In his final race before deploying for another tour with the United States Air Force, Jonathan Goke fended off challenges from Jason Galvin and Team #nailedit teammates Ian Adams and Michael Gray to win the Monster Mile Challenge at Dover International Speedway, his fourth win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“Me and Ian were talking the whole time, and I was defending against him” Goke said. “I hate defending against my teammate like that, but you have to do it if you want to win.”
“I hate this style of racing, but if you want to win, you have to keep the bottom.”
A caution with three laps remaining sealed the win for Goke, who led a race-high 66 laps. But it was Galvin who tried to ruin the going away party, leading 50 laps and bearing down on Goke in the final laps before a caution with two laps remaining ended the event.
“The car was hooked up, I could put the car wherever I wanted all race,” Galvin said. “I think I was the only person who could pass Goke and Ian. I’m a little frustrated with a certain someone...they didn’t finish in the top three...I get what Goke is saying about running the bottom, but when you get inside someone and they put you in the wall, it’s frustrating.”
At one point, Team #nailedit drivers occupied the first four spots. Pit strategy moved Gray to the front of the pack with 45 laps to go, and Dan Geren snuck past Galvin on a restart. But the AGR Motorsports driver was able to slide back around Geren, before a thrilling battle with Gray. For nearly 30 laps, Gray protected the bottom. The two touched on lap 137, with Galvin scraping the pit wall on the front straight.
On the final restart, Galvin made his move, driving past Gray and then Adams, when the second place driver pushed in turn three while trying to make a move for the lead.
But a crash involving Pierre Daigle, Robert Blouin and Joe Flanagan on lap 147 assured Goke he would go out on top.
Adams held on for third, edging Joe Hassert. Jason Robarge took fifth. Gray dropped to seventh, just behind Geren.
“The car was running great today, we felt good and finally got the pole out the way, two weeks in a row the first pole and the first win,” said Adams, who won at Iowa last week. “I was trying to maybe make the outside work there at the very end and try and get the nose on him and make him have to lift and get a quick caution...it was just a great run.”
George Adams, Ryan Otis and Chris Stofer rounded out the top 10.
The race saw 19 lead changes, with six drivers swapping the top spot. Galvin led 50 laps, Gray 17 and Adams 15. James Krahula and Alfred Shepperd each led a lap under yellow.
10 cautions slowed the race for 38 laps, including a big wreck on lap 39, ending Bob Obrohta’s night and severely damaging Bob Mikes and championship leader Jake Wright.
Wright’s point lead dropped to 164 with his 33rd place finish. Goke moved past Geren into second, but that will change with the departure of the defending iRacing Fixed Indy champion. Goke said he should be back in time to compete for the championship in 2017.
In the post-race media session, Galvin wished Goke well during his deployment.
“I have grown immense respect for Jonathan Goke,” Galvin said. “We’re going to miss him. Losing him to deployment is a big loss to this league. We can’t thank him enough and everyone else in this league that has served this country, Trevor Bisset and Vincent Bluthenthal, anyone else who I don’t know about off the top of my head, we can’t thank them enough for doing what I didn’t have the courage or bravery to do. I hope he stays safe over there and I’m going to miss racing him like crazy over the next couple of month. I can’t wait to get him back next season.”
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment take a week off before returning for its final road course event of 2016, the Indy GP of Monterey on the beautiful Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The event can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on October 12. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
It’s been a trying year for Ian Adams. The veteran of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment has battled health issues, his girlfriend battling her own, and the distractions brought on by trips to the hospital and visits with doctors seemed to be spilling onto the track. Bad luck and mistakes have plagued his season.
But a restart with 7 laps to go changed everything. Adams, on fresher tires than leader Joe Branch and second place Ed Tutwiler, made quick work, taking the lead with four to go.
But a hard-charging Joe Hassert, winless since the season opener at Homestead, stalked Adams. Hassert made a bold move inside Adams entering turn one on the final lap, but it didn’t stick and Adams drove away in the final corner for his first career Lionheart win.
“I can’t begin to say just how amazing this feels,” said an emotional Adams. “I’ve been trying to hard since the first season. I really put my heart into it season two and on, but I can’t even describe it right now.”
It appeared the Birky Trucking 125 at Iowa Speedway was destined to be another case of ‘what if?’ for the Ohio driver. After dominating the middle laps of the race, an ill-timed caution during green flag pit stops trapped Adams and several other quick cars a lap down. Several cautions over the final 40 laps allowed Adams, Hassert and several others to get back on the lead lap and march to the front.
“Luckily we got that one with about ten to go,” Adams said of the final caution. “I said to my team ‘finally’ because it seems like every caution this year has been against us. And that was a great run by Joe Hassert at the end, he ran me hard and that’s exactly how I’d want it.
“My girlfriend sent me a text at the end, saying she was watching, and that meant the world to me,” Adams added.
For Hassert, second was a disappointment. But the Minnesota driver credited Adams, a longtime rival, for closing out the race strong.
“The cautions fell the right way after trapped behind all those lap cars,” Hassert said. “I had the freshest tires, I took tires with about 20 to go. But I had no drive off the bottom lane, and that was all she wrote. He gave me that bottom but I just couldn’t get it.”
Branch ended up third, having stayed out of the pits after the halfway point and nearly taking his second win of the season.
Adams led 63 laps, the most in the race, but the early stages belonged to Dan Geren. After taking the lead from pole sitter and defending race winner Jorge Anzaldo on the opening lap, Geren paced the field for 21 of the first 37 laps. But the Iowa native was one of several fast cars taken out when Jack Bogan squeezed James Krahula into the wall, setting off a chain reaction.
Bogan slid into Tony Showen, and several drivers plowed into the wreck as turn three quickly became blocked. When the smoke cleared, Geren, Showen, Bogan, Krahula, Kenneth McCoy and Chris Stofer were out. Anzaldo spun out of second and had to pit, and several others also had damage.
Another Iowa native, Brandon Limkemann, relinquished the lead with a pit stop, putting Adams out front for the first time.
A lap 76 restart saw Adams take control and pull away, but the second long green flag run saw most of the leaders come to pit road. With 35 laps remaining, Alfred Sheppard spun in turn 4 entering the pits, and Dave Barber could not avoid him, causing a caution and trapping a host of cars a lap or more down.
Joe Branch took command until the final caution, with 14 laps to go, when Sheppard and Robert Blouin touched, sending Sheppard flipping down the front straight, and setting up the exciting finish.
Chris Gutierrez battled from 22nd to 4th, with points leader Jake Wright finishing a quiet 5th. Robert Obrohta and Tutwiler were the final two cars on the lead lap, in 6th and 7th. Tony Lurcock, Pierre Daigle and Vincent Bluthenthal rounded out the top ten.
20 of the 35 starters finished the race, which was slowed by 7 cautions for 36 laps.
Most of the top ten in points remain unchanged. Hassert was the biggest mover, up four spots to 8th. Wright now leads Geren by 194 points.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment hits another tight track next, Dover International Speedway, for the Monster Mile Challenge. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST Wednesday night. For more information on the series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
A one month break couldn’t slow the stars of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. After coming up short in a battle for the ages at Brands Hatch, Jake Wright took advantage of a Dan Geren mistake to slip by and win the RaceCentre 100 at Phillip Island.
“I think it was the mistake that was able to get me the win,” Wright said. “(Geren) was faster than me the entire race, he was somehow able to get incredible pit stops and just gain seconds on me. I’m still shaking.”
Geren shocked the series by beating Wright for the pole. But halfway through the first fuel run, Geren went around by himself, handing Wright the lead. It looked like that was all the series point leader would need to walk away with the race, but a pair of excellent pit stops gave Geren a final shot at Wright.
It looked as if Geren had done enough to secure the lead, dashing in front of Wright as he exited the pits with 9 laps remaining. But Wright stuck an outside pass in the tricky turn two, and held on over the remaining laps for the win, his seventh of the season.
“That was scary. When I saw where he was coming out of the pits, I thought he was going to get me,” Wright said. “I think he decided to defend the inside in turn two so I went around the outside, we almost hit. That was a very tense pit exit.”
While happy with a career-best second place road course finish, Geren was dejected that another checkered flag got away.
“I ran over 1,500 practice laps, and I knew that was the only turn that would get me if any was going to get me,” Geren said. “Sure enough, I got on it a little too hard, and that was enough.”
Jason Robarge took home third, edging series rookie George Adams in his debut.
“I did not think I was going to be able to beat that guy, he was awesome,” Robarge said. “Just a smooth, smooth race.”
An intense battle for the final spot in the top 10 unfolded over the last six laps, with Jason Galvin, Dylan Lee and Ron Hacker even going three wide into turn one. Galvin emerged late, then stole ninth from James Krahula by a nose when Krahula ran out of fuel on the final straight.
Michael Gray brought home fifth in his home race, with Joe Flanagan, Brian Yaczik, Jorge Anzaldo, Galvin and Krahula the top ten.
13 of the 30 starters finished on the lead lap in the 46 minute race. 23 starters finished the race. Christian Steele was disqualified from the event for failure to adhere to race stewards, while Jonathan Goke, Ryan Bird and Patrick Taylor all saw promising runs end with wrecked race cars.
Wright extended his lead to 168, now over Geren who jumped Goke into second place. Robarge and Krahula round out the top five, with six races remaining in the 2016 season.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment continues a torrid final two months with a return to short track racing next week, in the Birky Trucking 125 at Iowa Speedway. The home track for many in the series, it also holds fond memories for series founder Anzaldo, who scored an improbable first career victory at the track last season. The Birky Trucking 125 can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday, September 21 at 10:40 p.m. EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment or the Lionheart MX-5 Challenge, head towww.LionheartRacingSeries.com..