Heading into the Dirtyblinds.com 300 at Pocono Raceway, there were numerous drivers who were considered favourites to win. Among them was Jonathan Goke, whose Lionheart resume at the “tricky triangle” included several track records, a pole position, and a sixth-place finish last season. However, one key item was missing from that list: a victory. When the checkered flag flew after 120 laps of intense racing, Goke was finally able to call himself a winner at Pocono.
“I was so excited coming into this week because Pocono is my track!” said Goke after climbing from his Mazda-powered DW-12 in victory lane. “I am so pumped right now!”
The win, Goke's second in four starts this season, was particularly special because it came in his debut race with Team #NailedIt, a team he'd officially joined just days before the race. As it turned out, it was his new teammate Dan Geren who finished second. The two #NailedIt drivers combined to lead 103 of the 120 total laps, at times pulling away from the field behind them.
“Amazing teamwork,” Goke said. “I can't stress enough how happy I am to be on Team #NailedIt.”
Geren was equally happy with his second-place finish because it represented a much-needed change in luck. Despite earning recent pole positions at both Phoenix and Kentucky, Geren failed to finish either race inside the top twenty.
“I've been waiting for a while for this one,” said Geren. “It seems like I haven't been able to catch a break since Homestead.”
Joe Branch rounded out the top three, finishing on the podium at Pocono for the second straight season. His Adrenaline Motorsports teammate Christian Steele was close behind in fourth, while defending race winner Jake Wright came home in fifth.
Although Wright had a quiet race overall, he led nine laps and emerged from the event with enough points to maintain the top spot in the championship. James Krahula, who finished eighth, remains second overall. Jonathan Goke's win moved him to third, just 19 points behind Wright. More impressively, the win gave Goke a stranglehold in the Rookie of the Year standings, which he now leads by 72 points over Christian Steele.
As the first race in the 2016 Lionheart Triple Crown, the Dirtyblinds.com 300 paid double points to all entries. In addition, winner Jonathan Goke will receive an impressive prize package that includes a custom-made winner's plaque, a vintage Indy 500 print, an Indy 500 hard cover book, along with several other items. Goke also receives $25 courtesy of series title sponsor First Medical Equipment.
The Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment will take a week off before heading to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on May 11th for the second road course event of the season at Road America. The 100-mile event will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and Iracing Live beginning at 10:35PM ET.
For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
Fueled by a bold strategy to pit with 40 laps to go, James Krahula stretched his fuel and led a No Name Racing sweep of the podium and collected his first win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment in the Monster Worldwide 200 at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday night. It was Krahula’s first win with No Name Racing, and his second in the series.
“I knew that we were probably pretty close to making it, but especially if we got a caution, I knew we could make it,” Krahula said in victory lane. “I’m glad that the strategy worked out in our favor.”
Krahula’s teammates, Jake Wright and Pierre Daigle, completed the podium as the race ended under caution following a wreck with two laps to go. Both Wright and Daigle credited the newest member of No Name Racing for making the race-winning strategy call.
“He made an awesome call,” Daigle said. “He said ‘if we pit now and get one more caution, we can make it.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”
Wright failed to lead a lap for the second straight race, but kept his point lead, albeit by one, over Krahula.
“The rollercoaster that this race was, from starting up front to being close to dead last, it was just very fun,” Wright said. “The strategy made all the difference.”
Krahula said he knew his team was in good shape when a caution flew with 23 laps to go for a wreck right in front of the No Name teammates involving Jack Bogan and Tiger Connor. The rest of the field hit pit road for the final time, while the three teammates stayed out and conserved fuel.
“These races are so hard to get,” Krahula said. “You take them anyway you can get them. You just have to be smarter than all these guys, and even though we had the strategy, we still had to race for it.
“You’ve got to be on your game in this series, and that’s what makes these wins so rewarding.”
The race ended under caution when Joe Branch turned Jason Galvin coming off of turn four with two laps remaining. Branch held on to finish fourth, with a wounded Tony Showen in fifth. Galvin fell to 16th following the contact.
Jason Robarge, Brandon Limkemann, Robert Blouin, Randy Crossno and Matthew Mercer completed the top 10.
The race was slowed by six cautions for 23 laps. Chris Gutierrez led the most laps at 48, but ended up 15th when he hit pit road as the caution on lap 120 flew. 10 drivers led laps, with 18 lead changes highlighting an entertaining race.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a week off before the first Triple Crown event of the season, the DirtyBlinds.com 300 at Pocono Raceway. Jake Wright is the defending race winner takes his points lead into the event on Wednesday, April 27. All 120 laps can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
For more on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
GOKE CRUISES LATE AT PHOENIX!
In one of the sloppiest races in series history, Jonathan Goke made it known he’ll be a force this season, leading half the laps on his way to a win in the CHD Warriors Phoenix 150 on Wednesday night.
The win marked the second trip to victory lane for the Air Force veteran in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I’m sweating, that was a good race,” Goke said after the race. “Going in I felt like this was my race to lose. I love Phoenix, I put down a ton of practice, and I came away with the most laps led, so it’s good to get a good result after the first two weeks.”
Goke picked up a win at Michigan in season three before being deployed by the United States Air Force. He returned in the offseason and settled back in quickly, but had yet to turn his pace into a solid finish.
That changed Wednesday night, as Goke held off a strong charge by Joe Hassert late in the race.
“Joe and I always race clean,” Goke said. “Going back to Michigan last year, it’s always fun.”
Hassert took the points lead from defending series champion Jake Wright, who was caught in a mid-race wreck.
“Two for two on the ovals, it was a fun run,” Hassert said after starting in 14th. “It was a long fight to the front.”
The race was marred by numerous wrecks and cautions, especially in the first 75 laps. In all, 12 yellow flags slowed the field for nearly a third of the race, 49 laps. Seven drivers swapped the lead 13 times, but it was the carnage on the track that swayed the results, with Wright being joined by expected contenders including Dan Geren, Jason Galvin, Chris Stofer, Joe Flanagan and Tony Showen, amongst others.
Tony Lurcock survived the crazy start to finish third, with James Krahula and Joe Branch rounding out the top five. Branch started 31st, with Pierre Daigle starting 32nd and following Branch through the field to finish sixth. Michael Gray, Jorge Anzaldo, Chris Lanini and Ronald Hacker wrapped the top 10.
14 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Hassert leads Wright by 21 points, with Krahula, Goke and Lurcock claiming the top five spots as the series prepares for another oval, Kentucky Speedway, on Wednesday, April 13.
All 133 laps of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment race at Kentucky can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel starting at 7:40 p.m. EST. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.