Connor Harrington had a third-place race car.
That didn’t keep him from victory lane.
Harrington won the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis with a thrilling pass of a damaged Sage Karam as the pair streaked towards the checkered flag on the final lap.
It was the first road course victory for Harrington, and his third of 2020 in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I’m in shock,” Harrington said. “I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if I’m dreaming. I can’t believe I won a road course race in the Lionheart series.”
Harrington was comfortably in third, several seconds behind Karam - who dominated the race - and defending series champion Adam Blocker.
But everything unraveled with 6 laps remaining.
As Karam lapped Lionheart debutante and eleven-time Formula 1 race winner Rubens Barrichello on the front straight, more lapped traffic loomed.
Karam collided with the slower Brandon Limkemann, who was also slowing down for cars in front of him. The contact caused Limkemann to flip, and broke the left side of Karam’s wing off.
By the time he got to turn three, Karam’s 1.7 second lead was gone and Blocker was wheel-to-wheel for the lead.
Remarkably, Karam fought back to the lead down the infield straight, leading to another overtake attempt by Blocker on the pit straight.
This time, Karam blocked hard to the pit wall, causing Blocker to lift or crash and jolt back to the left. The duo again fought wheel-to-wheel until turn 7, when Blocker lost control under power and spun out.
Barrichello arrived with nowhere to go, plowing Blocker and sending him flipping into the grass to a DNF.
That’s when Harrington began to smell blood.
“I was kinda just out riding in no man’s land, and things just happened,” Harrington said. “It was a crazy finish. I had two push to passes left, and used the first one coming to the white and couldn’t get him.”
Seven second back when the initial crash occurred, Harrington caught Karam on the penultimate lap but was unable to clear Karam on the front straight.
But Harrintgon kept the pressure on and as the duo exited the infield section for the final run to the line, Karam slipped wide and clipped the grass.
That was all Harrington needed. The Syracuse, New York native darted to the outside of Karam in the oval turn 1, and won the drag race back to the checkers.
“I was on the wrong side to make a move into one on the white flag lap,” Harrington said. “I think Karam was out of button presses on the last lap. I don’t even know how much I won by.”
Karam discussed the hard move on Blocker while battling in the chaotic final laps.
“Unfortunate, we had a great race going,” Karam said. “There was a damaged car and I thought they left a lane, and then they didn’t….and then Adam and I got into it on the front. I thought he’d know it was a no brainer that I’d block the wall there, and ended up hitting the wall there and bent the toe.”
Arjuna Kankipati was the beneficiary of Blocker’s wreck, capturing his first Lionheart podium finish.
“I definitely prefer the road courses,” Kankipati said. “Just a great race for us today.”
Andrew Kinsella and fromer series champion Jake Wright rounded out the top five.
The race was relatively clean until that point, with minor accidents eliminating the likes of Jason Galvin, Joe Branch, Joe Hassert and Josh Chin.
18 drivers finished on the lead lap.
41 cars took the green flag, a Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX record for a road course event, including five drivers with real world racing success: Karam, Barrichello, 2013 Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, and a pair of Mexican sports car champions, Adrian Fernandez (also of CART fame), and Luis Diaz.
Karam holds a 74-point advantage over Harrington, with Kinsella falling to third, 81 back of the lead. Blocker remains in fourth but now sits 118 points back of the lead.
Next up for the Lionheart IndyCar Series, the HyperX Indianapolis 500.
The race is set for Sunday, June 28 and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcast, with a 4 p.m. EST start.
For nearly 6 years the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX has qualified and raced on the same night. New for 2020 iRacing has implemented the ability to use lap averages vs fastest single lap for qualifying. In an effort to continue its quest to be as realistic as possible series officials have decided to hold qualifying on a separate night, where the field will be determined in the Indianapolis tradition of fastest 4 lap average.
42 drivers are expected to participate in the HyperX Race for the Pole Wednesday June 24th. Drivers have been randomly assigned a starting order as track conditions will likely change throughout the session. As luck would have it the order looks to provide quite a bit of excitement and drama as many of the leagues fastest drivers will be taking their runs towards the beginning, middle and end of the session.
New for this year is the ability for drivers to use several of the in-car adjustments such as the front and rear anti roll bars as well as the weight jacker. These tools allow a driver to adjust the handling of the car on the fly which they must master to gain the maximum speed necessary to achieve a higher spot on the grid.
HyperX has also initiated a product giveaway surrounding qualifying and the upcoming HyperX Indianapolis 500. Nearly $1000 dollars in gaming peripherals are being offered as prizes for a few lucky winners. For more information on the HyperX product giveaway visit www.lionheartracingseries.com/giveaway
The live qualifying broadcast can be seen on the iRacing eSports Network with coverage being brought by the Global Sim Racing Channel. Coverage begins at 9:35 PM CST.
Race Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUOn-ofmNQE&feature=emb_title
The Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX announced today a first-time partnership with Snail Racing, a popular YouTube channel created by Larry and Annie Rabbets. The channel focuses on Annie’s journey from sim racing rookie to seasoned veteran racer.
Annie who started sim racing in August of 2019 after being convinced by Larry to try turning some laps on iRacing was immediately hooked. It was this excitement for sim racing that also helped spark the idea of not only creating her channel but also an online community for beginners and rookies to learn together in a fun and friendly environment.
“I have been a fan of Annie’s channel, Snail Racing for some time now and of the work that Larry and Annie are doing for the sim racing community,” said Lionheart founder Jorge Anzaldo. “Driver development has been on our radar for quite a while now and this presents the perfect opportunity to align ourselves with a great community who is dedicated to giving new drivers the tools needed for success. Lionheart is proud to support the Race to Learn Series and I’m excited to watch the progress of all the drivers involved.”
The Race to Learn Series created by Annie and Larry will take a group of 20 drivers through a 12-week program focusing on the fundamentals every sim racer needs for success. To the benefit of all drivers involved, the program goes beyond just traditional lessons such as car control or overtaking. Drivers will also learn about achieving the proper mindset, analyzing mistakes and crashes as well as anger management. At the end of each week’s lesson drivers will apply what they’ve learned in an official race.
“Jorge Anzaldo supported me from very early on in my sim racing career,” said Annie Rabbets of Snail Racing. “I am very excited that we can combine our efforts to create this joint venture which will allow less experienced sim racers to learn and progress with the support of well established drivers and organizations like the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX.”
At the end of the program the top 15 drivers in points will be invited to a special broadcast championship race where all graduates will have the opportunity to showcase everything learned on a much bigger stage.
The Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX is known as one of the premier open wheel leagues on iRacing. Drivers of the series know that in order to be their absolute best it takes time, dedication and lots of practice.
“I love the work ethic and approach that the Snail Racing community puts towards improving their race craft,” Anzaldo said. “At Lionheart we preach practice every day and we’ve seen how its paid off for our most talented drivers. Competition. Commitment. Excitement. It’s the slogan of the league. I’m confident that Annie and Larry will deliver all three with their Race to Learn Series.”
For more information on how you can be a part of the Race to Learn Series as well as the Snail Racing community visit annieandlarry.com. You can also reach them via Facebook @SnailRacing005 as well as searching for Snail Racing on YouTube.