Jake Wright may not be old enough to drink, but he definitely enjoyed his visit to California's wine country. Wright earned his sixth win of the season with a dominant performance in the GSRC Sonoma 100, lapping all but six of his competitors on his way to the checkered flag. The race was the fourth of seven road courses on the 2016 Lionheart schedule – and Wright has won all of them thus far.
“I really enjoy this place...tonight was a great race and I'm very happy about the finish!” said Wright in victory lane. Although the win may have appeared easy, the defending series champion was quick to point out that he was hardly on cruise control. “There were a few scary moments. I think the most scary was when my teammate spun in Turn 10 in front of me, and I had to go off track to avoid it.”
After cutting into Wright's points lead with a win at Indianapolis, Jonathan Goke needed another good finish at Sonoma to ensure that he kept pace. He got it, earning a second place result after a race-long battle with Dylan Lee. “That was the hardest I've ever had to drive in any race, period,” said Goke of his battle with Lee. “I've gotta give hats off to Dylan...we were just neck-and-neck; it was a great race with him!” Goke was also proud of being one of only three drivers to finish the race without any incidents. “I didn't go off track once; I've never done that before on a road course!”
Dylan Lee's third-place finish was his first podium of the season, and strong follow-up to his fourth-place run at Indianapolis. Yet, Lee felt he could have finished second if a pit-exit issue hadn't cost him. “I got out (of the pits) on cold tires and there's just absolutely no grip...I lost it coming up over that first hill. I for sure had the car to be second...there's just no room to pass here.” Lee was also quick to praise Jonathan Goke. “I tried everything I could to get up onto Goke and get around him, and I just couldn't.”
Newcomer Ryan Otis came home fourth in his first road race with Lionheart, putting in perhaps the most impressive run of the night as he drove through the field. Otis technically qualified second, but a pre-race penalty shuffled him to the back of the field. “I felt like I was having a really great race – until that last corner,” he said, referring to a last-lap crash with fifth-place finisher James Krahula. “I just misread his line,” said Otis. “That was entirely my fault.”
The top ten was rounded out by Joe Flanagan, Jason Galvin, Ron Hacker, Jorge Anzaldo and Joe Hassert. Along with Goke, Flanagan and Hacker were the two other drivers to cross the finish line without a single incident point.
A total of 33 cars started the race, which quickly saw the action spread across the entire track. There were no major wrecks, but numerous smaller incidents and spins as many drivers struggled to tame the challenging Sonoma circuit. Two sim racers were disqualified for hitting the league's 17-point incident cap, which will also result in a five-point penalty for each.
With the win, Jake Wright now leads the championship by 102 points, although Goke's second-place finish kept him in contention. Dan Geren hangs on to third, but a tough race at Sonoma has allowed James Krahula to move within two points of Geren. Jason Robarge rounds out the top five.
The series now travels to the virtual Gateway Motorsports Park for its next event on August 3rd. The Gateway Motorsports 150 will be broadcast live 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.
The second annual I Race for Gage Indy 500 was full of surprises, except for in victory lane. When the dust settled on the virtual 200 lap race, iRacing.com fixed IndyCar overall points leader Jonathan Goke’s #08 sat stop the famed pylon, his first virtual Indianapolis 500 win in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“This is amazing,” Goke said. “The car was so good all day. We nailed our pit stops and that was the difference.”
Goke dominated the race; his 124 laps led were nearly five times as many as the next driver. Despite a competitive event behind him, the United State Air Force veteran pulled away to win by 3.5 seconds over Jason Robarge.
“I’m definitely still sweating. That was a really fun race, working with Dan (Geren, Goke’s Team #NailedIt teammate),” Goke said. “But it seemed like it was pretty chill, me and him didn’t have to do much. I can’t say enough how awesome it is to be a part of this team.”
Robarge, a former Lionheart Indy winner, edged Geren in a photo finish for second, while leading 25 laps.
“My goal was to just have a running car by the end of it, this was my first 500 mile race. Insane,” said Robarge, who won a 250 mile event at Indy two seasons ago. “Dan and I tried to work together to catch Goke at the end there, it didn’t work. I realized with three to go there, I had to make my move for second.”
Geren overcame previous struggles at the Brickyard to lead 13 laps and podium.
“Outstanding run, Goke and I helped each other most of the race. Unfortunately I went a little slower than I wanted to on the last pit stop, but better safe than sorry,” Geren said of losing the pace with Goke on the final round of stops. “It was still a great run for us.”
Dylan Lee and Brandon Limkemann crossed in fourth and fifth, also in a photo finish.
Several notable Lionheart and virtual Indy 500 drivers were missing from the front of the pack.
Series point leader Jake Wright and defending Lionheart champion was involved in a multi-car wreck on lap 46, ending his race. Wright was pinched below Ian Adam exiting turn one, and then drifted back into the racing line while losing momentum. Chris Stofer, himself an accomplished racer at Indy, could not slow quick enough and the two touched, setting off a crash that ended the race for former Lionheart Indy winner Michael Gray, Drew Motz, Brian Neff, and Kenneth McCoy. Former iRacing fixed champion Joe Hassert sustained serious damage and finished several laps down in 18th.
Polesitter Tony Lurcock and 16th Street Racing League Indy 500 champion Joe Branch were eliminated when Lurcock suffered internet connection problem and made contact with Branch under yellow on lap 55. Jason Galvin also battled connection issues and retired on lap 91.
A lap 156 crash took Bob Mikes out and effectively ended Pierre Daigle’s day as well. Seven cautions slowed the race for 22 laps. Eleven drivers swapped the lead 47 times. 10 of the 35 cars to start completed all 200 laps.
Ian Adams, Joe Flanagan, Ron Hacker, Matthew Mercer and James Krahula rounded out the top ten.
Goke looks to gain even more ground on Wright in the points at the series next stop in the rolling hills of wine country, at Sonoma Raceway in the Napa Valley of northern California. Wright is undefeated on road courses this season, winning all three events. The defending series champion leads Goke by 90 points, with Dan Geren, Jason Robarge and James Krahula the top five.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Sonoma for the GSRC Sonoma 100 on Wednesday, July 27. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST. For more information, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
AT MICHIGAN Wright Celebrates Unexpected Win at Michigan
It was a wild night at Michigan for the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment. The 100-lap sim race saw 8 cautions, 10 different leaders, and 29 lead changes – which doesn't include the countless battles for position throughout the tightly-packed field of 39 virtual DW-12s. When the dust settled, 23 cars finished Michigan International 200 under caution, and it was Jake Wright leading the field to the checkered flag.
The victory was the fifth of the season for the defending series champion, who now leads the overall standings by 180 points. However, this win was a truly unexpected one for Wright. “Michigan isn't on my top favourite tracks list, so to be able to get a good result out of this place is nice,” said Wright in victory lane. “Until tonight, I've never really had good results here.”
Ironically, Wright did not lead a single lap until he passed Dan Geren for the lead just moments before a race-ending caution flag flew with three laps to go. “I think he was trying to set me up for last lap pass...I got lucky when the caution came out when it did,” added Wright, who finished 22nd at Michigan last season.
Pole-sitter Dan Geren, who led 42 laps overall, echoed Jake's view on his ill-timed strategic move. “I gave it away to try and set Jake up, and it backfired on me,” said Geren of Wright's winning pass. Geren conceded that it was actually an earlier caution (with 8 laps to go) that had a bigger impact on his race. “I really did not want to see that other caution come out. I had a second-and-a-half lead; I was letting them battle.”
Geren's #NailedIt teammate Michael Gray rounded out the podium, earning his best oval finish of the season. “I would say that we had a good performance,” said Gray. “I feel like we could have broken the famous 'J streak',” he added, referring to the increasingly-infamous streak that has seen every race this season won by a sim racer whose first name starts with “J.”
No Name Racing's Brian Yaczik finished just outside the podium in fourth – his second top-five finish in three races. Joe Flanagan finished fifth – his first career top five finish. Rounding out the top ten were Ed Tutwiler, Jason Robarge, Jack Bogan, Jason Galvin and Tony Showen.
It was another disappointing evening for several key championship contenders. Jonathan Goke, who won the race last season, finished 27th after an incident with Tony Lurcock which triggered a multi-car wreck on the front stretch. James Krahula also failed to gain ground after he was collected in a major incident on lap 25 that destroyed numerous cars. Krauhula finished 34th.
Wright's commanding lead in the points will be put to the test in the league's next event at the virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 will be the second leg in the Lionheart Triple Crown. As such, double points will be on the line for all drivers, as well as a multitude of prizes – including $50 to the winner.
The full-length, 500 mile I Race for Gage Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and Iracing Live beginning at a special time: Sunday, July 17 at 3:45PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
When the checkered flag flies at the Michigan International 200 on July 6th, the Lionheart Indycar Series Presented by First Medical Equipment will have officially completed the first half of its 2016 season. Thus far, the racing has been close, often featuring more than 35 virtual DW-12’s taking the green flag each week. Through 10 of 22 rounds, six different drivers have earned wins, while many positions throughout the standings are separated by just a few points.
Michigan International Speedway has a long history with open-wheel racing that dates back to 1968. Perhaps most infamously, the track played host to the U.S. 500 in 1996, a key moment that officially began the “split” between CART and the upstart Indy Racing League. Indycars haven’t raced at the real-life track since 2007, but Iracing’s virtual Michigan International Speedway has been a staple on the Lionheart schedule in each of the league’s four seasons.
After a couple of disappointing weeks at Motegi and Texas, Jonathan Goke will be happy to spend the week at Michigan. Goke – currently second in the standings – is the defending winner of this race; he led 46 of 100 caution-free laps last season. He also finished a very solid third in the pre-season All-Star Race at the track, proving that his initial success at Michigan was no fluke. This will mark Goke’s first visit as a member of Team #NailedIt, which also boasts Season Two winner Jesse Vincent. With the two most-recent Michigan winners in their stable, Team #NailedIt may be tough to beat this week.
While Goke and Vincent have earned wins in past seasons, it is Streamline Motorsports’ Tony Lurcock who has the best career finishing record at Michigan. The Lionheart veteran has never finished lower than fourth in his three career starts at the two-mile oval, and he finished on the podium last season after starting on the pole. Much like Goke, Lurcock had a disappointing result at Texas last week, and he will be looking to turn things around at one of his best tracks.
Ironically, the one driver who is not thrilled about the trip to Michigan is points leader and defending series champion Jake Wright. Wright counts the speedway as one of his least favourite tracks, mostly because he’s struggled to post strong results there in the past. Wright’s only Lionheart start at Michigan did nothing to turn his luck around; he finished 22nd last season after starting 29th. With a 132-point lead in the standings, Wright can easily afford to struggle for one week. However, coming off a thrilling win at Texas, it’s likely Jake will be looking to overcome his past struggles and further expand his championship lead.
Other drivers to watch this week include Wright’s No Name Racing teammate Brian Yaczik. Yaczik narrowly missed out on stealing the win at Texas, and the rookie would undoubtedly love to earn his first career win in just his third start. Adrenaline Motorsports’ Christian Steele has re-emerged as a threat in recent weeks, and getting a win at Michigan would help him to close the 84-point gap to Jonathan Goke in the Rookie of the Year standings. Finally, Jason Galvin finished a solid fourth in the preseason All-Star Race, and the Motegi winner will be eager to get back on track after a wreck ended his run at Texas last week.
The Michigan International 200 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.