In annals of tricky oval corners, Turn 2 at New Hampshire Motorpseedway is one of the most under rated. Whether it was Scott Sharp using Mike Groff as a launching ramp in 1994, or Tony Kanaan taking out a portable washroom in 2011, the exit of turn 2 has been treacherous in the real world. In the virtual Lionheart series, there has also been dramatic moments. Brian Yaczik spun out of the lead in season 5, while that same year, Andrew Kinsella used two passes in that same spot to win his 2nd Lionheart series victory. Two things are certain going into this week; the one-mile oval has produced some action-packed races, and the Skid Mark Motorsports 200 may be the most aptly named race on the schedule!
Last time out at Road America, Adam Blocker once again dominated on a road course, although the record gap of nearly 1 minute he enjoyed earlier this season at Barber, was reduced to a mere 9 seconds. Dan Geren kept Blocker honest for much of the race, never straying to far back, and ultimately finished 2nd. The Adrenaline Motorsports teammates of Andrew Kinsella and Bryan Carey battled through most of the race, with Kinsella ultimately emerging triumphant after a small mistake at Canada Corner saw the two London Ontario drivers swap positions. Connor Harrington rounded out the top 5. The result leaves Adam Blocker needing an 8th or better finish this week at New Hampshire to clinch back-to-back championships. Dan Geren is 224 points back, while Andrew Kinsella is a further 136 points back of Geren. Really it is 3rd through 6th where the greatest battle will be. Kinsella leads Stephen Laarkamp by a mere 18 points, while Just Weaver and Brian Yaczik are both 36 points back of Laarkamp.
Now we come to New Hampshire, and if there is one track that might give Dan Geren some small hope, it would be the 1-mile oval. Last year Geren managed to hold of Kinsella by a scant 0.1 seconds as the Midwest driver was good to the last drop of fuel, running out as he crossed the finish line in a fuel mileage gamble that just barely paid off. Geren will need to repeat another win this year to maintain any slim hope in the title fight.
Speaking of Kinsella, the Canadian driver loves New Hampshire. Before he finished 2nd to Geren last year, it was the site of his 2nd Lionheart win in his rookie season, giving Kinsella an average finishing position of 1.5 at the mile oval. Kinsella still has a shot at 2nd; if he can get the win at New Hampshire, the Canadian might just be able to catch Geren.
Adam Blocker might be the one driver not looking forward to New Hampshire. At least in the Lionheart Series, Blocker has not had the best of luck at the flat track. In his rookie season, Blocker was involved in a crash, finishing a distant 22nd, while last season he finished 10th, but never really looked the threat to win. However, he doesn’t need to win this one. He only needs two spots better then last year to clinch his second Lionheart title.
Last year, the rookie of the year title came down to 2 drivers, Stephen Laarkamp and Justin Weaver. These two drivers once again find themselves very close to each other as the season winds down, sitting 4th and 5th overall. Last year, Weaver finished 4th in the epic duel to the flag. Laarkamp has got to where he is through consistency. 12 top 10’s but only 1 top 5. Weaver has been more up and down, with 11 top 10’s, and 4 top 5’s, but also more DNF’s.
This year’s rookie of the year title is the crown no one seems to want to seize. Mike Rigney had an unfortunate netcode event at Road America, and now sits just 19 points in front of Damon Martinez, while John G. Hill is just 9 points further back. This rookie battle is going to be going down to the wire!
For all the action, tune in this Wednesday, November 13th at 10:35pm eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Summer time in picturesque Elkhart Lake Wisconsin has, for many years, been synonymous with one thing; the roar of an IndyCar around the magnificent Road America circuit. Now it may not be summer in the real world, but the beauty of sim racing is it can always be racing season! The Lionheart drivers pack up from Iowa 2 weeks ago and head due north for the Rogue Buck 125 at Road America presented by Irish Whitetail Distillery.
Last time out at Iowa it was Dan Geren surviving till the finish to take his 4th win of the season by 1 second over Brian Yaczik. Geren dominated the race, leading 192 of the 229-lap event. No one else lead for more then 11 laps, and only 5 drivers finished on the lead lap after a tough race. Tony Showen, Big Joe Hassert and Joe Branch dueled for 3rd place with Showen eventually taking it, with Hassert just piping Branch at the line by less then a tenth of a second. Championship leader Adam Blocker did not have a good night, finishing down in 24th place after getting knocked around and finally ending his day in the fence. This has put a delay in Blocker’s victory party, but he still leads the championship by 217 points over Geren. While Geren will be unlikely to catch Blocker, one thing his win did do was stretch his lead over Andrew Kinsella, who missed the race with computer problems. This has created a log jam for 3rd place, with Justin Weaver 4 back of the Canadian, and Stephen Laarkamp 3 back of Weaver. With 5 rounds to go. 3rd place is the battle to watch in this championship.
No from one of the shortest tracks on the schedule, to the longest. The Lionheart drivers will tackle the fast straights and tight turns of the picturesque Road America circuit. First opened in 1955, Road America is a quintessential American road course, with its elevation changes, off camber corners, and tight confines. Road America provides plenty of braking zones where over taking will be relatively easy, so get ready for some serious action from this road course this week.
Adam Blocker will be looking to rebound from his poor Iowa showing, and there is no better track from the South Carolina driver than a road course, where he has dominated this year. With a good result, Blocker could open the possibility of clinching the championship as early as the New Hampshire race; however, if something were to happen and Blocker would DNF again, it could stretch the battle out longer, to either Kansas, Laguna Seca, or even the finale.
While the odds may be slim at this point, you can bet that one man who will not be giving up is Dan Geren. The Midwestern driver recently announced that he will be taking a break from full time driving duties next season. Geren has finished 2nd in each of the last 3 season championships. As long as he still is mathematically alive, you know that Geren will look to go out with a bang this year.
3 drivers to watch out for this week will be Sage Karam, Connor Harrington and Justin Weaver. All 3 have been very fast on road courses this season, but it is the consistency that has bit all 3 in the results column. That being said, it is unlikely that bad luck will befall all 3 this round, so look for at least one of them to be up there challenging Adam Blocker for the win.
In the rookie battle, Mike Rigney has pulled out a lead over Damon Martinez and John Hill. So far of the 3, Martinez has shown the most promise on the road course, but just like the 3 drivers mentioned above, it is the consistency that has been the rookies biggest impediment this year. Will Martinez have the patience at Road America to take a big chunk out of Rigney’s lead? Or will it be another unforced error costing him valuable points in the rookie of the year fight?
For all the simulated action, tune in this Wednesday, November 6th at 10:35pm eastern time only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by the one and only GSRC.
That’s right, earlier this summer, the Lionheart league members gathered at the real-world Iowa IndyCar race to cheer on series driver Sage Karam as he tried to tame the short, tricky oval. Now, several months later they return in virtual form to try to tame it themselves in the Birky Trucking 200 at Iowa Speedway.
Last time out at Gateway, it was Andrew Kinsella charging from 5th to first in the last 20 laps of the race to take the win at the Von Hanson’s 200. On his charge, Kinsella passed the Skid Mark Motorsports trio of Brian Beard, Bart Workman and James Brant, who finished 2nd through 4th, as well as Justin Weaver, who faded from the lead on the restart to 5th in the final standings. The win pushes Kinsella into 5th all-time in wins with 8, passing Jonathan Goke. An interesting statistic; all 8 of Kinsella’s wins have been by less than 1 second, and 7 of them have been by less then half a second. This week’s margin of victory? 0.119 seconds.
Just 16 of 29 cars were running at end as the race produced tight drafting action and some impatient driving lead to a slew of early incidents. Early contenders Dustin Wardlow, Joe Flanagan, Chris Stofer, Big Joe Hassert and others all found themselves caught up in accidents, their nights over before they really got going. But after a caution on lap 60, suddenly it seemed like everyone remembered just how much time was left. Where before we saw multiple passes per lap, suddenly the leaders were more interested in clicking away the miles then with fighting for every inch. The only blemish from them to the end was a spin on pit exit for Connor Harrington, which brought out the final caution midway through a pit cycle, shuffling the order. Leaders Brian Yaczik, Adam Blocker, Harrington and Kinsella found themselves at the bottom half of the top 10 instead of the top half. Kinsella made it back up, but the other 3 did not.
In the points standings, Adam Blocker continues to hold a 263-point lead over Dan Geren, after they finished 11th and 12th respectively. With the win, Kinsella pulls to within 66 points of Dan Geren for 2nd place, while Weaver pulls ahead of Stephen Laarkamp for 4th position, 24 points back of Kinsella.
Looking ahead to this week’s race, the Lionheart Series is returning home to Iowa, site of the annual real-world league meet-up. In last year’s race, Adam Blocker, Michael Goodman, Scotty Johnson and Chris Lanini were the 4 drivers to be on the right pit strategy when a caution flew, trapping the rest of the drivers one lap down. Blocker would barely beat Michael Goodman to the line by a scant 0.034 seconds, the 8th closest finish in league history.
On a short fast oval like Iowa, pit strategy could once again come into play Pitting early will give drivers a distinct speed and tire advantage, but will also temporarily put them not just 1 but 2 laps down. Will the risk outweigh the reward? For some drivers the answer will undoubtedly be yes, as short pitting could see them build healthy advantages. But for guys who are light on the loud pedal; guys like Joe Branch, Brian Beard, Chris Lanini, and Bark Workman, it could also present an opportunity to trap them, just as Blocker did one year ago.
Last week’s winner has also traditionally run strong at Iowa. Kinsella finished 2nd in his rookie season, and last year was the only driver to successfully un-lap himself on pace alone. 3 of Kinsella’s 8 wins have been on short ovals, while a further 3 have been at tracks with progressive banking similar to what we see in Iowa. It is safe to safe the Canadian will be looking to go back to back this week to turn up the heat on Dan Geren.
Speaking of Geren, the Lionheart king of qualifying is facing a bit of a conundrum this week. Geren knows how to extract one lap qualifying speed better then any driver in the series, however not one single winner in 6 previous seasons has come from the pole. If you’re Dan Geren, do you hang back a bit in Qualifying, knowing the history, or are you simply determined to break the trend, and become the first. Knowing what we know about Geren, he should be a lock for somewhere near the sharp end of the grid, and the final standings.
The rookie standings received a big shake-up last week, with Mike Rigney moving back into 1st place, as Damon Martinez drops 6 points behind Rigney due to a 24th place DNF at Gateway. In fact, Rigney was the only rookie in the top 5 to be running at the end, with a solid 7th place finish. Rigney has been coming on strong in recent races, finishing 9th, at Charlotte and 3rd at Richmond in 2 of the previous 4 races. With 6 races remaining, staying consistent and getting those top 10’s will likely be the right recipe for leaving the Auto Club finale with the rookie title.
As always, the Lionheart Series can be watch live on the iRacing eSports Network, presented by GSRC. The Iowa 200 presented by Birky Trucking will fire off this Wednesday, October 23rd at 10:35pm Eastern.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series prepares for its last swing through the Midwest as Adam Blocker prepares to seize the crown for himself after a remarkable campaign. The North Carolina driver has delivered in a way that few have ever been able to in Lionheart history. Now just 7 short races stand between him and the ultimate glory of the season championship. He may not even need that many to secure his crown. First, he must get through the action at Gateway Motorsports Park and the Von Hanson’s 200.
Last time out in Montreal, it was Adam Blocker once again leading the way on road courses this season. This time it was with the help of some fuel saving strategy, that saw the top 4 positions log only 2 stops while the other competitors had to log 3 each. With just seconds to go in qualifying, Blocker stole the pole from Connor Harrington by scant thousandths of a second. Blocker would escape to an early lead and hang on throughout the whole race, to take a dominating win. Behind him was anything but ordinary as rookie Bryan Carey would use that same fuel strategy to leapfrog some other drivers in the pits, and then hunt down Dan Geren for second. The rookie would come up just a bit short of Geren, as the duo finished 2nd and 3rd, just 3 seconds apart at the finish. Nonetheless, this would by a day for celebration as Carey recorded his first ever Lionheart podium. His teammate Andrew Kinsella was looking at a sure 4th place until a spin in turn 4 on lap 30 saw the Canadian into the wall and out of the race. This dealt an almighty blow to the Canadian’s championship aspiration as the Lionheart veteran is chasing Dan Geren for 2nd place in points. Moving up to 4th in the championship and in the race was Stephen Laarkamp. The last of the drivers to successfully execute the 2-stop strategy, Laarkamp overcame several bobbles to take the car home in 4th. In 5th, Tyler Graaf proved the fastest of the 3 stoppers. Despite being on the wrong end of the strategy game, the second year Lionheart driver showed some real speed on the Montreal road course, and put in the kind of solid effort that will reward him down the line.
Shifting focus for the Lionheart drivers, the first of 2 consecutive short-tracks looms large for the Lionheart drivers as they tackle the egg-shaped World Wide Technologies Raceway aka Gateway Motorsports Park. The tricky short track will inevitably produce just as much drama in the virtual world as it did in the real world this year.
Last year’s winner was Chris Stofer. The Indiana driver has been dominant at Gateway over the past two seasons. In Season 5 Stofer sat on the pole setting the league qualifying record at Gateway with a 24.365 set at over 184 mph. Stofer would lead a series high 103 laps but would not find victory lane that year. Fast forward to Season 6 and the tables would be turned as Stofer would find the checkered flag in a race that saw a series high 40 lead changes. If Stofer could find victory lane a second time at Gateway it would be the 5th of his Lionheart career.
With a 264-point lead, it would take a lot to stop Blocker now. He has dominated the entire season of Lionheart, seemingly rarely out of the top 5. At this rate there is little reason to believe that that is about to change at Gateway. But when it comes to short track racing, you never know what is about to happen.
The man trying to track him down is Dan Geren. The Lionheart king of qualifying, and that doesn’t matter any more than on a Midwest short track. This is a track where dirty air can make the difference between taking turns 1 and 2 flat out, or having to make that subtle lift that costs you the position. With Geren hanging by a thread, qualifying could make the difference between the race hanging on or Blocker clinching with races to spare.
The Rookie of the Year title has been the tightest race all season. Damon Martinez currently leads the standings, but the race has never been tighter. Mike Rigney and John Hill are just 14 and 18 points back respectively. One bad race is all it takes from the Martinez, and these other 2 are all over him.
Not to be forgotten in this race are two other fierce competitors. Bryan Carey, fresh off his first Lionheart podium is just 49 points back, and Paul Jenkins is only 56 back. Both are well within striking distance for the rookie of the year title, which comes with its own prizes in addition to the prestige of winning one of the toughest awards Lionheart has to offer.
In summary, this should be one heck-of-a race, as the Lionheart Gladiators go out there with everything to gain, and in some cases, everything to lose. To find out who will be the winners and who will be the losers, tune in this Wednesday October 16th at 10:35pm eastern for all the action, only on the iRacing eSports Network YouTube channel presented by GSRC.
For the 2nd time this year, the best IndyCar drivers on iRacing travel north of the border. This time, instead of the rolling hills of Mosport, they travel to the dead-flat Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve semi-street circuit in Montreal. The circuit lies on an island in the St Lawrence river that was enlarged from it’s original form for the 1967 World Expo. The island then served as the venue for the rowing events in the 1976 Olympics before a race track was put on the island after the 1977 season. Similar to Belle-Isle, the circuit is created out of normal roads in a park-like setting, but unlike belle-isle the track is up to F1 standards for both safety and smoothness. The circuit was named after Gilles Villeneuve in 1982 after the Quebec native’s death earlier in the year. Gilles had won his home race 1979, while finishing 2nd, 5th, and, perhaps most famously, 3rd in 1981, sans his front wing, after he spent most of the race driving with it obscuring his vision. The Lionheart Series will run 47 laps around this unique facility in the First Medical Grand Prix of Montreal.
Last time out at Richmond, points leader Adam Blocker drove a perfect near perfect race, to take the win. Blocker started on pole and lead 211 of the 267 laps. Brian Yaczik had his best result in what has been a tough season, as the LPM driver came home 2nd. Mike Rigney earned the hard charger award, racing his way from 30th to 3rd, through patience, strategy and some good passes. James Brant and Tony Showen also came from deep in the field to round out the top 5. The race was a tough one, as even before the drop of the green flag Ken Hacker lit up the tires on the warm-up lap, and spun down into Andrew Kinsella, who entered the race in a tight battle with Dan Geren for 2nd in the championship. Both cars were damaged, ruining Kinsella’s chances at the win before the race even started. He would ultimately finish 23rd after some net code contact with John Hill ended his race. Things didn’t end much better for Geren, as he got collected in an incident between Jason Galvin and Samuel Reiman. Geren finished 14th, 3 laps down. Ultimately only 6 cars would finish on the lead lap, as the smallest track on the circuit produced maximum carnage.
The win leaves Adam Blocker an astounding 255 points up on Geren for the championship. Rarely has Lionheart seen the kind of dominance that Blocker has shown this season. 14 top 5’s from 17 races. Those other 3 races? DNF’s; meaning if Adam Blocker has finished the race, he has done so in the top 5. With 8 races to go, the question has shifted from whether Blocker will win the championship to when. All he has to do is avoid DNF’s in as little as 4 more races, and he will have the title sewn up.
The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal is certainly a good place to start. Not only is Blocker the defending race winner, but he has been dominant on road courses this year. 4 wins, and not a finish outside the top 5. If ever there was a spot where Blocker could have something happen, it might be in Montreal. The circuit has fast straights and tight turns that offer up a demanding combination for these turbo-charged Dallara’s. Get on the gas a fraction too early or too hard and you could easily end up in the wall.
Also strong on road courses this year has been rookie Damon Martinez, even leading for a significant period of time at Monza. Montreal is very similar in character to Monza with the long straights leading to chicanes. Look for Martinez to be strong again in Montreal.
Speaking of strong runs at Monza, there was another rookie battling with Martinez as the laps wound down. Bryan Carey has shown some definite speed on the road this season, but it’s been the finishing that has betrayed him. A last lap spin at Monza while going for the final podium spot saw Carey finish 6th. At Watkins Glen, Carey hounded his teammate Andrew Kinsella for much of the last half of the race, but couldn’t find a way past before settling for 5th. Will this week be the week Carey puts it all together and finishes a road course race on the podium?
Another driver who will be looking for redemption in this race will be Connor Harrington. Last year at this race, Harrington started 3rd, but went “full send” into turn one and spun in front of the field. Harrington would ultimately battle back up to 5th, but never got the chance to truly show the speed he had. Harrington has calmed down this year, picking up his first win. Will Harrington redeem his first lap mistake from last season with a win this season?
Speaking of last season, Andrew Kinsella had his best road course race of his Lionheart career on this very track last season. The Canadian, more known for his oval racing prowess, started and finished in 2nd place with a quiet consistent drive. The road courses this season have been anything but quiet and consistent for the Adrenaline driver, who has found himself frequently caught up in other people’s incidents; from getting hit on the first lap of Belle-Isle 2 and Monza, or getting confronted by spinning cars at Belle-Isle 1, Barber, and Mosport, the only thing on the Canadian’s mind this year is getting through all 47 laps. A top 5 would must be considered a bonus; although is Kinsella wants to challenge Geren for 2nd, it might be a bonus he needs to find.
Tune in for all the action from the First Medical Grand Prix of Montreal this Wednesday, October 9th, at 10:35pm eastern time, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Everything is smaller at Richmond Raceway in Virgina. The lap times just 15 seconds. The length, just ¾ of a mile. The width, just 3 lanes wide. The list of past winners in the field (0). The only thing bigger is the number of laps. 267 lighting quick, action packed laps are in store for the Lionheart IndyCar drivers at this weeks Midwest Simulations 200.
It was a topsy-turvy day for many of the Championship contenders last time out at Michigan International Speedway; in fact out of the top 5 in points, 2nd place Dan Geren was the top finisher in 15th after leading a race high 36 laps. Points leader Blocker finished 17th, Michael Goodman 25th, Justin Weaver 28th, and Andrew Kinsella 29th. Yikes. Instead, it was the back farther down the standings ceasing the opportunity. In a thrilling 3-lap shootout, Big Joe Hassert out-duelled Tony Showen and Brian Yaczik. Some late race controversy saw a computer glitch result in Tony Showen getting kicked from the server on the run to the checkered flag as he tried to get a final run on Hassert. Because the error occurred on an race control member’s computer, Tony was awarded 2nd place over Brian Yaczik. Series founder Jorge Anzaldo saw his best result of the year as he rounded out the top 5, after he and Joe Branch duelled for 4th and 5th over the last couple of laps. Joe Flanagan, Stephen Laarkamp, Ken Hacker, Paul Jenkins and Scotty Johnson all saw strong runs result in top 10 finishes.
Now from one of the largest ovals on the Lionheart series to the smallest, as the Lionheart IndyCar drivers head south to the ¾ mile Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. With 14 degrees of banking and 267 short laps ahead of them, the drivers will need all their patience and skill to get through this one.
On the 2 short tracks so far this year, only 3 drivers have finished in the top 10 in both. Unsurprisingly, Adam Blocker is one of them. Blocker, the commanding leader in the points championship, has, however, been on a comparative slump with back to back finishes outside the top 15. Will Richmond be the track that puts him back on track, or will the run of bad luck continue?
The other 2 names on that list are Michael Goodman and Chris Stofer. Goodman is currently sitting 4th in the points, 16 back of Andrew Kinsella, while Stofer has had a nightmarish season, seeing himself all the way down in 29th in points. For both Stofer and Goodman, Richmond presents an opportunity to capitalize on past success. For Goodman, it could mean vaulting into 3rd in the championship. For Stofer it could mean a surge up the standings for a driver that has seen strong second halves the last 2 years. Will either be able to use the momentum from the previous short track races to their advantage?
Passing can be notoriously difficult on the short Richmond oval, so qualifying may present a distinct advantage. If so, Dan Geren would be the one to benefit. With a sterling average starting position of 5.81 through 16 races, Geren qualifies an average 2.5 positions better then anyone else on the grid. If Geren is able to keep up that advantage, the Midwest driver should be a real threat for the victory.
Another driver who has had a quietly consistent season so far is Stephen Laarkamp. Laarkamp, who battled down to the wire with Justin Weaver for Rookie of the Year last year, is battling for a spot in the top 5 in points this year. The NHR e-Sports driver currently sits 6th in points, but has the 2nd best average finish of anyone on the grid this year. The catch? Ten top 10 finishes, but none in the top 5. Still it seems only a matter of time before Laarkamp converts one of those good runs into a great run. Will it be at Richmond?
The Rookie of the Year battle took another twist as only Paul Jenkins and John Hill finished all 200 miles at Michigan. Jenkins finishing 9th, while Hill finished 17th. Bryan Carey finished 22nd, one lap down while Damon Martinez and Mike Rigney failed to finish. These 5 drivers all have a shot at the title, with only 67 points separating Carey in 5th from first place Martinez. This will be the battle to watch as the season wears down.
In the team standings, an off night from Adrenaline Motorsports Red saw their gap shrink slightly, but with a cushion of 279 points on Synergy East, something dramatic will need to happen in order for this championship to change hands. Close battles in the team standings include for 3rd place, where Adrenaline Motorsports Black and LPM – Cancer Down are locked in a furious battle. Also, a tight battle rages in the back half of the top 10, with Skid Mark Black, Synergy West, NHR e-Sports and LPM – Thumbs Up all covered by 64 points.
The Midwest Simulations 200 goes off this Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern. Catch all the live action only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
The green hills of Michigan are about to come alive with the sound of V6 power. The Lionheart Series is coming to Michigan International Speedway for the Sim Racers 4 Mental Health 200.
Last time out at Charlotte, Justin Weaver and Connor Harrington put on a show up front. The 2 swapped the lead numerous times over the last few laps, with Harrington using a small mistake to get around Weaver the final time with just 1 lap remaining to take the win. Andrew Kinsella capitalized on the same mistake to finish second, just 0.188 seconds behind Harrington. Weaver would settle for 3rd, while the Adrenaline Motorsports duo of Tony Showen and Joe Branch rounded out the top 5. It was a tough day for points leader Adam Blocker, as the Carolina driver got caught up in the final wreck of the night, ultimately finishing 22nd, 21 laps down. Fortunately for Blocker, 2nd in points didn’t fair much better, as Dan Geren made a mistake and caught the wall just 38 laps into the race. As a result, Blocker maintains his commanding lead in the championship, but the battle for 2nd is heating up. Kinsella is just 35 points behind Geren, with Michael Goodman and Justin Weaver also within shouting distance of 2nd place.
Site of the first ever Lionheart Race, the IndyCar drivers make their annual pilgrimage to Michigan International Speedway. The high-banked oval will be welcome relief from the narrow confines of Charlotte. 4 or even 5 lanes wide in some places, the drivers will have to balance the draft with the need for clean air as the tires fall off.
For drivers strong in the draft, look no further then the top 3 from last week. Weaver, Kinsella, and Harrington are notoriously strong in races like this, where draft and tire fall-off is equally important. Look for these 3 to be up near the top this week as well.
A driver to watch out for is Joe Branch. Branch is one of the best fuel savers in the series; consistently being able to stretch the fuel one or 2 extra laps. At a big track like Michigan, that can be a huge advantage. If we get a long stretch of green flag running, it might just be that Branch will be raising the winner’s trophy at the end of the night.
With routine heavy-weights such as Brian Yaczik and Jason Galvin having down seasons, Big Joe Hassert has been flying the flag for the Loud Pedal Motorports team this season. All 3 drivers, however should not be overlooked at Michigan. Hassert in particular is strong in the draft, and will play a factor on Wednesday night.
Finally, a bounce back race from Dan Geren seems highly likely. Geren has always been strong at Michigan, where the high banks and wide track suits his style. Geren will need a good race if he wants to keep any hope of catching Adam Blocker by season end alive. He will have one eye looking back as well, however, as Kinsella, Goodman and Weaver are coming for him.
The rookie battle saw a bit of a shake-up as Mike Rigney finished 9th, while John Hill, Damon Martinez, and Bryan Carey all finished outside the top 15. This is a battle that will be coming down to the wire, with Martinez only 31 points up on Rigney. From here on out, it is very likely that the most consistent of those 4 drivers will take the crown, which could just give the Hill, the cleanest driver in Lionheart this season.
Tune in Wednesday September 18th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern for all the simulated action, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
For the first time all season, Adam Blocker faced a challenge on a road course. Ultimately, it did not matter.
The defending champion in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment pulled away following the first pit stop to win the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza, the inaugural event for the series at the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“I have no clue how I did that,” Blocker said. “I was all over Damon (Martinez) and I saw him starting to spin. I somehow kept the car clean and avoided him.”
Blocker beat Dustin Wardlow by 7.85 seconds.
The Adrenaline Motorsports driver led 22 laps after starting second and battling with Wardlow and pole winner Damon Martinez during the opening stint of the race.
This included a caution when Andrew Kinsella and Brian Beard got together in the opening turn. Everyone was able to continue after repairs in the pits.
“Damon did a great job defending,” Blocker said. “I think I had more pace but I didn’t want to push the envelope going for points. But it worked out.”
Martinez led 13 laps and looked poised to snag his first Lionheart win, holding off Blocker’s challenges lap after lap.
But Blocker stayed out one extra lap during the open pit stops, and as he exited pit lane, the pair went side-by-side into the first turn. Martinez turned a bit too much, causing contact that gave Blocker the lead.
But the battle wasn’t over.
Martinez stormed back around Blocker entire the third and final chicane, only to see the back end snap on corner exit, sending Martinez spinning into the sand and ending his chances at a win.
“I just put the right wheel on the curb too much,” said Martinez, who finished third. “Thankfully I kept it off the wall. I saw Adam in my mirror and then passing my front nose. It was close.”
Wardlow capitalized on the mistake and ran a clean race to the end to finish second.
“I was shocked to even be able to hang with these guys as long as I did,” Wardlow said. “I was hoping for a top ten and ended up with a podium. It was great.”
Dan Geren and Tyler Graaf rounded out the top five.
25 of the 33 starters finished the race, with Scott Bolster, Chris Lanini and Joe Flanagan amongst the drivers involved in crashes.
12 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Blocker’s stranglehold on the championship standings continues.
After a couple of months of relative inaction for the Lionheart series; just 3 races in the past 45 days, it is a quick turn around for the IndyCar drivers as the take to the track in back-to-back weeks. This time it will be at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Fisch Motors 200.
Last time out at Monza, was one of the most competitive road course races Lionheart has seen in some time. With Sage Karam missing the race, it fell to his good friend Damon Martinez to take the charge to the reigning road course king, Adam Blocker, and take it to him he did. Martinez nipped Blocker for Pole position, and lead for most of the first half of the race. Blocker, however, was never more then a second behind the rookie, and in fact the top 5 were rarely out of touch through most of the race. Blocker would get by Martinez when the rookie made a small mistake during the second stint of the race. Martinez got on the gas just a little to hard through the 3rd chicane, and spun right infront of Blocker. Somehow, the Carolina driver avoided Martinez, and both drivers avoided the wall allowing Blocker to inherit the lead, while Martinez fell down to 5th behind Dustin Wardlow, Bryan Carey and Dan Geren. Martinez would battle back to 3rd, but no one was touching Blocker from there out. Wardlow came 2nd, while Geren and Tyler Graaf would get by rookie Bryan Carey after Carey spun on the last lap battling with Martinez for 3rd.
Now the series turns to a different kind of challenge. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a fast D-shaped 1.5-mile oval, but the track is much narrower than its sister tracks in Atlanta and Texas. This will lead to tight action and the draft and aero-push will play a big factor in the race.
Last year’s winner, Dan Geren, will certainly be looking to repeat this year. In last year’s race, Geren won for the first time all year and got a monkey off his back that proved pivotal to mounting a late season charge. Geren will be hoping to replicate his success at this track and carry the momentum through to get within striking distance of points leader Adam Blocker.
If there is one driver hoping to use Geren’s template from last season, it might be the driver directly behind him in the standings. Despite winning the Indy 500, Andrew Kinsella has been caught up in more then his fair share of wrecks this season, almost none of which have been of his own making. The double points from his 500 win keeps the Canadian in outside contention, but he will need a big swing in fortunes over the final races to catch his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate.
Another driver looking for redemption is Michael Goodman. Sitting 4th in points, the New York driver has shown speed and consistency, but like Kinsella has found himself to often caught up in wrecks not of his doing. Goodman is a quiet, courteous driver, who is one of those drivers you can trust to make the right move. This will be extremely important at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the quarters will be tight, and the speeds high. Look for Goodman to be there at the end, hungry for a win.
Finally, rounding out the top 5 is Justin Weaver. There are certain drivers that you associate with different styles of track. Obviously, as this season has proven, Adam Blocker can do it all. Kinsella, excels at the flatter ovals like Motegi, New Hampshire, Kentucky, or Homestead, where throttle control is important. But for these high-speed ovals, the Lionheart drivers you think of are guys like Geren, Big Joe Hassert and Chris Stofer. Increasingly, however there is another name to add to that list. Justin Weaver has become known for his foot to the floor style, and that often finds the 8 Ball Motorsports driver at the front of races like this. Watch out for the Moby Dicky’s machine on Wednesday.
Speaking of which, tune in on Wednesday August 28th, 2019 for all the side by side, wheel to wheel action from the Fisch Motors 200 at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
After nearly a month of, the IndyCars of the Lionheart series travel across the virtual pond, and down the Mediterranean Sea to Italy for the Plasma Tracks Grand Prix of Monza. The Lionheart IndyCar Series goes to Monza for the first time in series history, where the low downforce IndyCar’s anticipate quite the show.
Last time out at Barber, Adam Blocker was the only driver to stay out of trouble for the whole race, cruising to a series record 52.39 second lead over Dan Geren. Geren and Sage Karam both had problems on pit entry during the race, causing Geren to drop back, and eventually causing Karam to drop out of the race entirely. 3rd in points entering the race, Andrew Kinsella was putting in a strong performance for the oval specialist, running in 4th place until Joe Hassert inexplicably slowed into the fast left-right on the back side of the Alabama check-up. The resultant check-up saw Joe Branch collect Hassert, while Kinsella, who was lapping the pair, take to the grass to avoid the pair. This resulted in front and rear wing damage, that ultimately relegated the Canadian to an 8th place finish. Instead, rounding out the top 5 was Brian Yaczik in 3rd, Connor Harrington in 4th and Michael Goodman in 5th. The only change in the top 5 of the championship saw Goodman overtake Kinsella by 3 points for 3rd place. Meanwhile at the top it is all Adam Blocker, with a lead of over 200 points.
From the twisty, tight Barber Motorsports Park, Lionheart now travels to the Autodromo Natzionale Monza, with long straights and tight chicanes, this week will require a completely different skill set from the Lionheart drivers. Hard braking zones and tight turns and long straights will mean that the driver who can get the car slowed down, turned and back to the gas the best will be you winner. That corner exit speed will be the x factor to watch this week, as the long straights will heavily penalize those who prioritize corner entry in their style.
2 Drivers to look out for this week are Sage Karam and Dan Geren. Karam made some mistakes last time out at Barber, but was the only driver able to match Adam’s one lap pace. This track suits Karam’s aggressive style. A lap 1, turn 1 move could be all the Pennsylvania driver needs to set off into the sunset.
Geren, after hardly putting a wheel wrong last season, has made an uncharacteristic amount of mistakes. Be it a small miscalculation with the throttle or a poorly timed passing maneuver, Geren has yet to capture the form he exhibited in the last half of the season last year. If Geren can shut out the noise on race day, he is as fast as anyone, but it is the mental game he seems to be losing out on this season. Last year around this time, Geren shook off the bad luck and went on a tear to make the championship interesting. Will Monza be the catalyst that gets the Midwest driver back on track?
Last year, the rookie of the year points championship came down to 2 drivers. Justin Weaver, and Stephen Laarkamp. The battled tooth and nail down to the finale, before Weaver got the better of Laarkamp by finishing better in the finale. It is thus not surprising that the two drivers are again in a pitched battled for 6th in the championship standings, with Laarkamp just 14 points behind Weaver. So far this season, Weaver has been the rabbit. Often the faster of the 2, stretching out leads. But Laarkamp has played the tortoise perfectly, being the more consistent finisher of the 2. Just as it was last year, their battle will be a storyline to watch as the championship gear up for the home stretch of 10 races.
It is hard to look past the dominant factor in Lionheart this season for this race. Adam Blocker has been dominant on both road and oval. Even when he starts deep in the field, the Carolina driver finds a way to be at the front come the finish of the race. Thus, it will take something monumental to keep the Adrenaline Motorpsorts driver from the podium in this race as well. But if ever there is a track where the surprising can happen it is Monza. No matter if the corner is fast or slow, all of them require high commitment. One wrong move…one split second lapse of concentration can result in your car against the barrier and your day finished. Blocker has been the model of consistency so far, but we still have 11 races remaining. How long does the concentration last? How long does the luck hold out?
The only way to find out the answers to these questions and more is to tune in this
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 10:35pm EDT for the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.