Justin Weaver avoided the final wreck of the race, and then roared away on a one-lap shootout to win the USMC Wounded Warrior 200 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was the first career Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment win for the Tennessee native, who also captured the pole.
“It feels great to win,” Weaver said. “Definitely have had a struggle this year, seems to be feast or famine and we feasted tonight baby!”
Weaver battled with Joe Hassert and Adam Blocker over the final stint in the race, taking the lead for good as Hassert slid up the track and contacted the wall in turn four with six laps remaining. The wreck also ended Brian Greenlee, Ron Hacker and Jason Galvin’s night.
“I knew Kinsella was going to be all over me there,” Weaver said. “I got a heck of a start there, that Ford motor for 8 Ball Motorsports gave me a good kick, and it was smooth sailing there at the end.”
Andrew Kinsella benefitted from the wreck, moving into second after starting 24th. But Weaver played the green-and-white restart perfect to pull away.
“I got a speeding penalty on pit exit, hit the button too soon,” Kinsella said. “I don’t know how I was able to recover to be honest. We had a car to win for sure.”
Brian Yaczik roared through the field after sustaining damage and needing to pit late in the race. The Michigan driver came home third, using fresh tires to slice his way through the field. Had the seventh - and final - caution not flown, Yaczik could have pulled off a Texas Two Step upset.
“That pit stop with thirty something to go, apparently we had rear wing damage,” Yaczik said. ”That wasn’t fun. And then I was kinda upset with that last caution. I was listening to Weaver and Kinsella, and had that gone green I was going to pass both of them. But oh well.”
Bob Mikes and Blocker rounded out the top five.
Kinsella extended his points lead to 17 over Blocker, his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate.
Dan Geren looked strong in the early going, leading a race-high 67 laps. But on lap 72, Hassert turned Geren going down the back straight, ending his night.
Dustin Wardlow and Ken Hacker also tangled, on lap 115. Hacker appeared to push out of turn two, making contact with Wardlow and sending the Dewar’s Candy machine flipping into the fence.
Hassert led 36 laps, while Weaver paced 22 laps. Blocker, Tyler Graaf and Robert Blouin also led laps.
20 drivers finished on the lead lap. Jorge Anzaldo was the first car a lap down, after being hit by Matthew Mercer on lap 101.
Anzaldo was attempting to follow Pierre Daigle and Jason Galvin into the pits when Mercer made contact. Anzaldo’s crew fixed the car, but not before he lost a lap. Daigle finished two laps down after receiving a black flag on the restart, and then a pit speeding penalty. Galvin received an end of the line penalty and was racing back towards the front when contact in the Hassert wreck ended a top ten run.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Europe now for its debut at the legendary Circuit de Spa Francorchamps.
The HPP Simulation Grand Prix of Belgium is set for Wednesday, September 12 and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network, broadcasted by the Global SimRacing Channel, at 10:35 p.m. EST.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Lionheart Indycar Series races in Texas are no exception, as the drivers take to the high-banks for the USMC Wounded Warrior 200. In the past there have been thrills, spills, and multiple different winners at Texas. The high-banked oval on iRacing may not have the newly configured turns 1 and 2 from real life, but this will be the first time the Lionheart drivers travel to one of the “cookie-cutter” 1.5-mile tracks this season. Texas, along with Atlanta and Charlotte have a unique “D-shape that, along with steep banking create high speeds and high drama.
Last time out at Sonoma, Adam Blocker as a result of his win now sits just 8 points back from Andrew Kinsella. The Adrenaline Motorsports teammates are starting to put some distance on the rest of the field. Who will we see crowned champion when the second half of the season is complete? Strong drives from Michael Goodman and rookie Stephen Laarkamp saw them round out the podium. Kinsella barely retains the points lead after Round 12, however, Sonoma could have been so much worse for the Canadian driver. After suffering heavy damage from contact with Dan Geren, Kinsella limped around with damage to the rear wing and engine cowling. Kinsella managed to keep it on track for 4 laps in order to hit his pit window, got new parts on his car and, after exiting the pits in 15th, rebounded to finish 4th. James Krahula rounded out the top 5. Brian Yaczik had a bad night at Sonoma, finishing 33rd, and finds himself now sitting 3rd in points, losing a spot to Blocker. The biggest movers after Sonoma were Scott Bolster and Dustin Wardlow. The pair gained 4 positions each, and with a strong second half, could break into the top 10 in the standings. Jorge Anzaldo and Brandon Limkemann lost the most positions after Sonoma; the Synergy Motorsports drivers both missed Round 12 and lost 4 and 5 positions respectively in the standings.
Texas Motor Speedway has been on the Lionheart Schedule for many seasons and has always been the home for some exciting racing. Which driver will come home victorious in the new IR-18? Last year saw Jason Galvin win at Texas leading 28 laps en route to his victory. Big Joe Hassert, who led a race high 78 laps finished a disappointing P28. James Krahula and Bob Mikes rounded out last year’s podium. Galvin, Hassert, and Krahula are all still very much in the championship fight and will be looking for strong results at Texas to close the gap on Kinsella and Blocker at the front.
The hard-luck season continued for Dan Geren in Sonoma, as Geren was caught up in a number of incidents that ultimately ended his day. In addition to the contact with Kinsella, a self-spin and contact with Justin Weaver made for a tough day at the office. Geren leads the league with 6 poles from 12 races, but is yet to convert those poles to a win. Despite this, Geren still sits 4th in the championship 66 points back of the lead.
Stephen Laarkamp is leading the cleanest driver standings through 11 rounds. With just 15 incident points over 11 races and an avg of 1.36 per race, he’s clearly the favorite at this moment. Michael Goodman is close in P2 with just 19 incident points on the season. One area this season where Stephen has been far from clean, however, is on pit-lane. The rookie has yet to adjust to Lionhearts strict rules about pit lane etiquette, and has accumulated 19 penalty points from these incidents. Without these points, Laarkamp would move from 7th to 4th in the overall standings.
Ron Hacker leading the Iron Man standings for most miles completed over Matt Mercer. He sits tied with Mercer in laps completed at 1,383 but it’s the miles that will determine the winner. Hacker leads the league with 2,481.81 miles run at the halfway point in the season.
On the team front, New Lunar Republic has merged with No Lift Motorsports. The teams have combined under the NLR banner and will race together for the remainder of the season. This puts them in the thick of a battle with 8 Ball Motorsports and Skidmark Motorsports for 7th, 8th and 9th in the team standings. Meanwhile upfront, Adrenaline continues to run away with the Team Championship leading No Name Racing by 152 points, helped in no small part by Kinsella and Blocker’s 7 combined wins. Synergy remains 3rd.
Finally, news from the paddock is that the league may create a new developmental series similar to Indy Lights for new members looking to enter Lionheart officially in the IR-18. Stay tuned for more information on this front as we progress towards the close of the season.
The USMC Wounded Warrior 200 can be seen live Wednesday August 29th at 10:35pm EDT, on GSRC, iRacing live and NOW the iRacing Esports Network.