By Justin Prince
For the second time this week, Matt Taylor has won at iRacing’s virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway, this time in the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience.
Taylor held off his Avatar Auto Racing teammate, Aaron Morgan, in a seven-lap shootout to win the SimXperience 150 at New Hampshire Presented by Dewar's Candy on August 5.
Hebeat Morgan by 0.051 seconds to score his second victory of the season.
Michael O’Brien, David Sirois and Mike Rasimas rounded out the top five.
“We were really tight,” said Taylor from HyperX Victory Lane. “I wasn’t sure what the last caution was going to do and what that was going to finish like. It could have finished the same way even without the caution there and he had that draft and was reeling me down there in the end. Good, hard battle.”
The late-race restart was triggered after Trevor Malone crashed in Turn 3 on Lap 130. Malone was running side-by-side with Alex Guyon to his inside when they entered the corner. He then started drifting loose from the top of the race track before snapping right into the SAFER barrier. The incident immediately demolished Malone’s car, shearing off the front wing.
On the ensuing restart, Morgan attempted to build momentum and find clean air by running the third line in the corners. By Lap 138, the Avatar Auto Racing driver was able to get to the outside of Taylor. Taylor exited the corner away from the wall, opening the door for Morgan. The two drivers ran side-by-side down the straights for several laps with Taylor running lower down the track each time.
On the final lap, Morgan nearly hit the wall out of Turn 4, costing him a chance to be side-by-side at the checkered flag.
“I knew we were going to finish a team one-two-three, so I’m really happy about that,” said Morgan. “It was a lot of fun. There’s no one else I’d rather race than Matt or Mike. Those two guys are the best racers in the whole league as far as I’m concerned and I love going wheel-to-wheel with my teammate.”
Jorge Anzaldo started the race from the pole, pulling away by as much as eight car-lengths in the first five laps. The Raven Motorsports Silver competitor led the first 51 laps until the first pit window opened, handling the top spot over Dustin Wardlow.
As Anzaldo was pulling out his pit box, independent driver Chris Staples dived to the inside of Guyon from the first line in Turn 3. Guyon attempted to diamond the corner right into the right front tire of Staples, spinning both drivers out. As Guyon saved his car in the grass, Staples spun up the racing surface, narrowly avoiding traffic as the caution flag came out.
During the pit stops, disaster struck for Wardlow. He went on the jacks to change tires twice, costing him the lead. Sirois won the race off the pit lane over Taylor and O’Brien.
Sirois kept his Lavoie Motorsport car in the lead until Lap 88, when the clouds started to come out over the track. Taylor was able to build up a run on Sirois down the frontstretch, diving to his inside by the entry into Turn 1. Sirois immediately backed off, giving Taylor the lead.
Taylor went on to lead 52 laps on the way to victory.
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience goes to Iowa Speedway for the Fisch Motors Iowa 150 Presented by Midwest Simulations on August 19. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
In one of the closest finishes of the season, Connor Harrington has won his second race of the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker season.
The PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver took the checkered flag in the Minus 273 Texas 200 Presented by SimRace247 by 0.031 seconds, the 11th closest margin of victory in series history. Harrington did so by holding off the advances of Barrett Rolph and the fresher tires of Jason Brophy on a late-race restart.
It was the Lionheart Racing Series’ first trip to iRacing’s current version of Texas Motor Speedway.
Harrington led 41 of the 133 laps on the way to the victory.
Rolph, Brophy, Adam Blocker and Mike Rasimas completed the top five finishing positions.
“These Lionheart races are never easy to win and Barrett certainly did not make it an easy one tonight,” said Harrington from HyperX Victory Lane. “A great finish for us tonight. Our PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype machine was just fantastic and I’m just really thrilled to have a break go our way and we were able to take advantage of it. That’s kind of what we need for the rest of the season.”
That break came on Lap 86 after Jay Brant spun out while trying to enter the pit lane. Harrington had been running behind Chris Fowler, Robert Maleczka III, Brant and Tony Showen prior to the caution. Of those drivers, only Showen had not attempted to pit before the yellow flag came out. Only Showen went on to finish inside the top 10.
Following the restart, Harrington made the pass for the lead quickly on Showen. On Lap 94, Harrington built up a run coming out of Turn 2 and down the backstretch. While most drivers throughout the race had been trying to run in the middle line to defend, Showen did not, giving Harrington a lot of space to make the pass in Turn 3.
The battle for the race win came down to a six-lap shootout after a series of late-race incidents. With 15 laps to go, Brant spun out again, this time coming out of Turn 2. Brant smashed his front wing into the inside SAFER barrier before sliding back up the track, triggering the caution.
Several competitors, including Brophy, Rasimas and Andrew Kinsella, decided to pit for tires.
On the ensuing restart, the drivers on fresh tires quickly attempted to overtake their fellow competitors.
Brophy and Rasimas quickly drove to the inside of the Alkentech Simulations NHR e-Sports cars of Matt Taylor and Stephen Laarkamp. Taylor attempted to pass his teammate entering Turn 3 with Rasimas still alongside him. The two teammates then collided in the corner, sending Laarkamp spinning into the outside wall.
After the restart, Rolph attempted to make the pass on the high side of the track through the corners, but could not carry enough momentum to clear Harrington.
Then, with two laps to go, the fight came close to ending with a crash. Rolph built up his best run of the race off of Turn 2, using the banking as a ramp. Harrington then blocked Rolph nearly all the way to the apron down the backstretch. Harrington narrowly avoided the front wing of Rolph when arching into Turn 3. Rolph did not get alongside Harrington until it was too late.
“I have nothing against him because I probably would have done the same thing to him. I figured it was better to back out than to throw it away that late,” said Rolph. “I’m still super excited with the finish either way. I think I probably could have been closer. I tried a few different things and had a look up the inside a couple different times. I gave it everything to try and get around him there at the end and he just got the better of me at the line.”
Behind them, Brophy was making his way through the pack very quickly. The PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver was able to move up from 10th position to third during the final six laps. He ended up finishing just under two-tenths of a second behind Harrington.
“I obviously wish there wouldn’t have been that last caution,” said Brophy. “I made the call to pit and I hadn’t really run up front the whole race, so it was just ‘hey, let’s take a shot at maybe getting back to fifth or maybe win it.’”
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series travels to Australia for the KARNOX Grand Prix of Phillip Island. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on August 25th.
By Justin Prince
The Home of British Motorsport has become the location of the wildest final lap of the year.
The Lionheart Racing Series’ first trip across the pond to Silverstone Circuit ended with a furious crash for the win between Adam Blocker and Joshua Chin heading through the final corners.
Blocker took home the checkered flag in the GRAAFix Grand Prix of Silverstone Presented by Minus 273 in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker after a deep send to the left side of Chin into Vale.
Blocker tapped into the front wing of Chin during the move, shuffling him to the outside of the corner. Chin then drove into the right rear tire of Blocker in the next corner, sending both cars spinning towards the sand trap to the outside of Turn 17.
The incident sheared the rear wing of Blocker’s car off as well as demolished his right sidepod. Chin immediately lost a front tire and his front wing with the collision.
Blocker was able to pull his demolished car out of the runoff area and still win the race by four seconds over Chin’s fellow PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver, Connor Harrington. Chin went on to finish one lap down in 24th position.
It is Blocker’s fifth consecutive win in the series.
Matt Taylor, Aaron Morgan and Ryan Otis rounded out the top five.
“I mean, drama is an understatement,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane.
The battle between Blocker and Chin started from the opening lap. Chin started from the pole with Blocker following closely behind for the first half of the opening run. During the second half of the first tire stint, Blocker started to lose grip. By the end of the first pit stop window, Chin had a four-second advantage.
“I think the first stints, Chin and I did kind of the opposite things. I got behind on the adjustments on the car and just killed my rear tires, I dropped back and lost way too much time,” said Blocker.
The momentum for the race slowly shifted during the second stint. Blocker elected to save his push-to-passes while trying to extend his run as far as he could. Both Chin and Blocker decided to run on the red-walled tires during their second fuel run to minimize their time on the blacks.
“I think maybe the same thing happened to him because I was able to catch him a lot there and I knew going one lap on the overcut on the blacks would be good and it was,” said Blocker.
Blocker chipped away at Chin’s gap and reduced it to under three seconds by the final pit window. The Adrenaline Powerslide driver took less fuel during his stop, closing the gap to about one second back with under 10 laps to go. By that point, Blocker had nine push-to-passes available to Chin’s four.
Disaster nearly struck for Chin on Lap 26.
As the leaders were coming, Tony Showen was running lap times up to two seconds slower than much of the field. He attempted to move to the left side of the track for Chin out of Stowe. He immediately slowed his car down to under 100 MPH in the middle of the racing line. Chin took evasive action, darting left, but not without hitting Showen in the right rear tire. The contact sent Showen spinning with a broken wheel. He locked up his brakes, narrowly avoiding Blocker.
The intensity level for the race lead picked up on Lap 30.
Blocker went for the lead out of Luffield, powering his way to the right side of Chin into Copse. Chin then attempted a crossover into Maggots, keeping wheel to wheel through the complex into Becketts. Blocker built up a run down the Hangar Straight out of Chapel, passing Chin back on the left side of the track into Stowe.
“The first battle we had was really good,” said Blocker. “I used three push-to-passes to get by him, but we went wheel-to-wheel into Brooklands, out of Luffield, through Copse, through Maggots and Becketts. You have to have massive respect for one another to do that when racing for the lead. It was really clean up to that point.”
Blocker built up a half-second lead over the next two laps before Chin started to chip it away.
By the final lap, both drivers had one push-to-pass left. Chin went as deep into the corner as he could into the Arena section, gaining three car lengths. Then, as Blocker tried to arc his car into Turn 4, Chin dived to his left side, taking away the bottom of the corner. Chin’s right-rear tire made contact with Blocker’s left front wing endplate.
“If you’re the leader there, it just kind of sucks because if I defend that move, then he passes me down the straight into Brooklands. I just had to hope that he wasn’t going to dive it and I was going to clear him,” said Blocker. “He was kind of smart and took the opportunity and I was kind of worried about that. I should have known he would go for that. We made a little bit of contact there, but it was fine. It was a clean move.”
Through Luffield, Blocker tried to pounce back, locking up his right-front tire to get the gearbox of Chin. Blocker pressurized Chin into a slide out of the corner into Woodcote, allowing him to pull alongside. Blocker then overshot Copse, giving the lead back to Chin into Maggots and Becketts.
That eventually led to the wild final corner.
As the battle for the lead intensified, Harrington was running on his own, 11 seconds back before the incident.
“Second place is always nice,” said Harrington. “I don’t think I had the pace tonight to keep up with the two guys in front. I was just not super comfortable with the setup … Second is good. It’s a points finish we can put in the bank and we can move on.”
Behind them, Morgan and Taylor also had a wild battle for what turned out to be for third position.
Taylor built up a run to the left side of Morgan down the Hangar Straight before bobbling through Stowe. As the puffs of smoke came up from the contact for the win, Morgan and Taylor both overran the run through Vale with Morgan going across the sausage curbing in Turn 17. The bump slowed down Morgan enough for Taylor to drive by him on the left side of Club to take the final step on the podium.
“That entire last stint, I was doing everything I could to complete a pass or get up there and man, was it hard to set up a pass,” said Taylor. “I didn’t even realize we were going to end up battling for a podium until I crossed the line and saw third. That was a great drive and I’m really happy with the result there.”
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series and its drivers head to Texas Motor Speedway for the Minus 273 200 at Texas. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on August 11th.
By Justin Prince
After gambling on fuel strategy, David Rodriguez has won his first career Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience race in just his second start.
The RSR Esport driver pulled off the upset in the Fisch Motors Iowa 150 Presented by Midwest Simulations on August 19.
Rodriguez had decided to pit for fuel during a mid-race caution with 82 laps to go. He, along with Paul Jenkins and DJ Clark eventually became the only drivers on their strategy to make it to the front of the field during the closing stages.
Rodriguez was able to use the draft of Jenkins and Clark to make it to the checkered flag on gas. Jenkins ran out of fuel coming to the white flag while Clark ran out moments later.
Matt Taylor, Chris Fowler, Craig Forsythe and Richie Hearn rounded out the top five.
“It feels awesome (to win),” said Rodriguez from HyperX Victory Lane. “I couldn’t believe it with how our race was going at the beginning.”
Rodriguez had started the race in fourth position, behind David Sirois, Mike Rigney and Fowler. He quickly made his way to third place off the start, nearly taking the race leaders three-wide into Turn 1.
It proved to be difficult to make passes for much of the race with drivers struggling to get alongside one another in the corners. Sirois led by as many as 15 car lengths during the opening green flag run of the race before reaching lapped traffic.
Strategy came into play in major fashion during the first pit stop window on Lap 72. Cody Wenzen got loose on the apron entering the pit lane in Turn 3, sending him into the inside wall. Wenzen then bounced off the wall and up the track, narrowly avoiding Chris Ragan. As he attempted to save the car, he slammed the SAFER barrier, sending it bouncing along the wall before coming to a stop at the top of the track.
The caution flipped the running order upside down. Only Craig Forsythe, Hearn and Ragan had not pit yet during the green flag cycle. Fowler had taken less fuel during his stop, allowing him to stay on the lead lap at the time of the caution and to take the lead. The rest of the field had to take a wave around to remain on the lead lap.
That put several championship contenders into the heart of the pack, including Taylor, Mike Rasimas and Aaron Morgan.
The next caution happened right in front of them on Lap 87. Ragan attempted to ride next to the wall in Turn 1 before getting loose on the bumps. That sent him drifting three lanes down the track sideways, triggering the yellow. During the incident, the Elite West Motorsports driver clipped Issac Snider, severely damaging his front wing.
During the caution, strategy came into play again. Rodriguez, Clark and Dustin Wardlow all topped off on fuel on Lap 89. Trevor Malone joined the strategy call by doing the same on Lap 90. Then, Clark came down a second time with Jenkins on Lap 91, putting them at the back of the pack for the upcoming restart.
Passing started to become more prominent in dirty air after the restart. Taylor, who restarted in 16th position, started making passes along the top of the racetrack, allowing him to build up runs down the straightaways.
He had driven up to 12th position before Ariel Alaniz was hit from behind by Rigney, sending the independent driver sideways. Alaniz was able to quickly save the car, but lost eight positions in the process.
As the run progressed, Fowler was in the lead. The Aero-X Racing competitor had pulled away by several seconds over the pack, leading by as much as a full straightaway at times.
That gap evaperated on Lap 122 when GRAAFix LC Motorsports driver Chris Lanini crashed. The former Iowa winner bobbled through Turns 1-2 for several moments before clipping the right rear tire of Alex Guyon. Both drivers hooked together into the outside wall before flying into the air. The incident also collected Malone and Wardlow.
The caution cycled Jenkins, Clark and Rodriguez into the top three positions.
Those three drivers had the chance to save more fuel moments later when Rigney once again hit the back of Alaniz. Rigney hit the wall in the process, sending him sliding down the track and across Alaniz’s front wing. The contact sent Rigney airborne, flipping him six times before coming to a rest in Turn 1.
After the restart, once again was able to slice his way through the pack. Once again using the top line, Taylor quickly made his way to seventh by Lap 150. By Lap 166, he closed a two-second gap to the lead pack and was inside the top five.
Then, the fuel concerns came into play for the top three.
On Lap 168, after saving fuel behind Jenkins and Clark for much of the run, Rodriguez made his move for second place, passing Clark on the outside.
He had gotten close to Jenkins’s back wing down the backstretch by Lap 171. Then, Jenkins ducked down to the apron heading into Turn 3, having to pit for fuel coming to the white flag.
Down the backstretch, Clark also ran out of gas. He quickly dropped to the apron and out of the way of the traffic. He went on to finish 12th.
The next race for the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be the HyperX Gateway 150 on Sept. 2. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
After holding off a late-race charge by Chris Fowler, Matt Taylor has won his first career race in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel.
Taylor became the eighth different winner in 11 races after leading just nine of the 175 laps at iRacing’s virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 2.
The Team RaceVerse Red driver also became just the second driver this season to win in multiple Lionheart Racing Series-sanctioned events.
Fowler, Chris Stofer, Alexis Newsome and Paul Jenkins completed the top five for the Espo Designs New Hampshire 175 Presented by the DMLC Racing Channel.
“Man, what a tough race,” said Taylor from HyperX Victory Lane. “It was just a really tricky race with this setup and really hard to pass. Thankfully the strategy worked out and staying patient paid off.”
For Fowler, he joined the conversation for the win by being on a different strategy than Taylor and Stofer. The Team RaceVerse Red competitor had pit during a caution-heavy period of the race, giving him 18-lap fresher tires than Taylor for the final stretch of the event.
Fowler was six-tenths of a second behind Taylor coming to two laps to go when he started closing the gap rapidly. He utilized the second line in Turns 1-2, closing three car lengths by corner exit. On the final lap, he did it again, getting within a few feet of Taylor. He attempted to pass Taylor from the second line of the track through Turns 3-4, but it was too late.
“I just needed one more lap man, just one more and we would have had our first win,” said Fowler. “That was just an absolutely crazy and exciting race … Just happy to come home in second and to finish side-by-side with Matt was pretty cool.”
Alexis Newsome of Factory Backed controlled the tempo of the race early after starting from the pole. She and Stofer broke away from the field by several seconds when the caution waved for the first time on Lap 15. Alexander van de Sandt, who won earlier in the season at Kentucky, was battling for seventh position with Joe Branch when he clipped the first line of the track, causing him to spin out down the backstretch. The Team RaceVerse Black driver avoided contact in the incident.
Newsome, Jorge Anzaldo, Taylor, Matt Wagner, Fowler and several others decided to stay out under the yellow flag period.
Their gamble for track position paid off on Lap 44.
Tyler Graaf was clipped in the left rear tire by van de Sandt coming out of Turn 4, spinning him out. His NLR car was then hit by Mike Rigney, crushing his front wing. Graaf came to a rest in the middle of the frontstretch, just 200 feet from the start and finish line.
Factory Backed’s Nick DeGroot was the only driver to not pit during the caution.
Newsome made quick work of her teammate, passing DeGroot at the bottom of Turns 3-4 on Lap 51.
DeGroot was able to stay in second place until he had to pit for fuel on Lap 72. He was pinned a lap down by the caution moments later, when Stofer and Anzaldo made sidepod contact down the backstretch. Stofer was to the inside of Anzaldo when the two got stuck together, squeezing Anzaldo into the wall. Anzaldo’s Synergy Motorsports Blue car then pinballed off the outside wall down the track into the right side of Robert Maleczka III. The contact spun Maleczka III up the track, triggering the yellow flag while Anzaldo slid directly into the inside wall’s tire barriers.
The race stayed green until Lap 94, when Branch was hit from behind by Rigney. Rigney, who drives for Synergy Motorsports Blue, attempted to make a pass to the inside of Branch down the backstretch when he clipped his rear wing, sending Branch into the outside wall. The Adrenaline Motorsports car rode the wall for several feet before coming to a rest along the SAFER barrier in Turn 3.
On Lap 108, the championship battle took a massive turn.
Points leader Tony Showen was running in 10th place when he was hit in the left rear tire by Fowler, sending the Adrenaline Motorsports straight into the Turn 1 wall. Showen’s front nose and rear wing were completely destroyed. The incident put Newsome in prime position to try and take over the championship lead.
Graaf’s rough day continued on the ensuing restart.
He was back inside the top 10 when he and van de Sandt went early, causing a check-up. As Graaf swerved to the left of van de Sandt, he was tapped by Fowler, sending him spinning into the inside wall down the front straightaway and ending his race.
Overall, there were six cautions in the race, a Lionheart Racing Series record low for New Hampshire.
After the restart, Newsome and Taylor broke away from the pack, making it a two-car race for much of the final run. Taylor attempted to use the top line several times to build up momentum to no avail.
Then, Newsome’s dominating day went downward on Lap 136 during the final pit stops.
Taylor and Newsome raced off the pit lane side-by-side heading into Turn 1, nearly touching wheels. Taylor said he attempted to check up for Newsome when she spun into the infield grass. Newsome then nearly came back up into Stofer’s sidepod before rejoining the apron several seconds behind.
Newsome led 127 of the 175 laps.
The pit stop window cycled Fowler to the point until Lap 153, when he had to come down for fuel. He cycled right behind Newsome, half a straightaway behind Taylor and Stofer.
As those drivers sorted out their strategy, others attempted to stay out.
DeGroot led for several laps before he had to come in with 10 laps to go. Charles Teed and A.J. Musselman also attempted to stretch their fuel tanks, but could not make it to the end.
Fowler reeled in Stofer by Lap 168, fighting hard with him for two laps before clearing him on the bottom of the track.
He did not have enough time to fully clear Taylor by the checkered flag.
Next race, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to Chicagoland Speedway for the HyperX 200 at Chicago on August 23. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.