Less than a month after visiting Road America, the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment returns to virtual Wisconsin for an encore on Wednesday, June 1st – this time at the historic Milwaukee Mile.
Jake Wright will be chasing some history of his own as he takes to the grid for the Milwaukee Mile 150. He could become the first driver in league history to win three consecutive races if he takes the checkered flag again this week. With a third-place finish in last season's race, Wright has already proven he can be fast on the Mile, although he will face a strong challenge from a field of equally tough competitors.
It's no surprise that the strongest challenge may come from the Team #NailedIt stable. Dan Geren and Michael Gray are on a roll thanks to podium finishes at Montreal, while Jonathan Goke will be looking to rebound after an early exit in Canada. However, it may be Ian Adams who ends up stepping into the spotlight for the four-car team at Milwaukee. Adams has had a quiet season thus far, but he finished second in last year's race and clearly brings plenty of speed to the virtual Mile.
James Krahula, now tied for second in points with Jonathan Goke, will also be looking to turn things around after an incident ended his strong run at Montreal. Krahula has been fast on ovals this season, including his win at Kentucky. He should be in the mix again this week, especially if fuel strategy comes into play – although history isn't on his side at Milwaukee after a disappointing 24th-place finish last season.
Dark-horse picks for the week include Korey Connor, who had a very strong run at Montreal and is always fast on ovals. Connor has struggled at times this season, but he finished fourth at Milwaukee last year and seems to be gaining momentum. Jason Robarge, who battled Connor for much of the race in Canada, may be an even bigger threat. Robarge has finished no lower than sixth in the last four races, and he's currently the cleanest driver in the league. Robarge is also the leader in laps led at Milwaukee among active drivers – a total he will no doubt be looking to add to this week.
A field of well over thirty virtual Dallara DW-12s are expected to take the green flag in this event. Milwaukee marks the first of five oval races that will culminate with the full-length I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, July 17th.
The race will be broadcast 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.
The Lionheart Indy Montreal was a mixed bag of solid racing and several major incidents, with Jake Wright taking the win on Wednesday night. Wright checked out en route to his third road course win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I love these road courses. I wish we could come and do more of them,” said Wright, who ran an incident-free race. Traffic could have posed a problem for the defending series champion, but Wright was quick to credit his fellow drivers. “Lapped traffic tonight was definitely nice. Everybody made it easy to get around, so I appreciate that.”
The race was marred by a Lionheart first, a full course caution on a road course. On the initial start, Dylan Lee got into the back of Pierre Daigle in turn two. As Daigle saved his car, a stackup occurred. Joe Branch, quickly making his way through the field, made contact with 10th place running Ron Hacker. As both cars slid off course, Jason Galvin split the middle, but caught the curb and spun into Branch, blocking the track on the narrow exit of turn four.
Several other cars piled into the wreck, causing race director Jesse Vincent to throw the first road course caution in league history.
“I saw Branch hit Ron, and didn’t know where to go,” Galvin said. “I split the middle, but that curb is pretty big and I tried to let the car settle, but I was also worried about getting hit by both of them. It was just unfortunate, I got back to the gas a little too quick.”
On the restart, several more incidents took out top contenders. Jonathan Goke, running second, was heavily damaged by the lapped car of Randy Crossno, who appeared to be entering the pits when he hit Goke.
Daigle, a former open wheel racer in his native Canada, was in the top five when he lost control in turn two, suffering the effects of side pod damage from his lap one contact with Lee.
And James Krahula, who inherited second from Goke, had his race come to an early end after contact with Joe Flanagan.
All of the madness opened the door for Dan Geren to score a career-best second place finish on a road course. Geren’s teammate, Michael Gray, cruised home in third with Jason Robarge and Korey Connor each capping impressive drives in the top five.
“Can you believe that right there man? Second place!” said Geren after the race. “I'm not a road course guy at all, but I put in probably 300-plus laps here just to try and maintain myself.” Geren was quick to praise his #Nailedit teammates as well. “I couldn't be prouder of these guys tonight,” he added.
Ryan Bird and Ed Tutwiler followed in sixth and seventh, with Tutwiler also running an incident free race. Brandon Limkemann and Ron Hacker rounded out the lead lap, fighting for eighth right to the checkered flag. Elsewhere on track, Dylan Lee recovered from early contact to win a spirited battle with Jorge Anzaldo for eleventh position.
Wright led 35 of the 37 laps, with Krahula leading twice during pit stops. Nine cars finished on the lead lap and nearly half of the 35 starters retired from the race.
The win extends Wright’s point lead to 78. The defending series champion leads Goke and Krahula, who are deadlocked in second.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to its oval roots next week with 150 laps at the historic Milwaukee Mile. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday at 10:40 p.m. EST.
For more information on the series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
The only close call for Jake Wright came before the race even started, when the defending series champion and current points leader had to deviate from his vacation to make time to race. From there, it was all over, as the Californian led 23 laps from the pole on his way to a win in The Flamingos 100 at Road America on Wednesday night.
It was Wright’s second win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“This is awesome,” said Wright from virtual victory lane. “We’re two-for-two on road courses this year now, and I needed that run with my biggest rivals right behind me all night. There was no margin for error, but luckily we were clean all race.”
Jonathan Goke finished second, and moved into second in points. James Krahula was third in the race, and dropped one spot to third in the standings.
“I’ve never been much of a road course guy, and I’d never turned a lap at Road America in an IndyCar prior to this week,” Goke said after the race. “I didn’t start the week very fast but my teammates kept working with me to get me quicker.”
Krahula kept pace with Goke all race, but never found a way through and had to settle for third.
“I’ve been doing a lot of laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup car at Road America, and it’s a lot of throttle control,” Krahula said. “I guess when I came back over to the IndyCar, I just had my pickup points down and it was a lot quicker. That really helped.”
It was a clean race, with only a few minimal incidents. 34 cars started, and 18 completed all 25 laps. Only seven cars finished in the garage.
Goke’s teammates, Michael Gray and Dan Geren completed the top five. Jason Robarge, Dylan Lee, Randy Crossno, Jason Galvin and Chris Stofer rounded out the top ten.
Goke was the only other lap leader, inheriting the spot during pit stops.
The series goes to its third road course of the season for the second running of the Lionheart Indy Montreal at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve after an off week for testing. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday, May 25 at 10:40 p.m. EST.
The Lionheart MX-5 Challenge returns to the track Thursday, May 19 at Watkins Glen International. And series officials are hinting at a major announcement prior to the race at Montreal, possibly involving a new series.
Two weeks after the series' first Triple Crown race of the season at Pocono Racway, the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and the famous Road America. The 100-mile race on May 11th will be the second road course of the 2016 season, and the first of back-to-back road events.
The Flamingos 100 could provide an opportunity for Jake Wright to widen his 17 point lead in the championship. Wright won the series' first road course race of 2016 at Watkins Glen, and finished a close second at Road America last season to Michel de Jonge, who is not racing in the series this year. While the door may be open for Jake to earn his second win of the season, there are several challengers who will do everything they can to keep him from running away with the championship.
The most notable challenger may be Team #NailedIt's Jonathan Goke. Goke sits third in the championship, just 19 points behind Wright despite one fewer start. More impressively, Goke is coming off a big win at Pocono, which made him the only two-time winner of the season. It's unclear if he can challenge Wright for the lead on a road course, but he has followed through on his Pocono victory-lane promise to run “hundreds of laps” in preparation for the race. Could the extra effort push him to the next level?
Goke wasn't the only Team #NailedIt driver to enjoy success at Pocono. Dan Geren finished a very competitive second at the “tricky triangle” and seems to have shaken some early-season bad luck. Geren finished fifth at Road America last season, and while he may not have the outright speed to catch Jake, a consistent race could put him in good position to capitalize if Wright has any issues during the race.
Not to be overlooked is Adrenaline Motorsports' Christian Steele, who is also coming off a solid run at Pocono. More importantly, Steele won the pole at Watkins Glen earlier in the season and was the only driver to truly challenge Jake for the win. It's entirely possible he could find himself on the pole once again at Road America.
Dark horse picks for Road America include Jason Robarge and James Krahula. Robarge has been on a solid run this season after missing the first few events, and he finished fourth at this event last season. Krahula quietly finished third at Watkins Glen, gaining little attention for an incident-free run behind Wright and Steele. A similar effort at Road America could lead to another solid finish for the driver who currently sits second in the championship.
The race will be a special one for league founder Jorge Anzaldo, who will celebrate his fiftieth career start in the Lionheart Indycar Series at Road America. Anzaldo has enjoyed a string of solid finishes in recent events, and will be looking to crack the top ten in the overall standings with another good result this week.
One notable name missing from this weeks race will be “Big Joe” Hassert, who has been forced to miss the event due to another commitment. A field of more than thirty DW-12 Indycars will take the checkered flag at 10:50PM ET. The race will be broadcast on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) beginning at 10:35PM ET.