Last week at Barber it was Alex Saunders putting on yet another clinic on a road course, only relinquishing the lead on the pit cycle en-route to another win. Saunders appears to have picked up right where Jake Wright left off on road courses, lodging his 3rd win in 3 tries on a road course. 2nd place belonged once again to Adam Blocker. This is the 3rd straight result where Saunders and Blocker came home 1-2 and 4th time overall. Blocker has 2 wins and five 2nd place finishes this year, meaning out of 8 rounds, Blocker has finished outside the top 2 only once, at the 2nd round at Watkins Glen, where a spin took him out of fighting for the lead. This is a duel that appears to be destined to go down to the wire with Blocker unwilling to concede any ground in the championship to the charging Saunders. Brian Yaczik brought his car home 3rd, while Dustin Wardlow and Jason Galvin rounded out the top 5. Another strong top 5 keeps Dustin Wardlow in the championship hunt as well. Wardlow may be the only driver remaining who has a legitimate shot to challenge Blocker and Saunders for the championship. Adam Blocker continues to lead the championship standings after 8 rounds. Alex Saunders who currently is sitting 53 points back continues to chip away at the points leader. Coming off another victory at Barber, Saunders will need to show dominance on the 2 mile oval if he looks to get closer to Blocker in the points.
From the rollercoaster that is Barber Motorsports Park to the high-banked high-speed Michigan international speedway, the change in venues could not be more dramatic. The series will use the same setup from last season which is expected to produce some very close and exciting racing. Last season saw Bob Mikes win the inaugural event. Bobby led just 3 laps but it was enough to take the win over Chris Stofer. Joe Hassert finished in P3. All 3 should be factors on Thursday night, as they excel at draft style oval racing.
The biggest mover after Barber is Jason Galvin. The Raven Motorsports driver climbed 8 spots after a solid top 5 at Barber Motorsports Park. Galvin, who is the only driver not named Saunders or Blocker to win a race this season, is certainly a driving factor for Raven’s performance in the Team Championship standings.
Newcomer to the series Rookie Aaron Morgan had a solid run in his Lionheart debut at Barber. Morgan running for Avatar Auto Racing finished P8 with only 2 incident points.
Participation has been a real factor this season with many drivers having to miss anywhere between 1-3 races. For those drivers their season certainly has had added pressure. With their 2 drop races now being used they will have to remain consistent to avoid DNF’s. Only 7 drivers have run all 9 races this season. Andrew Kinsella fell 6 spots after missing his 2nd race of the season, although being on vacation and getting engaged to his long-time girlfriend is definitely a good excuse to miss a sim-race.
After the battle at Barber, Raven Motorsports continues to lead the Team Championship standings. Raven now sits 62 points ahead of Adrenaline who had several drivers miss the last round at Barber. It seems that this fight may continue all season long as 8 ball sits 132 points from the leaders.
The Lionheart just recently celebrated its 4th year anniversary. The very first race was held July 3rd 2014 at Michigan with the DW12 Indycar. Michigan has been a special place for Lionheart having hosted several races over the past 4 years, so it is fitting that the first Lionheart race after the anniversary be at Michigan.
The winner at Michigan will be the driver who can exhibit the right mix of bravery, speed and tactical know-how on the high banked super speedway. Will that driver be the same old suspects, or will someone new step-up and give us a 4th winner before the calendar turns to the 2nd half of the season?
The HPP Simulation 200 can be seen on Thursday July 12th at 10:35pm eastern only on GSRC and iRacing Live.