Jake Wright left little doubt who the championship favorite is, taking the lead from adversary Dan Geren on the second lap and dominating Mid-Ohio 100 for his seventh win the of Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment season.
“I had the opportunity to pass him out of there, I had a good exit out of turn two and immediately got on the push to pass,” Wright said from victory lane. “I thought (Geren) was going to have something for me in the next couple of corners, but Mid-Ohio is such a technical track, it worked out.”
Wright led 39 of the 42 laps, pulling away from Geren late to win by over 17 seconds. Geren, trying to track down Wright in the standings, started on pole and led the first lap before surrendering the lead.
Geren led a second lap during the pit cycle, but never closed on Wright again.
“I told Jake earlier today, ‘I have a shot at the pole. If I get it, just let me lead one lap and then blow right around me,’” Geren said. “I knew I didn’t have anything for him.”
Geren held off a hard charging Adam Blocker, who completed the podium with his third top five in six series starts.
“It was a really good race for me, I felt good about the car after about seven laps,” Blocker said. “Once I settled in I felt good about it. I thought I was faster than Dan at the end, but I ran out of time.”
Andrew Kinsella held off Michael Goodman and Brian Yaczik in the best battle of the race. Yaczik faded late, but Goodman finished just three-tenths of a second behind Kinsella.
Two major incidents prematurely ended the race for several quick drivers.
On lap two, Michael Gray tagged the back of Ron Hacker entering the esses. Gray spun, and collected Big Joe Hassert and Scott Johnson. Gray retired immediately, while Hassert limped around for eight more laps before also parking. Johnson piloted his wounded DW12 to a 20th place finish.
On lap 23, Dustin Wardlow, running behind after a pit road penalty, tried a pass on Joe Branch in Thunder Valley. The difficult attempt failed, and the two banged wheels. Branch spun off the track, retiring on lap 33, and finishing 21st.
Several other drivers suffered from ill handling cars, or solo spins. Scott Bolster, Ed Tutwiler and David Altman - who started 5th - all retired following wrecks.
“Patience, definitely patience,” Wright said when asked about the difficulty of Mid-Ohio. “There’s only really a few passing spots on the track, so if you can just be patient and wait for those opportunities, you can make your way through safely.”
Jason Galvin led a lap during green flag pit cycles and finished seventh, the final car on the lead lap. Wardlow finished eighth, with Bob Mikes and Jorge Anzaldo rounding out the top ten.
In the championship battle, Wright leads Geren by 24 points with six races remaining. The Lionheart rules allow for three dropped points races. As a result, Wright has scored a top ten in all 15 races counted towards the championship fight.
“(Geren)’s been really quick on the road courses this year, “ Wright said. “We still have two to go, and then the ovals, and next race we go to Iowa and anything can happen there.”
Andrew Kinsella sits 101 points back of the lead, with Goodman 53 points back in fourth. Galvin sits fifth, three points ahead of James Krahula.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a week off before back-to-back-to-back ovals. The series heads to Chicagoland and Gateway, but up first, the Birky Trucking 125 at the Iowa Speedway. The track has become a symbol of the series, hosting its annual driver meetup at the Verizon IndyCar Series race in July.
The Birky Trucking 125 can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on October 11.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, log on to www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.