For the first time all season, Adam Blocker faced a challenge on a road course. Ultimately, it did not matter.
The defending champion in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment pulled away following the first pit stop to win the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza, the inaugural event for the series at the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“I have no clue how I did that,” Blocker said. “I was all over Damon (Martinez) and I saw him starting to spin. I somehow kept the car clean and avoided him.”
Blocker beat Dustin Wardlow by 7.85 seconds.
The Adrenaline Motorsports driver led 22 laps after starting second and battling with Wardlow and pole winner Damon Martinez during the opening stint of the race.
This included a caution when Andrew Kinsella and Brian Beard got together in the opening turn. Everyone was able to continue after repairs in the pits.
“Damon did a great job defending,” Blocker said. “I think I had more pace but I didn’t want to push the envelope going for points. But it worked out.”
Martinez led 13 laps and looked poised to snag his first Lionheart win, holding off Blocker’s challenges lap after lap.
But Blocker stayed out one extra lap during the open pit stops, and as he exited pit lane, the pair went side-by-side into the first turn. Martinez turned a bit too much, causing contact that gave Blocker the lead.
But the battle wasn’t over.
Martinez stormed back around Blocker entire the third and final chicane, only to see the back end snap on corner exit, sending Martinez spinning into the sand and ending his chances at a win.
“I just put the right wheel on the curb too much,” said Martinez, who finished third. “Thankfully I kept it off the wall. I saw Adam in my mirror and then passing my front nose. It was close.”
Wardlow capitalized on the mistake and ran a clean race to the end to finish second.
“I was shocked to even be able to hang with these guys as long as I did,” Wardlow said. “I was hoping for a top ten and ended up with a podium. It was great.”
Dan Geren and Tyler Graaf rounded out the top five.
25 of the 33 starters finished the race, with Scott Bolster, Chris Lanini and Joe Flanagan amongst the drivers involved in crashes.
12 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Blocker’s stranglehold on the championship standings continues.
After a couple of months of relative inaction for the Lionheart series; just 3 races in the past 45 days, it is a quick turn around for the IndyCar drivers as the take to the track in back-to-back weeks. This time it will be at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Fisch Motors 200.
Last time out at Monza, was one of the most competitive road course races Lionheart has seen in some time. With Sage Karam missing the race, it fell to his good friend Damon Martinez to take the charge to the reigning road course king, Adam Blocker, and take it to him he did. Martinez nipped Blocker for Pole position, and lead for most of the first half of the race. Blocker, however, was never more then a second behind the rookie, and in fact the top 5 were rarely out of touch through most of the race. Blocker would get by Martinez when the rookie made a small mistake during the second stint of the race. Martinez got on the gas just a little to hard through the 3rd chicane, and spun right infront of Blocker. Somehow, the Carolina driver avoided Martinez, and both drivers avoided the wall allowing Blocker to inherit the lead, while Martinez fell down to 5th behind Dustin Wardlow, Bryan Carey and Dan Geren. Martinez would battle back to 3rd, but no one was touching Blocker from there out. Wardlow came 2nd, while Geren and Tyler Graaf would get by rookie Bryan Carey after Carey spun on the last lap battling with Martinez for 3rd.
Now the series turns to a different kind of challenge. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a fast D-shaped 1.5-mile oval, but the track is much narrower than its sister tracks in Atlanta and Texas. This will lead to tight action and the draft and aero-push will play a big factor in the race.
Last year’s winner, Dan Geren, will certainly be looking to repeat this year. In last year’s race, Geren won for the first time all year and got a monkey off his back that proved pivotal to mounting a late season charge. Geren will be hoping to replicate his success at this track and carry the momentum through to get within striking distance of points leader Adam Blocker.
If there is one driver hoping to use Geren’s template from last season, it might be the driver directly behind him in the standings. Despite winning the Indy 500, Andrew Kinsella has been caught up in more then his fair share of wrecks this season, almost none of which have been of his own making. The double points from his 500 win keeps the Canadian in outside contention, but he will need a big swing in fortunes over the final races to catch his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate.
Another driver looking for redemption is Michael Goodman. Sitting 4th in points, the New York driver has shown speed and consistency, but like Kinsella has found himself to often caught up in wrecks not of his doing. Goodman is a quiet, courteous driver, who is one of those drivers you can trust to make the right move. This will be extremely important at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the quarters will be tight, and the speeds high. Look for Goodman to be there at the end, hungry for a win.
Finally, rounding out the top 5 is Justin Weaver. There are certain drivers that you associate with different styles of track. Obviously, as this season has proven, Adam Blocker can do it all. Kinsella, excels at the flatter ovals like Motegi, New Hampshire, Kentucky, or Homestead, where throttle control is important. But for these high-speed ovals, the Lionheart drivers you think of are guys like Geren, Big Joe Hassert and Chris Stofer. Increasingly, however there is another name to add to that list. Justin Weaver has become known for his foot to the floor style, and that often finds the 8 Ball Motorsports driver at the front of races like this. Watch out for the Moby Dicky’s machine on Wednesday.
Speaking of which, tune in on Wednesday August 28th, 2019 for all the side by side, wheel to wheel action from the Fisch Motors 200 at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
After nearly a month of, the IndyCars of the Lionheart series travel across the virtual pond, and down the Mediterranean Sea to Italy for the Plasma Tracks Grand Prix of Monza. The Lionheart IndyCar Series goes to Monza for the first time in series history, where the low downforce IndyCar’s anticipate quite the show.
Last time out at Barber, Adam Blocker was the only driver to stay out of trouble for the whole race, cruising to a series record 52.39 second lead over Dan Geren. Geren and Sage Karam both had problems on pit entry during the race, causing Geren to drop back, and eventually causing Karam to drop out of the race entirely. 3rd in points entering the race, Andrew Kinsella was putting in a strong performance for the oval specialist, running in 4th place until Joe Hassert inexplicably slowed into the fast left-right on the back side of the Alabama check-up. The resultant check-up saw Joe Branch collect Hassert, while Kinsella, who was lapping the pair, take to the grass to avoid the pair. This resulted in front and rear wing damage, that ultimately relegated the Canadian to an 8th place finish. Instead, rounding out the top 5 was Brian Yaczik in 3rd, Connor Harrington in 4th and Michael Goodman in 5th. The only change in the top 5 of the championship saw Goodman overtake Kinsella by 3 points for 3rd place. Meanwhile at the top it is all Adam Blocker, with a lead of over 200 points.
From the twisty, tight Barber Motorsports Park, Lionheart now travels to the Autodromo Natzionale Monza, with long straights and tight chicanes, this week will require a completely different skill set from the Lionheart drivers. Hard braking zones and tight turns and long straights will mean that the driver who can get the car slowed down, turned and back to the gas the best will be you winner. That corner exit speed will be the x factor to watch this week, as the long straights will heavily penalize those who prioritize corner entry in their style.
2 Drivers to look out for this week are Sage Karam and Dan Geren. Karam made some mistakes last time out at Barber, but was the only driver able to match Adam’s one lap pace. This track suits Karam’s aggressive style. A lap 1, turn 1 move could be all the Pennsylvania driver needs to set off into the sunset.
Geren, after hardly putting a wheel wrong last season, has made an uncharacteristic amount of mistakes. Be it a small miscalculation with the throttle or a poorly timed passing maneuver, Geren has yet to capture the form he exhibited in the last half of the season last year. If Geren can shut out the noise on race day, he is as fast as anyone, but it is the mental game he seems to be losing out on this season. Last year around this time, Geren shook off the bad luck and went on a tear to make the championship interesting. Will Monza be the catalyst that gets the Midwest driver back on track?
Last year, the rookie of the year points championship came down to 2 drivers. Justin Weaver, and Stephen Laarkamp. The battled tooth and nail down to the finale, before Weaver got the better of Laarkamp by finishing better in the finale. It is thus not surprising that the two drivers are again in a pitched battled for 6th in the championship standings, with Laarkamp just 14 points behind Weaver. So far this season, Weaver has been the rabbit. Often the faster of the 2, stretching out leads. But Laarkamp has played the tortoise perfectly, being the more consistent finisher of the 2. Just as it was last year, their battle will be a storyline to watch as the championship gear up for the home stretch of 10 races.
It is hard to look past the dominant factor in Lionheart this season for this race. Adam Blocker has been dominant on both road and oval. Even when he starts deep in the field, the Carolina driver finds a way to be at the front come the finish of the race. Thus, it will take something monumental to keep the Adrenaline Motorpsorts driver from the podium in this race as well. But if ever there is a track where the surprising can happen it is Monza. No matter if the corner is fast or slow, all of them require high commitment. One wrong move…one split second lapse of concentration can result in your car against the barrier and your day finished. Blocker has been the model of consistency so far, but we still have 11 races remaining. How long does the concentration last? How long does the luck hold out?
The only way to find out the answers to these questions and more is to tune in this
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 10:35pm EDT for the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.