By Justin Prince
After closing a two-second gap and passing Barrett Rolph with 11 laps to go, Robert Maleczka III has won The DMLC Racing Channel 200 at Atlanta.
Maleczka closed the gap by utilizing 10-lap fresher tires than Rolph’s for the final stint of the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel’s race at iRacing’s virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Factory Backed driver closed in on Rolph by up to 0.3 seconds a lap after his pit stop at some points. He was able to make the pass to the inside of Rolph while the Ascari Autosport driver was stuck in traffic.
Rolph attempted to take back the lead on the outside line for three laps before Maleczka cleared him.
Maleczka’s victory comes in his first start of the season in the series.
Alexander van de Sandt, Tony Showen and James Krahula rounded out the top five.
Maleczka did not think he had the race under his control until Rolph reached the traffic and he got in range of the draft.
“In my opinion, the setup was very good,” said Maleczka from HyperX Victory Lane. “If you could hook that white line on the bottom of Turns 3 and 4, the car was just a rocket ship passing people and made it pretty easy in traffic.”
Rolph said he thought at 20 laps to go, when Maleczka was still several seconds behind, it was his race to win.
“It’s just how the strategy played out at the end,” said Rolph. “I just didn’t have the tires at the end. A bit of a gut punch at the end, but I’m still super stoked to be on the podium.”
The tire and stint difference was sparked after a series of mid-race cautions mixed up the grid.
Caution 1 had come out after a crash during the first green flag pit stop cycle on Lap 44 when Alex Guyon and Eric Schaus collided coming out of Turn 4.
Guyon and Schaus were running side-by-side when Guyon’s car slid into the sidepod of Schaus. The two banged sidepods, picking Guyon’s car off the ground. Schaus then spun across the front wing of Guyon, who drove hard into the SAFER barrier down the frontstretch.
As Schaus went down the track, Adam Young launched off the front wing of his car and into the catchfence. Young rode upside down for several feet before coming to rest at the end of the front straightaway.
During the caution, Jason Galvin hit Jim Brooks, giving Galvin a black flag.
On the following restart, Galvin was then hit by Jeff Hysong while trying to come to the pit lane to serve the penalty, causing a second caution. The incident caused a wave of smoke to cover the exit of Turn 4. Christopher Kresge and Chris Lanini were also involved in the crash.
Overall, the race had four cautions in the span of about 30 laps.
While all the drivers could make it on one final pit stop with under 40 to go, many of the strategies were scattered as a result of the yellow flags. Maleczka had elected to come down under the third caution sequence while Rolph had stayed out during all the yellows.
“I knew because we were getting such short runs during the middle part of the race that we weren’t putting much wear through the tires and I was being mindful of that too,” said van de Sandt. “I just took the fuel when I was dead last and stayed out, got a couple spots from other people and made it to the end.”
Rolph, who went from the midpack to the front as a result of the first caution, was not expecting how the end of the race turned out.
“We got kind of lucky on that first yellow that came out. (It came out) right as we hit pit lane, which cycled us right up to the front,” said Rolph. “It kind of felt like we were on the same strategy the whole race until the end … It ended up being a huge factor.”
Next, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel will be going short track racing at Phoenix Raceway for the ButtKicker Phoenix 175. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on May 10th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
After a fierce battle for the race lead resulted in a major crash on the final lap, Chris Stofer has won the first triple crown race of the 2021 Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel season.
The GRAAFix Esports 300 at iRacing’s virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway ended with a dramatic incident coming out of Turn 2 after Stofer and Jason Galvin had been battling for the win during a three-lap shootout.
Galvin appeared to be about a foot apart from Stofer when Galvin’s car shot up the track.
The Thumbs Up Cancer Down LPM driver then slammed into the outside SAFER barrier before bouncing back around to the other side of the track and to the apron. Galvin would then hit the inside wall, destroying the back end of his Dallara DW-12.
He would spin around the apron for a few more seconds before crossing the line in 13th position.
Joe Branch, Ken Hacker, Barrett Rolph and Matt Taylor rounded out the top five.
“It was a tough race,” said Stofer from HyperX Victory Lane. “Galvin there raced me hard and clean the whole way. Me and him already talked about it and looked at it. It was netcode. It’s unfortunate that our race had to end that way because it would have come down to the wire.”
The two drivers had fought for the race lead for more than 20 laps after Eric Schaus and Alexander van de Sandt collided on Lap 173. Stofer and Galvin would swap draft at least 10 times during the following green flag stint.
When Galvin would take the lead, he attempted to break the draft several times by defending to the inside of the track.
Then, a caution with seven laps to go set up the wild finish.
“It is what it is,” said Galvin. “It’s part of sim racing. It’s part of doing things on the internet. There’s nobody to blame. To me, it’s no different than if you’re racing for the win in real-life and a piece of debris comes on the track and knocks you out on the last lap. Just part of it.”
Nick DeGroot had been the dominant car in the opening 40 laps of the race.
The Motorsport.com Editor would lead by as much as 1.2 seconds after pulling away from the pack on Lap 15. DeGroot at points was as much as a tenth quicker than the rest of the pack.
The complexion of the race lead would change after Vern Hawkins III was involved in back-to-back caution flags early in the race.
The OM2D Motorsports driver first got into trouble when Ken Hacker tapped his left rear tire on Lap 39. Then, as Hawkins saved his car, Chris Stofer ran into the back of Hawkins, sending both cars spinning through Turns 3 and 4. The incident would immediately end Fowler’s race.
Then on Lap 51, after Hawkins got his damage repaired, he would slap loose coming out of Turn 4, sending him spinning head on into the inside SAFER barrier down the front straightaway.
With the caution period, 11 drivers decided to take a risk early on strategy, including Galvin and series points leader Alexis Newsome.
Newsome would follow the same trends as DeGroot after fending off Galvin, leading by as much as 1.1 seconds in clean air before a Lap 84 caution allowed the strategies to even out.
Galvin, who had not done any practice prior to qualifying due to commitments with the NHRA, would cycle into the top five.
DeGroot would eventually find his way back in contention for the win after a restart with 80 laps to go. the points standings would see a massive shakeup afterwards.
As DeGroot, Galvin and Fowler fought back and forth for the lead on Lap 125, Paul Jenkins would clear Newsome coming out of Turn 2 while battling for fourth. Newsome would get into the back end of Jenkins, sending the AeroX driver spinning into Tony Showen.
Showen would be launched off the front nose of Jenkins and flip in the air several times over the apron before disappearing from the track.
Due to the flip and to Jenkins spinning below the white line, no caution flag came out for the incident.
Then, on Lap 136, Newsome would crash after being hit in the left rear by Marc Cohn entering Turn 3. The Contact would send Newsome into the right sidepod of Schaus. Newsome then bounced hard right into the outside wall, flinging her car to the inside of the track into the path of Tyler Graaf.
Van de Sandt, Andrew Kinsella and Charles Teed would also be involved in the crash.
On the ensuing restart, Galvin would take the lead on Lap 147 and begin pulling away from the pack.
DeGroot elected to come in for his final stop on Lap 153 after dropping to the edge of the top 10 positions and immediately lost a lap after a quick caution.
DeGroot would then be involved in the next caution after he attempted to go three-wide. He would go on to finish 10th.
Overall, nine cautions were drawn during the race with more than half the field not completing the full 200 laps.
Next up, the Lionheart Speedway Series goes to iRacing’s virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway on May 7th for the DMLC Racing Channel 200. Live coverage can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV at 10:35 p.m. ET.
By Justin Prince
In the third-closest finish in the history of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience, Marc Cohn has held off Chris Ragan to win The Watchman 250.
Cohn had to defend the race lead on a one-lap shootout at iRacing’s virtual Pocono Raceway to secure the victory.
Ragan attempted to charge to the outside of Cohn in Turn 3 on the final lap. Cohn attempted to hug the bottom of the racetrack and started losing ground on corner exit.
The two would even out on speed coming to the finish line, with Cohn taking the checkered flag by the edge of a front wing.
Mike Rigney, Matt Taylor and Mike Taylor completed the top five.
“Two years ago, I lost this race battling for the lead trying to make a pass that just didn’t work,” said Cohn from HyperX Victory Lane. “It’s almost been two years since my last Lionheart win and we did it. I’m so, so happy. I can’t believe it.”
The one-lap shootout occurred after Michael O’Brien and Paul Slavonik collided with five laps to go.
Ragan said he was staring at Cohn’s car the entire final straightaway. He said he was originally more focused on allowing the drivers behind him to battle for position.
“In my eyes, I was probably in the best spot I could be in there,” said Ragan. “I was talking with my teammate Richie (Hearn) and I wasn’t really going to attack Marc. I was really happy with the result up to that point. I wanted to pull away and let those guys battle. Then we got that run and it was so close.”
Cohn added he would have been happy to see either him or Ragan win.
“Ragan drove me so clean all race and if he would have won, I would have been happy for him too,” said Cohn. “I got almost the perfect restart, but out of Turn 3 it was just so close. I was just hoping I could hold on. I was on pins and needles thinking ‘Oh no, don’t lose it again, we can do this’ and we didn’t.”
The 250-mile race had many different drivers battle for the race lead.
At the start of the race, O’Brien and Adam Young swapped for the race lead several times. The two traded runs to the bottom of the track in Turn 1 and Turn 3 each of the first five laps. O’Brien eventually built a gap of half a second by Lap 7.
As that was going on, Raven Motorsports Black’s Sage Karam charged his way through the field. The NTT IndyCar Series driver, who started in 10th place, gained seven spots in eight laps. By Lap 11, he was three-tenths quicker than anyone else in the field. Karam took the lead from O’Brien that lap.
Moments later, the first caution of the race came out after Craig Forsythe hit the outside wall coming out of Turn 3.
The Independent driver slid out of the main racing groove and into the edge of the SAFER barrier off the corner. Forsythe then bounced off the wall into D.J. Clark, sending the two spinning quickly down the track towards the pit entry. Both drivers then slammed hard into the ARMCO barrier at the inside of the track, destroying both cars in the process.
By Lap 22, Karam, Taylor and Aaron Morgan, the top three championship contenders heading into the race, were all inside the top three.
The event also featured several incidents with drivers either hitting the outside wall or snapping loose on corner apex.
Caleb Benci of Team RaceVerse was a main example of that on Lap 30 after attempting to pass Ken Hacker to the inside of Turn 3.
Benci’s car immediately stepped out across the bumps and the seam in the corner. He then overcorrected to the right, sending the car quickly spinning into the outside wall to bring out the second caution of the race.
Isaac Snider decided to stay out on track with that caution flag, giving him the lead. Taylor passed Karam coming off pit road.
The cautions and destroyed cars started to build up from that point forward.
Defending race winner Lionel Calisto attempted to pass Alex Guyon to the outside of Turn 3’s exit on Lap 38 when he scrubbed the wall. As he slid off the wall, he was clipped by Robert Mikes and launched into the inside wall. He flew back across the track at a rapid rate, being hit by Jean-Francois Matte and Gary Corley before coming to rest next to the flag stand.
Then on Lap 62, shortly after Snider had to pit for fuel, the first massive crash of the day occurred in Turn 1.
Jorge Anzaldo was battling with Ron Hacker for eighth position when he got loose at the bottom of Turn 1. Anzaldo’s blue and black car spun around and went up across the track, collecting Ricky Hardin and Chris Lanini.
The incident then sent Hardin airborne and into the trees in the corner. He rode the top of the SAFER barrier for several feet while Adam Young and Danny Roberts collided in the check-up effect.
Young and Roberts then bounced off one another into the incident at more than 100 MPH, sending Roberts flying above several cars.
“I apologize for my spin that wound up collecting several cars,” said Anzaldo on the series’ Discord server after the incident. I didn’t want to throw away a possible top 10.”
The crash gave Snider back the lead after the rest of the field came into the pit lane.
Disaster hit for several of the championship contenders the following restart.
As Taylor took the lead back from Snider in Turn 2, Karam tapped his right front tire into the wall. Karam could be seen having to use more wheel input than his fellow competitors the following corner to turn the car.
As Karam got passed by Morgan, Snider hit the outside wall coming out of the corner. Snider then slid into Morgan and sent both cars spinning to the inside part of the frontstretch. Snider and Morgan finished 22nd and 18th respectively.
As both drivers stopped out of the racing grove, Guyon was hit from behind by Trevor Malone. Guyon rode the top of the wall and on Malone’s car for much of the straightaway before being sent airborne. Guyon flipped over more than 15 times before coming to rest in the pit lane.
“I feel so embarrassed about that,” said Snider. “I had a perfect plan in place and I just threw it all away.”
Then, under yellow, Karam spent more than a minute in the pits getting his car repaired from tagging the wall. The incident put Karam back to 18th place with under 30 laps to go.
Cohn and Ragan entered the lead conversation shortly after the incident with Cohn battling Taylor for several laps on the ensuing restart. Cohn led all of his 25 laps during the final stages of the race.
As for Karam, he crashed again on Lap 90 to set up what was a wild finish.
Just 13 cars finished on the lead lap in the eight-caution race.
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be going road course racing once more, this time at the virtual Phillip Island Circuit for the HyperX Grand Prix of Phillip Island. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 13th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
In one of the calmest races of the 2021 Lionheart Racing Series season so far, Sage Karam has won at Watkins Glen International for the third straight time in dominating fashion.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver led 32 of 37 laps after starting on the pole position for the eighth running of the SimXperience Grand Prix of Watkins Glen Presented by Chris Fowler Racing.
It is Karam’s ninth career victory in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker.
Adam Blocker, Connor Harrington, Joshua Chin and Ryan Otis rounded out the top five.
“It was a good race from me obviously,” said Karam from HyperX Victory Lane. “I was able to clock in the fastest lap and had no incident points, so it was a pretty perfect day.”
Karam was very fast from the opening lap of the race. After Blocker passed Chin in the opening corner, Karam pulled away by 1.1 seconds on Lap 1 alone. He would lead by as much as five seconds by the opening pit stop window on Lap 14.
“I knew the first lap was going to be huge to get away from the draft, so I burned one push to pass. I was practicing my outlaps and stuff just to see how to make the car go faster on cold tires,” said Karam. “That seemed to just be the difference. It seemed like my outlaps were pretty strong compared to people. Also, just that first lap of the race I was able to get out of draft range. From there, it was basically just hitting my marks.”
Blocker said he was content on how his race turned out.
“I was basically at the start just happy to pass Josh,” said Blocker. “After that it was basically just managing the reds because I thought more people were going to be sliding than they were. They didn’t really, so I probably managed them a bit too much at the first stint. I was able to go long at least, go on the blacks late, lead a lap and get a bonus point, but after that I knew Sage was gone. It was about keeping Connor and Josh behind me.”
Karam said the track suits him well on the sim despite not liking Watkins Glen in real life.
“When you have the Bus Stop and some faster-speed corners and a little off-camber corners, you’ve just got to trust the car,” said Karam. “I just feel I got a good trust with the car and feel for it.”
Engine temperatures were a major talking point for drivers entering the race. Both Ron Hacker and Tyler Graaf would blow their motors in the race on Laps 22 and 31 respectively.
Overall, just four drivers did not finish the event.
Harrington said the engine issues affected his ability to undercut Blocker.
“We knew going into this race that a lot of the engine temperature stuff was going to be really difficult to deal with,” said Harrington. “I think after my first stop, I had the engine oil temperature warning on my dash for something like 26 laps straight.
“In the pit stop phase when we were trying to undercut Adam, I was looking to attack and I couldn’t get on the button because I was afraid of blowing the motor. A little bit of a lost opportunity to stick it to Adam maybe and gain a little ground, but you can’t be upset when you come to a Lionheart race and finish on the podium.”
Next up, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker goes to iRacing’s virtual Kentucky Speedway for the OMA's 200 on May 5. Live coverage can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV at 10:35 p.m. ET.
By Justin Prince
After gaining more than two seconds in the pits and a dramatic crash in the battle for the race lead, Aaron Morgan has won the SimXperience Grand Prix of Mosport.
In an eventful round of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience, Morgan took the checkered flag at iRacing’s virtual Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by more than four seconds.
It is Morgan’s first career Lionheart Retro Series win in his 30th start.
Ryan Otis, Matt Taylor, Michael O’Brien and Chris Ragan rounded out the top five.
“I’m so excited, especially because I never thought I was going to win on a road course against Otis in a straight up fight pace-wise,” said Morgan. “I knew he probably had some traffic come into play there, but I still never thought I’d ever be close enough to him coming into the year to take advantage of something like that. I can’t believe it.”
The drama would ensue after the first pit stops of the race.
Rasimas and Morgan passed Otis in the pits after Otis elected to pit coming to Lap 24 after leading by 1.4 seconds. Rasimas, who came down the pit lane a lap later, would gain more than a second in the pit stop sequence. Morgan also gained two seconds.
“In the practice races, I was playing around with fuel-saving and stuff because I knew the fuel number for one stopping. I was just so close to it, but late in the race it wasn’t a possibility. Then, I tried spitting in the second practice race,” said Morgan. “I did a full tank and my teammate did half a tank and he just pulled away from me so much. I knew tonight I had to do the half and half.
“It gave so much pace exponentially when you got to the end of the fuel tank.”
On Lap 27, Morgan would apply pressure to Rasimas, driving side-by-side coming out of the Mario Andretti Straightway. Morgan would take the preferred line away in the esses, clearing Rasimas for the race lead.
Rasimas would then get loose coming out of Whites Corner. Rasimas would fishtail out of the corner, slamming the brakes before crashing into the right side wall.
The damage would put Rasimas two laps down.
Then, during the second and final pit stop window, Morgan and Otis would go for two different strategies.
Morgan would pit on Lap 37 after holding onto a five-second advantage. Otis elected to stay out, giving him a lead of more than 16 seconds.
That lead would last until Lap 46, when Otis would come in for his final stop.
“You had to get a little luck in traffic, but you had to play the smart strategy. Aaron did both and I think I did a little bit of neither,” said Otis.
Several drivers struggled with keeping their cars moving forward on the track early on in the race.
On the opening lap, Paul Slavonik and Jorge Anzaldo followed each other off the left side of the track. Slavonik would spin out for hundreds of feet before stopping in the grass. Anzaldo meanwhile would slam on the brakes, narrowly avoiding the tire barrier and turning a hard left back towards the pavement.
Both drivers would come back on track deep in the field in 30th and 33rd position at the end of the first lap respectively.
Then, on Lap 8, Richie Hearn would carry too much speed into Moss Corner and spin around in a full circle around the corner from the top five.
The former CART driver locked the brakes, stopping at the edge of the racing line for the exit of the corner.
While Chris Fowler would miss Hearn by inches in the incident, David Sirois would dart to the left, slamming into Hearn’s left front tire.
Sirois and Hearn would finish TK and TK respectively.
On Lap 11, several more drivers would crash hard on Lap 11 coming out of Quebec Corner.
While battling for 23rd position, Thomas Lovelady would click the grass on the left side of the track, spinning into Dustin Wardlow.
Wardlow would then slide straight into the left side wall, flipping upside down. The Raven Motorsports Silver would ride on his helmet for several feet before flipping back over several times down the straightaway.
Moments later, Danny Roberts would slam into the inside wall on the run up to Moss Corner. Roberts had spun his red Lotus 79 after carrying too much speed into the corner
Overall, eight drivers would not finish the race.
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be having its first triple crown race of the 2021 season, the The Watchman 250 at Pocono Raceway. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 29th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
For the second round in a row, Alexis Newsome has taken the checkered flag to win in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by DMLC Racing Channel.
Newsome won the DLMC Racing Channel Milwaukee 175 after several late-race cautions and incidents mixed up the running order.
Alexandr van de Sandt, Chris Stofer, Ken Hacker and Matt Taylor rounded out the top five.
“I feel great,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “I was not confident at all entering this race.”
Taylor and Stofer had been the dominant cars in the field early in the 175-mile race. Taylor pulled away by as much as two seconds in clean air to lead 80 laps.
“You couldn’t pass the leader,” said Stofer. “When you’re further back, you can make some moves and I was surprised.”
That changed after the caution came out for contact between Marc Cohn and Charles Teed with 59 laps to go.
Taylor, Stofer, Barrett Rolph and several others elected to stay out under the ensuing caution period. Drivers were estimated to be able to make it 54 laps on a tank of fuel.
A couple laps later, the big one would strike after Chris Fowler, Nick DeGroot and Luis Gonzalez Nuñez made contact entering the apex of Turns 1-2.
Nuñez dived to the inside of Fowler and DeGroot in the corner, making contact with the left rear tire of Fowler. All three drivers would then spin in Turn 2, sliding across all lanes as the heart of the pack crashed into the group of crashing cars.
DeGroot would launch off the front nose of A.J. Musselman into the catch fence. He would flip in the air more than five times before landing back on the ground next to Dean Moll’s car.
At least six cars were involved in the incident.
That forced a majority of the drivers who had stayed out the previous caution to pit.
“I was worried about pitting, but had to pit,” said Stofer. “I was within the fuel window and just wanted to do the best that I could.”
With the caution flag, Newsome would cycle to the lead and never look back.
“When me and my new teammate Nick stayed out there, we were counting on a lot of cautions,” said Newsome. “It ended up working out.”
Next up, the Lionheart Speedway Series goes to iRacing’s virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first triple crown race of the season, the GRAAFix Esports 300 at Miami on April 19th. Live coverage can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV at 10:35 p.m. ET.
By Justin Prince
After a pass for the race win with five laps to go, Sage Karam has won his third straight race in the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience.
The KARNOX 175 at Phoenix came down to a six-lap shootout after two late-race cautions.
Taylor, who had cycled to the lead after undercutting Karam during green flag pit stops, fought hard off the restart. Karam however was able to get a good launch, diving below Taylor into the dogleg for the lead. The two would nearly make contact, forcing Karam below the yellow line heading to the entry to Turn 3.
Karam would get the advantage through the corner before the two ran side-by-side for a full lap.
The two would then tap tires in with four laps to go, shuffling Taylor back to third position, allowing Karam to build a gap.
It is Karam’s 16th career victory in the series.
Morgan, Taylor, Lionel Calisto and Craig Forsythe rounded out the top five in the 175-lap event.
“I was happy with that last yellow,” said Karam from HyperX Victory Lane. “I didn’t get a good jump on the first restart. I don’t think I would have been able to make a move, so when the yellow came out, I knew I just had to go for it. I stayed flat in Turn 1 where the other restart I didn’t do that. I think that was the difference.”
The second chance came after D.J. Clark crashed with 10 laps to go.
Taylor said he did not want that opportunity for Karam to close.
“I was right where I wanted to be there,” said Taylor in regards to the first of the two late-race restarts. “I felt I could keep the draft broken enough to hold him back. That reset gave him just enough gap to get a run.”
Morgan, who capitalized on the contact from the leaders to finish second, said he wanted to see his Avatar Auto Racing teammate win.
“I wasn’t really in contention. It was his race,” said Morgan. “I’m a little disappointed for him ... I was just happy to get the podium. I wasn’t really expecting to do so well in this race because I struggled so hard in the practice races and qualifying.”
Series rookie Danny Roberts started strong at Phoenix, leading by as much as 1.3 seconds in the opening stages of the race.
Attrition and cautions however played a factor in both the strategy and the battles for drivers and their teams for much of the race.
Much of the field would be offset on strategy after a Lap 22 crash when Mike Rasimas and Ron Hacker appeared to make contact exiting Turn 2.
Hacker slid hard into the outside SAFER barrier, bouncing into Mike Rigney. He would then be launched into the air off the front wing of Paul Jenkins, launching more than 15 feet into the air.
The red and blue car of Hacker would then bounce off the pavement several times, twirling around several times before coming to a rest at the entrance of the dogleg.
That incident would be beneficial to Karam, who had started the race in 22nd position. He would move to seventh after staying out under the yellow flag.
Then, after a Lap 42 caution from a Michael O’Brien crash, Roberts and Karam would elect to pit for fuel, matching their strategies. Karam would then pass by both Roberts and Chris Fowler for what would eventually become the net race lead.
“I had a lot of work to do,” said Karam. “I played some good strategy and was able to make up my track position going off strategy a bit.”
That would change on Lap 92 when Chris Staples would go upside down.
After checking up for Alex Guyon down the frontstretch, Staples would be hit from behind by Paul Slavonik. The independent driver then spun into the outside wall and launched off the nose cone of Richie Hearn into the air. Staples would fly over the track for half a straightaway before landing upside down.
Karam, Fowler and several others elected to come down the pit lane while more than half the field would stay out, including Taylor.
The late-race yellows would equalize the strategies.
“It was really kind of a roulette wheel with when the cautions were going to fall and if they were going to work out in our favour or at worst wouldn’t trap you,” said Taylor. “Everything worked out even in the end.”
Karam said he did not expect to have three wins early in a row to start the year. He has the chance to become the first driver to win four races in a row in the next race.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” said Karam.
Next up, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will head to Canada for the SimXperience Grand Prix of Mosport Presented by Clipping That Apex. The action from the virtual Canadian Tire Motorsport Park can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 15th at 10:35 p.m. ET.
By Justin Prince
Sage Karam has dominated the streets of Long Beach, Calif., to win the first race at the virtual street circuit in Lionheart IndyCar Series history by more than 15 seconds.
The BDE Motorsports driver looked comfortable from the start in the HyperX Grand Prix of Long Beach, leading 60 of the 64 laps and lapped as high as seventh place on the way to winning his ninth career race in the series.
Adam Blocker, Connor Harrington, Bryan Carey and Aaron Morgan rounded out the top five.
“It definitely feels good. I’m glad it’s over with now. It was a tough race for sure,” said Karam in HyperX Victory Lane. “This place is definitely very difficult to drive. Every lap, depending on how big the lead was, was always on the edge. You always had some sort of moment. With this track being smaller and more technical, there was always lapped traffic to deal with. Putting that into account, it was hard to manage that. Thankfully those guys did a great job of making it not totally unpredictable. It was smooth sailing with no incident points and I was able to just do my own thing out there.”
Karam immediately broke the draft of his competitors after pulling away from Blocker and Joshua Chin by more than a second on the first lap. The NTT IndyCar Series driver pushed the limits of the car and the track, turning laps up to half a second quicker than some of his competitors.
Karam averaged a 1:09.348 lap time for the race. The only other competitor close to that total was Blocker, who averaged a 1:09.588.
“I didn’t quite have the pace for Sage,” said Blocker. “I just had to decide if I was going to push really hard to try and force him into a mistake or just kind of chill because I was confident I had the pace advantage on everybody behind me. I just took the chill route because it’s a long season and I need to finish and get points the whole season.”
It was also the first race in series history to have alternative tire compounds available for use. Drivers had to turn at least one green flag lap on both types of tires or risk penalization by race control. About half the field elected to start on the harder compound of tires.
“It’s really cool that we get to do that like we can in real life,” said Karam. “The reds are really, really fun to drive on. They have a lot of grip. I was really excited when I saw the two (PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype) cars starting behind us on blacks. I knew that pretty much put them out of the race. The way I looked at it was more of a mental thing. If you start on reds, you know you can stay with the pack and attack for position whereas you start on blacks, you’re just losing spots and you’re playing catch up the whole race.”
Harrington said he and his PLTH teammates had elected to try something different for the race.
One of their team drivers in Chin would have an early departure from the grand prix on the blacks after a crash in Turn 1 on Lap 8.
Chin was running in third place when his car snapped loose on entry. The purple and black car slid sideways for almost a second before Chin locked up the left side brakes to try and save the car. Chin then crashed hard into the right-side tire barrier at more than 60 MPH, destroying the front suspension and the right sidepod.
”The car just broke free,” said Chin on YouTube after his crash. “Connor had the same thing happen but he caught it early enough.”
Chin finished in 32nd place as a result of the crash.
The remaining PLTH drivers, Jason Brophy and Harrington, finished 14th and third respectively.
“I don’t think we really had the pace to try and hang with Sage or Adam, so we tried the alternate strategy with the hard tire,” said Harrington, who finished 17 seconds in front of the next closest car. “Thankfully we were able to survive the first stint on the hard tires there and go on the softs and open up the gap.”
The track saw many incidents throughout the event.
On the opening lap, several drivers would be collected in a crash in the fountain section of the track after Justin Weaver hit the back of Scott Holmes. The incident broke the left-side suspension of Holmes against the outside retaining wall as other cars scattered through the smoke. Weaver also destroyed his left sidepod and left front tire in the incident.
As those two came to a stop, Andrew Kinsella also spun at the exit of the section. Weaver would stop in front of Kinsella to avoid hitting him. Brian Greenlee and Dustin Wardlow then smashed into the back wing of Weaver, causing a sea of wings and car parts to scatter across the track.
Greenlee, Wardlow and Weaver all did not finish the race as a result of the Lap 1 incident.
Several others including Jason Galvin also struggled with loose moments in the race.
Galvin’s day ended early after he got loose coming off of Pine Avenue on Lap 5. The Thumbs Up Cancer Down LPM driver immediately locked the brakes, but still slid hard into the left-side tire wall. The ensuing crash immediately destroyed the suspension and front wing of the car.
In the end, 14 drivers did not finish the grand prix.
“The tough thing about the track is the bumps,” said Harrington. “The walls are obviously unforgiving, but the bumps really make it difficult to not lock the brakes or slide the tires under braking. You really had to pick a line that was smoother than others and kind of get lucky you don’t hit the bumps.”
Next up, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by HyperX goes short track racing at the virtual Phoenix Raceway for the Thumbs Up Cancer Down Phoenix 200 Presented by Minus 273.. Live coverage can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
After a vast majority of the field either ran out of gas or coasted their way to the finish, Alexis Newsome has won the second race of the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by DMLC Racing Channel season at Texas Motor Speedway.
In one of the wildest finishes to a Lionheart Racing Series event in recent memory, drivers had to stretch their fuel tanks to last 44 green flag laps to make it to the end of the DMLC Racing Channel 200.
Just eight drivers finished on the lead lap at the checkered flag after several drivers had to pit with under 10 laps to go, including race leaders Chris Stofer and former GT Academy driver Barrett Rolph.
Tony Showen, Chris Fowler, Jim Brooks and Dean Moll rounded out the Top 5.
It was Newsome’s second-ever race in the Dallara DW-12.
“As soon as I came out of the pits, I noticed how close it was. I just started to fuel save,” said Newsome in HyperX Victory Lane. “Everyone was going really hard, so I just backed it down and waited. When I thought I had enough, I took off.”
It had been a memorable debut for Rolph in the series.
The Ascari Motorsport driver, who started in 10th place, quickly made his way into the top three positions after 40 laps.
Rolph would eventually come out of the pits side-by-side with Marc Cohn for the race lead on Lap 44.
The two would swap the race lead several times and combine to lead 107 of 133 laps.
Rolph was in the race lead when he would have to pit coming to the white flag.
“Half a liter of fuel is all that kept me from winning on my Lionheart Racing Series Powered By HyperX debut,” said Rolph on Facebook after the race. “I am kicking myself that I didn't stay out but I went for the cover to ensure I had a good finish.”
The fuel-mileage race came to be after a Lap 85 crash off Turn 2.
Ridin’ Shotgun Motorsports driver Adam Young and Synergy Motorsports Blue’s Moll collided in a battle for 15th place. Young, who had been at the bottom of the race track, would come up the track and hit the left side pod of Moll as the two transitioned onto the backstretch.
Both drivers then would spin to the inside of the track. Young would destroy his suspension after crashing hard into the inside wall, crumpling the left side of his DW-12. Moll would only lose a back wing in the process.
Young would go on to finish 29th while Moll recovered to finish 5th.
All but four drivers would pit under the caution period - race leader Cohn, Matt Taylor, Jorge Anzaldo and Alex Guyon - with 47 laps to go.
Those drivers all had to pit with under 20 laps to go.
“It was difficult,” said Fowler, who finished the race with 0.1 gallons remaining. “I wanted to survive, make no mistakes. I knew it was going to be close. I figured at that last caution, we were going to have at least one more. I didn’t think any of us could make it. I know those guys who stayed out, they were gambling for that. Then, we were 20 laps in and I was like, ‘man, this is going to go green.’”
The long run also surprised Showen. He said he originally did not expect for the closing laps to be run on a fuel stint.
“I backed off when there were seven cars in front of me. I was like ‘there’s no point fighting with those guys,’” said Showen. “Then I looked at my fuel and was like, ‘we got enough laps where I can save behind this giant wall of wind in front of me.’ From that point on, it was a fuel-save race for me.”
The biggest crash of the day came on Lap 68 When Fowler and Emerson Santos would touch sidepods coming out of Turn 2. Santos would launch off of the right side of Fowler’s car into the outside SAFER barrier.
Chris Lanini and Alexander van de Sandt would then smash into the right side of Santos, sending Lanini airborne. Lanini would flip over more than 10 times down the middle of the backstretch as Matt Wagner crashed into the inside wall avoiding him. Wagner would then join Lanini in the air after being hit by the front nose of van de Sandt.
Mike Rigney and Joe Branch would also get collected checking up for the incident.
Next up, the Lionheart Speedway Series goes short track racing at the Milwaukee Mile for the DMLC Racing Channel 175 on April 12th. Live coverage can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
For the third time in a row, Sage Karam has won at Watkins Glen in dominating fashion.
Karam started on the pole and led almost every lap of the ButtKicker Grand Prix at the Glen to score his second Lionheart Retro Series Presented by Simxperience victory in a row.
Ryan Otis, Matt Taylor, Aaron Morgan and Mike Rasimas rounded out the top five.
“It was a good race for sure,” said Karam, who led 36 of 37 laps. “This track, the draft is so huge, so I really wanted to push the first few laps to try and break that. Once I was able to get above a second lead, I kind of went into trying to save some fuel, but trying to run some fast laps. It was difficult, but I was able to pull out a big lead.”
The race could have ended much more differently.
Gary Corley, who had been running 23rd place, spun out entering The Boot and flipped upside down into the middle of the track.
Karam, who had won the race by more than 14 seconds, just avoided significant contact with the right side of Corley’s car.
“Obviously the biggest worry is you have a car spinning in front of you or a couple cars tangled up.,” said Karam. “When spinning or up in the air, you really don’t have any control. You have to pick which way to go and pray … Thankfully we got away with it today.”
Taylor, who started on the outside of the front row, had been kept under pressure by Morgan throughout the second half of the race until Lap 28. Morgan would spin after carrying too much speed into Turn 7. He would slide to the left of the track, locking up the brakes while doing so.
Morgan would quickly get back up to speed after spinning the tires, but would lose more than 10 seconds and one spot as a result of the incident. The Avatar Auto Racing driver would then go back and forth with Rasimas for several laps before finishing in fourth.
“I was kicking myself for the spin, but hey it put on a show,” said Morgan.
Otis said it was a good race for him. The two-time champion had held onto second place from the drop of the green flag. It was Otis’s 45th career top five finish in the series.
“I think either my races go really well, or they go really, really bad,” said Otis. “I’m always trying to be consistent obviously and put myself into position to win. That wasn’t the case today. Karam just smoked us.”
Several other drivers struggled with pivotal mistakes throughout the race.
On Lap 6, Isaac Snider would spin coming into the final corner from the Top 10 after clipping the grass on the left side of the track. Snider would then spin, smashing the rear end of his Lotus 79 into the tire barrier. Snider would go on to finish in 25th place, two laps down.
Then, on Lap 13, Ariel Alaniz had been running in 13th before clipping the grass entering the boot. Alaniz would slide from the right side of the track into the armco barrier on the exit of the chute. The Independent driver did not finish the race and was scored in 27th.
Later on in the race, Thomas Lovelady would also crash in Toe from ninth place.
On Lap 31 Lovelady would slide the back tires coming out of the corner, then bobble hard left into the armco barrier. The front nose would immediately be crushed in. Lovelady would then smash the back end of the car against the wall. Lovelady would finish three laps down in 25th place.
Overall, nine drivers did not take the checkered flag.
“(Watkins Glen) is definitely a little bit draining,” said Otis. “It takes a lot of focus. You can’t have a lot of distractions. It’s definitely taxing. Not physically, but mentally.”
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be going short track racing for the KARNOX 175 at Phoenix. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 1st at 10:35 p.m. EST.