Karam cruises to victory in inaugural race at long beach
By Justin Prince
It is a race Jason Galvin has always wanted to win.
Galvin, a Arizona State University graduate and had been a track announcer at Phoenix Raceway, previously won seven times in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by HyperX.
None of those wins had come at his home track and the charity he is a part of, Thumbs Up, Cancer Down.
That changed after completing a late-race pass on the outside of Turns 3 and 4 to get by multiple-time series champion Adam Blocker to win the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down Phoenix 200 by more than two seconds.
Blocker, Chris Stofer, Andrew Kinsella and Connor Harrington rounded out the top five.
“This is so much more emotional than I thought it would be,” said Galvin in HyperX victory lane. “Thumbs Up, Cancer Down means so much to me and my family. My wife and I are on the board of directors, we run them on our race car in real life … I’ve never wanted a race more. I won an iRacing Indianapolis 500 last year and it didn’t feel half as good as this.”
When Galvin lost a race off pit road with under 50 laps to go to Blocker, he said he jokingly congratulated him on the win because it had been a tough race to be able to pass all evening long.
Drivers struggled to get side-by-side at the one-mile facility in the dirty air throughout the evening.
“I found it very difficult to keep up with the leader. Track position was king,” said Stofer. “It meant a lot.”
Galvin got his opportunity to fight for the race lead after a Lap 154 crash for Matt Huston.
The Team RaceVerse car had been running in 23rd position when he pushed tight off of Turn 4 and into the outside SAFER barrier. Huston’s car would create a ball of sparks as the right side suspension was crushed against the wall.
Huston would then pinball off the outside wall to the middle of the track into the path of Sim Racing Merch Esports driver Samuel Reiman.
Reiman would slam into the rear wing of Huston’s car, immediately destroying the front nose of his yellow and red machine.
Both cars then spun down the middle of the frontstretch as the yellow flag waved above them.
After winning the race off pit road, Blocker then ran away by five car lengths for the race lead on the restart. In the back though, Luis Gonzalez Nuñez and Christopher Ragan collided after a check-up in Turn 3, causing a big crash at the top of the other end of the speedway.
Then, after Tony Showen spun into the outside wall in Turn 3 a few laps later, Galvin would be given a major opportunity to go after Blocker for the win with under 30 laps to go.
The orange and black car would get a great launch off the opening corners, reducing a five-car length advantage to just one on the ensuing restart.
Galvin initially would peak to the inside of Turn 3, but could not make the line work to get side-by-side.
“During the practice races, I had gotten through Turns 1-2 better than anybody,” said Galvin. “I didn’t want to be overconfident heading into the race, but it just felt I could get through Turns 1-2 better … Once we got going, it took me a while to figure out Adam’s line. I went up on the weight jacker a little bit higher than I had gone all race and I got a wicked run off Turns 3-4 and set him up once and said ‘man, if I could just get that run one more time, instead of trying to pass him in Turns 1-2, I’m going to back off and see if I can’t get him to overdrive it.’”
With 22 laps to go, Galvin would get that chance.
After getting within a car length of Blocker off Turn 4, Galvin would fake a move to the inside heading into Turn 1. Blocker then took a wider entry into the corner, costing him momentum on exit.
Blocker then took a defensive line to the inside coming out of the dogleg, allowing Galvin to send it to his outside. The two would race side-by-side for two laps before Galvin cleared him coming to 20 laps to go. Galvin would not look back after the pass.
“I don’t necessarily know if he overdrove the corner in Turns 1-2, but I was stunned he gave me the outside in Turns 3-4,” said Galvin. “I don’t think I would have been able to make the move on the bottom.”
Blocker had been using a different simulator setup for this race.
The Ilmor Engineering employee had been in Indianapolis for NTT IndyCar Series testing.
He used a racing rig at Indy Simulation, owned by Carey Bettenhausen, for the 200-mile event.
Blocker led 130 of 200 laps and had pulled away by as much as two seconds during green flag runs.
“I just didn't have any confidence in the car in clean air,” said Blocker on Discord after the race. “I was burning off the right rear at zero weight jacker somehow.”
Next race, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Powered by HyperX will be going road course racing again for the SimXperience Grand Prix of Watkins Glen. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 21st at 10:35 p.m. EST.
BROADCAST INTRO VIDEO