By Justin Prince
For the second time this season, Robert Maleczka III has won in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel, this time at World Wide Technology Raceway.
The Factory Backed driver led 58 of 160 laps on the way to winning the GRAAFix Esports 200 Presented by SimSnap Photography.
Maleczka was able to win the race by 1.1 seconds after holding off a hard-charging Matt Taylor.
Taylor, Barrett Rolph, Chris Stofer and Vern Hawkins III completed the top five.
“The first half of the race, I was just biding my time, keeping it clean and when it mattered, I was able to gain some time on pit road,” said Maleczka from HyperX Victory Lane. “I kind of just coasted home from there.”
Two of the Factory Backed cars, Maleczka and Alexis Newsome, qualified at the front. They immediately ran 1-2 for the first 24 laps of the race.
Maleczka said track position was important.
“It was a tough race passing-wise,” said Maleczka. “You could race pretty good for at least the first five to 10 laps of the run, then it just dropped off where you could get within two tenths, then you’d lose three tenths, then gain a few tenths. Just a domino effect. Fresh tires mattered … and I was able to carve my way through the lapped traffic well.”
Newsome dominated the opening stint of the race before the caution came out on Lap 25 when Craig Forsythe got tight underneath Dean Moll in Turn 2. Forsythe had to lift heading out of the corner to prevent sliding up into Moll. He was then hit by Ken Hacker in the right rear tire, sending Forsythe spinning into the inside wall.
Forsythe was one of seven drivers who did not finish the race.
Interesting strategies started afterwards after Ron Hacker and Newsome stayed out under the caution.
On Lap 31, Ron Hacker’s gamble did not pay off after contact with Chris Fowler in Turn 2. Ron Hacker was squished into the outside wall in the incident.
That left Newsome as the only driver on the alternate strategy for the rest of the race.
“I actually meant to pit during the first caution but missed the access road,” said Newsome. “After that I kinda had no choice but to commit.”
Newsome went on to lead 36 laps and finish 20th after hitting the outside wall coming out of Turn 2 several times.
One of the hard chargers of the race was Rolph.
After crashing in qualifying, Rolph had to start in 18th place. By the midway point of the race, the Ascari Autosport driver was inside the top 10.
“It was really, really tough out there tonight,” said Rolph. “I think it was anybody’s game really.”
Strategy and execution on pit road became a major focal point in the second half of the race. Taylor nearly spun coming off the pit lane on his second to last stop, costing him several seconds.
Several other competitors had trouble entering the pit lane. At least three cars overran the pit lane and drove into the infield grass.
Taylor, who came into the pits 13 laps later than Maleczka for his final stop, was able to close in a tenth a lap in the closing stages.
“I think I paid for just a couple mistakes on that second to last pit stop,” said Taylor. “That half spin easily cost me a second or two and I didn’t quite split the fuel appropriately. I had to wait on tires more than fuel on that last stop.”
Next, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel will be going to Michigan International Speedway for the HyperX Michigan 200. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on June 14th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
After leading 38 of 53 laps, Joshua Chin has won the 2021 edition of the ButtKicker Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio by more than 19 seconds.
It is his third time in his Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker career he has taken the checkered flag. The PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver also became the fifth different winner in six races so far this season.
Ryan Otis, Aaron Morgan, Adam Blocker and Henry Bennett rounded out the top five.
“This feels really nice,” said Chin from HyperX Victory Lane. “I’m really exhausted right now and ready to go to bed, but it was a fun one. I didn’t feel the pace was there after qualifying to build that margin. I guess I just need to get better at qualifying.”
Chin got off to a quick start, pulling away on the red compound of tires by more than half a second a lap early. The top 10 drivers had all started on the reds.
By the first pit stop sequence of the race, Chin had been leading by about seven seconds.
Chin before the race had emphasized the importance of his middle stint on the black-walled tires. Most of his competitors decided to save their black-walled tires for the end of the event.
“After the Monday practice race, I kind of figured out what the strategy was going to be. It seemed you didn’t want to be running on the black tires at the end of the race,” said Chin. “Even on a short stint, there was just so much time loss with how bad the cold tires were and you were waiting for five laps. Half your stint was going to be slow. You’re better off getting it done in the middle of the race, especially if you were in heavy lapped traffic, which worked out pretty well for me.”
One of the fiercest battles on the track was for the final podium position.
Morgan had elected to go on an undercut strategy for the race, pitting up to 10 laps sooner than his competition. By 10 laps to go, Blocker and Bennett were closing in on Morgan by several tenths of a second per lap.
“I felt I had a really good advantage on the first stint where the tire was at its coolest. We were going three to four-tenths of a second slower than I thought I could have gone. So I thought, ‘man, I really need to try an undercut here.’”
Morgan said that strategy burned up his tires from pushing on his second stint. He was down to one push-to-pass on the final lap and was able to utilize it to hold onto the podium finish.
“The call got me the position, then I was just slow the rest of the stint, so they caught me up real quick,” said Morgan.
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker will be going to World Wide Technology Raceway for the Asher's Racing Channel 200 at Gateway. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on June 2nd at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
In what could potentially be the drive of the season, Sage Karam went from the back of the field to the front in the span of 22 laps to win at iRacing’s virtual Phillip Island Circuit.
Karam, who entered the round with three victories this season, had to start in 29th position after having to serve an end of longest line penalty for the HyperX Grand Prix of Phillip Island.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver set a blistering pace, running lap times 0.7 seconds quicker than the leader, Richie Hearn, had been in the process of closing the gap.
Karam went on to win the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience race by more than 22 seconds.
Aaron Morgan, Mike Rasimas, Chris Ragan and Richie Hearn completed the rest of the top five.
“It was hard to get up there,” said Karam from HyperX Victory Lane. “Once we were able to break the draft, we were able to just do our own thing and put our head down and run quick laps. I am really happy about that.”
Karam immediately had to dodge several cars who had checked up while rolling from the grid. Chris Staples was hit from behind by Trevor Malone as the cars began to roll. As Covy Moore stopped for the first collision, Cody Wenzen also made contact with the cars. The collision launched Moore into the grass.
A major crash then struck on the first lap in Honda Corner. Both David Sirois and Matt Taylor, who started second and third respectively, were sent flying into the grass after Chris Fowler locked up his brakes. Fowler also collected Rasimas in the incident.
Both Fowler and Taylor were knocked out of the race because of the crash.
The incident gave Hearn a lead of more than two seconds.
Karam dodged the carnage to get to 12th position by Lap 3.
“That’s what kept me in this thing,” said Karam. “Originally, my plan was to pit on Lap 12 and try and get clean air and try and run fast laps and hopefully jump guys just having clean air. But, once I got top ten pretty quickly, I was able to just go on the strategy as them.”
On Lap 11, Karam reached the battle for second. He passed Michael O’Brien heading into Honda. However, in Turn 10, Karam slid off the grass, sliding for several seconds before driving back in line. The incident damaged the right front wing of Karam’s car.
Karam then set his focus on Ragan and Morgan, completing a double-overtake down the Gardner Straight to get into second.
On Lap 22, Karam went for the lead. Karam picked up the draft down the Gardner Straight and passed Hearn quickly.
The Elite West Motorsports driver kept within Karam’s draft until Lap 26. Hearn clipped the grass coming into Siberia, sending him sliding towards the tire barrier. Hearn then cut back to the right, quickly getting back on track.
He lost one position as a result of the mistake.
The slide damaged the front wing on Hearn’s car.
Hearn eventually spun a second time on Lap 43, costing him several more positions.
“I didn't have Sage's pace and then just got on the gas too hard trying to stay with Aaron,” said Hearn on the series discord after the race. “It was fun though.”
One of the bigger incidents of the day came on Lap 30 after O’Brien missed a shift in the Southern Loop while running fourth.
The miscue sent O’Brien sliding sideways into the grass. O’Brien was carried by the momentum straight into the grass and the sandtrap, sending him slamming into the tire barrier. The crash demolished the front suspension and wing on the Avatar Auto Racing car.
Then, on Lap 41, the battle for 12th position led to contact after Danny Roberts attempted to go side-by-side with Sirois in Lukey Heights.
Roberts overran the corner exit heading into Turn 10, sliding fully into the grass. As Roberts attempted to lock up his tires, he slid into the right side of Sirois’s car, launching him off the ground. The hard contact sent Sirois into the grass and end his race.
Overall, 12 drivers did not take the checkered flag.
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be going left and right for a second straight round for the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by ButtKicker. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on June 3rd at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
Connor Harrington has won the OMA’s 200 at iRacing’s Kentucky Speedway, giving PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype its first team win in Lionheart Racing Series competition.
Harrington took the checkered flag under caution after leading 81 of the 134 laps in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker event.
Andrew Kinsella, Jason Galvin, Jason Brophy and Adam Blocker rounded out the top five.
Harrington said the race as one of his most special victories in his sim racing career.
“Words can’t even describe it,” said Harrington from HyperX Victory Lane. “I’m just so happy for everyone at PRIVATE LABEL and Ethika as well as Ty Stover and Tommy Milner for putting their faith in myself and the team. I’m honoured and humbled to give them their first win in the Lionheart IndyCar Series.
“This is always a hard league to win races in, so to get one done tonight is very special.”
Harrington had to hold off a hard-charging Kinsella before the fourth and final caution of the race. Adrenaline Motorsports Red’s Kinsella, who was on seven-lap fresher tires, had closed the gap between him and Harrington from more than four seconds to under two with eight laps to go.
Kinsella then reached a wave of lapped traffic, costing him half a second before a crash on the frontstretch between Sage Karam and Tony Showen caused the fourth and final yellow of the race.
“I think the strategy was going to work out for us, but the lapped cars just didn’t fall our way,” said Kinsella.
Galvin, who passed Brophy right before the yellow, had to make his way through the field from 26th place.
“You had to have a versatile setup and that’s what we had,” said Galvin. “I worked the bars up and down and back and forth on the weight jacker and changed my line. It’s kind of exhausting … ultimately I’m just happy I got up there and got a little lucky and caught a caution at the right time, but the car was good.”
Adrenaline Motorsports Red, Black and Powerslide started with control of the race after their conglomerate qualified in first, second, third and fifth with Henry Bennett, Blocker, Bryan Carey and Kinsella respectively.
With the clean air, Bennett maintained control of the pack with Blocker. The two drivers pulled away by as much as a second from the rest of the field during the portions of the race.
“Line was really important (in qualifying),” said Kinsella. “We did make a small tool adjustment, but it wasn’t anything big. The big thing was finding the exact right line and finding a way to just not scrub the tires through the corner. If you had any sort of scrub, you were losing hundredths of a second per corner.
“If you could pull off a run without scrubbing too much, which fortunately four of us did up at the front, you were going to have a good starting position and I think it benefitted us throughout the race.”
That command of the field changed on Lap 35 when Chris Fowler snapped loose coming out of Turn 4. The Alkentech Simulations NHR e-Sports wiggled into the outside wall, scattering parts of his front wing and sidepod across the track. Brian Greenlee had to take evasive maneuvers during the incident by cutting through the infield grass.
It was the second yellow of the race.
Harrington and his teammate Joshua Chin had settled into third and fourth positions when they decided to stay out under caution. The decision gave Harrington his first lead of the night.
“We took a gamble at that caution. We figured it’d be the right play,” said Harrington. “We knew track position was going to be king and it’s a lot easier to separate out when you have a good teammate who is going to work with you instead of trying to race somebody.”
The third caution shuffled the field once more in the middle of the next green flag pit stop sequence when Carey had a technical issue going into Turn 3. He drove hard into the outside wall due to a headset failure while racing.
Harrington stayed on the lead lap and elected to not pit for tires, opting for the clean air.
Overall, 14 cars had to take the wave around to stay on the lead lap because of the timing of the yellow.
The Adrenaline cars were lined up in a row behind Harrington after the restart when traffic started to come into play.
“We were doing really good with Connor there after that last yellow, then Ricky Hardin came out in front of us and it’s really hard being the third guy in line, so Connor was able to get a really nice gap,” said Kinsella. “Then when he was pitting, we had a bunch of cars come out in front of us. Just when we needed to go, we had a whole bunch of dirty air. That put us even further behind … But overall, you have to be really happy with that race.”
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker will be going to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the ButtKicker Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on May 19th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
By Justin Prince
In what turned into a stop-and-start race, Tony Showen has beaten Alexis Newsome in a four-lap dash to win the ButtKicker Phoenix 175 Presented by Karnox.
Showen took the checkered flag in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel’s event at iRacing’s Phoenix Raceway by 0.147 seconds.
Mike Rigney, Trevor Malone and Alexander van de Sandt rounded out the top five.
Showen had been able to win the race after getting a great restart behind Newsome. Coming to three laps to go, the Adrenaline Motorsports driver then dove to the bottom down the front straightaway, running side-by-side with Newsome for a lap before completing the pass.
It is Showen’s first win in the series this season.
“I’ve been waiting for that one for a few races and everything fell into my hands,” said Showen from HyperX Victory Lane. “It was just the matter of the cautions and the timing of the strategies too … I didn’t think I’d get the win. I thought she’d be able to hold the bottom and she was easy on me and gave me the bottom one time and that’s all she wrote.”
Newsome said she was not as good on the inside as some other cars.
“I tried to make the outside work and he stuck it (on the inside),” said Newsome.
Attrition was a big part of the racing action at Phoenix. Overall, seven competitors finished on the lead lap in a 13-caution race.
The cautions started flying on Lap 7 when Ken Hacker collided with Charles Teed in Turn 3, sending both cars at full speed into the outside wall. Trevor Malone and Emerson Santos were also collected in the aftermath as both drivers slammed into the stopped cars.
Then, on Lap 16, Dean Moll was spun into the outside wall after Craig Forsythe grazed his left rear tire, sending his car sliding in Turn 2. The slide sheared both wings and an engine cover off the car.
One of the biggest crashes of the race struck on Lap 23 when Paul Jenkins and Jason Galvin collided in the dogleg. The two drivers had been three-wide with Barrett Rolph for a split second before Galvin attempted to back off. It was still not enough as Jenkins clipped the front wing of Galvin, sending the pack into chaos.
Ron Hacker and Vern Hawkins III collided on the top line, destroying both of their cars in the process. Jorge Analzdo then got hit by Luis Gonzalez Nuñez from behind while checking up for Hacker and Hawkins, sending Anazldo into the wall.
Jenkins and Galvin both crashed in back-to-back cautions following the prior big incident.
By Lap 30, seven cars were out of the race. The number of cars out had expanded to half of the field by the midway portion of the event.
The cautions created a stop-and-start pattern which mixed up the strategies for drivers throughout the field.
“Strategy was basically trying to stay out as long as possible and stay out at the end so you could be up front,” said Showen.
One of the drivers who benefitted the most from the pattern of the race was Matt Taylor. With under 60 laps to go, Taylor decided to pit early, hoping to gain track position by staying out in case of other cautions, stretching his fuel tank to the end. Drivers could make it on approximately 49 laps on a run.
Taylor went on to lead 75 laps in the race after starting in 30th place.
The gamble did not pay off however when several drivers, including Newsome, Showen and Alex Guyon, decided to pit for tires after a caution on Lap 157. Taylor and three other cars stayed out during the caution.
Newsome and the others on 30-lap fresher tires sliced their way through the pack, catching up to Taylor by Lap 166.
Newsome passed by Taylor quickly into Turn 1.
“Alexis and I taking tires there definitely was the right decision with those other guys,” said Showen. “They were slow as molasses with those older tires.”
Then, Taylor attempted to dive hard to the inside line in Turn 3, taking a tighter line on corner exit while doing so. That sent Taylor spinning into the inside wall, collecting Rolph and sending him flying into the flagstand. Taylor flipped over for several seconds before coming to rest upside down.
Next, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel will be going to World Wide Technology Raceway for the GRAAFix Esports 200 Presented by SimSnap Photography. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on May 17th at 10:35 p.m. EST.
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.