As the summer winds down, the rolling hills of Ohio is the setting of the next round of the Lionheart Series' thrilling championship chase. At the previous round in New Hampshire it was rookie Andrew Kinsella who turned lemons into lemonade, converting a 24th place qualifying effort into his 2nd win of the season. Kinsella used a mixture of speed and strategy to carve his way slowly but steadily through the field to take the lead with just 3 laps to go.
Following Kinsella home in 2nd place was championship leader Jake Wright. Wright had been amongst the leaders all day and was looking poised for another victory after a late restart left him 2nd behind Chris Lannini, who had not pitted during the caution. It was Kinsella who got the better restart, however, and 2 bold outside passes left the Canadian with a clear track to the finish.
Jason Galvin, who had shown speed all race came home 3rd, followed by Tony Showen and Michael Goodman. Lannini would heartbreakingly end up a lap short on fuel, finishing 16th. Pole sitter and early race leader Dan Geren finished 11th after a speeding penalty on pit road left him at the tail end of lead lap on a late restart.
With the win, 3rd place Kinsella trimmed the gap between himself and point leader Wright to 85 points, serving notice that he will not simply roll over in this championship. After entering the race tied with Wright atop the standings, Geren now sits 19 points back. Michael Goodman sits 4th 136 points back, while James Krahula is 5th, 171 points back.
Jake Wright, the master of road courses in the Lionheart Series, will once again be looking to capture the top step of the podium. Wright enters Mid Ohio with back to back 2nd place finishes, and the last time Wright finished outside the top 6 was 5 races ago at Michigan. Facing the tightest championship battle of his career, it is surely comforting for Wright to be on a road course again, where Wright has dominated all season.
The last time the Lionheart Series was at a road course, however, it was Geren who finally bested Wright for his first road course victory. With the disappointment of New Hampshire still stinging, look for Geren to come out hungry once again, eager to make up the most ground.
As always, the road courses of the Lionheart Series offer the opportunity to see some different names at the top of the charts. Interestingly, this list is lead by rookies. One to watch is Adrenaline Motorsports' Adam Blocker. Since joining the series midway through the season, Blocker has shown consistent speed on road courses. Look for him to challenge Wright and Geren for the top step.
Michael Goodman is another driver who has shown consistent speed on road courses this season, always running close to the top 5. The rookie AGR driver is currently 4th in the championship and will be looking to keep pace with the top 3, particularly Kinsella, with whom he is battling for rookie of the year.
Speaking of Kinsella, the Adrenaline Motorsports driver has been quietly consistent on road courses this year, with finishes consistently in the top 10. That may not be enough to keep pace with Wright and Geren, however. Will Mid Ohio be the road break through that Kinsella needs? He certainly has momentum on his side.
Two more rookies to watch are Streamline's Ryan Otis and Dragonfly's Dustin Wardlow. Both have been fast at times on road courses this season, and a little luck could see either one in victory lane.
With so much of the attention on the rookies, their will be some veterans looking to remind everyone what they can do as well. In addition to Wright and Geren, look for James Krahula to have a strong race. The No Name Racing driver showed his speed at Phillip Island by driving from 17th to 6th after an early spin. Michael “The Racing Kangaroo” Gray was felled at New Hampshire by a mechanical failure in his wheel at New Hampshire. If he can get it repaired in time, look for Gray to be battling for a spot amongst the top 10 as well.
With so many storylines and a wide-open field, Mid Ohio promises to be a classic installment of the Lionheart Series. Don’t miss any of the action by tuning in to the broadcast Wednesday September 27th at 10:40 EDT on the Global Sim Racing Channel and iRacing Live.