Brian Yaczik didn’t lead the most laps, but he led the one that counted.
The freshly hitched Michigan driver held off Joe Hassert in a mad scramble to the finish, winning the Midwest Simulations 200 at Michigan International Speedway by 0.015 seconds, the third-closest finish in Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment history.
“I can’t believe how good four tires felt there,” Yaczik said. “You have to tell yourself you’re ok so you don’t get yourself psyched out, but I knew we were ok and I knew the car was good. I knew where I wanted to be coming to one to go, and once we got that run into three I knew what I wanted to do.”
Yaczik and Hassert had to come through the field on a restart with seven laps remaining, after nine cars, including Dan Geren and Adam Blocker, chose to stay out on old tires.
“In the pre-race, I said watch, this will come down to Kentucky again with a weird decision where you have to pit or not pit,” Yaczik said. “I thought back to Kentucky and experience here, and I knew getting tires was probably the right call.”
Hassert followed Yaczik through the field, and had his chance on the final lap, but could not gain enough momentum on the outside line.
“I was pretty confident we’d get up there,” Hassert said. “Brian liked the low side the whole race, I liked the high. I thought I’d get a run on him out of four, I needed probably 100 feet to get there.”
Polesitter Michael Goodman, who had fallen back for much of the race, rallied for a third place finish.
“I feel like I won even though I finished third,” Goodman said. “My teammate and I stayed out longer on the last green flag run, so we had fresher tires and didn’t need to pit. It worked out.”
Yaczik, Hassert, Geren and Jason Galvin dominated the race, with Galvin leading the most laps (28), and Yaczik leading the least (15) in the group.
But it was Galvin who pushed up after trying a three-wide pass with 11 lap remaining. The California driver tried to slide in behind Yaczik and Geren to maintain the draft, but Blocker carried a big run and could not react in time.
Blocker hit Galvin, turning him into the wall and collecting Chris Stofer.
The wreck dramatically changed the outcome of the race, as well as the points standings as Galvin and Yaczik looked to close on Andrew Kinsella, who missed the race while getting engaged.
As a result, Yaczik took over the points lead by 5, while Galvin slipped to fourth behind teammate James Krahula; the pair are 55 and 61 points behind Yaczik, respectively.
Blocker avoided damage in the wreck, but he and Geren gambled on track position. Blocker slipped to eleventh, while Geren finished eighth.
Justin Weaver and Pierre Daigle used fresh tires to round out the top five.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a break for its annual Iowa gathering. Close to 40 members and family are expected to attend the IndyCar event at Iowa Speedway.
The iRace for Gage Indianapolis 500 follows, set for Sunday, July 15. The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 4 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.