WRIGHT WINS IN CANADA!
This time he had to work for it, but ultimately nobody could unseat the king of the road in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. Two-time defending series champion Jake Wright led all but two laps, and closed the gap in the standings on his way to a series-leading third win of the season in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Canada at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“I spent a lot of time today trying to get some extra practice laps in,” Wright said from the virtual victory lane. “This is a fun track, and I had a lot of fun racing it.”
Wright held off Ryan Otis, his closest competitor on road courses all season, to win by 3.5 seconds. Otis spent much of the race closing in on Wright, but the winner of all three road events this season was able to open his lead each time.
“There’s a lot of speed in these cars, and even though it looked like a decent sized gap, a two second lead is not comfortable,” Wright said. “I spent all race trying to make the gap what I would call manageable.”
Otis was not disappointed with his effort.
“I thought I probably was, too,” Otis said responding to a comment from the Global SimRacing Channel’s Soup Zahn, stating Otis was the second-best driver all race. “I was trying to hold onto Jake, but I’d close the gap a little bit when he’d hit traffic, then he’d open it back up when I hit it.
“I was trying to put the pressure on as much as I could, being three or four seconds behind him. He did a better job on the pit stops, I never made up the gap there.”
Michael Goodman ran a steady race, comfortably finishing third.
“I just practiced every single day, I just did laps and laps and laps,” Goodman said. “It’s a great track, it’s fun, I enjoyed it. It was definitely hectic for sure, very few places where you can pass.”
Dustin Wardlow brought his car home a career-best fourth, with Michael Gray delivering another solid road course run in fifth.
Several incidents marred the event and prevented contenders from finishing where their pace suggested they should.
Dan Geren, damaged in an incident while lapping Patrick Taylor, wrecked after contact with Mitchell Moehler in turn 2 on lap 36. Geren fell from a top ten run to 27th.
Jason Galvin qualified poorly and never recovered. After spinning twice, Galvin made contact with a loose James Paulson in turn 3 on lap 24. Paulson spun into the wall, ending his race. Galvin avoided damage, but the three incidents relegated him to a 16th place finish, one lap down.
On lap 29, Chris Stofer and Jason Robarge, both comfortably in the top ten, made contact. The duo fell to 14th and 15th respectively, the final two cars on the lead lap.
The back half of the top ten featured a mix of pleasant surprises and heavy contenders.
Championship points leader Andrew Kinsella finished sixth, with James Krahula seventh. George Adams was consistent finishing eighth. Scott Bolster delivered a superb drive to ninth, with Bob Mikes rounding out the top ten.
26 of the 37 starters took the checkered flag in a race that took just over 43 minutes.
Kinsella, a rookie to the series, extended his points lead to 75 over Geren. Wright jumped six spots to third, 7 points back of Geren. Otis and Gray are tied for fourth, one point behind Wright.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes two weeks off now, before its biggest race of the season, the I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500. The 200 lap, double points event is set for Sunday, June 11 at 4 p.m. EST and can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel.
Jonathan Goke is the defending winner of the 500. Goke will start from the rear as he continues to serve a penalty from incidents at the Texas event. At least 15 drivers are considered serious contenders in the race in what is the most anticipated event in Lionheart history.
The Lionheart Retro Series also heads to Indy for the I Race for Gage 250, set for June 1. That race can also be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST. Wright, Otis, Galvin, Mikes and Travis Jegerlehner are wedged in a battle for the points lead in that series, utilizing the Lotus L79 to duplicate the 1980’s era of American open wheel racing.
For more information on both series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
KINSELLA AIMS FOR CANADIAN VICTORY
After several intense battles on the ovals at Pocono and Texas, the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment shifts gears this week by travelling north to Canada. More specifically, the sim racing series makes its first-ever visit to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, better known as Mosport.
The track – located in Bowmanville, Ontario – may seem like an odd choice to host an Indycar race – even a virtual one. However, the 2.46-mile circuit does have a long history with open-wheel racing and even hosted the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix numerous times between 1967 and 1977.
Indycar even has a brief history at Mosport thanks to the USAC Championship Series that visited the facility for the first time in 1967. That year, Bobby Unser emerged as the winner after two 98-mile heat races. Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt and Danny Ongais would also earn Canadian victories in three additional USAC events at the track. The Atlantic Championship also raced at Mosport for many years between 1974 and 1994 with future Indycar names like Bobby Rahal, Kevin Cogan, Roberto Moreno and Greg Ray all earning victories in the Indycar ladder series.
Indycar has had a much larger presence in Canada during the past three decades thanks to races in Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. During this period, Paul Tracy has been the only Canadian to win on his home soil, doing so twice in Toronto (1993 & 2003) and three additional times in Vancouver (2000, 2003 & 2004.)
As it happens, the current Lionheart points leader Andrew Kinsella is also Canadian and he will be looking to follow in Paul Tracy's footsteps this week by winning the 41-lap sim race. In order to accomplish that feat he will need to find a way around Jake Wright who is undefeated on road courses this season. Mosport may be Kinsella's best chance to challenge Wright – and the precedent for such an upset already exists thanks to Michael Gray.
Last season, Gray scored an unexpected win for Team #NailedIt at Brands Hatch due primarily to strong pit strategy. After exiting the pits ahead of Wright, the Australian hung on throughout an intense battle in the closing laps and took the checkered flag. If anything, Mosport will likely prove even more difficult to pass, so if Kinsella – or any other sim racer – can find a way to either out-qualify Wright, or get ahead of him in the pits, chances are good that another upset winner could emerge.
Kinsella may have plenty of motivation to win his hometown race, but Michael Gray might have even more at stake. He currently sits fourth in the championship and if he were to pull off another upset victory, it would allow him to cut into Kinsella's points lead. Gray, not surprisingly, has been posting strong practice times but that may not be enough to get him to victory lane. He will once again need flawless pit strategy and a little bit of luck if he wants to stand on the top step of the podium after this event.
As far as Jake Wright is concerned, motivation won't be an issue for the defending series champion. Already a winner at Imola and Watkins Glen in 2017, he's the clear favourite to win yet again. Currently sitting 102 points out of the points lead, Wright's continued dominance on the road is a must if he wants to find himself back in the championship fight. Barring a mistake, he could easily dominate again, but as far as the standings are concerned, he's also going to need Kinsella to hit a slump at some point – something the consistent Canadian has yet to do.
Finally, Dan Geren has, as usual, put in hundreds – if not thousands – of laps in preparation for this sim racing event. Geren, currently sitting second in the standings, has proven in the past that he can work his way to the top of the field on a road course even if it takes hours of practice to get there. After coming very close to victory at Phillip Island last season, could Geren earn his first road course win this week in Canada?
Other sim racers who currently sit in the top ten overall are Bob Mikes, Ryan Otis, James Krahula, Pierre Daigle, Michael Goodman and Brian Yaczik. Each of them will be looking for a strong and consistent run in Canada so that they can hold (or improve) their position in the standings heading into the league's double-points Indianapolis 500 on June 11th.
All-told, five Canadians are expected to start the event, including points leader Kinsella, race sponsor Robert Blouin, Patrick Taylor, Tyler Turnbull and Pierre Daigle. Daigle is the only sim racer in the field to have real-life experience on the 2.46 mile Mosport circuit having raced Formula Fords there in 2006 and 2007.
The Indycar Grand Prix of Canada presented by iRacer.ca will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on May 24th beginning at 10:35PM ET.
It was not as gracious as Danny Sullivan, but Jason Galvin was not complaining. After spinning on lap 81, Galvin rebounded back to the lead by lap 106 and never looked back, winning the Texas 200 at Texas Motor Speedway. It’s the third career trip to victory lane for the Bakersfield, Calif. driver in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“This is like redemption for me,” a relieved Galvin said in the virtual victory lane. “Last week I was a down on myself as I’ve ever been after a Lionheart race. I preached patience at Pocono, and on lap 17 I ran straight into James (Krahula)...I never thought I’d win this race, that’s crazy.”
Galvin’s race looked like it was over when he made contact with Dan Geren in a battle for sixth on lap 81. Galvin pushed in the dirty air behind Bob Mikes, and Geren pounced to the outside. Galvin said he rolled out of the throttle, but he was sucked up into Geren’s bumper pod exiting turn two. Miraculously, Galvin got the car turned away from the wall and slid to a stop, bringing out a caution and setting up a dramatic strategy call.
“I don’t know how I kept it off the wall,” Galvin said. “When it turned, I just tried to get it spun back towards the outside wall and then I just held on.”
On the ensuing restart, Jonathan Goke miscalculated a move inside Joe Hassert, who had dominated the race to that point. Contact entering turn three, sent Hassert spinning into the wall. On the ensuing caution, Galvin and Krahula ducked into the pits to top off on fuel. There were still 43 laps remaining, with the fuel window between 36 and 38 laps.
Needing a few cautions, the duo caught a break right away, as Jorge Anzaldo and Goke made contact on lap 94, causing a massive pileup that took Michael Goodman and slowing several others.
On lap 103, Dave Barber clipped Ryan Otis on the front straight, bringing out another caution. Michael Gray, who had not pit since lap 81, ducked in for fuel, handing the lead to Galvin.
“I knew when that caution came out and Michael pitted, we were good,” Galvin said.
Krahula spent the next 27 laps trying to get around Galvin and win at his home track, but a pair of late race cautions ended any chance he had.
“I was trying to do something with him early, when we had some gap on Bob Mikes, but I just couldn’t make anything happen,” Krahula said. “I got past him once, but he got another run and that was it.
“But with the strategy, I’ll take second. I feel like we stole one.”
Mikes settled for third when the caution came out with two laps remaining, preventing the Kentucky winner from making a move on second place.
“I can’t ask for anything more,” Mikes said. “After the season I had last year, to have the season we’re having so far is a nice feeling.”
Jason Robarge and points leader Andrew Kinsella rounded out the top five. Polesitter and defending race winner Jake Wright finished sixth, with Scott Bolster, Dan Geren, Pierre Daigle and Jorge Anzaldo completing the top ten.
The race was slowed by 10 cautions for 37 laps. The incidents started on lap 12, when Trevor Bissett got loose off turn four, collection Chris Lanini and Robert Blouin.
The final caution came on lap 132, when Dustin Wardlow turned Chris Stofer as the duo battled in a pack entering turn one.
The most controversial moment came on lap 86. On a restart after Galvin’s spin, Goke peaked inside Hassert off turn two. Hassert used a tow to pull ahead, and Goke pulled up behind Hassert midway down the back straight. At the last moment, Goke pulled back down, as Hassert was turning in. Hassert was unable to move up in time, and contact sent Big Joe into the wall, ending his race. Hassert led 78 laps, but finished 28th.
Galvin led the next most laps at 28, with Krahula, Goke, Mikes, Wright, Gray and Barber all taking bonus points for leading a lap.
Kinsella stretched his points lead over Geren to 49, with Mikes up three spots to third. Gray and Otis round out the top five. Two-time defending series champion Wright is 9th, while Galvin, who finished last at Pocono, gained five spots to 14th.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment is now a third of the way complete, with 8 of a scheduled 24 races in the books. Up next, the series heads to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Canada presented by iRacer.ca. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday, May 24 at 10:45 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment arrives at Texas Motor Speedway one week after a dramatic Triple Crown race at Pocono that shook up the championship standings. Double points won't be on the line this week in the Lone Star State but with the league's full-length Indianapolis 500 just one month away, it's more important than ever for championship hopefuls to have a good finish.
Throughout Lionheart history, Texas has been notoriously kind to pole-sitters. Past winners Matt Kingsbury, Dan Geren and Jake Wright all earned the pole and led the majority of laps on their way to victory lane. As such, it's very possible that the most important on-track battle this week will take place before the race even begins.
So, who has the edge in qualifying?
Based on sheer numbers, Dan Geren certainly seems to have the advantage. Geren already has three pole positions this season, all of them on ovals. The Iowa-based sim racer is particularly fast on 1.5 mile ovals having already scored the pole at Kentucky earlier this season. Geren finds himself second in the standings and will undoubtedly be motivated to become the first two-time Texas winner.
If motivation is the key, then defending pole-sitter and race winner Jake Wright should not be overlooked. Wright dropped to tenth overall after a disappointing DNF at Pocono last week and now finds himself over 100 points back of leader Andrew Kinsella. While Wright's road-course dominance will help cut into that deficit, he's going to need some strong results on ovals as well. A repeat win at Texas would be just what the doctor ordered and the defending series champion is obviously capable of starting first on the grid.
Wright could have some competition from within his own team thanks to Brian Yaczik. Yaczik qualified third at Kentucky earlier in the season and is still searching for his first career pole. He's also still looking for his first win and he nearly earned it last season at Texas. Yaczik finished a close second to fuel-saving Wright and likely would have passed him had the race been a few laps longer. Regardless of whether or not Yaczik wins the pole, look for him to provide a strong challenge to whomever stands in the way of his first win.
Earning the pole may be important, but with 133 laps of unpredictable racing required to determine a winner, there are no guarantees. Favourites like Jonathan Goke, Christian Steele, Jason Galvin, Chris Stofer and Dan Geren all failed to finish at Texas last season despite strong runs. A more consistent and safe strategy has yielded results in the past and could do so again.
Chris Lanini started thirty-eighth at Texas last season and finished fourth. Matthew Mercer turned a thirty-fourth place grid position into a career-best sixth. Even runner-up Brian Yaczik started twenty-first.
If it is indeed consistency and safety that wins the race, points leader Andrew Kinsella may be the sim racer who benefits most. Kinsella is the only driver in the league to complete every single lap this season. Although the Canadian had a season-worst finish at Kentucky, he still came home thirteenth which would be more than enough to defend his points lead at Texas. With his Adrenaline team firing on all cylinders after a 1-2 finish at Pocono, Kinsella could easily earn his second win of the season.
Other drivers to watch this week include Dave Barber, who came very close to victory at Pocono and has shown speed in the past on 1.5 mile ovals. His Controlled Chaos Racing teammate Bob Mikes did find victory lane earlier in the season at Kentucky and should be strong again at Texas after an eighth-place finish last season. Finally, James Krahula finished on the podium in his home race last season and it's very likely he'll be strong once again as he tries to bounce back from an early DNF last week.
The virtual trip to Texas will be a special one for league founder Jorge Anzaldo who will be making his milestone seventy-fifth career start this week. Anzaldo made his very first Lionheart start at Michigan in July of 2014.
The Texas 200 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on May 10th beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
Last season, Chris Stofer finished as one of the strongest racers in the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. There was every reason to believe that his momentum would carry into this season but unfortunately things did not work out that way. He struggled early, completing just 3 laps in the season opener and finishing 28th or lower on four occasions.
All of those early struggles were forgotten on Wednesday night when Stofer emerged as the winner of the Dirtyblinds.com 300 at Pocono Raceway. The dicey and intense sim race served as the first leg in the league's Triple Crown and netted Stofer numerous prizes – as well as double points.
The Indiana-based sim racer took the checkered flag following a tight battle with Dave Barber in the closing laps. Unfortunately, the thrilling fight ended abruptly following slight contact that sent Barber into the wall and brought out a race-ending caution. The incident left Stofer with mixed feelings as he celebrated in victory lane.
“It was tough to win that way after such a good race,” said Stofer after climbing out of his Chevy-powered Dallara DW-12. “Dave was up there and had a lock on the field before that last caution. I really feel bad for the guy.”
The victory was Stofer's second career Lionheart win and the first-ever Triple Crown victory for Adrenaline Motorsports. The team celebrated a 1-2 finish after Andrew Kinsella came home second behind Stofer.
“Oh man! It was wild out there! I tried to stay out of it as much as I could,” said Kinsella. “By the end you had to just go for it. Once I got into the top five it was a matter of trying to maximize the points.”
Kinsella's solid finish kept the Canadian in first overall and stretched his lead to 43 points. As an added bonus, Adrenaline Motorsports leapfrogged Team #NailedIt and No Name Racing to take over the lead in the team championship standings.
“The whole team tonight worked really well together,” added Kinsella.
Last year's runner-up Dan Geren claimed the final podium spot after an up-and-down night.
“It was a long race for me,” said Geren, who bounced back from a pit lane penalty early in the race. “I exited the pit when it was closed. I had to drop to the back and then I had to work my way back up, so getting third, I will take that!”
Geren finished just ahead of his teammate and defending winner Jonathan Goke. Controlled Chaos Racing teammates Bob Mikes and Scott Bolster finish fifth and sixth respectively while Ron Hacker, Pierre Daigle, Ryan Otis and Michael Goodman rounded out the top ten.
The 120-lap sim race was slowed by 10 cautions for 28 laps. Overall, 22 of 41 starters finished the event. Among the casualties were Jason Galvin, Brandon Limkemann, Ian Adams, James Paulson, Brian Yaczik and Jake Wright.
As noted above, Andrew Kinsella extends his overall lead to 43 points. Dan Geren's strong finish moved him up four positions to second while Michael Goodman now sits third. Michael Gray and Ryan Otis round out the top five. Jake Wright, who went into the event just 5 points back of Kinsella, slipped eight spots to tenth overall and now finds himself over 100 points out of the lead.
Race winner Chris Stofer gained an impressive sixteen spots after the win and now sits thirteenth overall. He also earned $50 in cash, a custom winner's plaque, a hardcover book, a trading card set and several custom prints.
The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to the virtual track next week at the Texas Motor Speedway for 133 laps of sim racing action. The event will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on May 10th beginning at 10:35PM ET.
For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.