Round 8 of the Lionheart IndyCar Series brought the best sim racers in the world to Michigan International Raceway for the Autism Awareness 200. The third trip to a superspeedway for the iRacing IndyCar league resulted in the cleanest race of the season, as United State Air Force airman Jonathan Goke picked up his first win of the year in a caution-free affair.
“To go caution-free with these guys, and all the lapped cars giving way, and that amazing battle I had with Joe (Hassert), it’s the perfect way to end this season with Lionheart,” Goke said. “It’s outstanding.”
Deployment will strip Goke of a chance to run for a championship.
iRacing.com Season 3 Fixed IndyCar champion Joe Hassert finished second, 1.606 seconds behind Goke. The two dominated the laps led column, with Goke pacing the field for 42 laps, and Hassert leading 36. The only other driver with double digit laps led was Korey Conner, with 12, mostly during green flag pit stops.
As is often the case in races with minimal incidents, this race came down to pit strategy. Twice Goke came in second and beat Hassert off pit road. On the final round of stops, Goke came in early, taking advantage of the fresh tires and stretching his fuel to the finish.
“On that very last run I knew, I did my calculations, I knew 28, 29 laps was a far as I could go,” Goke said from the virtual victory lane. “We were coming up on a huge pack of lapped cars, so I knew I didn’t want to go one more lap, so I came in real quick.”
The early stop doomed Hassert, who wasn’t as clean as Goke getting on to pit road all night.
“I slid through my pits twice, skidded in a couple times, got caught behind lapped cars pretty much every time I came in,” Hassert said. “A little bit of bad luck, a little bit of mistakes and it cost me two seconds.”
Polesitter Tony Lurcock finished third, with Conner and Joe Branch rounding out the top five.
Chris Stofer drove from 18th to sixth, with James Krahula, Dan Geren, Pierre Daigle and Ian Adams rounding out the top ten.
Series point leader Jake Wright started 29th and lost a lap in the pits. He finished outside the top ten for just the second time, in 22nd. Wright’s points lead over Hassert shrunk to 52, with Joe Branch 90 back of Wright in third, despite missing a race earlier in the year.
28 of the 29 starters finished the race, with 16 cars completing all 200 miles. Six drivers exchanged the lead 16 times.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series gets a 10-day break before its biggest race of the year, the iRace for Gage Indianapolis 500, the second triple crown race and a double points event. The green flag drops for 200 laps of fixed IndyCar series action on Sunday, October 4, at 4:00 p.m. EST. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel.
Round seven of the Lionheart IndyCar Series took to the twisty turns of Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The inaugural Team #Nailedit 90 proved a worthy challenge for the best open wheel racing drivers on iRacing, but when the smoke cleared, defending series champion Jesse Vincent proved experience trumps all, picking up his first win of the season in just his second start.
“If there is any race I wanted...I was complaining the last couple of season we didn’t have this track on the schedule,” Vincent said in victory lane. “I’ve been to ever IndyCar race here, every practice here, every Superbike race here. I know this place like the back of my hand and I wanted it on the schedule so bad. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this race.”
A back injury has held Vincent out of the car most of the year. The injury forced him to retire in his lone start at Pocono.
Jake Wright finished second, after starting from the pole and leading 16 laps, and increased his point lead to 85 over iRacing Season 3 Fixed Indy Car champion Joe Hassert.
Wright jumped out to an early lead, and the first caution flag waved in the museum complex as Jorge Anzaldo, forced to start at the rear after issues in qualifying, found the wall. Anzaldo would finish last in the 23 car field.
Wright would lead through the first round of pit stops, but Vincent took the lead on the lap 16, using his fresh tires to pass Wright exiting the pits. The two would exchange the lead during final pit stops, but ultimately Vincent was too much for Wright, taking the win at his home race.
“It took a lot of practice to be able to stay in front of Jesse (Vincent), because he’s fast at this place,” Wright said. “A great win for him.”
The victory moved Vincent to 29th in the standings, picking up 10 spots. Dan Geren finished third, Jason Robarge finished a season-high fourth and Tommy Rhyne rounded out the top five.
Ricky Hardin, Ian Adams, Hassert, James Krahula and Joe Branch composed the back half of the top 10.
A final lap solo spin by Michael Gray dropped him from ninth to 12th, the final car on the lead lap. Pierre Daigle, Mark Nobert, Korey Konnor, Terry Matthiensen and Anzaldo were the only cars not running at the finish.
Hardin moved up to third in the standings, Daniel Roeper fell to fourth while serving a one-race penalty, and Joe Branch moved into fifth.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series heads to the high banks of Michigan International Speedway on Wednesday night for the Autism Awareness 200. The race will be broadcast live by Global Sim Racing Network starting at 9:40 CST.