Sage Karam became the first driver to strike twice in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, and in the process took over the points lead.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver led 23 laps, stretching his fuel while others had to pit late, to win the ButtKicker U.S. 500 at Michigan International Speedway.
“That was probably the coolest sim race I’ve ever done, and the best sim win of my life,” Karam said. “I started saving fuel on that first stint and went four laps longer than anyone else. I think that’s what won it for us. I ran out of fuel about 20 feet before the line.”
Karam spent most of the race conserving fuel in a four-car pack, while Loud Pedal Motorsports teammates Brian Yaczik and Joe Hassert exchanged the lead.
But the duo, along with frontrunner Chris Stofer, all had to pit in the final laps, while Karam conserved just enough to edge Andrew Kinsella - who also made it to the end - for the win.
“I knew when I was in that pack of four, they were all stopping before I was, so I knew I was in the best shape in that group,” Karam said. “So that was challenging, trying to manage the gap back to the other cars on my strategy and still save fuel.”
Kinsella and his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate Adam Blocker both focused on fuel conservation after early race mishaps; Kinsella botched his first green-flag pit stop while Blocker, the two-time defending series champion, qualified near the back.
“I was just cruising for the first little while, and on my first stop I overslid the box,” said Kinsella, who also captured his first Lionheart pole. “From there it was just managing the fuel strategy, and it worked out.”
Both drivers were incredibly close on fuel, with Blocker even running out in the final few hundred feet.
“I intentionally started near the back because I thought it was going to be a pretty pack-filled race with a lot of yellows,” Blocker said. “Obviously that didn’t work out...I just had to go to super saving, and that made it super close for me at the end. I ran out of fuel off four on the last lap.”
Yaczik led the second-most laps (53), but had to settle for seventh, one spot ahead of Hassert.
Tony Showen joined his Adrenaline teammates in successfully managing fuel over the final run, coming home fourth, while James Brant started fourth and finished fifth, one of the best runs of his Lionheart career.
Stofer, who led a race-high 106 laps, fell back to 16th, one lap down, after stopping on lap 206 and incurring a speeding penalty.
The race was not expected to be one of fuel strategy, but an early caution ended up being the lone yellow during the race.
On lap 9, Darin Gangi squeezed between Connor Harrington, who entered the race as the points leader, and Jason Galvin.
But the rookie Lionheart driver failed to check up for turn 1, plowing into Harrington, and leaving Galvin with nowhere to go.
The trio, along with Nathan Lewis, all retired after the crash. Ken Hacker also received damage and retired a short time later.
Other drivers ran into issues throughout the event, including championship hopeful Josh Chin, and had to retire early, leaving just 27 cars running at the end despite the single caution.
As a result of the issues for Harrington and Chin, Karam now leads Michael Goodman by 22 points. Kinsella sits third, 4 behind Goodman.
Harrington slipped to ninth, while Chin sits 10th, mostly due to the double-points implications of the three Triple Crown events.
Karam also leads the Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel points. Adam Blocker is the only driver to win both Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX championships in the same season, doing so in 2018.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to making right turns with its next stop. The Battle at Barber presented by HPP Simulation is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcast, with a 10:35 p.m. EST start.
Michigan International Speedway is a track that has had a rich tradition within the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX. The 2-mile superspeedway was home to the very first Lionheart race which took place on July 3rd 2014. Utilizing the Dallara DW12, the series with its initial popularity had more drivers than grid positions. Two races at MIS were ran, as series organizers created splits to handle the volume of drivers wanting to participate in the league. This created two “first time” winners with Michael Chinn winning in race 1 with a field of 31 drivers and Danno Brookins winning race 2 in a field of 27. This practice continued through the first 5 rounds until the league made the decision to no longer utilize splits for its championship seasons.
Michigan remained as the season opener for Lionheart through the first two seasons before being replaced by Homestead. Despite having its rotation on the schedule changed Michigan has earned the prestige of being only 1 of 6 tracks to have made an appearance in each of the 8 IndyCar seasons. Each season Michigan has produced some exciting racing as well as heartbreak.
Super speedways like Michigan create a pack racing type of environment which leaves no room for error when going wheel to wheel at over 230mph. Lionheart has proven that it has what it takes to race on the big ovals having gone caution free in Season 3 when the race was 200 miles in length. Seasons 5 through 7 also have produced no more than 4 cations and went twice with just 2 in Seasons 5 and 6.
The 2020 campaign has seen 4 different winners so far this season and we could very well see a 5th different winner by the time the checkered flag flies at MIS. In each of the previous running’s at the speedway there has never been a two-time winner. There are only 3 active drivers with a shot of becoming the first driver to achieve this goal, Hassert, Stofer and Yaczik.
Big Joe as he is known around the paddock returns as the defending race winner over Yaczik. It was a reversal from the Season 6 race which saw Yaczik claim victory by just 0.015 seconds over Hassert. The finish would be recorded as the 4th closest finish in league history.
With this race providing double points as well as the likelihood of attrition each driver will have to perform at their absolute best to hold on to or increase their positions in the standings.
The Lionheart U.S. 500 presented by ButtKicker kicks of live Sunday, April 26th 2020 at 3 PM CST courtesy the Global Sim Racing Channel.
Race Link: https://youtu.be/SUieAT9bEb0
The Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX has developed a reputation for being the toughest fixed IndyCar league in iRacing.
Wednesday night might have proven that this year, the competition has soared to unimaginable heights.
Chris Stofer held off furious charges from Michael Goodman and Jason Galvin to win the Oma’s Kentucky 200 at the virtual Kentucky Speedway, marking the fourth different winner in four events this season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I just kinda got lucky in a way of picking the right line at the right time,” Stofer said, who won for the fifth time in his Lionheart career. “I tried to run where others weren’t running, keep that clean air on the nose. It paid off in the end.”
Stofer roared to the front of the field after starting 28th, bringing 19th starting Galvin with him, and by mid-race, the duo had launched an assault on Goodman for the lead.
After a flurry of late-race cautions, Stofer held off Goodman and Galvin’s repeated attacks until a final yellow on lap 132 caused the race to end behind the pace car.
“That was a lot of fun driving up through the field like that,” Stofer said. “I had a terrible qualifying effort and started in the back, and just wanted to avoid any wrecks. I was happy with the way everything worked out tonight.”
The race ran caution-free for the opening 113 laps, allowing Goodman to pace the field early and battle for the lead once Stofer and Galvin arrived. But the wrecks at the end of the race hampered any shot Goodman had at getting back around Stofer.
“As you could tell, I was pretty fast, just a lot of stuff going on at one time,” Goodman said. “Just to be able to finish the race and finish where I did, I’m definitely pleased with it.”
Galvin made quick work of the field early, and by the end of the first pit cycle found himself battling for the lead. The California driver said he was too willing to give up the lead to Stofer, assuming the race would run clean to the finish, and was just in the wrong spot at the end of the race.
“I knew from practice we’d be good, and last year we led a bunch here and got wrecked near the end,” Galvin said. “So I felt good about tonight. There’s one moment I’d like to have back, but it all worked out in the end.”
NTT IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam finished fourth, while Connor Harrington reclaimed the points lead with a fifth-place finish.
The first caution of the race came on lap 113, and eliminated two of the best cars in the race - and had potentially devastating championship implications - when then third place Goodman was late to slow for pit road, causing Joe Hassert to crash into Adam Blocker.
Both cars careened off the wall, flipping back towards the grass off turn four. After running in the top-five all event, the duo finished 37th and 38th, the last two cars in the field.
The wreck could be especially bad news for Blocker, who missed the season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway while attending the since-cancelled IndyCar event at St. Petersburg, Fla. The two-time defending series champion has now essentially used both of his drop weeks, just 20 percent into the season.
Following the wreck between Hassert and Blocker, the field failed to gain any momentum again.
On the ensuing restart on lao 118, Josh Chin - who entered the night as the points leader - tried to squeeze three-wide with Ken Hacker and Joe Branch. Hacker and Chin touched wheels, and Hacker crashed into Brian Beard to bring out the second yellow.
With 10 laps remaining, the third caution flag flew when Scott Holmes encountered connection issues, causing him to be hit by several other cars and crash.
The race-ending caution flew with three laps remaining, when teammates Andrew Kinsella and Tony Showen got together while running in fourth and fifth. Kinsella spun into Brandon Limkemann, ending strong runs for both drivers.
The race featured 25 lead changes among seven drivers, with Goodman leading a race-high 69 laps from the pole.
27 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Harrington’s third top-five of the season gives him a two point advantage over Goodman. Stofer jumped to third in the standings, while Chin slid to fourth, still just seven points out of the lead.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment is set to take three weeks off before returning for its first triple crown event of the season on Sunday, April 26 at Michigan Speedway.
The Lionheart Michigan 500 presented by ButtKicker is set for a 6 p.m. EST green flag, and the event can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action.
The king of Lionheart has returned.
Adam Blocker found victory lane for the first time in 2020 Wednesday night, capturing the checkered flag in the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down 200 at the virtual Phoenix Raceway.
“We just made the right pit calls,” said Blocker, the two-time defending Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment champion. “I knew the strategy would probably work out no matter what happened with yellows, and once we got through the round of green stops I felt good about being out front, even on old tires. It worked out.”
Blocker missed the season opener while attending what was supposed to be the NTT IndyCar Series season opening in St. Petersburg, Fla. He returned for his first start in either Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX series last week at Watkins Glen, finishing third.
But at Phoenix, there was no questioning Blocker is still the driver to beat when he shows up.
Blocker set quick time in qualifying, led the most laps and won by a commanding 10.813 seconds over teammate Bryan Carey.
“I was really happy to get the pole,” Blocker said. “I knew getting out front would be the key, it was hard to pass.”
Carey started fourth and also ran near the front for most of the event, coming home just over a second ahead of James Brant.
“I did not have high hopes for this race,” Carey said. “It’s my second oval podium, which I’m very excited about. I had higher hopes at Homestead and Watkins (Glen), so I’m super excited.”
Brant picked up his career-best finish, driving from 37th to a podium spot while avoiding wrecks and playing the fuel game correctly.
“I had good pace all week, and then I decided to hit the wall in qualifying,” Brant jokingly said. “If you’re going to move up from the back like that, you have to have some luck, and I was able to avoid the wrecks and get good fuel mileage.”
The first-half of the race was slowed by 6 cautions for 24 laps, but the final 101 laps were run caution-free. Richard Hollyday led 37 laps but had to pit with five laps remaining, coming up just short on fuel. Hollyday finished 13th, one lap down, while Tony Showen also had to pit before the finish for fuel and ended up in 14th.
Only eight cars finished on the lead lap, with James Krahula and Stephen Laarkamp rounding out the top five. 20 of the 38 drivers who stated the event made it to the end.
The first caution flew early, on lap 6, when Justin Weaver spun on his own in turn four. The ensuing melee eliminated or severely damaged several strong cars, including Weaver, Big Joe Hassert, Dustin Wardlow, Brian Yaczik and Tyler Graaf.
15 laps later, another massive pileup occured coming out of turn four. Jason Galvin had been aggressively moving through the field, when he and Darin Gangi made contact inside the top ten.
Ken Hacker, Nathan Lewis and Adam Frazier were also caught up in the crash.
Connor Harrington entered the event as the points leader, but was caught up in a lap 67 crash when Damon Martinez caught the damaged car of Yaczik in turn two. Martinez and Yaczik touched, sending Martinez into the wall and back into Harrington.
As a result, Joshua Chin moved around Harrington by 4 points. Blocker skyrocketed to third, despite missing an event.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to its second speedway event of the year for its next event.
Oma’s Kentucky 200, in honor of league member Marc Aumick’s late mother-in-law Shari Boggs, is set for Wednesday, April 7 at Kentucky Speedway.
The race can be seen live at 10:35 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action.
For the third straight season the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX continues its tradition of turning the IndyCar event at Kentucky into a great way to honor one of the greatest grandma’s or “oma’s” of all time Sharon “Shari” Boggs.
Shari’s Son in Law, Marc Aumick, is a member of the Lionheart family, a passionate racer, and a caring and generous friend of everyone in the league. This race is Marc’s tribute to his Mother in Law Shari, and the Lionheart organization couldn’t be more privileged and honored to host it. We hope to do Oma proud once again with the show we put on.
Oma’s are special people in the lives of so many, particularly their families. Whether it is relieving the burden off parents to babysit their grandchildren or teaching those children how to laugh and have fun; nearly every one of us can relate to having that special bond with an Oma. We have all benefitted from her kind words, her loving gaze, and her passion for her family. Often these families are not just related by blood, but by bonds forged over a life time within the community these Oma’s shape throughout their lives.
Shari was no different. She was an educator for most of her adult life, always seeking ways to improve upon her students learning experiences and her ability to teach them. Shari shared her love of teaching and helping others throughout her life and was honored in 2017 with induction to the Hackettstown Medical Center Foundation “Senior Hall of Fame” for her significant volunteer work and accomplishments throughout Warren County, NJ. Shari was volunteer head of the Hackettstown, NJ, Pajama Program, a national organization that provides pajamas and books to children in need. Since 2010, Shari was a driving force in collecting more than 1600 pajamas and 1300 books for local children.
Looking ahead at the upcoming event, this will be the 7th time that the series has made an appearance at Kentucky, having only been off the schedule once back in Season 3. Kentucky has had a fairly clean run in the series with no more than 4 yellow flags flying in the last 3 seasons.
Kentucky has never produced a two-time winner, certainly a testament to the talent that runs deep in the series roster. There currently are only 4 active drivers that can make that a reality, Kinsella, Hassert, Johnson, and Krahula all previous winners will be looking to etch their names into the Lionheart record books. The series will also crown its first new pole sitter in 4 years at Kentucky, a feat held by Dan Geren for 4 straight seasons. With Geren now retired drivers will look towards their first pole position at Kentucky.
Another interesting fact is that in all 6 previous runnings at Kentucky the pole sitter has never won the race. Geren in dominating fashion leads the league in all time laps led with 279 but failed each season to find victory lane. Kentucky is definitely a track that promotes passing with a series high 24 lead changes set in Season 5. Last year saw 19 as Scotty Johnson took home his first Lionheart win over Ken Hacker who had a career best finish at last year’s race.
Joshua Chinn has taken over the points lead by just 4 points over Connor Harrington after a 15th place finish at Phoenix Raceway. Harrington who had a tough outing in the desert took home a 28th place finish and slipped down 1 spot in the standings.
Adam Blocker was the biggest mover after his win at Phoenix Raceway. The defending series champion skyrocketed 17 positions in the standings and now sits 3rd overall.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to action Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 for the Oma’s Kentucky 200 live on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel.
Race coverage begins at 9:35 p.m. CST
Race Link: https://youtu.be/h8TmnG2fG5w