WRIGHT TO THE LAST DROP
A performance for the ages was almost all for not, as Jake Wright sputtered to his fourth win of the season in the Premier Racing League 200 at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday night. The defending Lionheart IndyCar Seriespresented by First Medical Equipment champion led 125 of 133 laps, but a long green flag run to end the race saw Wright run out of fuel coming to the line, nearly throwing it all away.
“I was clutching it coming out of four,” said Wright, who extended his points lead with his first oval win of 2016. “It was fuel saving insanity down there. I have to tell you, that was one of the most stressful and most rewarding finishes I’ve had in my iRacing career just because of how close we were on fuel. But we made it, so that’s what matters.”
Wright held off his teammate, Brian Yaczik, to win by 0.179 seconds, as several other lead-lap cars ran dry on the final lap, shaking up the finishing order.
“I’m wore out,” Yaczik said. “That was intense. I was doing the fuel mileage, we were all groaning when that last caution came out…but the fuel mileage we got it right on the nose. We crossed the line with .01. I had the thing matted.”
James Krahula completed the No Name Racing sweep of the podium, the second time NNR has done so this year. But after making contact with Jason Robarge on the final restart on lap 97, Krahula was far from celebratory after the race.
“I wasn’t too worried about fuel, I knew I’d be able to make it,” Krahula said. “I got into the back of Robarge on the restart and ruined his night, I couldn’t feel worse about that. It kind of takes away all the feeling of a good finish when you screw up somebody else’s night.”
Robarge called it a racing deal after seeing a replay.
“I started to go, then I checked up,” said a frustrated driver, after battling back to tenth. “I tried to anticipate the start. It sucks.”
The race was slowed by five cautions for 21 laps, but it was a back straightaway melee on lap 61.
Racing for eighth, Ed Tutwiler appeared to catch the apron and slide up in front of last week’s winner Jason Galvin. Unable to avoid contact, Galvin bounced off Tutwiler and into the outside wall exiting turn two. His damaged Dallara then turned across the track, collecting Dan Geren, Patrick Taylor, Chris Stofer, Tony Showen and Dave Barber, ending the race for each involved.
Several other cars sustained damage in the wreck, and between the wreck and several ill-timed cautions, just 13 of the 37 cars completed all 133 laps.
Chris Lanini started last but used strategy to get up front and stay there, finishing fourth. Dylan Lee came from 22nd to fifth. Matthew Mercer, Joe Hassert, Bob Mikes, Joe Flanagan and Robarge rounded out the top ten. Robert Blouin, Brandon Limkemann and Vincent Bluthenthal were the others on the lead lap.
Wright’s point lead extends to 132 over Jonathan Goke, who fought issues all night and finished 17th. Krahula, Joe Branch and Geren complete the top five in points.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Michigan International Speedway next week for round eleven. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
Geren Aims for Repeat Win in Texas
The Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment heads to the virtual Texas Motor Speedway for the Premier Racing League 200 on June 29th. The event follows a thrilling run at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi that saw Jason Galvin earn his first career win in a strategy-filled race.
Much like Motegi, Texas has a long history with the real-life Indycar series that dates back to 1997. That inaugural event may still be the most famous open-wheel race held at the track, mostly thanks to the controversial ending. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Billy Boat seemingly won the race, but Arie Luyendyk arrived in victory lane claiming that he was the rightful winner. A scuffle ensued, and A.J. Foyt infamously slapped Luyendyk during the altercation. Luyendyk was eventually declared the rightful winner, but A.J. never returned the original winner’s trophy. Finally, in 2015, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage officially conceded the trophy to Foyt as a gift for his 80th birthday.
It was Dan Geren who found his way to Texas victory lane in last season’s virtual Lionheart race – and there was no disputing his dominant win. Geren started on the pole and led 86 of 100 laps for his lone victory of the season. The Team #NailedIt driver will undoubtedly be looking to defend his win, and he is in great position to do so. Geren currently sits fifth in the overall standings, and he’s finished inside the top ten in each of his last four starts. Should he remain incident-free and make the right moves strategically, there’s every reason to believe Dan Geren can earn another undisputed win at Texas.
The biggest threat to Geren’s victory may be his own teammates, as Jonathan Goke, Michael Gray and Ian Adams are all capable of getting to the front. Two-time winner Goke has shown speed on every oval thus far in 2016, and Texas should be no different. Gray has enjoyed a quietly consistent season and could find his way to a top finish again this week. Meanwhile, Ian Adams may be struggling of late, but he did finish second at Texas last season, and he will be looking to turn things around at a track where he’s achieved success before.
AGR Motorsports earned their first-ever Lionheart win at Motegi thanks to Jason Galvin, but the team’s success went well beyond the win. Jason Robarge came second, while newcomer Brian Neff and Jorge Anzaldo also had solid runs. With momentum on their side, AGR could easily find their way to victory lane again. Jason Robarge finished a solid fifth at Texas last season, and he may lead the charge for AGR this week. He’s impressively finished inside the top ten in five of his seven starts in 2016, and it seems like only a matter of time before he gets to victory lane again.
After enduring recent struggles, it would be easy to overlook both No Name Racing and Dragonfly Racing this week. However, both teams have drivers on their rosters that excel in fuel strategy races. No Name’s James Krahula made the call at Kentucky that ultimately carried his team to a podium sweep, while Dragonfly’s Robert Blouin outlasted the field at Chicago last season to claim his first career win. Texas is very similar to both tracks, and if the winner is determined by strategy this week, either No Name or Dragonfly could be celebrating when the checkered flag flies.
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 visitwww.lionheartracingseries.com.
On the birthday of the namesake for the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, Jason Galvin delivered a lion-like drive through the field to win his first career Lionheart Series race in the Cart Retro Series 150 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on Wednesday night.
The win came on what would have been Dan Wheldon’s 38th birthday.
“This is incredible, I can’t believe I won a Lionheart race, and to do it on Dan’s birthday, at the track he won his first race, I can’t believe it,” Galvin said from victory lane. “I’m not going to say I was the fastest car tonight, but we ran in the top five all race. I’m not apologizing.”
Galvin took the lead with five laps to go when Joe Branch brought his car to the pits for fuel. It culminated a frantic charge to the front, as various fuel strategies played out on the 1.5-mile oval.
When the final caution flew on lap 56 after Robert Obrohta hit the wall and rolled on the front straight, Jonathan Goke surrendered the lead, electing to fuel up and hope to conserve or catch another yellow. Jake Wright inherited the lead, but also hit pit lane a lap before the restart, along with several other cars.
When green flag racing resumed, Christian Steele pulled out to a nearly two second lead over Galvin. But a slow green flag pit stop for Steele opened the door for Galvin, who slid up the track on his pit exit. Steele crossed Galvin over into turn three, but a strong run down the front straight put Galvin at the front of cars who had pitted.
Galvin, Steele and Jason Robarge still found themselves buried behind 13 cars attempting to stretch their fuel to the finish. One by one, the three picked off cars well off the pace, attempting to stretch their fuel or catch a caution.
But when Branch hit the pits with five to go, the coast was clear for Galvin, who outpaced Robarge, his teammate, to take the win.
“I have to thank my teammates, they made this happen,” Galvin said. “Jason Robarge was behind me assuring me that he didn’t have the car to catch me. And Jorge Anzaldo, he founded this league and does so much for us, he talked me into staying out on the final yellow. I wanted to follow Jake in. I had talked about it the entire caution, pitting with one to go. I thought we’d get another yellow.”
Robarge continued his strong run since returning to the series in week three. His second place finish gave him his fifth top ten in seven starts.
“What a great run, tonight was perfect,” Robarge said. “I didn’t have anything for Jason, but we knew we were in good shape after practice, and everything just fell into place.”
Steele was happy with third, but disappointed at a missed opportunity.
“I slid through my pit stall, and that was the difference,” Steele said. “We were real fast, I thought we had it. But third is still a great night.”
Goke, Wright, James Krahula, Patrick Taylor and others who had been quick all race but didn’t catch the caution they needed, battled it out in a race that shook up the points.
Chris Stofer finished fourth, with rookie Ryan Otis fifth in his series debut. Brian Neff gave AGR Motorsports three cars in the top six, with Goke the first of the cars that tried to stretch the fuel finishing seventh. Dan Geren came home eighth, with Bob Mikes and Branch rounding out the top ten.
No Name Racing’s gamble failed, with all four of its five drivers finishing a lap down, the highest finisher being Brian Yaczik in his series debut in 21st.
Goke led a race-high 59 laps from the pole. Three cautions slowed the pace for 12 laps. Five drivers swapped the lead six times in a race that took 59 minutes.
Wright’s 22nd place finish saw his points lead over Goke cut to 88. Krahula, Branch, Geren and Pierre Daigle hold down the unchanged top six, but major changes litter the rest of the standings.
Robarge continued to march up the standings to seventh, with Michael Gray dropping one to eighth. Steele moved up a spot to ninth, and Galvin’s win propelled him six spots to tenth. Stofer and Mikes also improved six spots in the standings.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to the track next week, with the Premier Racing League 200 at Texas Motor Speedway. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, June 29.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, head to www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
CART Retro Series 150 Brings Lionheart to Japan
The Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment departs North America for the first time this season with a stop at the virtual Twin Ring Motegi oval on Wednesday, June 22nd.
The CART Retro Series 150 is an appropriate title for the Motegi event because the Honda-owned facility opened in 1998 with a CART-sanctioned race. Adrián Fernández won that inaugural race, and repeated as champion in 1999. Overall, CART visited Motegi for five seasons, while the Indycar series raced at the circuit for an additional nine years. During that time, Lionheart series namesake Dan Wheldon earned his first career Indycar win here in 2004, along with a repeat victory in 2005.
The oval portion of the circuit sustained damage during the 2011 earthquake and has never returned to use, meaning that Iracing's virtual re-creation is currently the only way to see Indycars racing at the Japanese track.
Lionheart last ran here during its first season in 2014. Of the 19 drivers who participated in that race, only 6 remain on the active roster. It's unclear if that experience will pay off for a league veteran, or if some of the league's newer members will be fastest to conquer the unique and challenging 1.5 mile circuit.
“Big Joe” Hassert is one of the six veterans who drove at Motegi in season one. Hassert qualified on pole for that race, and led 60 laps before difficulties dropped him to a disappointing fourteenth-place finish. Now, Hassert returns to Motegi in the midst of a slump that has seen him finish no higher than tenth in his last four starts. All signs point to a rebound for “Big Joe” this week; he has been fast in practice, and he should be a threat to win if he can remain clear of trouble in the 100-lap race.
Team NaildIt's Michael Gray has been enjoying much better fortunes of late, finishing fifth or higher in each of his last three races. Gray also competed at Motegi in season one, crossing the line in fifth – the highest finisher among active drivers. Although the Australian generally favours road courses, a solid finish at Milwaukee suggests that Gray should not be overlooked on the oval this week.
At the top of the standings, Jake Wright currently leads Jonathan Goke by 109 points, with James Krahula close behind in third. While all three drivers are threats to win again this week, none of them has started a Lionheart race at Motegi. Surprisingly, Jake Wright has yet to win an oval race this season, while Goke has two oval victories and Krahula one. Despite that, the pressure will be on Goke and Krahula, both of whom have struggled to post good results in recent events and can ill-afford to fall any further behind Wright.
Dark-horse picks this week include Brandon Limkemann, who has posted very solid practice times while running over 600 laps in preparation for the race. Also not to be forgotten is Milwaukee winner Joe Branch. Coming off his first series win, Branch excels at shorter ovals, and he will be tough to catch if he gets into clean air. Finally, rookie Brian Neff has been posting very impressive practice times and could find his way to a strong finish in just his third career race.
Lionheart will also welcome a new driver to the fold this week with Ronald Henrie joining the full-time roster. Henrie, the fourth Canadian in the paddock, will fill the fifth and final seat at AGR Motorsports.
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.
Joe Branch used strategy and good timing to get to the front of the pack. He used his right foot to stay there. Branch took the lead with 39 laps to go during green flag pit stops, maintained it after a caution flew during the stop, and drove away from points leader Jake Wright on his way to victory in the Milwaukee Mile 150 on Wednesday night.
The win was the first for Branch in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“Clean air is king, if Jake was in front of me he would have outpaced me,” Branch said after the race. “This is a tough track to pass, so clean air goes a long way.”
The race appeared to be Canadian Pierre Daigle’s to lose, until the caution flew on lap 111. Branch and Chris Lanini, the final two cars to pit, both completed stops when the yellow flew for a multi-car crash in turn one. Both cars were able to get off pit road before Daigle and Wright could cycle back to the pace car.
“I’m very proud of how I ran tonight, everything felt great,” Daigle said. “I started third and tried to stay up front...unfortunately in the end, took third, but I’ll take third any day.”
For Wright, the defending series champion, the finish was a surprise after struggling through qualifying and the early parts of the race.
“The cautions came out when we needed them to for the most part, and it was just a race of attrition and we were able to survive until the end,” Wright said. “From what I saw, Branch was just getting a way better exit than I was. I struggled with that all week, and he definitely had something figured out.”
Wright opened up his points lead to 109 over Jonathan Goke. Goke led a race high 53 laps from the pole, but suffered contact on pit lane with Ian Adams before being caught up in the crash on lap 111. James Krahula stayed third in points, but was also involved in an accident that ended his night early.
Eight drivers led laps, with Daigle leading 40 and Jason Galvin leading nine. Krahula, Wright, Dylan Lee and Chris Gutierrez also led laps. In total, nine cautions slowed the field for 37 laps. Four of those cautions came in the opening 19 laps of the race, but once the field settled down, two long green flag runs filled with side-by-side racing highlighted an action-packed race.
Behind the top three, the rest of the top ten finishers came from 17th or deeper in the field. Christian Steele (18th) and Michael Gray (21st) rounded out the top five, with Lanini (19), Galvin (17), Jorge Anzaldo (26), Chris Stofer (32) and Joe Hassert (34) also making impressive charges to the front.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to another tricky oval, this time overseas for the Cart Retro Series 150 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on Wednesday, June 22nd. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.