In a race for the ages, Michael Gray did what was previously thought to be impossible, out dueling Jake Wright on a road course to win the Ovarian Cancer Awareness 100 at Brands Hatch. It’s the first Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment road course event not won by the defending series champion this year.
“I am sweating buckets here, that was a great race at the end,” said the Australian Gray from victory lane. “I’d like to say sorry to Jake for my mistake. I just locked them up and he hit my rear and I saw him spin, so I’d like to apologize for that.”
Gray took the lead coming off pit road on lap 32, beating Wright by over a second during the pit sequence. Wright stalked Gray down the stretch, before Gray got loose entering turn four with two laps to go. As Gray gathered the car, Wright ran out of room, plowing into the leader and spinning.
Wright valiantly tracked Gray back down, but came up a half second short.
“The race started out pretty well, but the early caution brought us all together. Michael was fast tonight, he definitely deserved to win,” Wright said. “I’m disappointed with the contact, but that will go away because I know it was a great finish.”
Gray said early strategy helped guide him to the win.
“I’d saved some fuel on that early caution, and when I saw Jake dive in on the second stop, I knew it was hammer time,” Gray said. “It was nip and tuck on the end with the fuel there, but we made it.”
A full course caution waved on lap three after a major incident in turn four blocked the track.
Trevor Bissett took a run inside Vincent Bluthenthal and appeared to have position entering the turn. Bluthenthal turned down to apex the corner, and the two touched, sending Bissett spinning and Bluthenthal flipping. Four more cars, including Brian Neff, Chris Lanini, Bob Mikes and Kenneth McCoy also wrecked.
On the restart, Wright checked out and appeared on his way to his seventh win of the season before the final pit stop.
Ryan Bird outdueled Dan Geren for third in a thrilling battle that seemed to last all race.
Dylan Lee carried one of his better performances of the season home in fifth. Brian Yaczik, Jason Robarge, Joe Flanagan, Pierre Daigle and Ron Hacker rounded out the top ten.
The only other major incident came on lap 32, when Jason Galvin went off in calamity corner. A poor decision to return to the track in turn four led to heavy contact with Kenneth McCoy, and Chris Stofer wrecked trying to miss the crash. Galvin continued to finish 11th, Stofer finished 18th and McCoy retired.
Four drivers led laps, including Wright’s race-high 27. Just six cars finished on the lead lap, and 21 of the 31 starters finished.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a month-long summer break before returning in Australia at Phillip Island for the RaceCentre 100 on September 14. Jake Wright leads Jonathan Goke by 132 points heading into the event, which can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
The Lionheart MX-5 Challenge series returns on August 25 at the Sebring International Raceway’s modified circuit for 26 laps.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
In dominating fashion, Dan Geren picked up his first win of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment season and simultaneously ended the J’s streak in the Gateway 150 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“I’m so thrilled right now, it’s unreal,“ Geren said after leading a race-high 52 laps. “It’s such a stacked field this year, I didn’t think I would get a win. I’m just so happy. I don’t know where that came from.“
A driver whose first name starts with the letter J had won each of the first 13 events of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment season, and even the Lionheart MX-5 Challenge has exclusively been won by drivers with a J name.
Geren beat his teammate, Jonathan Goke, by just over two seconds. Goke used an amazing pit entrance to gain three positions during final green flag pit stops on lap 107, taking home the runner-up spot despite starting back in 16th.
“There is nobody I’d rather finish second to,” Goke said of losing to Geren. “I started back in the pack, and I was scared with the wheelspin on restarts and what not, but I tried a few short pits and that’s what got us there.”
The team #nailedit drivers were joined by teammate and Michael Gray and series race director Jesse Vincent in the post race media session to express support for Ian Adams, one of the early favorites in the race and the fifth member of the team. Adams has been going through a trying time personally over the last month. Adams caught the wall early and was forced to retire.
“We definitely want to give a huge shoutout to Ian Adams and his girlfriend, we love you and this one’s for you,“ Geren said.
“He was fast, and he’s always been fast, he’s just had some bad luck, and he told us he was going to win this race for his girlfriend and himself and this one’s for you buddy,” Goke added.
Polesitter Ryan Otis led 28 laps but settled for third. Jason Galvin drove from 17th to fourth, while Pierre Daigle ran in the top five all night and finished fifth.
A lap 71 restart changed the dynamic of the race and set up a sprint to the finish. Brandon Limkemann did not accelerate from 8th on a restart. Jason Robarge ducked underneath, but Chris Stofer and his teammate, Joe Branch tried to split the slow car. As Stofer wedged himself between Limkemann and the wall, contact was made and Stofer spun across the narrow front straight into Branch and James Krahula.
Dylan Lee, Joe Flanagan, Michael Gray, and Bob Mikes were all heavily involved, and several other cars received damage avoiding the wreck.
Just 14 of the 33 starters finished on the lead lap, many due to damage sustained in the wreck.
Joe Hassert, Jake Wright, Jason Robarge, Trevor Bissett and Chris Gutierrez rounded out the top ten. Bissett was a strong challenger, leading 33 laps, but a speeding penalty in the pits ended his quest for a win.
Wright now leads Goke by 89. Geren is 58 points back of second, while Robarge moved up to fourth despite missing the first two events of the season. Krahula fell to fifth.
Hassert and Galvin gained four spots each and moved into the top ten in seventh and eighth, while Ron Hacker, Branch and Gray all dropped three positions.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a week off before heading overseas to Kent, England, for the Ovarian Cancer Awareness 100 at Brands Hatch, the first trip to the 2.4-mile track for the premier fixed racing league using the iRacing.com based simulation.
That event can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 17. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visithttp://www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.