzle must surely belong to Jake Wright. Wright has not been his usual dominant self this season, with consistency trumping outright speed. Never the less, look for the champion to use his new HPP pedals to great effect at Interlagos.
The team standings seemingly offer no insight into this race, with the top 4 teams separated by a scant 37 points, Raven has the slightest of edges over Dragonfly, followed by Adrenaline and Loud Pedal. With the chaos of the early season, no team has emerged from the pack as of yet.
Who will be the driver to tame this tricky Brazilian road course? Tune in Thursday May 3rd to find out, only on GSRC and iRacing live at 10:35pm Eastern.
For the first time in three years, the ole track announcer pulled through.
Jason Galvin made a late race pass for the lead and held on in a three-wide finish for this first Lionheart Racing Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway - now known as ISM Raceway - in the Indy Elite Grand Prix of Phoenix. It was Galvin’s fourth career win in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation.
“What a finish,” Galvin said. “I can’t believe Adam (Blocker) gave me the bottom. I think he had to defend both lanes because of Dustin (Wardlow) being up top. Once I got back to the lead, I felt pretty good.”
Galvin had to overcome a mid-race speeding penalty on pit road that sent him to the back, and then several large accidents, to climb back into the battle for the win.
The former announcer at PIR led the most laps (56) after starting third.
“This win means a lot,” Galvin said. “I’ve been close here several times. This is my home away from home. A lot of good memories were made up in that announcer booth and in the real victory lane.”
Galvin held off Blocker and Brian Yaczik over the final five laps, winning by 0.046 seconds, the third closest finish in series history.
“That was pretty crazy,” Blocker said. “Especially at the end with longer green flag runs. The craziest thing was you could make the inside or outside work down in one and two. I was hoping I could just keep the lead on the inside. But guys were getting pretty aggressive.”
Yaczik was happy with third after scoring his first top five of the season.
“It’s not bad,” Yaczik said. “You want wins, but to get a podium is pretty good. With these cars, they don’t have enough horsepower and they kick out a big wake, so you can’t run away and hide. When I got out front, they’d just swallow me up.”
The race was slowed 8 times for 31 laps. Several big accidents took out a number of contenders.
The first major wreck occurred on lap 43, when Andrew Kinsella bounced off the turn four wall while running third. Kinsella careened down track, hitting pole winner Alex Saunders. Saunders flew into the inside wall, flipping over and collecting Justin Weaver, Jorge Anzaldo, Ed Tutwiler and Frank Bieser.
On the ensuing restart, Kinsella suffered more damage when Pete Edwins crashed. Edwins race ended, while Kinsella limped home to a 13th place finish, one lap down.
Tyler Graaf and Samuel Reiman stayed out while the leaders hit pit road. On the restart, Graaf held off Yaczik and Galvin for a few laps, but on lap 56, Graaf lost the back end in turn one. Galvin narrowly avoided, but Reiman, Marc Aumick, James Krahula and Chris Lanini were all swept up.
Through the chaos, just eleven cars finished on the lead lap. Wardlow and James Brant rounded out the top five. Vincent Bluthenthal, Travis Jegerlehner, Woody Mahan, Krahula and Joe Branch completed the top ten, with Robert Blouin the final car on the lead lap.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation takes a week off before hitting the road for the second time this season, in the inaugural Becida Bar and Grill 125 at Brazil’s Autodromo José Carlos Pace.
Blocker leads Yaczik by nine in the championship points standings. Wardlow is nine points further back in third.
Galvin, who missed the season opener before crashing out early in round two at Watkins Glen, sits 20th.
Raven Motorsports, a new team comprised of Jegerlehner, Galvin, Wardlow, Anzaldo and Reiman, leads the team points heading into the race at Interlagos
The race can be seen Thursday, May 3, live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.
From the rolling green hills of upstate New York, we travel now to the orange and red cliffs of Grand Canyon country. The Lionheart Retro series roars into Phoenix International Raceway for the Indy Elite Series 150.
It was domination from start to finish last time out for debutant Alex Saunders. Saunders led every lap - from the pole - on his way to the win in the Clipping That Apex Grand Prix at the Glen. Ryan Otis finished a strong 2nd with the fastest lap of the race, but couldn’t overcome Saunder’s consistently fast laps. Justin Weaver finished 3 edging out Michael Goodman and defending champ Jake Wright.
The top 3 from round 1; winner Adam Blocker 2nd place Dustin Wardlow, and 3rd place Andrew Kinsella all found trouble at the Glen, resulting in a large shake-up of the points. Ryan Otis is now your points leader heading into round 3 over Jake Wright and James Krahula, but this championship is already shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested in Lionheart history.
The presenting sponsor for this event is the Indy Elite Series owned and operated by Lionheart member Joe Branch. The Indy Elite Series is the other major IndyCar league on iRacing, focusing on the open setup side of open wheel IndyCar Racing. Its races can be seen live via Racespot. This is the second season that The Indy Elite Series and Lionheart has partnered up to cross promote their leagues.
After the dominating performance in his Retro Series debut can Alex Saunders follow up with an impressive performance on the oval? If he can have solid finishes on the ovals he would be a strong contender for this years championship.
What about Adam Blocker? Not only was he fast at Watkins Glen before a mistake cost him a chance to fight for the win, he is the defending race winner at Phoenix. Can Blocker get back on track and repeat?
Justin Weaver has jumped up 16 spots in standings after an impressive podium finish at Watkins Glen to sit P10 in the driver standings. Can Weaver use the momentum from a strong podium results to continue rising up the standings?
After two rounds Dragonfly Racing led by Otis finds itself in first place in the team standings. Could this be the break out year for Dragonfly with the addition of new drivers Otis and Paulson? With 6 teams within 25 points of each other, it is not just the drivers championship that is shaping up to be the tightest ever.
Finally, we must talk about the track. The Retro series will be using the older, lower banked scan of Phoenix, in keeping with the Retro feel of this series. This means a track surface that is old and full of bumps. One wrong move could lead to multiple cars ending up in the wall on this tight one mile oval.
Who will be able to survive the track, outwit his fellow competitors and emerge victorious? Tune in Thursday April 19, 2018 at 10:35pm EDT to find out, only on GSRC and iRacing Live.
If there was ever a flawless debut in a series, Alex Saunders accomplished it Thursday night in his first start in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation.
Saunders led every lap - from the pole - on his way to the win in the Clipping That Apex Grand Prix at the Glen.
“This is my favorite car,” Saunders said after the race, noting that he let the gap to Otis close up to allow cars on the tail end of the lead lap to battle. “I was just holding back at the end, I told the cars in front I wouldn’t lap them. That way, everyone had fun out there.”
Saunders established himself as the race favorite in practice events leading up to Thursday’s second round for the Retro Series.
When the race came around, he didn’t disappoint, setting fast time over defending event winner Ryan Otis. Saunders then held a steady gap through the one pit stop race, beating Otis by 1.138 seconds for the win.
“I’m really happy with the finish,” Otis said. “I knew this would be an epic battle. We were both driving the wheels off the thing.”
The rest of the field saw a shakeup from the normal Retro Series front runners. Adam Blocker, Jason Galvin, Andrew Kinsella, Travis Jegerlehner and Dustin Wardlow all experienced contact that eliminated them from contention.
Defending series champion Jake Wright lacked his normal pace throughout the event.
As a result, Justin Weaver scored a career-best third place, his first podium in the Retro Series, edging his teammate, Michael Goodman, in the newly formed 8 Ball Motorsports.
“I just tried to keep it on the track,” Weaver said. “It turned out to be a good finish for us. I didn’t have anything for those top two guys there.”
Wright settled for fifth. James Krahula, Brian Yaczik, Scott Johnson, Samuel Reiman and Chris Lanini rounded out the top ten.
Just nine cars finished on the lead lap, and 13 of the 37 starters failed to finish in a race that featured an unusually high attrition rate, especially at a track as well known to the drivers as Watkins Glen International.
As a result, Ryan Otis grabbed the points lead - the only driver to finish in the top five of both races this year - leading Jake Wright by 22. Krahula sits third, followed by Woody Mahan and Goodman.
After a week off, the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation returns to the oval side of racing, tackling the historic Phoenix International Raceway on its original layout.
The Indy Elite Grand Prix of Phoenix can be seen in its entirety on April 19, live on the Global SimRacing Channel, at 10:35 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
In the real world, the scenic hills of upstate New York are just now shedding their winter snow fall. In iRacing, those hills are about to be alive with sound of Cosworth DFV’s screaming up through the Esses and down into the Carousel. It is time for the Lionheart Retro Series’ Clipping That Apex Grand Prix at the Glen!
Last time out it was Adam Blocker finally conquering a Superspeedway for the first time in his Lionheart career. The hottest driver from the second half of last season remained hot by taking the opening round victory over Duston Wardlow and Andrew Kinsella at the ButtKicker 200 at Homestead Miami Speedway. Ryan Otis came home 4th with Jesse Vincent rounding out the top 5 in his return to competitive Lionheart action.
From the high banks of Homestead to the rolling hills of upstate New York, the Retro drivers face a completely different challenge in round two, but don’t be surprised if the leaderboard remains familiar. Adam Blocker won 3 times on road courses last season and was ever present near the sharp end of the field since his debut midway through last season. Ryan Otis also grabbed 2 road course wins, including here at Watkins Glen last season, as he dominated the field, starting on pole and leading the most laps, including normal road course king Jake Wright. Speaking of Wright, the defending series champion had a quiet race at Homestead coming home with an 8th place finish. Look for Wright to be closer to the front in Round 2. A dark horse to watch out for is Dustin Wardlow, last week’s 2nd place finisher is a quietly good road course driver, and if he can stay out of trouble early, look for him to be poised for a good finish at the end.
One thing that everyone will have to deal with is an increased race distance for all road events in the Lionheart Retro Series. This event as well as all other road events have been increased to 125 miles for the 2018 Season in an effort to promote more pit strategy and push the drivers focus and skill even further.
The race this season is sponsored by Clipping that Apex. Clipping That Apex provides the finest in quality hand-drawn motorsports art. They hold a special place in the heart of every Lionheart driver, after Clipping That Apex produced a custom piece of artwork of the late Patrick Taylor. These prints were limited to just 81 and are still available via his website, www.clippingthatapex.com. Clipping That Apex is providing a promo code for 15% Off for all viewers: LIONHEART18 for anything on their site, including the Patrick Taylor piece.
Adrenaline currently leads No Name Racing by 30 points in the Team Championship presented by Clipping That Apex on the back of podiums from Blocker and Kinsella. As the schedule shifts to the road, will the balance also shift away from Adrenaline?
As the winner of round 1, Adam Blocker currently sits atop the championship standings 6 points over 2nd place Dustin Wardlow. The Grand Prize for the 2018 Retro Series Presented by HPP Simulation is a 3P-PRX-SE pedal set valued at $1,395. The big question of the season is who will take these beauties home? Will it be the defending champ? Last years runner up? Our round 1 winner? Or another dark horse waiting in the wings to scoop up the prize?
The Clipping That Apex Grand Prix at the Glen will be broadcast live on Thursday April 5th at 10:35pm eastern on GSRC and iRacing Live.
Once again, the combination of the Lotus 79, a high-banked oval and some of the best open-wheel fixed setup drivers using the iRacing.com simulator delivered a fantastic finish.
Adam Blocker firmly planted his seed in the field of championship contenders, holding off Dustin Wardlow over the final seven laps to win the season opening ButtKicker 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The win was the fifth of Blocker’s career in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation. No other driver has won more than three races in the series.
“I found something on the bottom, a little past halfway in the race,” Blocker said. “It just worked. In general you wanted to be where clean air was...but Andrew (Kinsella) was telling me how good the bottom was, and when I got to the lead in the middle of the race, I was able to practice my line with no pressure, and that was a big key at the end.”
Wardlow looked poised to earn his second-career Retro victory before a caution with 14 laps remaining closed up the field.
On the restart with 10 laps remaining, 2017 series runner-up Ryan Otis used the draft to take the lead. Wardlow quickly took it back, but Blocker used the tow off the dueling cars to slip past and hold on for the win.
Wardlow - who was battling a damaged car from an incident early in the race - spent the final five laps on the outside of Blocker, but couldn’t draw even in the final corner, settling for second in his debut for the new Raven Motorsports team.
“Anytime you finish up front, you need to have some breaks,” Wardlow said. “We had that tonight...I realized I could have also made the bottom work earlier in the race, but on the last stint, I didn’t have tires and I felt the car wanting to come around, so I left the bottom open trying not to spin it.”
Andrew Kinsella worked his way around Otis in the closing laps to earn the final spot on the podium, and complete a strong day for Adrenaline Motorsports, with all four cars finishing in the top eleven.
“I knew that Adam and I had the right tire and fuel strategy, and our tires were peaking at the right time,” Kinsella said. “He managed to get that little bit of a lead and broke the draft so I couldn’t catch him, and that was the difference at the end.”
The 133-lap race was slowed by five cautions for 18 laps. Nine leaders swapped the lead 23 times. Otis lead a race-high 64 laps from the pole. Blocker led 23, with Wardlow pacing 21 laps.
The most impactful wreck occurred on lap 66, when an upstart Brian Greenlee shot to the lead for the first time, only to lose control 600 feet later as he entered turn one. As Greenlee spun, Bob Mikes - running in fifth at the time - was catapulted over the front of Greenlee’s car, ending the race for both drivers.
Beyond the podium, the top ten was littered with potential championship contenders. Otis came home fourth, with former Lionheart IndyCar Series champion Jesse Vincent racing from 38th starting position to fifth.
Woody Mahan finished sixth, followed by Lionheart IndyCar Series All-Star winner Pierre Daigle, defending Retro and IndyCar champion Jake Wright, James Krahula and Joe Branch, all of whom figure to be in the mix all season.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation heads to the road for its next event, the Clipping the Apex Grand Prix at The Glen. In holding true to its core value of paying homage to the glory days of open-wheel racing in America, the race will take place on the Classic Boot layout, without the bus stop section.
You can catch all the action from the historic Watkins Glen International live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST, Thursday, April 5.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment will host its season opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday, March 28. The First Medical Equipment 200 can also be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.
Everyone knew who the dominant car was Thursday night, but as is often the case in racing, the fastest car doesn’t always win.
Ryan Otis looked untouchable, leading the frist 26 laps from the pole. But Adam Blocker made up two seconds on pit entrance - even making contact with Otis at the pit entry speed line - and then beat Otis off pit road by not taking tires.
A desperate charge on the final two laps by Otis came up a half-car short, as Blocker held on for the win by .03 seconds in the inaugural Lionheart Retro All-Star Race presented by Dewar’s Candy on the roval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I would say over the course of the race Ryan definitely had a little edge on pace,” Blocker said. “I was surprised at how relatively slow he was on pit entrance. I got crossed up not trying to completely wreck him. Had I known I’d be that close to him I might’ve taken tires, but I didn’t. We had to scrap it out those last few laps.”
Otis was disappointed he could not close in the first all-star event for the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation.
“I was trying, that was fun,” Otis said. “Adam drove great, that was a blast. I never really got a lot of practice in traffic, and I made the bad strategic choice of taking tires. Then I over-slowed on pit entry. I thought if I take tires I could get a good tow and get around him, and I was surprised at how tough it was to get a big run.”
Brian Yaczik was able to pull away for third, after an early race battle with Dustin Wardlow and Michael Goodman. Those two finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I feel like the green beans at steak and potatoes dinner,” Yaczik said. “Everyone shows up for the steak and potatoes and they get the green beans on the side. Otis and Blocker were the steak and potatoes, they put on a heck of a show.”
James Krahula, Woody Mahan, Ron Hacker, Pierre Daigle and Samuel Reiman rounded out the top ten in the invite-only event, which featured drivers who had won a race, earned a pole or finished in the top ten in points in the Retro Series in 2017. Three drivers also raced their way into the event through a series of shootout events.
Outside polesitter Justin Weaver and three-time race winner Jason Galvin both ran into troubles, with Galvin collecting Bob Mikes and Chris Stofer in the first turn.
“I went in on the outside of Goodman, and that was the first time I’d ever taken an off line into one,” Galvin said. “The thing bottomed out, and I was out of control after that. I had the brakes locked up, but when the car turned back towards the track I just let it roll straight hoping nobody would hit me.I didn’t want the tires to grab and turn me sideways and block the track. I’m sorry to everyone involved.”
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation kicks off its second season Thursday, March 15 with the ButtKicker 200 on Homestead-Miami Speedway’s oval.
That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.
Can you hear that? It is the sweet sound of a Cosworth DFV slowly warming up. One of the most iconic engines roars back to life this week as the Lionheart Retro Series kicks of it’s second season in style with it’s All-Star festivities.
This off season has seen numerous changes come about for a series steeped in history. HPP, makers of the finest sim-racing pedals on the planet, have come on board as the title sponsor, and with it, the prize pool for the retro series reaches unheard of heights. In addition to a record $450 prize pool, the champion of the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation will receive a set of HPP 3P-PRX-SE pedals, valued at $1395. But it’s not just the man at the top who will receive a princely prize; ButtKicker has also come on board in the offseason, offering the Rookie of the Year their choice of a ButtKicker Gamer 2 or a ButtKicker Simulation Kit. 19 drivers to start the season will compete for this prize, with the possibility of more joining during the season, which have lead some to speculate this might be the most competitive prize in the series.
But for one week, we pause, because this week is not about new drivers or new sponsors, but about celebrating the greatness of last season. The Inaugural Lionheart Retro Series All-Star Race presented by Dewar’s Candy fires off on Thursday, March 8th at 9:50 pm CST. The race itself will be at Homestead Miami Speedway, site of the first race of the championship in just one week’s time on the famous oval, but this race will be held on the infield road course. The master of this course will have to exhibit both road and oval skills, a fitting test for the best the Retro Series has to offer.
The event will consist of an 11 lap transfer race for those not yet in the main event, followed by a 33 lap shootout. 15 Drivers are locked in to the main event, while a further 20 drivers will be looking to transfer in through placing on the podium of the transfer race. Those locked in to the main event are last years polesitters, winners, and top 10 in points. A few of whom will surely be looking to start out 2018 on the right foot.
Speaking of Wright feet, Jake Wright is your defending series champion for both the Lionheart Indycar and Retro Series. Wright, who won 3 times in 2017 has retired from IndyCar competition to focus on the Retro Series this year. The champ will be looking for early returns on that decision as the season kicks off.
Wright’s stiffest competition may come from sophomore driver Adam Blocker. Despite participating in just 10 races last season, the Adrenaline Motorsports driver lead the series with 4 wins. With a full season planned this year, Blocker is the odds-on favourite to dethrone Wright as champion.
There was plenty of drama and questions heading into the championship finale of the Lionheart Retro Series, but who would win it all never seemed to be in doubt.
Jake Wright, the two-time defending Lionheart IndyCar Series champion, played it safe and cruised to a fourth place finish to secure the inaugural Retro Series championship, while Joe Hassert held off Chris Stofer to take the win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway.
“This season has been incredibly fun, bringing these cars over onto the ovals and with the road courses,” Wright said. “Thank you to the league for putting on an amazing season and I’m very thankful to hold the first championship.”
The race featured just two cautions, the second of which took out most of the impending fuel strategy; the top 15 cars all teetered on the verge of running out, but a caution with 20 laps to go appeared to assure everyone could make it to lap 125.
But on the last lap, Dustin Wardlow ran dry, sending cars scrambling on the back straightaway and leading to a sprint to the line between Hassert and Stofer.
“I just had tunnel vision. I didn’t care what was happening behind me,” Hassert said. “That last 15 laps I was just hoping there wouldn’t be a yellow during those two seconds on the front and back stretch where the outside car would edge ahead...It was definitely a lot of strategy, but we finally got some good luck. It was a long year, but we have some momentum now.”
Stofer came up .038-seconds short, a matter of inches on the virtual pavement.
“Passing was hard, just trying to complete a pass was difficult enough,” Stofer said. “I’m happy to get second place, we didn’t know where we’d end up.”
Adam Blocker, who won a league-high four races, came home third.
“I wasn’t really sure what to do in the final few laps,” Blocker said. “The only open lane for me was on the very top lane, three-wide and I didn’t think it was going to work...there was no way realistically that either of us were going to pass Joe.”
Ryan Otis, who entered the race with hopes of winning the title only if Wright encountered problems, finished 15th after being involved in the late-race yellow. Otis finished 116 points back of Wright, left to wonder what may have been had he been able to run a full schedule.
Jason Galvin also held slim odds of winning the title, and tried an alternate fuel strategy that backfired with the Otis caution. Galvin finished a lap down in 18th, and 47 points back of Otis in the standings.
Dustin Wardlow jumped to fourth in the standings, while Travis Jegerlehner - who missed the season finale - dropped to fifth.
The first caution of the Auto Club 250 came on lap 20, when Ian Adams and Bob Mikes made contact racing in the lead pack. Chris Lanini, David Altman and Mitchell Moehler were also swept up in the ensuing crash.
12 cars finished on the lead lap, while 33 took the green flag. Galvin led the most laps (26) using his alternate strategy.
It was a banner year for the Retro Series, a late edition to the Lionheart Racing Series dockett. 66 drivers started an event, with 27 drivers running at least 10 races.
The Lionheart Retro Series already announced its second season schedule. The season opens at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 15, 2018. Other highlights include Lionheart’s first trip to Autódromo José Carlos Pace and Circuit de Zolder, and a return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway September 6, 2018. The championship race will once again be at Auto Club Speedway November 29, 2017.
The 18-round season two will be broadcast live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Thursday’s throughout the year.