Otis Hopes for First Win at Milwaukee
In the midst of a championship battle that is suddenly tighter than ever, the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to West Allis, Wisconsin and the historic Milwaukee Mile for the Area 51 Milwaukee Mile 150.
Last week at Sonoma, Jake Wright reminded everyone that he is the class of the field on road courses with another dominant victory – his fourth of 2017. Unfortunately, the sim race did not go as well for points leader Andrew Kinsella who became involved in a multi-car incident while he was running second. The Canadian's first dose of bad luck this season opened the door for Wright and several other contenders to further close the gap in the overall standings.
Unfortunately for Kinsella, he is unable to make the race this week, meaning that things are guaranteed to get even more interesting atop the standings. A new points leader could likely emerge from the 150-lap event but contenders like Wright, Dan Geren, Michael Gray and Ryan Otis should not count their chickens before they hatch. Past Lionheart events at Milwaukee have proven that the 114 year-old track is anything but predictable.
If the past is any indication, it may be Ryan Otis who stands the best chance of visiting victory lane amongst the top contenders. Despite numerous wins in the Lionheart Retro and Challenge series, Otis has yet to win a race in the DW-12. Luckily for him, Milwaukee may be the perfect place to change that. In each of the past two seasons, a first-time winner has been crowned at the Mile. Last season, it was Joe Branch who earned his first Lionheart win. Branch also nabbed the first-ever win for Adrenaline Motorsports and Ryan Otis would obviously love to do the same for his Streamline Motorsports operation.
If a first-time winner is crowned for the third season in a row, Ryan Otis is hardly the only contender for the honour. Pierre Daigle has over sixty Lionheart starts without a victory and Milwaukee is one of his best tracks. The Canadian started third last season and would go on to finish in the same position – a career-best result at the time. Daigle has been enjoying a solid 2017 campaign thus far with No Name Racing and he could end up being the man to beat in Wisconsin this season.
Daigle may not be the only threat from Canada as Dragonfly Racing's Patrick Taylor earned the best starting position of his career last season at Milwaukee, qualifying on the front row next to polesitter Jonathan Goke. Taylor's night ended early due to contact but the British Columbia native is hopeful that another strong qualifying effort will translate into a better finish. He may have history on his side as fellow British Columbian Greg Moore earned his first career CART victory at the Milwaukee Mile in June of 1997.
Another possible candidate is Wisconsin-native Dave Barber, who has come close to victory lane several times this season only to have the win snatched away by a cruel twist of fate. With his Barber Financial offices located only minutes from the Mile itself, the Controlled Chaos sim racer is hoping to become the hometown hero and break the jinx that has kept him out of victory lane.
This season's rookie crop happens to be filled with a number of sim racers who could easily earn their first Lionheart win this week. Michael Goodman of AGR Motorsports has found his way into the top ten overall and seems primed to get his first win sooner rather than later. Scott Bolster has had his share of bad luck this season. However, he finished third a few weeks ago in the Lionheart Retro Series race at Milwaukee and survived multiple incidents to do so. Perhaps luck will remain on his side in the DW-12 this week. Finally, there is newcomer Adam Blocker who will make his series debut with defending winners Adrenaline Motorsports this week. Blocker also impressed in the recent Lotus 79 event and led 23 laps before an incident ended his night. Could Blocker follow in teammate Andrew Kinsella's footsteps and win his first-ever Lionheart start?
While Milwaukee could prove to be unpredictable, usual contenders like Jake Wright, Jonathan Goke, Dan Geren, Michael Gray, James Krahula, Jason Galvin and Bob Mikes should never be ruled out. Wright has never finished lower than third in two starts at the Mile while Goke is the defending polesitter. Gray and Galvin both finished inside the top ten last year as well. Meanwhile, Bob Mikes won the recent Retro Series race at Milwaukee and will be hoping for another boost to his Indycar championship hopes with a good run in Wisconsin.
Last but not least is defending winner Joe Branch. Branch started seventh last season and ran a quiet race, ultimately using solid pit strategy to get himself into the lead. There is no reason he can't do the same again and the Indiana-native is often strong on 1-mile ovals.
This week's sim race will mark the official halfway point of the 2017 season for the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. The second half of the season will begin at Michigan on July 19th. Other tracks in the back half of the schedule include Dover, Atlanta, Chicagoland as well as a second-consecutive visit down under to Phillip Island. The league champion will be crowned on December 13th at Auto Club Speedway and will receive a set of HPP http://www.hppsimulation.com/hpp-3-pedal/26-phtv2p.html3P-PRX-SE pedals valued at $1247.00 along with numerous other prizes.
The Area 51 Milwaukee Mile 150 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on June 28th beginning at 10:35PM ET.
The drama didn’t even last a corner, and hometown hero Jake Wright was all but assured his second consecutive Sonoma win. The Northern Californian dominated the USMC Wounded Warrior Grand Prix for his fourth win of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment season, after his closest competition wrecked at the start.
“I have no idea what happened behind me, but I saw after turn one Ryan Otis and Dan Geren were off in my relative, so it took off some stress to say the least,” Wright said from victory lane, his third win in a row at Sonoma. “It sucks that happened to them, but this is a demanding track and it helped a lot.”
Wright qualified on the pole but was expected to face pressure from Otis, a road course ace, and Geren, one of the fastest drivers in Lionheart. But as the green flag flew, the second and third place qualifiers suffered net code contact and spun off the track at turn two.
Geren was able to continue with minimal front wing damage, which his crew later fixed. Otis slammed the tire barrier and was the first car out, finished 32nd.
The contact setup a fierce battle for the remaining podium spots. Ultimately, James Krahula and Michael Goodman pulled through for the second and third spots, with Michael Gray closely behind in fourth.
The trio were not without their own near miss following a massive wreck on lap 24, which saw points leader and second place runner Andrew Kinsella’s race end with a flip in turn seven.
“Considering this is as close to a road course victory as I’ll get with Jake around, I’m going to go ahead and celebrate like I won one,” Krahula said after his second place finish. “It sucks that happened to Andrew. We got some damage too, or I thought we did. I guess the pit crew fixed it.”
Kinsella was running second and trying to lap Frank Bieser and Joe Hassert as the trio screamed down the drag strip towards the double-apex turn seven. As they entered the corner, Jack Bogan, who was already five laps down, was practically stopped in the center of the corner, blind to everyone but Hassert.
Hassert cut right, just missing Bogan. But Beiser had to swing wide to miss Bogan. As he did, he collected Kinsella, spinning and then flipping the points leader. Krahula plowed into Beiser, and Goodman also received damage that was later fixed by his crew.
“I hate to see that,” Wright said of the wreck. “That will help in the points though. With the drop weeks taken into account, we should all even out and be close.”
The Lionheart series drops a drivers three worst finishes from the season results. Kinsella finished 26th after the wreck. Goodman thought he was fortunate to sneak through.
“It was a lot rougher than I anticipated,” Goodman said. “A couple of incidents went my way. My hats off to everyone who was in front of me. I was expecting people to make a lot more mistakes than they did, so really my hats off.”
Brian Yaczik held off a furious charge from Geren for the final spot in the top five. The finish gave No Name Racing three cars in the top five, including Wright and Krahula. Jason Galvin ran a steady race, the only car besides Wright without an incident, to finish seventh. Dustin Wardlow finished eighth, with Bob Mikes and Pierre Daigle tenth, the fourth No Name driver in the top ten.
No Name Racing now leads the team points standings by 170 points over Team #nailedit.
Kinsella’s series points lead fell to 26 over Wright, the two-time defending Lionheart champion. Geren sits third, 34 back of the lead. Gray and Otis round out the top five.
The Sonoma race never had a full course caution. Four driver led laps, with all 5 lead changes happening in the pits. Kinsella led 2, with Krahula and Gray each leading a single lap. Wright led 36.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to the road for a four race stretch, starting Wednesday, June 28, with the Area 51 Milwaukee 150 at the historic Milwaukee Mile. The 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.
The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment staged its biggest event of the year less than two weeks ago and the 2017 I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 did not disappoint. An all-time record number of viewers tuned in to see Jonathan Goke repeat as champion while Joe Hassert and Dan Geren both earned much-needed podium finishes.
Now the scene shifts west to Sonoma Raceway and the USMC Wounded Warrior Grand Prix. While the California-based track may not carry the same prestige as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it will certainly prove equally challenging to the more than thirty-five Dallara DW-12s that will take the green flag on Wednesday night.
Sonoma is the home track for two-time series champion Jake Wright and one of his favourite stops on the Lionheart calendar. He is the unanimous favourite to make a repeat visit to victory lane but it will likely be the league championship that is more on Wright's mind this week. Sonoma represents another key opportunity to further close the gap between himself and points leader Andrew Kinsella. He still sits 70 points back despite chipping away at the deficit in the last few races. No matter what Kinsella does this week, a victory by Wright would ensure that gap continues to close.
As for Kinsella, he made a rare mistake at Indianapolis by speeding on pit lane. The ensuing penalty destroyed any hope he had of winning the 500 but it was hardly a disaster for the Canadian. He recovered to finish seventh and remained on the lead lap, ensuring that he has still completed every single lap in 2017. Look for Kinsella to be near the top of the time charts again this week. Provided that he can display more of his trademark consistency, he should still leave Sonoma with a solid points lead over his increasingly-tough competition.
The double-points offered at Indianapolis still loom large over much of the field as numerous drivers were given a major boost by their strong results at the Brickyard. Unfortunately for others, bad luck – and bad internet connections – has left them trying to dig themselves out of a big hole.
On the positive side, Jonathan Goke gained seven spots in the standings after drinking the milk in victory lane. Goke has put himself back into the championship discussion, but he also created another challenge to overcome. Goke has been served an EOL penalty due to early-race contact with Jason Robarge and he will have to work his way up (safely) through the field. Goke finished second at Sonoma last season, so he could certainly still earn a solid points haul this week but he will have to be patient in order to move his way up.
Joe Hassert took a major step toward turning his disappointing season around with a runner-up finish at Indianapolis. The podium result vaulted him seven positions forward in the standings and he now finds himself back in the top twenty. “Big Joe” will now have to follow the good finish with another strong drive at Sonoma if he wants to keep the momentum going. Hassert finished tenth last season, gaining ten spots from his starting position.
Unfortunately, the news from Indy was not so good for a group of sim racers that included Jorge Anzaldo, Bob Mikes, Chris Stofer, Joe Branch, James Krahula, Brian Yaczik, James Paulson and Brian Greenlee. Each of them suffered one or more connection issues that either prevented them from entering the race or, in the case of Branch, Stofer and Krahula, dashed any hopes they had at victory.
Among that group, James Krahula was the highest-finisher at Sonoma last season after starting and finishing fifth. Krahula is usually always strong and consistent on road courses and another solid finish this week would help him rebound from the lost opportunity at Indy. Meanwhile, Stofer and Branch will be looking to get Adrenaline Motorsports back into second overall in the team championship after falling to third thanks to a solid run by Team #NailedIt at the Brickyard. Finally, Bob Mikes is fresh off a victory in the Lionheart Retro Series at Milwaukee so it would appear that his luck has already turned around. Mikes has been quietly consistent on the road this year, managing two consecutive top ten finishes. Look for the Von Hanson's Dallara DW-12 to have another solid run at Sonoma.
If there is one driver who put on a show last season at Sonoma it was Ryan Otis. His fourth-place result may not seem terribly special considering that he is usually strong on the road. However, he started last in the field due to an EOL penalty. While Jonathan Goke can take inspiration from Otis' run, it's likely that he will benefit greatly from being penalty-free this season. As is often the case, look for Otis to be Jake Wright's biggest challenger once again – although it remains to be seen if he will finally find a way to get ahead of Wright.
Finally, it will be a very special week for Michael Gray. The Australian sim racer will celebrate a major career milestone at Sonoma by making his seventy-fifth Lionheart start. Gray has been having a career-best season in 2017 and currently sits fifth overall in the championship. He will be looking to rebound from last season's disappointing run at Sonoma where he finished twenty-first after hitting the incident limit.
The USMC Wounded Warrior Grand Prix will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on June 21st beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
It’s often said that the Brickyard picks its winners. Jonathan Goke didn’t never gave the track that chance. The United States Air Force veteran dominated the I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 for the second consecutive season, going back-to-back at the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment’s biggest race.
“This is the race I needed,” an exhausted Goke said from the virtual victory lane. “Hopefully we can build on it and make a championship run out of it.”
Goke qualified fourth and quickly worked his way to the front, leading lap one. The multi-time iRacing official series champion swapped the lead with teammate Dan Geren and polesitter Jason Robarge early, before a slew of incidents slowed the action. But once the race returned to green for the final time on lap 68, the most prolific oval racer in Lionheart history checked out, leading a total of 119 laps.
“I must have nailed my first green flag pit stop after the yellow, because I came back out with (Andrew) Kinsella and that group,” Goke said. “I don’t know how I did that, we were on different strategies, so I just rode behind them and saved fuel.”
Joe Hassert finished second, just ahead of Dan Geren. The duo spent nearly 100 laps trying to close a gap that at one point was over 10 seconds. By the end of the race, the gap was just under two seconds, but the result was never in question.
“When we pit right around mid race there, I was about three seconds behind Dan,” Hassert said. “I came out of the pits and there was Dan and we hooked up the whole second half of the race. We had a heck of a run, we just couldn’t get it there.”
Geren wondered aloud after the race if a few more laps would have changed the outcome.
“I think we needed five more laps,” the Iowa native and teammate to Goke at Team #NailedIt said. “It was a good race, I’m happy with the finish and a big win for Goke.”
Much like the real Indy 500, the event was full of twists and turns that ended the race for several. In a strange twist mid-race, nearly half the top ten suffered simultaneous internet connection issues.
Teammates Chris Stofer and Joe Branch, who along with points leader Andrew Kinsella were running an alternate pit strategy that found their group leading short chunks of the race, both disappeared. Seconds later, James Krahula, safely in the top ten, also dropped. Earlier in the race, Krahula’s teammate Brian Yaczik was disconnected by a massive storm blowing through northern Michigan.
Brian Greenlee finished 12 laps down while battling connection problems all race, and series founder Jorge Anzaldo and race dark horse Bob Mikes both missed the start and never made the race with internet issues.
Wrecks and mistakes cost a pair of Anzaldo’s AGR Motorsports teammates who both looked strong early. Robarge, on the heels of his first Lionheart pole, swapped the lead with Goke and Geren early and often. The trio looked dominant.
But a restart on lap 20, in which five cars stayed out while the field pitted, put the faster cars in traffic for the first time. On lap 26, Goke used a tow from his teammate Geren down the back straightaway to pull alongside Robarge. Into turn three, Goke lost the nose of his car in the dirty air off Geren’s car. He slid up, into Robarge, who bounced off the north chute wall and violently tumbled to the grass, ending a promising day.
“I have to apologize to Jason Robarge,” Goke said. “I feel awful. Jason, Dan and I were just killing the field. I got Dan’s dirty air and just couldn’t get it turned. I owe him and his AGR team an apology for that.”
On the ensuing restart, Galvin replaced his wrecked teammate in the front trio. The three swapped the lead on nearly every straightaway.
Following the final caution on lap 64, when Vincent Bluthenthal tagged the wall and collected Jared Turnbull, the trio again settled in. The Adrenaline Motorsports crew of Stofer, Branch, Kinsella and Tony Showen also formed a group, and it appeared the prevailing, offsetting strategies would be what determined the race win.
But on the next round of green-flag pit stops, on lap 95, Galvin suffered a mechanical issue coming to the pits. While downshifting, his DW12 slipped into reverse, causing him to lockup the tires and spin. Geren narrowly avoided him.
“I felt awful,” Galvin said. “I’m glad Dan didn’t hit me, but it cost us both a chance to win. A frustrating moment for sure. The car has never done that before, usually it stops in first gear. For some reason, the transmission just kept going.”
The spin, combined with Geren checking up and losing his drafting partner, allowed Goke to open an insurmountable lead. Galvin rebounded and finished fifth, inches behind Jake Wright in a photo finish.
Four cautions slowed the race for 12 laps.
The first yellow flew on lap six, when Hassert and Mitchell Moehler touched in turn one. Moehler spun into the outside wall, ending his race. Patrick Taylor lifted for the wreck, but his teammate Dustin Wardlow did not react quick enough and launched over the back of his Dragonfly Racing partner and into the wall. Taylor continued, albeit damaged, to finish 21st. Moehler and Wardlow finished in the final two spots in the 33 car field.
On lap 15, Turnbull came up into Scott Bolster in the north chute. Bolster was turned around into the wall entering turn four, ending his race.
The tangle between Goke and Robarge brought out the third caution, while Bluthenthal’s self wreck brought out the final yellow.
Contact between Chris Stofer and Dave Barber on lap eleven ended the race for one of the league’s most popular racers. Stofer appeared to mistime a run out of turn four, turning Barber into the inside wall and down pit road.
A final wreck coming to the finish scrambled the back half of the top ten.
Tyler Turnbull and Brandon Limkemann exited turn four inches apart in a battle for tenth. As the two weaved back and forth, they made contact, sending them both flipping. Matthew Mercer and Michael Gray slipped under the airborne cars to steal tenth and eleventh, with Turnbull and Limkemann the final cars on the lead lap in 12th and 13th, both upside down.
Ryan Otis brought his damaged Streamline Motorsports entry home sixth, with Kinsella a disappointed seventh. Pierre Daigle and Ron Hacker had quiet, but productive runs to finish eighth and ninth.
22 of the 33 drivers finished the race. Eleven drivers swapped the lead 43 times, mostly during green flag pit stops. The race was surprisingly quick, just two hours and 31 minutes to run 500 miles.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment settles into its summer stretch now. Kinsella remains the points leader over Geren by 57. Two-time defending champion Wright sits 70 points out of the lead in third, with Otis and Gray rounding out the top five. Goke jumped seven spots to sixth, Galvin moved up five positions to ninth and Hassert also picked up seven spots to break back into the top 20 in 17th.
Bolster was the biggest loser, down six spots to 18th. Bob Mikes and Michael Goodman, who both missed the event, fell four spots each to 10th and eleventh.
The series returns to the road, where Wright and Otis are expected to dazzle at the champion’s home track. The USMC Wounded Warrior Grand Prix of Sonoma is set for Wednesday, June 21 at 10:40 p.m. EST and can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
This Sunday's I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 is easily the biggest event on the 2017 calendar for the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. The full-length sim race will see over 30 virtual Dallara DW-12s take to the track, each of them hoping to emulate Takuma Sato and be the first to cross the Yard of Bricks after what will certainly be 200 laps of intense action.
Numerous prizes including a custom-made winner's plaque, a hardcover book, numerous prints, a trading card set, a custom poster and $75 in cash will be awarded to the winner. Additionally, as the second leg in the 2017 Lionheart Triple Crown, all entrants will receive double points that could make or break their season depending on where they finish.
For race sponsor Jack Bogan, the I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 holds special significance that goes far beyond the on-track action and prizes. For the third consecutive season, the sim racing event will be named in honour of his grandson Gage.
“I sponsor the Lionheart Indy 500 each year to bring awareness to congenital heart defects in children. Gage, now 10 years old, has had 4 open heart surgeries to replace two valves that do not grow with him. Gage, for the most part, is a normal 10-year-old kid doing what normal kids do! Gage loves animals, insects, dinosaurs, fishing, playing online games, and watching Pappy (me) race!”
When Jack and the rest of the field take the green flag on Sunday afternoon, the simulated race could easily end up resembling the real-life event in terms of unpredictability. There are numerous favourites to win, but the first virtual Dallara DW-12 to cross the finish line could be a surprise – not unlike Takuma Sato just two weeks ago.
When it comes to favourites at Indy, defending champion Jonathan Goke should never be counted out – especially at a Triple Crown event. Goke dominated at the Brickyard last season, leading 124 laps on his way to victory lane. Goke also won at Pocono last season and missed a chance to sweep the Triple Crown due to his deployment.
Goke already has a win in 2017 and finished a strong fourth at Pocono. However, aside from that, it's been an up-and-down season for the sim racer who sits third on the league's all-time wins list. Goke is returning from a chat-related suspension at Mosport and suffered a DNF at Texas a few weeks earlier. One has to assume that last season's Rookie of the Year will break out at some point this season and there would be no better place to do it than Indy!
While Goke is looking for a turn-around, his Team #NailedIt stablemate Dan Geren is simply looking for any break he can get in the championship battle. Geren currently sits second overall, but finds himself 75 points behind the league's most consistent driver Andrew Kinsella. A win at Indy would certainly help to close that gap even if Kinsella finishes strong. After breaking through for the win at Fontana last season, Geren proved he could win a Triple Crown event. Undoubtedly, a win in the Indianapolis 500 would be the highlight of what he hopes will be a championship season.
Unfortunately for Geren, the man he is chasing has yet to put a wheel wrong all season. Andrew Kinsella began his Lionheart career with a win at Homestead and he has completed every lap since, finishing out of the top ten only once. Additionally, Kinsella earned a victory in the recent Indy Elite Series Indianapolis 500 after starting eighth. The Canadian sim racer's trademark consistency will be needed to find victory lane at Indy and if things go his way again on Sunday, it could be very bad news for anyone hoping to catch him in the standings.
If consistency is key then last year's runner-up, Jason Robarge, should be counted among the underdogs in Sunday's sim race. Robarge has had a quiet season thus far and currently sits twentieth overall. However, he has finished no lower than sixth in the previous two Lionheart 500's. Additionally, Robarge missed Pocono earlier this season, which certainly explains his lower-than-usual position in the standings. The AGR sim racer has already proven his ability to finish strong at the Speedway. Now, he just needs to take one step further up the podium!
Another sim racer to watch is Pocono winner Chris Stofer. Stofer started seventh last season and was collected in the biggest wreck of the event, ending his day prematurely. Also not to be ignored is two-time league champion Jake Wright, who was also collected in the “big one” last season. Wright has many accomplishments on his Lionheart resume but “Indy 500 Champion” is not among them and it's likely Wright would love to change that. Finally, Dustin Wardlow earned his first league victory last week in the Lionheart Retro Series event at Indianapolis after surviving a chaotic finish. Wardlow would likely consider himself a long-shot but he's already proven that luck is on his side this season at the Brickyard.
Jack Bogan's grandson Gage will serve as the grand marshal of the event and will give the most famous command in sim racing. For more information about congenital heart defects (CHD) and the CHD support groups, please visit https://twibbon.com/support/chd-warriors. More information about CHD is also available at http://mendedlittleheartguide.org/
The I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live at a special day and time: Sunday, June 11th at 4:00PM ET.