The Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX and GRAAFix Esports today announced their partnership will continue through the 2022 Season.
“This is really great news,” Lionheart founder Jorge Anzaldo said. “The partnership between Lionheart and GRAAFix Esports has been vital to our organization and I’m looking forward to another great year of success. Tyler Graaf has an amazing style filled with creativity, he has been able to take the vision I have for Lionheart and bring it to life through his artwork.”
Tyler Graaf owner of GRAAFix Esports has been responsible for several critical projects for the Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX to include the yearly sponsor guide, series logos, social media graphics, spotters guides and more.
“GRAAFix Esports is responsible for the look of our branding which I absolutely love,” Anzaldo said. “Tyler also creates some amazing liveries for league members. Fans of the league will be able to see many of his virtual liveries on track all year long.”
Graafix Esports will be featured as the title sponsor to 3 race events during the 2022 and receive a number of sponsored on board cameras spread out across Lionheart’s 3 championships. In addition, GRAAFix Esports will be the presenting sponsor to the Speedway Series Countdown to Green pre-race show and Turning Point Award in each series.
GRAAFix Esports will provide Lionheart with graphic arts work throughout the 2022 Season as part of their partnership such as the creation of logos for all 58 of Lionheart’s races.
The Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX 2022 Season kicks off March 2nd with the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by Buttkicker Round 1 event at the virtual Homestead Miami Speedway. Live event coverage begins at 9:00 PM CST brought to you by RaceSpot TV and ESTV.
For more information on GRAAFix Esports and the services they provide visit www.graafixesports.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
Next level racing named as exclusive cockpit and motion platform supplier of the lionheart racing series
The Lionheart Racing Series and Next Level Racing Series today have announced their partnership for the 2022 championship season.
Next Level Racing will be featured as the exclusive cockpit and motion platform supplier of the Lionheart Racing Series. The leader in Sim Racing cockpit and motion platform design will also be named as title sponsor to Lionheart’s popular Retro series.
Now known as the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by Next Level Racing, the tribute to the golden era of open-wheel racing in America features the Lotus 79 ground effects-based Formula One, with 18 rounds of racing spread across both road courses and ovals, including the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Next Level Racing will also be featured as the title sponsor to the Road Championship in both the Lionheart Indycar and Retro Series as well becoming the presenting sponsor to the Next Level Racing Pre-Race Show in the Lionheart Retro Series. Next Level Racing will host a total of 9 races as the presenting sponsor during the 2022 Season which will be spread across Lionheart’s 3 championship series.
Lionheart Racing Series founder Jorge Anzaldo said he was excited for the opportunity partner with Next Level Racing.
“This is such a big opportunity for the league,” Anzaldo said. “Next Level Racing makes amazing products and their association with our organization brings another level of prestige to the Lionheart Racing Series. It’s a great fit for both brands in my opinion. I can’t wait to represent the Next Level Racing brand during all 58 of our live events this season.”
Next Level Racing will provide a total of three of their GTTrack Racing Simulator Cockpits to the 2022 Series Champions adding to Lionheart’s impressive prize pool for its competitors.
The Next Level Racing GTTrack is the ultimate cockpit for serious Sim Racers looking for rigidity, complete adjustability and true race car seating position. The GTTrack’s design was inspired by feedback from professional drivers and some of the world’s fastest eSports drivers to give enthusiasts every feature required for serious Sim Racing. The GTTrack is the strongest, most feature-packed cockpit to hit the market, setting a new benchmark for racing simulation.
The Lionheart Retro Series Presented by Next Level Racing will kick off its 2022 championship season Thursday, March 3rd at the virtual Homestead Miami Speedway. Live coverage begins at 9:00 PM CST on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.
For more information on Next Level Racing and their products visit www.nextlevelracing.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
MOZA Racing and the Lionheart Racing Series today have announced a naming rights sponsorship for Lionheart’s Lionheart Speedway Series.
Now known as the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by MOZA Racing, the oval only series will return again after a successful inaugural season. The Speedway Series utilizes the Dallara DW-12 IndyCar which the Lionheart IndyCar Series competed with for 5 full seasons before switching over to the current IR-18 in 2017. The Speedway Series continues to showcase the excitement and competitiveness that is special to IndyCar oval racing.
Founded in 2012, by automotive engineers and Sim Racing drivers, Gudsen Moza is a leading innovator in camera stabilization systems and vehicle stability technology. MOZA Racing is determined to create innovative and professional Sim Racing equipment that drivers can depend on for quality and endurance.
MOZA Racing is dedicated to designing and building the world’s best Sim-Racer focused hardware and software products that enable everyone, to race at their very best. The full ecosystem includes direct drive force feedback steering wheels, aluminum alloy pedal assembly, digital dash and pit house control software.
Lionheart Racing Series founder Jorge Anzaldo said he was excited for the opportunity to represent MOZA Racing as the title sponsor to the Lionheart Speedway Series.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the league,” Anzaldo said. “We are extremely excited to have MOZA Racing as a premier partner of our organization. We can’t wait to showcase their products through our live events. Our members are big fans of direct drive steering systems and custom pedals and the offering by MOZA Racing just brought the intensity to another level.”
MOZA Racing is providing the Lionheart Racing Series with 3 of their Direct Drive Wheel Bases and 3 of their Steering Wheels. The products will be awarded to the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by MOZA Racing season champion, Lionheart Racing Series season champion and Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker HyperX Indianapolis 500 champion. MOZA will also provide a 10% discount on products for members of the Lionheart Racing Series.
The Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by MOZA Racing kicks off its 18-race season on Monday, March 14th at Homestead Miami Speedway. All races can be viewed live on RaceSpot TV as well as ESTV.
For more information on MOZA Racing visit https://mozaracing.com/. For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series head to www.LionheartRacingSeries.com. For more information on RaceSpot TV visit https://www.racespot.tv/ For more information on ESTV visit www.estv.co
The Lionheart Racing Series and The Guitammer Company announced their continued partnership for the upcoming 2022 Season.
This year would mark the 5th consecutive year that Lionheart and The Guitammer Company makers of ButtKicker® brand haptic products have teamed up. The deal also continues to solidify ButtKicker’s relationship with the Lionheart Racing Series as well as their commitment to the Sim Racing community. The agreement announced by Lionheart Racing Series founder Jorge Anzaldo, will also see ButtKicker featured as the title sponsor to the Lionheart IndyCar Series for the 2nd year in a row.
“This is such exciting news,” Anzaldo said. “We are so proud of our relationship with The Guitammer Company and ButtKicker. They have been great supporters of the Lionheart Racing Series for several years now and I am looking forward to representing their brand of products throughout our 2022 Championship Season.”
In 2022, ButtKicker will provide 10 prizes across the Lionheart Racing Series championships. Winners of the ButtKicker Rookie of the Year in the Lionheart IndyCar, Speedway and Retro Series will have their choice of a ButtKicker Gamer2 or ButtKicker Simulation Kit.
Other ButtKicker prizes will be handed out throughout the year as part of the 2022 prize package to drivers across all three series.
ButtKicker also returns as sponsor of the P1 awards, given to drivers earning poles and wins in a Lionheart sanctioned race. The starting lineup for each race broadcasted by RaceSpot TV and ESTV will also feature the Starting Grid presented by ButtKicker in 2022. ButtKicker will also be the title sponsor to a total of eight races in 2022, including two Triple Crown events. Additionally, ButtKicker will also be the presenting sponsor of the “Countdown to Green” 15-minute pre-race show for Lionheart’s IndyCar Series.
Fans can also receive a 20 percent discount on products by tuning into Lionheart events. Additionally, Lionheart has been added as an affiliate. Those looking to order ButtKicker Gaming products should visit https://thebuttkicker.com/?aff=3.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker begins on Wednesday, March 2nd 2022 with Live coverage provided by RaceSpot TV and ESTV. The GSI Miami 200 Presented by ButtKicker will feature 134 laps at the virtual Homestead Miami Speedway on the iRacing.com service. Pre-race festivities begin at 9:00 pm CST.
For more information on The ButtKicker line of products visit www.thebuttkicker.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
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.