By Justin Prince
After Alexis Newsome and Dakota DeMaegd crashed into the inside wall down the backstretch, Robert Maleczka III was able to win the Fisch Motors Kansas 200 Presented by Espo Designs.
Maleczka III won his sixth race of the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel campaign on Nov. 15 after having to recover from a rough start to the night.
The Factory Backed driver had started at the back of the grid and suffered wing damage before the green flag.
Jeff Hysong, Matt Wagner, Joe Branch and A.J. Musselman completed the top five.
The race’s wild finish was set up by two mid-race cautions.
On Lap 77, Matt Taylor and Chris Fowler were fighting side-by-side down the backstretch. Fowler decided to use a car coming out of the pit lane - Adrenaline Motorsports driver Tony Showen - as a pick entering Turn 3. Taylor was forced to check up hard entering the corner, forcing him to take the outside line down out of Turn 4. At the end of the trioval, Taylor stayed half a lane away from the wall while Showen started to come up. The two drivers then hooked together, slamming both of them into the SAFER barrier to bring out the first caution of the 133-lap race.
Joe Branch, who had not yet pitted during that cycle, decided to stay out in hopes of getting a quick caution.
Unfortunately for Branch, he became a part of it.
After restarting in sixth place on Lap 84, Branch was struggling for grip and speed compared to the others behind him. Paul Jenkins quickly passed him entering Turn 1 on Lap 86. Fowler, who was boxed in behind Branch’s car, proceeded to ram into him in the middle of the corner, sending him spinning into Barrett Rolph. As Rolph’s car went off the ground, Fowler spun into the path of Trevor Malone. Rolph then spun back up the back into Fowler, Malone and Matt Huston, launching all of them into the outside wall. Then, Malone bounced off the catchfence, flipping several times before ricocheting into the pavement exiting Turn 2. Malone flipped more than 10 more times before coming to a rest on the apron.
The two cautions turned the rest of the event into a fuel-milage race. Maleczka had also cycled inside of the top 10 after avoiding the incidents.
“(After the damage) I got the wing changed and just kept clicking off qualifying laps,” said Maleczka III from HyperX Victory Lane. “I definitely got a good break with the cautions.”
Most of the field attempted to stay behind other cars to be able to make it to the end of the race. Others, such as Maleczka III, Newsome and Caleb Benci, had decided to top off on fuel prior to the Lap 91 restart. Alex Guyon had also attempted to stay out for track position.
While Benci immediately attempted to race his way to the front of the pack, the Factory Backed teammates decided to remain patient.
Meanwhile, Jorge Anzaldo was not making many friends.
After also deciding to stay out, the Synergy Motorsports Blue driver fought hard to unlap himself. Several drivers used this to their advantage to take the lead, such as Charles Teed. He continued to fight the leaders until he needed to come into the pits for fuel on Lap 111.
As the race winded down, some of the drivers who felt comfortable on fuel made their moves. Maleczka III went from being in 10th place on Lap 120 to fourth on Lap 123. Then, after dropping back towards Newsome the next lap, Maleczka III started opening up opportunities for the both of them. By this point, DeMaegd had reeled in and passed Teed from five car lengths back.
“It all really starts … with seven to go. I knew I was good (on fuel), Alexis (Newsome) was really close and I was out of the championship, so it was all about getting as many points as a team as possible,” said Maleczka III.
By the end of Lap 130, Maleczka III was right at the back wing of DeMaegd’s car. After DeMaegd stayed at the top of the track down the frontstretch, Maleczka III attempted to make a pass for the lead through Turns 1 and 2. DeMaegd kept his left front tire alongside Maleczka III’s car by mere inches by the exit of the corner.
Then, down the backstretch, Newsome tried to pass both of them. Newsome attacked the bottom of the racetrack into Turn 3. DeMaegd got the stronger run out of Turn 4 to hold onto the lead coming to two laps to go. However, Maleczka III said that was part of Factory Backed’s plan.
“I told Alexis to go three-wide to get the lead or at least position her for a good run down the front straightaway,” said Maleczka III. “It worked out well.”
Down the back straightaway, Newsome attempted to pass DeMaegd’s orange car again into Turn 3. She was able to complete the move by corner apex, but had to lift to avoid making contact with the wall. Newsome then blocked the white line along the front stretch as they took the white flag.
Then, chaos struck.
DeMaegd attempted to use the banking as a ramp off Turn 2 to get alongside Newsome when he nudged her left rear tire. The two drivers started slamming side-pods down the backstretch while Maleczka III moved to the top of the track. As Maleczka III made the pass, Newsome bobbled into DeMaegd, sending both of their cars into the inside SAFER barrier.
DeMaegd immediately took responsibility for the incident over the in-sim radio.
Newsome and DeMaegd went on to finish ninth and 10th respectively.
As a result of the wild finish, Newsome has a 23-point lead in the drivers standings over Rolph entering the final race of the season, the Thumbs Up Cancer Down 300 Presented by Minus 273. Taylor, Showen, Alexander van de Sandt, Branch and Maleczka III are also mathematically eligible for the title entering iRacing’s virtual Auto Club Speedway.
The race takes place on Nov. 29.
Coverage of the 150-lap race will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV. It can also be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
For the second straight race, Aaron Morgan has won in the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience.
Morgan led 12 of the 31 laps to win the penultimate race of the season on Nov. 18.
The Avatar Auto Racing driver overcut his teammate, Michael O’Brien, to take the lead of the SimXperience Grand Prix of Road America Presented by KARNOX during its first pit stop window and never looked back.
Mike Rasimas, David Sirois, Matt Taylor and O’Brien completed the top five.
With the win, Morgan is 28 points behind Taylor in the Drivers Championship standings with one round to go.
“I went into this string of road courses thinking ‘I need to win all three.’ I think I could have won at Silverstone if I qualified better, but I finally got qualifying down these last seven days and it feels so good,” said Morgan from HyperX Victory Lane. “I’m so glad I got the points down.”
O’Brien had brought his Lotus 79 to pit road on Lap 13. That had been considered the earliest anyone had to pit for fuel.
While Morgan stayed on the track, O’Brien made contact with some of the drivers leaving the pit lane. On Lap 15, O’Brien was attempting to pass Sirois and Taylor - who had just finished their pit stops - when he tried to enter Turn 1. He then made Internet-assisted contact with Sirois, sending him into the sand trap. O’Brien came back onto the race track in 10th place.
The incident also helped Rasimas. The GRAAFix LC Motorsports driver passed Taylor right before the entry to the corner, then drafted past Sirois down the Moraine Sweep to move into second place. By the end of the lap, he was more than 10 car lengths ahead of Sirois and Taylor.
“I had been practicing a lot and been trying to keep my pace consistent,” said Rasimas, who qualified in sixth place. “I know some guys are faster on a single lap, but for the races, I like to find clean air and do my own thing to see where I end up.”
Rasimas’s pace caused some concern for Morgan. By the second half of the run, Rasimas was gaining a few tenths of a second on him per lap. Then, Morgan had to pit for fuel on Lap 22.
“I was really concerned (of Rasimas) because I extra short-filled on that first stop,” said Morgan. “I had to add an extra two clicks of fuel (in the black box) to make it to the end during that second pit stop.”
Meanwhile, Rasimas had a strong chance to fight for the win. As Rasimas pit for fuel, Morgan had to check up for a spinning car exiting Canada Corner on Lap 24. Isaac Snider, who had destroyed his rear wing from a spin in Turn 1 earlier that lap, spun out again out of Turn 12. Morgan was forced to lift out of the gas to avoid potential contact.
The incident cost Morgan four-tenths of a second on the track.
By the time Rasimas came back onto the race track, he was within seven car lengths of Morgan’s car.
Rasimas did not get a chance to attack Morgan for the lead until Lap 30.
After Morgan accidentally shifted down a gear going through Hurry Downs, Rasimas dived to the left side of the track. The two drivers drove side-by-side through Turn 8. Rasimas nearly spun coming out of the corner, allowing Morgan to take back the lead.
Then, after taking the white flag, Rasimas drafted behind Morgan down the frontstretch. He then drove alongside Morgan heading into Turn 1. Rasimas went faster into the corner, forcing him to lift on corner exit.
“I had to try everything,” said Rasimas. “It was really hard to pass under normal conditions here, let alone for the win. I knew Aaron and I are up in the points and both want to finish, so I wasn’t going to try to jeopardize that. I was still trying to race him hard and he stayed really clean. It was really wild. I’m glad we brought it home.”
The final race of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience season, the HyperX Championship 250 at Auto Club, will take place on Dec. 16. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV. It can also be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
After seeing an opportunity to take the lead on strategy, Aaron Morgan was able to win the HyperX Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Morgan pulled away from Michael O’Brien by eight-tenths of a second by the checkered flag.
The Avatar Sim Racing teammates led a combined 59 of 64 laps at iRacing’s virtual Long Beach Circuit on Nov. 12.
From the drop of the green flag, the two drivers had the quickest cars in the field. On average, both drivers were running at least a tenth quicker than third-place finisher Richie Hearn.
David Sirois, Alex Guyon and David Rodriguez were the only other cars to finish on the lead lap.
It was Morgan’s second victory of the 2021 season and his first since the SimXperience Grand Prix of Mosport Presented by Clipping That Apex in April. With the win, Morgan is now 42 points behind teammate Matt Taylor for the drivers standings lead.
“I was nervous (in the final stages), but it’s weird. I normally have butterflies coming into these races every single time, but for some reason, tonight I just didn’t,” said Morgan from HyperX Victory Lane. “I just held it together.”
Morgan, who was on an alternative strategy compared to O’Brien, said he saw a big opportunity to take the lead with the help of traffic prior to his first pit stop.
“I knew I wanted to do something similar to Mosport where I needed to take less fuel on the first stop, then obviously I’d have to take more on the second. However, the lower fuel could just help me with the pace,” said Morgan. “I also noticed how Jorge (Anzaldo) was in front of us. When Michael told me he was pitting that lap, I thought immediately, ‘oh man, this is going to be good for me because he could get held up.’
“He got held up entering the pits and it worked perfectly.”
Prior to those pit stops, O’Brien had led the first 24 laps after setting the top time in qualifying.
Behind them, some of the other strong road course racers quickly got into trouble.
Mike Rasimas, who started in third position, was also hit from behind while driving through the fountain section on the opening lap of the race, taking one of the more successful road course racers in the series this season out of contention early with a broken rear wing.
Moments later, Chris Ragan slid his back tires while turning onto West Shoreline Drive. The Elite West Motorsports driver then corrected his car back into a straight line in the racing line. Taylor then drove into the left rear tire of Ragan, smashing Taylor’s front wing. Robert Mikes and Ricky Hardin also collided in the process. A couple corners later, Taylor flipped into the tire wall in Turn 9, ending his race before the end of the first lap.
By Lap 13, O’Brien, Morgan and Sirois had broken away from the pack.
“I thought I would pull a bigger gap at the start,” said O’Brien. “Aaron (Morgan) was right on me the whole way.”
Then, on Lap 25, Morgan set his sights on the lead.
O’Brien had nearly caught Anzaldo when he decided to pit for the first time. With O’Brien committed to coming for service that lap, he followed Anazldo to the commitment cone. Anzaldo then had to switch lanes in the pit lane, from the left side to the right side, forcing O’Brien to check up. By the time the pit window closed a lap later, Morgan was five car lengths in front of O’Brien.
According to RaceSpot TV broadcaster Andrew Kinsella, O’Brien lost more than two seconds to Morgan as a result.
“I caught a little bit of traffic going into the pits and took a bit too much fuel,” said O’Brien. “After that, I just tried to put the pressure on Aaron and hoped he would make a mistake.”
Meanwhile, Morgan went on to lead almost the rest of the way. He said his pace throughout the night was better than what he was able to do previously.
“I was just trying not to hit the wall everywhere,” said Morgan. “I think holding back just a little made me not overdrive the car like I was in the practice sessions and races. My pace was just better than any night previously.”
The next race for the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will see the series visit iRacing’s virtual Road America for the penultimate of the season, the SimXperience Grand Prix of Road America Presented by KARNOX. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV on Nov. 18. It can also be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
blocker dominates, clinches 2021 lionheart indycar series presented by buttkicker drivers championship
By Justin Prince
The streak continues.
For the fourth season in a row, Adam Blocker has won the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker Drivers Championship.
Blocker did so by dominating the Alkentech Simulation Grand Prix of Detroit at iRacing’s virtual Belle Isle Circuit on Nov. 17.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver led all 53 laps and set the fastest lap of the race to clinch the 2021 championship.
It was Blocker’s 10th win of the year.
Connor Harrington, Aaron Morgan, Ryan Otis and Mike Rasimas completed the top five.
“(Being a four-time champion) sounds pretty good obviously,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane. “It definitely feels good to get this one wrapped up here at Detroit, which is a home race for me, and to win both the Michigan (state) races, which is pretty cool.”
Blocker was quick from the start of the night. He quickly pulled away from the rest of the pack, leading a majority of the race by as much as five seconds.
Behind Blocker, Harrington attempted to keep up with him as hard as he could. However, by the end of the race, Harrington was trailing by more than eight seconds.
With the finish, Harrington clinched a second place finish in the drivers standings.
“I feel like that’s been the story of the season,” said Harrington. “Dirty air in the first stint just destroyed the front tires. I think we had equal pace the second stint, then when the third stint started and Blocker was way out front, I said ‘okay, let’s just finish second and just be done for the night.’”
Harrington’s team, PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype, also clinched the team championship by the end of the race despite some early incidents.
Harrington’s teammate, Joshua Chin, started in sixth place when he made contact with Bryan Carey in Turn 2. The first lap incident sent Carey spinning hard into the outside wall, ending the Canadian’s day.
One corner later, Chin overran the entry to the turn, locking up his tires. Chin’s car was sent into the run-off area. He had to let most of the field by before he could get back onto the racing surface.
By the end of the lap, Chin was back in 23rd place. Chin went on to recover from the incident and finished in sixth.
“I’m really, really proud of everyone at PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype,” said Harrington. “For us to come into the series and lock up the Team Championship with one race to go is really great. I’m really proud of how Josh, Jason (Brophy) and Phil (Kraus) have fought for this all year. It’s just really great for us.”
The Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker will be finishing its 2021 season with the SimXperience Race for the Championship at iRacing’s virtual Auto Club Speedway on Dec. 5.
Coverage of the 500-mile event starts at 4 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV. It can also be watched through tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
Multiple time Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker champion Adam Blocker has won his 30th career race.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver won the HyperX Grand Prix of Road America on Nov. 3 after using strategy to get ahead of pole sitter Connor Harrington.
After stretching his second fuel run of the race by an extra four laps, Blocker was able to overtake the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver during the final pit cycle of the race. With Blocker taking the red-walled tires for the final run - Harrington was on blacks - and less fuel needed in the tank to get to the end of the race, he was able to beat Harrington by more than four seconds.
Ryan Otis, Henry Bennett and Robert Maleczka III completed the top five.
It was Blocker’s ninth victory of the 2021 season.
“That was a hard race,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane. “That was a helluva drive from all of us up there.”
Blocker had qualified in fifth place when his strategy got some early assistance from some attrition at the front of the field. On Lap 2, Philip Kraus was in second place heading through the Moraine Sweep when Alkentech Simulations NHR e-Sports driver Matt Taylor attempted to pass him. Taylor charged to Kraus’s right side into the braking zone for Turn 5. He proceeded to ram into the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black car’s sidepod, sending the two drivers hard into the walls in the run-off area.
Both Kraus and Taylor had started the race on the red-walled tires. The incident left Otis and Chris Fowler as the only drivers on that compound of tires remaining inside the top 10 by the end of the lap.
“I knew some of the guys on reds at the start would be tough to deal with,” said Blocker. Fortunately, for me at least, a couple guys got together up there and (Philip) Kraus got hurt in that. It’s unfortunate for him, but it definitely helped me out.”
Harrington was not happy about the incident after the race. He said he thought his team missed the strategy for the race. However, he also said their plans were impacted by Kraus’s crash.
“I think we were looking pretty good until Phillip (Kraus) got clattered into the back of,” said Harrington. “It would have been nice to have another team car to help work the strategy a little bit. It just sucks for him. He was absolutely destroyed.”
A few laps after the incident, Blocker moved into the second position after Otis let him by on the Moraine Sweep. Blocker said Otis helped ensure both drivers would not lose time with the switch. By the end of Lap 8, Blocker was ahead of Otis by several seconds.
Afterwards, Blocker started focusing more on his strategy.
“I was honestly just saving fuel for the first half of the race,” said Blocker. “I saved a little bit so I could minimize the time on the reds and it just really paid off at the end.”
As Blocker saved fuel, other parts of the field started having issues. On Lap 11, Fowler had been exiting Turn 14 when Mike Rigney got loose coming out of the corner. Rigney was able to save his Dallara IR-18 from spinning and had to slow down. As he was gathering his car back up to speed, Fowler darted to the right, clipping Rigney’s right rear tire. The contact immediately broke Fowler’s suspension and front wing, forcing him to park his car at the other end of the frontstretch.
A lap later, Adam Frazier smashed into the tire barriers in Canada Corner after carrying too much speed. Then seconds later, Jay Brant made the same mistake, veering just to the right of Frazier’s destroyed car before slamming into the wall. A third car, Taylor, then made a similar mistake, sending his car sideways into the sand. Taylor’s car then hit the tire wall with his sidepod, ending his race completely.
After the first round of pit stops, Blocker closed up on Harrington and fast. With Harrington taking reds during the middle stint compared to Blocker’s blacks, his pace fell off quickly. Once the tire wear started to come into effect, Blocker was able to reel in Harrington by a full second per lap. By the time Harrington decided to pit on Lap 20, Blocker had closed the gap between him and the leader to under five car lengths.
After Blocker completed his pit stop on Lap 24, he was able to jump ahead of Harrington by a couple seconds and never looked back.
With the victory, Blocker has a 115-point lead in the championship standings over Harrington with two races remaining. If Blocker outscores Harrington by 12 or more points during the Alkentech Simulation Grand Prix of Detroit on Nov. 17, he will clinch his fourth driver’s title in a row.
Coverage of the penultimate race of the 2021 season starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.
Newsome makes history, survives madness at Chicagoland
By Justin Prince
Alexis Newsome has become the first female driver to take the checkered flag in the history of the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker.
The Factory Backed driver won the Fisch Motors Chicagoland 200 on Oct. 20 in one of the closest finishes ever in Lionheart competition. Newsome beat Ascari Autosport’s Barrett Rolph by 0.011 seconds. It was the second-smallest margin of victory in LIS history.
Adam Blocker, Robert Maleczka III and Philip Kraus rounded out the top five at iRacing’s virtual Chicagoland Speedway.
“I’m really thrilled,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “I got really lucky there. I got underneath Rolph on the restart (on Lap 109). If I had not done that, I would not have had a chance.”
Newsome took the lead with under 30 laps to go after Rolph left the bottom lane open down the backstretch. She quickly drove past Rolph entering Turn 3. Moments later, the caution came out after a big crash happened involving Aaron Morgan, Jay Brant, Ken Hacker and several others.
Rolph said post-race that he intentionally left the bottom line open.
“I actually wanted to be in the middle,” said Rolph. “I kind of just put myself in the middle of the track and let Alexis choose whether or not she wanted to go high or low because I wasn’t 100 per cent sure if the bottom was exactly where you were going to want to be in.”
The race came down to a 21-lap shootout to determine a winner. Throughout the run, Rolph attempted to pinch Newsome down through the corners. Blocker, who had charged through the pack from the 24th starting position, attempted to make it three-wide into the corners as well. The hard battling allowed others such as Maleczka III and Luis Gonzalez Nuñez to join the battle as well. However, Blocker was able to hold off any challengers for third place on track entering the final laps.
On the final lap, Newsome and Rolph nearly touched tires down the backstretch. The two fought hard side-by-side through Turns 3 and 4 while Blocker tried to use the banking as a ramp. Newsome then had to play defense with both Rolph and Blocker down the frontstretch.
Drivers were told prior to the race they could only use the apron on the final lap.
Off Turn 4, Newsome tried to keep Rolph higher up the track for the straightaway. She then had to quickly cut back down to the apron in front of Blocker to take the victory.
“With how many laps were left, I figured if I could pinch her down there long enough, the tires would burn off to where I could make that middle lane work at the end,” said Rolph. “I almost made it happen, but I just fell short.”
The race featured a lot of different strategy calls as a result of the race’s six caution flags.
PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype’s Connor Harrington led the field to the green flag after scoring the best time in qualifying. His teammate, Jason Brophy, was quickly put under pressure by Newsome and Andrew Kinsella coming out of Turn 2. The two drivers passed Brophy along the bottom of the racetrack by the next corner.
The first caution quickly came out on Lap 4 after Chris Fowler got stuck together with Ryan Otis down the back straightaway. Both drivers immediately snapped right into the outside wall, collecting Matt Taylor in the process.
All three drivers went on to finish the race more than 10 laps down.
While under caution, the back half of the field decided to pit for fuel in an attempt to cut out a potential green flag stop. Some of those drivers included Chris Lanini, Henry Bennett and Blocker.
Harrington continued to lead the field around Chicagoland until Lap 26. Lionel Calisto, who had been running in the 23rd position, snapped loose at the top of the track entering Turn 3. The Sector 5 driver then slowly drifted through the corner before snapping around on the apron at the start of the frontstretch. Calisto was able to hold his brakes and avoid any damage.
Harrington brought a majority of the field to the pit lane with him during the caution. Several others, such as Matt Huston, Stephen Laarkamp and Paul Jenkins, stayed out.
While Jenkins immediately went to the back of the field in the span of four laps after the restart, Laarkamp and Huston ran well on their older tires. Even though Harrington passed by them on Lap 33, the two cars stayed inside the top half of the field for much of the next run.
Neither of them got to keep their track position though. Laarkamp had to pit on Lap 47 for fuel. Two laps later, Huston had attempted to come in for his green flag stop when he clipped the apron. Huston’s car spun up the track into the path of oncoming traffic. Lanini sheared Huston’s front wing and tires off his car, ending Huston’s race.
The entire field pit during the yellow flag.
As the race went on, Blocker was trying to make up lost ground and track position. After clipping the grass and spinning out during qualifying, Blocker had been passing cars along both the bottom and top lanes of the track. He was inside of the Top 10 prior to the caution.
“A lot of people were running high, so I had to learn how to work the bottom of the track and I did. That’s how I passed most people,” said Blocker.
Harrington remained in control of the field again until the next caution on Lap 70. Mike Rigney hit the left rear tire of Adam Frazier entering Turn 1, sending Frazier spinning. Frazier was quickly sent into the outside SAFER barrier, damaging both wings on his Dallara IR18.
This time, Harrington, Brophy, Kinsella, Showen and Graaf all stayed out on the track. Rolph was the first driver to exit pit road with fresh tires for the restart with Newsome, Blocker, Joshua Chin and Kraus right behind him.
Very quickly, the speed of the fresh tires showed.
Rolph quickly made his way back inside the top four positions. On Lap 84, he passed Kinsella along the top of the track. Newsome and Blocker also quickly joined the battle. However, all of them struggled to find clean air to build up a run to pass by the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype cars.
Soon, Harrington, Brophy and Kinsella had to pit from the front of the pack. All of them had finished their final scheduled stops prior to a massive, race-changing crash on Lap 104.
Taylor, who had been running with a heavily-damaged car all night, had attempted to pull off the track entering Turn 3. He bottomed out his car along the edge of the banking, causing him to spin out. Taylor then slid up the banking, directly into the path of Mike Rasimas. With no time to respond, Rasimas crashed head-on into Taylor’s car. Both cars slowly rolled down the track through Turn 4, triggering the yellow flag.
The caution flag had been out for several seconds when a second incident collected Brophy. As Brophy checked up in Turn 3, he was ran over from behind by Scott Holmes. Holmes had been running more than 190 MPH through the corner seconds before the contact. Lanini also received heavy damage during the crash.
The incident forced Harrington to have to take a wave around the pace car, costing him all of his track position. Harrington had led 90 of the 104 laps completed up to that point.
“I did the exact same call as those guys did last year and the exact same thing happened and I finished in 19th place,” said Blocker. “I kind of learned from that and decided not to do that this year. It went the other way and I got a good result out of it.”
Overall, 18 cars finished the race on the lead lap.
Next round, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker goes road course racing at iRacing’s virtual Road America for the HyperX Grand Prix of Road America. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on Nov. 3.
By Justin Prince
Mike Rasimas has dominated at iRacing’s virtual Silverstone Circuit to win his second race of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience season.
The GRAAFix LC Motorsports driver led all 29 laps of the GRAAFix Grand Prix of Silverstone Presented by SimSnap Photography on Oct. 28 by more than two seconds.
Matt Taylor, Aaron Morgan, David Rodriguez and Ryan Otis rounded out the top five.
It was Rasimas’s first victory in the series since July 8, when he beat Taylor at Sonoma.
“I can’t believe it,” said Rasimas from HyperX Victory Lane. “That was a really hard race … I haven’t been the fastest all week, so I was excited to lead every lap, start on pole and have the fastest lap. It feels pretty crazy.”
After starting from the pole, Rasimas quickly built up a small lead over David Sirois, Morgan, Taylor and Michael O’Brien. It was not a comfortable situation for Rasimas though. He was getting close to not making his scheduled pit stop window.
“I had to save fuel as the leader to make it 15 laps. I had to let off the throttle and I had the whole train behind me. I knew if one of them got by me, the rest of them would have too,” said Rasimas. “I had to really focus to get through that first stint.”
Behind them, attrition remained minimal.
On Lap 4, Isaac Snider spun his car while going through Club. Snider had clipped one of the sausage curbs, causing his car to jump off the ground. He then spun out in the run-off area at the exit of the corner. Snider went from being in seventh place to 16th.
Then, Nick DeGroot decided to park his Factory Backed car at the end of Lap 7. He had lost the draft of the cars in front within the first few laps of the event.
A lap later, Snider got into trouble again. DJ. Clark lost control of his car entering Luffield. As Clark was locking his brakes, Snider started to slide through the same corner. After Clark had come to a full stop outside the racing line, Snider tried to turn to the left of Clark’s car. Clark then backed up into the path of Snider, destroying Snider’s car on impact.
Snider went on to bring his car to the paddock and finished in 19th place. Clark only made it three more laps before parking his Lotus 79 to finish in 18th.
All the leaders came into the pit lane for fuel on Lap 15. None of the drivers changed positions coming in and out of pit road. However, Sirois sped while exiting his pit box by more than 10 MPH, forcing him back to his box for a 40-second stop and go penalty. Sriois went on to finish in 10th place.
Meanwhile, Rasimas started to push hard to expand his gap over the rest of the pack. He said with the second stint being a lap shorter, he could push without having to be concerned about saving fuel.
Mistakes started to build up behind him.
On Lap 17, Morgan was given a slowdown penalty after cutting the inside curbing going through the apex of Chapel. Morgan let Taylor go by in the process while going down the Hangar Straight. Taylor went on to pull away from Morgan by nine seconds by the end of the race.
Then with two laps to go, O’Brien tried to make a pass for the final step on the podium. O’Brien attempted to get to the right side of Morgan through Stowe, but was forced to check up. Rodriguez took the opportunity to dive to the left of O’Brien entering Vale. As Rodriguez hugged the inside line, O’Brien attempted to pinch him through the corner apex. Rodriguez then pushed up the track on corner exit into the left rear tire of O’Brien. O’Brien was sent spinning sideways into the run-off area. He went on to finish in sixth place.
The next race for the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be the HyperX Grand Prix of Long Beach on Nov. 11. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
Factory Backed driver Alexis Newsome has won her second straight race in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel.
She won the HyperX 175 at Richmond on Oct. 25, growing her drivers standings lead to 18 points over Barrett Rolph.
Caleb Benci, Alexander van de Sandt, Trevor Malone and Tony Showen completed the top five.
“(This win) is really huge,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “I was close to losing the championship lead here. I made a mistake in qualifying. I had to make a huge strategy call to make it up here.”
Newsome had started the race in the 15th position after hitting the inside wall while driving on the apron during her out lap in qualifying. Meanwhile, Iowa Speedway winner Caleb Benci started from the pole.
“I was definitely happy to get pole there,” said Team RaceVerse Orange driver Benci. “I thought I left a little something out there still.”
The 233-lap race featured the smallest-sized grid in the series this season. Twenty-one drivers made the start at The Action Track.
Among those who did not race was Robert Maleczka III. He missed the race after experiencing flight delay while trying to return from a vacation.
By the end of the night, the Factory Backed driver was 98 points behind the leader in the drivers standings.
For those who took the green flag, fuel strategy became important on Lap 11. Dean Moll spun out coming out of Turn 2, sending him sliding into the inside wall and triggering the first caution flag of the night. Several drivers elected to pit during the yellow, including Samuel Reiman, Matt Taylor, Craig Forsythe and Nick DeGroot.
Drivers had been estimated to make it up to 75 laps on fuel each run prior to the event.
Several drivers could not make it that long. Benci remained in the lead until Lap 73, when he came down pit road for his first green flag stop. That gave Taylor the lead until his scheduled service on Lap 90.
“I knew the windows were very fuzzy,” said van de Sandt. “The fuel burn was a little inconsistent and with how long you could go, that makes it a difference of five to eight laps. You may or may not be able to save that much. I just had to play it by ear.”
Most of the field had pitted by the time the next caution came out on Lap 92. DeGroot, who had just come out of the pits a lap prior, had been battling side-by-side with Forsythe when he spun coming out of Turn 2. The Factory Backed driver did a full 360-degree spin down the backstretch, triggering the second yellow flag of the night. Van de Sandt had cycled to the lead by the time of the caution with Rolph and Benci close behind.
That lead did not last long. Van de Sandt and Benci came down to the pit lane. Rolph, Chris Fowler, Vern Hawkins III, Newsome and several others decided to stay out during the caution for track position. Those drivers were all put into a two-stop situation while everyone else could make it to the end with only one pit service for fuel.
“I didn’t know why more people pit with me,” said van de Sandt. “I had Caleb on the same strategy as me, but a lot of those who pit early stayed out. I regretted that instantly.”
The next run turned out to be the longest of the night.
After the restart on Lap 99, much of the field remained patient. Rolph maintained a buffer for the lead with the help of a lapped car, Dean Moll, much of the run.
Behind him, van de Sandt and Benci were fighting hard for eighth place. After scraping the wall exiting Turn 4 on Lap 132, van de Sandt was immediately passed by Benci down the front straightaway. Van de Sandt then had to fend off Luis Gonzalez Nuñez before settling back into a rhythm.
“I lost a lot of time to the leader because I was just stuck in the traffic,” said van de Sandt.
Benci was also struggling in the traffic.
“Not having that experience in the dirty air there in that first stint took me a little while to get up to speed there when everyone else was,” said Benci.
Rolph soon gave up the lead to get fuel on Lap 150. The Ascari Autosport driver was still about eight laps outside the estimated fuel window to make it to the end. Newsome was able to stretch her fuel to Lap 158, putting her right at the edge of that mark.
Those stops cycled Taylor back to the lead with Showen, Benci and van de Sandt more than 10 car lengths behind.
Then, on Lap 164, van de Sandt made a late call to dive into the pit lane. The clean space allowed van de Sandt to cycle in front of everyone else by several seconds.
“Once they started cycling, I realized they weren’t going to have enough fuel to make it on one more stop and we had just enough,” said van de Sandt. “I timed my last stop perfectly to undercut Caleb and Tony to just be able to go to the end from there.
“Early on in that stint, it was feeling pretty bleak, but it ended up working out well eventually.”
Soon, van de Sandt had his sights focused on Newsome. The Team RaceVerse Black driver quickly dove to the bottom of the track underneath her on Lap 174. By the start of the next lap, van de Sandt was clear for the net race lead. Rolph maintained the overall top spot until his final pit stop on Lap 203.
Van de Sandt had driven away from the rest of the field by more than six seconds when trouble struck on Lap 221.
Taylor was running in fourth place when he was rammed from behind by Nuñez heading into Turn 1. The Team RaceVerse Red driver slid around the corner until the exit of Turn 2 along the top of the track. Taylor then slid back down the track into the sidepod of Joe Branch. The red car of Taylor then snapped around down the backstretch into the path of Fowler. Fowler then ricocheted into the path of Alex Guyon, slightly damaging his car.
The caution helped Newsome immensely.
“Before that last caution, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay in second place because I was so close on fuel,” said Newsome. “I was trying to run high and about 80 per cent throttle while holding off people … that caution really saved me.”
During the caution, van de Sandt decided to pit while Newsome stayed out.
The race ended under caution when Nuñez suffered technical issues in the middle of Turns 3 and 4. Nuñez’s connection caused his car to blink in and out on corner exit. He then slammed into the outside SAFER barrier coming out of Turn 4. Nuñez then turned across the front wing of Showen at the flagstand. The NEKI Racing Team driver then nearly flipped over as he spun into the grass.
In the end, nine of the 21 drivers who started the race finished on the lead lap.
Next time out, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to iRacing’s virtual Kansas Speedway for the Fisch Motors Kansas 200 Presented by Espo Designs. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV on Nov. 15.
By Justin Prince
After finishing in 20th place or worse in three consecutive races, Alexis Newsome has finally rebounded to win in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel.
The Factory Backed driver led 68 of 133 laps in the KARNOX Charlotte 200 Presented by Chris Fowler Racing on Oct. 4.
Newsome beat Craig Forsythe by more than eight seconds to take the checkered flag.
Luis Gonzalez Nuñez, Trevor Malone and Joe Branch completed the top five.
It is Newsome’s third victory of the 2021 campaign.
“It feels good to finally break the streak of bad luck and of taking myself out,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “I just tried to be careful tonight.”
Factory Backed controlled the tempo of the race at iRacing’s virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway early. Newsome and Robert Maleczka III, who started in fourth and fifth place respectively, quickly made their way to the bottom line around the track, riding behind leaders Mike Rigney and Matt Wagner as they fought back and forth.
Then, chaos ensued down the backstretch behind them on Lap 11.
While battling side-by-side for sixth position, Team RaceVerse Orange driver Caleb Benci pushed up the track into the side pod of Tony Showen. The contact immediately sent the Adrenaline Motorsports car sliding coming out of Turn 2 in front of the pack.
After narrowly avoiding Alexander van de Sandt at the top of the track, Showen spun towards the inside lines and into the path of championship contender Matt Taylor. Nick DeGroot, Ron Hacker and Dakota DeMaegd also crashed into Showen, sending Dallara DW12 parts flying across the circuit.
The only drivers who did not pit during the caution flag were Wagner and Rigney.
Seconds later, the age of the tires proved to be important. With 11-lap fresher tires, Maleczka III and Newsome quickly drove by Wagner and Rigney moments after the restart. By Lap 42, the two Factory Backed cars had pulled away from the rest of the field by more than two seconds.
The next caution came out during green flag pit stops on Lap 59. Chris Fowler, who had been running inside the top five prior to his service, was running on his own when he slammed into the outside wall coming off Turn 4. The contact immediately broke his right side pod, pinballing him into the quad oval grass. Then, after bouncing off the ground two times, he decided to park his car on the apron in Turn 1. His car was close enough to other competitors that it triggered the second and final caution of the night.
At the time of the yellow, only Newsome and Dean Moll were on the lead lap. Several drivers, including Maleczka III, Forsythe and Nuñez, had to take the wave around.
Following the restart, Maleczka III quickly charged past Moll on the inside of the track on Lap 67.
Moll was able to keep up with the two Factory Backed cars until Lap 80. While exiting Turn 4, Moll aero-pushed up the track into the outside wall, sending him to the grass. Moll immediately cut through the infield, electing to park his car the rest of the night. Moll went on to finish 16th.
Newsome maintained the lead until Lap 99, when she came in for her final pit stop.
Maleczka III then followed up with the biggest mistake of his season so far during his service.
When coming around the apron through Turns 1-2, Maleczka III ran towards the edge of the blue line separating it from the racing line. His tires grazed the blue line in the apex of the corner, triggering an unsafe pit exit penalty. Maleczka III was given an in-sim drive through penalty for the mistake.
Maleczka III went on to finish in 13th place.
Next round, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel has its final short track race of the 2021 campaign, the HyperX 175 at Richmond at iRacing’s virtual Richmond Raceway. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV on Oct. 25.
By Justin Prince
For the second week in a row, Philip Kraus has driven his PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black car to victory lane in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker.
Kraus won the HyperX Pocono 200 by almost three seconds on Oct. 13 after utilizing a different strategy compared to much of the pack.
Andrew Kinsella, Connor Harrington, Adam Blocker and Joshua Chin rounded out the top five.
Kraus has become the ninth different driver to win at iRacing’s virtual Pocono Raceway in the series in nine events.
The PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black driver elected to try a different pit strategy after Barrett Rolph spun out entering the pit lane on Lap 19. During the caution flag, Kraus stayed out with Jason Brophy, leaving them as the only two drivers in the field not to pit.
Drivers were projected to make it 23-24 laps on fuel entering the event, but were expected to try and cut out a pit stop.
“It was really an aggressive strategy call, but we had a good start on that short run (at the start of the race). Chin and I got up to about 5th and 6th position when we stalled out while Jason had a lag issue and wasn’t able to make the grid, so he stayed out,” said Kraus from HyperX Victory Lane. “It was pretty straight forward for him to stay out, but I was like, ‘You know what, this could work.’” So I decided to stay out with him. (Brophy) suggested it initially so big props to him for suggesting that.
“From there, it played beautifully into our hands the rest of the race. I really gotta thank Jason for making that call for us.”
Brophy and Kraus stayed together until Lap 30, when they came in for their scheduled stops. The two drivers elected to swap-draft, trading positions each lap into Turn 1 and into Turn 3.
Meanwhile, Andrew Kinsella remained in the spotlight at the front of the field. The Adrenaline Motorsports Red driver, who won at Pocono in Season 6, had started on the pole for the second time in his LIS career. He, along with fellow Canadian Bryan Carey, had dictated the pace at the front of the field for much of the night. The two drivers had combined to lead 40 of the 80 laps.
“It was a very interesting race,” said Kinsella. “The car was great for most of the race. It had good settings. During the first stint, I was just cruising. Bryan and I were just trying to save fuel, trying to make the green flag number. Then all the sudden, the caution comes out.
PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype, give credit to them. They did some good strategy there. They did some short fills, made their cars really fast for large portions of their stints and helped get Kraus way out front.”
The second and final caution of the race came out on Lap 42 when Lionel Calisto bounced off the outside wall coming out of Turn 2. The Sector 5 driver was sent back to the inside of the track, smashing his left-side suspension on impact. He then crawled his car to the access road in Turn 3 before spinning out, triggering the yellow flag.
During that caution, Chin and Harrington decided to join Kraus and Brophy on their strategy call by not pitting. Robert Maleczka III and Ricky Hardin also stayed out.
Off the restart on Lap 47, the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype cars quickly swarmed around Hardin. Kraus cleared Hardin through the Tunnel Turn. He then pinched Hardin along the top of the track, allowing Chin to get past him entering Turn 3. Brophy then had to check up hard out of the corner to avoid hitting Hardin, causing him to go four-wide with Harrington, Kinsella and Blocker for fourth place down the frontstretch.
By the end of Lap 48, Brophy had been shuffled back to the ninth position.
On the next lap, the battles for position got a bit chaotic.
After Harrington cleared Hardin entering Turn 1, Hardin took a higher line through the corner. The Sim Racing Merch Esports driver then snapped loose trying to drive across the bumps. Hardin quickly snapped his wheel back to the right, keeping the car straight and avoiding being in Brophy’s path by a few inches.
Seconds after clearing Hardin, Carey was trying to set up a pass on Kinsella down the straightaway heading into Turn 2. At the same time, Chris Fowler was able to get to his inside to move past Carey. Carey then proceeded to come across Fowler’s front wing, sending both cars hard into the inside SAFER barrier. Both cars received significant suspension damage from the incident. Carey and Fowler went on to finish in 25th and 26th place respectively.
The incident did not trigger a caution flag.
Meanwhile, the strategies continued to unfold.
The drivers who stayed out during the previous caution period started pitting on Lap 52. Kraus was able to extend his run to Lap 58.
As drivers started coming in for fuel, Kinsella decided to try something different. Kinsella stretched his stint to Lap 66.
“After that last caution, I knew I had to try something a little bit different,” said Kinsella. “When I saw everyone peeling off like I knew they would have to, I was sure my only shot there was to try to go long and draft up behind the guys who already pitted. I was monitoring my lap times and I had not dropped off too far, so I figured I could get out at least within the draft of all the guys I needed to get out with and it worked out exactly right.”
With the pit stop call, Kinsella came out within drafting distance of Brophy. After passing by Maleczka III, Kinsella set his sights on finishing as best as he could. Kraus had broken the draft of Chin, Harrington and Blocker for the net race lead.
After squabbling for several laps with Brophy, Kinsella was able to clear him on Lap 72. Then on Lap 75, he drove his way past Blocker by more than 10 MPH down the front straightaway entering Turn 1.
Kinsella then drafted his way up to Harrington and Chin for second place.
With two laps to go, Kinsella built up a big run, getting to the inside of Harrington at the start of the braking boards for Turn 1. Chin attempted to defend, but Kinsella was able to quickly swerve and dive his way to the inside of him entering the corner. He was able to clear both Harrington and Chin by the apex of the corner.
Next time out, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker heads to iRacing’s virtual Chicagoland Speedway for the Fisch Motors Chicagoland 200. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on Oct. 20.