By Justin Prince
After a dominating performance, Henry Bennett has won his first career Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker race.
The Adrenaline Motorsports Red driver took the checkered flag in the HyperX Twin Ring 200 on Sept. 15 after leading 87 of the 134 laps.
Jason Brophy, Connor Harrington, Joshua Chin and Tyler Graaf completed the top five.
The win came as series points leader, Adam Blocker, had to miss the race due to real-world work commitments.
“It’s pretty unexpected to be honest,” said Bennett from HyperX Victory Lane. “I wasn’t expecting a win this season. The competition in the series is so fierce. But, I did speak with the team before the race and they told me it was one of Adam’s away weeks, so it was fair game for anyone else. I didn’t expect to be the one to take the win.”
Series rookie Robert Maleczka III led more than 20 laps to begin the race after starting from the pole. However, on Lap 21, Jay Brant changed the complexion of the race lead by spinning down the frontstretch into the inside wall, destroying his front wing.
That caution, Matt Huston and Paul Jenkins decided to stay out for track position.
Bennett was able to take advantage of their decisions on Lap 26.
Maleczka III started to struggle in the dirty air of Jenkins, falling behind by more than 10 car lengths. As he pushed up the track out of Turn 4, Bennett dived as low as he could to pass him, clearing him before the start and finish line. The Factory Backed car of Maleczka III then attempted to pass him back by going to his inside in Turn 1. The two drivers remained side-by-side down the backstretch, but it was not enough. Bennett was able to clear him by Turn 4 that lap.
Once Huston and Jenkins came in for fuel, Bennett was able to retain the lead the rest of the race.
Behind him, attrition was setting the tone for the rest of the running order.
On Lap 54, Bryan Carey was running in 11th place when he decided to come down for a pit stop. Drivers had been told prior to the race it was up to the competitors to decide where they wanted to pull off the track under green flag conditions.
As Carey slowed down coming out of Turn 4, he was rammed from behind by Thumbs Up Cancer Down LPM’s Jason Galvin. The contact sent him spinning across the track at the start of the straightaway. Surprisingly, Carey was not hit during the spin itself. Galvin’s hit did damage his right rear tire, causing him to spin a second time in Turn 1 under caution, ending his race.
While coming to Lap 90, Galvin then crashed on his own coming out of Turn 4. He started to slide to the left of the track coming out of the corner before overcorrecting towards the outside wall. The overcorrection snapped his car hard into the wall, instantly demolishing his right side pod.
Galvin had been running in ninth place at the time of the crash.
A few laps later, Ryan Otis helped trigger what was the fourth caution of the race by making a similar mistake to Galvin. Like Galvin, Otis started sliding to the left before snapping back to the outside wall, destroying his Dallara IR-18. Right behind him, Ron Hacker turned hard to the left, sending him near full-throttle into the inside wall, scattering debris across the circuit. Hacker then slammed his brakes, stopping his car just a few feet shy of the flagstand to bring out the yellow.
After the restart, Luis Gonzalez Nuñez was attempting to pass Chris Lanini to his inside down the backstretch when he pushed up the track entering Turn 3. Nuñez and Lanini quickly hooked together, locking side pods and tires as both of them slammed into the SAFER barrier.
Under that caution period, Ricky Hardin stuffered a technical issue with his steering wheel. His wheel had become disconnected from the sim while pacing in Turn 2, immediately cutting his wheel in iRacing hard to the left. The issue caused Hardin’s car to turn itself nose-first into the inside wall, forcing him to tow his car back to the pits.
On Lap 119, Dustin Wardlow became the next victim to attrition.
Like Galvin and Otis, he snapped loose exiting Turn 4. This time, the slide was right in the path of Scott Holmes, hooking them together. The two were then run into from behind by Philip Kraus, causing a shower of car parts to go flying from the scene of the incident.
As a result of the crash, Wardlow now has the highest incident points per race average in the series with 5.75.
The final caution of the day came out on Lap 127 when Brant, just moments after setting his fastest lap of the event, plowed into the outside wall coming out of Turn 2. Brant was sent sliding into the inside wall at more than 140 MPH, instantly smashing his front wing into several pieces.
Overall, the race had seven cautions with 22 of the 35 starters finishing the lead lap.
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker travels to Iowa Speedway for the Midwest Simulations Iowa 200. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on Sept. 22.
By Justin Prince
Robert Maleczka III has continued his stretch of dominance in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel by winning his fifth race of the 2021 campaign.
The Factory Backed driver took the victory in the Minus 273 Pocono 200 Presented by HyperX on Sept. 13 after leading 19 of the 80 laps.
Chris Fowler, Matt Taylor, Barrett Rolph and Craig Forsythe rounded out the top five.
Maleczka III’s victory has now placed him inside the championship conversation despite missing several races. He exited iRacing’s virtual Pocono Raceway with a 59-point deficit to Rolph, the current championship leader.
“I think I just have to keep winning,” said Maleczka III from HyperX Victory Lane. “This race I got a ton of luck it seemed. That last run, everyone around me was either hitting the wall, wrecking or making insane saves like Chris (Fowler). I hope it looked good on the broadcast.”
As a result of various fuel strategies, Maleczka III was in 11th place shortly after his final pit stop on Lap 56. He eventually drafted up to the net lead group, which included Fowler, Rolph, Nick DeGroot, Luis Gonzalez Nuñez and Forsythe.
The race started to trend towards Maleczka III’s direction on Lap 61. Rolph and Fowler were fighting hard for seventh position on track hard into Turn 2. Fowler and Rolph entered the Tunnel Turn side-by-side. Fowler pinched the Ascari Autosport car, grazing his right side pod and sending him sliding out of the corner. Fowler weaved back and forth for several moments before being able to save his car without contact.
Maleczka III continued his charge on Lap 65. He drove around the outside of Rolph through Turn 3 to take away sixth position before setting his sights on Nunez and DeGroot, along with a lapped down car in Brian Beard.
Trouble struck entering the next corner however.
DeGroot nudged the rear tire of Beard’s car, spinning the silver and red car immediately. Beard locked up the brakes before being slammed into by both DeGroot and Nuñez. The impact sent Beard spinning back up the track into Nuñez again, connecting both cars as they slid into the outside SAFER barrier. Beard and Nuñez both made it into the infield grass without triggering a caution flag.
The incident moved Maleczka III into third place on track with Forsythe.
Forsythe, who drives for Team RaceVerse Black, did not back down.
Maleczka III attempted to dive underneath Forsythe several times entering the corners. The two drove side-by-side the entire way around the track on Lap 67.
By Lap 70, team strategies helped Maleczka III.
Alexis Newsome, who had been running one lap down, was reeled in by current leader Chris Stofer. Stofer had been trying to stretch his fuel significantly after having to pit earlier than most of the field early in the event.
When Stofer reached Newsome, she slowed her car down significantly down the straightaways, backing Stofer up to Forsythe and Maleczka III.
On Lap 71, both Forsythe and Maleczka III took advantage, making their battle for the overall race lead with 10 laps to go.
Then, with the two drivers coming to nine laps to go, Maleczka III got his best chance yet.
After lining up behind Forsythe coming out of Turn 3, the Factory Backed driver quickly drove by him down the frontstretch. Forsythe then slammed his right-side tires into the outside wall exiting Turn 1, ending his hopes at a victory.
Maleczka III went on to win by more than four seconds.
Next race, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to Iowa Speedway for the GRAAFix Esports 175 at Iowa Presented by Midwest Simulations on Sept. 20. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
For the third time in 2021, Matt Taylor has won in the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience.
In what turned out to be the 14th-closest finish in series history, Taylor edged Aaron Morgan by 0.038 seconds in the HyperX Gateway 150 at iRacing’s virtual World Wide Technology Raceway on Sept. 2.
The dramatic finish came laps after Mike Rigney slammed the wall coming out of Turn 2 while in the lead, crushing his right-front wing. Taylor, Morgan and Chris Fowler had all grouped together after their final pit stops to reel in the gap despite Taylor completing his service with under 15 laps to go.
After the incident, Taylor and Morgan swapped the lead several times down the straightaways with Taylor leading into Turn 1 and Morgan into Turn 3. However, on the last lap, Taylor did not fully clear Morgan’s Avatar Auto Racing car, pinning him along the top of the track down the backstretch.
Taylor was able to defend along the inside wall coming to the checkered flag to win the race.
Fowler, Rigney and David Sirois rounded out the top five.
Taylor had been running in the back half of the top 10 prior to his final pit stop.
“It was interesting I guess I would say. I absolutely did not expect to be that close to the lead after that final pit stop,” said Taylor from HyperX Victory Lane. “It seemed a bunch of us were stuck back there and it seemed like a bunch of us were. Finally, the car and the track gripped up there at the end of that second stint, but I had absolutely no idea I’d be that close to the front.”
Before the bottom line started to gain grip later in the race, much of the field ran single-file behind pole-sitter David Sirois after the only caution of the race occured on Lap 1. The Lavoie Motorsport driver led a race-high 49 laps before coming in for his first pit stop. Drivers like Morgan and Fowler were able to jump past Sirois during the sequence by going longer on their first stints.
Meanwhile, Taylor was running in seventh position by the halfway mark.
“I was really just waiting,” said Taylor. “I was waiting for that car and track to grip up and switch. I really liked using that bottom line to make moves. I tried it a couple times and it was absolutely not there early on. I felt like I was a little bit quicker, but I couldn’t find the line.”
On Lap 63, Rigney was able to make the bottom work. He was able to dive underneath Fowler into Turn 3 to quickly take over the race lead. Rigney pulled away by more than 10 car lengths within 10 laps. He was able to consistently hit lap times which were one second quicker than the rest of the field before electing to pit on Lap 85.
That alternative strategy eventually set up the wild finish at Gateway.
Next up, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be heading to iRacing’s virtual Michigan International Speedway for the KARNOX Michigan 200 Presented by Espo Designs on Sept. 30. 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 taking a chance on fuel strategy early, Robert Maleczka III has won the HyperX 200 at Chicago.
The Factory Backed driver took the checkered flag in the 134-lap race in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel on Aug. 23 after an early caution mixed up the fuel strategies across the pack.
Alexander van de Sandt, Matt Taylor, Craig Forsythe and Dean Moll completed the top five at iRacing’s virtual Chicagoland Speedway.
It is Maleczka III’s fourth victory of the season.
At one point, Maleczka III gave up more than six seconds to save fuel and to pick up the draft from one of his fellow Factory Backed cars.
“I knew going to the last pit stop I stretched it as long as possible and I know it looked like I stretched it as far as anyone, but I knew I was probably in the best shape,” said Maleczka III from HyperX Victory Lane. “Then I came out of the pits in clean air and I was like, ‘dang it, I can’t make it in clean air’, so I dropped back to my teammate Nick (DeGroot) and he really helped me there at the end.”
The fuel strategies came into play after the only caution of the race came out on Lap 7.
Chris Stofer took Matt Wagner and Luis Gonzalez Nuñez three-wide coming out of Turn 4 in a battle for ninth position. On corner exit, Nuñez bobbled down the track into the right rear tire of Stofer, sending both spinning up the track into the path of Alex Guyon. Nuñez, Stofer and Guyon all slammed hard into the outside wall along the frontstretch.
All three drivers were knocked out of the race as a result of the incident.
With the caution coming at the very edge of the fuel window to make it on one less stop, a majority of the field decided to come in for service. Surprisingly, Alexis Newsome and Paul Jenkins decided to come down to pit road during the second pace lap, losing them second and 10th positions respectively. Trevor Malone, Matt Huston and A.J. Musselman also came down a second time.
That left Joe Branch, DeGroot, Tony Showen, Barrett Rolph, Charles Teed and Wagner out on track on alternate strategies to get track position.
The caution those drivers were looking for never came though. Of the competitors who stayed out during the only yellow flag of the race, just Rolph finished on the lead lap.
As the race developed, the strategies for the other drivers continued to intensify. Chris Fowler took the lead by Lap 30, electing to dictate the tempo of the pack. He and Maleczka III worked with Rolph, DeGroot and Showen to pull away from the rest of the pack by several seconds by Lap 36. That lap, DeGroot lost touch with the pack that lap after grazing the apron in Turn 3. He went on to finish in eighth position.
The event became a nightmare for Newsome after sacrificing track position during the yellow flag.
After making it to as high as ninth place before much of the field on her cycle came down for service, she had an issue on pit road. She overran her stall, then went on the jacks for tires twice. That cost the two-time race winner almost a full lap alone. She was also later caught for speeding during another pit stop. Newsome went on to finish in 20th position, tied for the second-worst finish by her all season.
Next race, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to Pocono Raceway for the Minus 273 Pocono 200 Presented by HyperX on September 13. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.
By Justin Prince
Adam Blocker has done it again.
The multiple-time Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker champion has won his second triple crown race of the season.
Blocker was able to take home the checkered flag in the ButtKicker U.S. 500 after diving underneath Philip Kraus and Henry Bennett down the final straightaway. Blocker went on to win the race by 0.031 seconds, tied for the 11th-closest finish in series history.
Andrew Kinsella and Connor Harrington completed the top five.
It is Blocker’s eighth victory of the season.
“I don’t think I quite deserve to win it, but I did,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane.
Blocker won the race after a hard-fought battle between Kraus, Bennett and Robert Maleczka III. The three drivers went three-wide several times into the corners with Maleczka III trying hard to hold onto the bottom.
The fight intensified coming to two laps to go. Maleczka III hit a bump coming out of Turn 4, sending his Factory Backed car spinning into the infield grass. Kraus and Bennett then ran side-by-side for a full lap coming to the white flag. Blocker built up a run behind Kraus, but decided to check up going into Turn 1.
Out of Turn 2, the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black car cleared Bennett, blocking him to the white line down the backstretch. Bennett was still able to pull alongside Kraus. Kraus responded by trying to push Bennett further up the track for the entry to Turn 3.
As Kraus and Bennett drove side-by-side through the final corners, Blocker made his move.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver used the banking as a ramp, arching his car from the top of Turn 3 towards the bottom of the track. As Kraus tried to push Bennett up the track on the corner exit, Blocker was running five MPH quicker than the two cars in front of him. Before Kraus could move down to defend, Blocker dived to the apron and pulled alongside Kraus’s pink and black car. Kraus could not do anything as Blocker pulled past him by the line.
It is the second straight race Kraus has finished behind Blocker.
“Man, it’d be nice to not finish behind Adam. It feels like I finish second in most of the races I do with him,” said Kraus. “It was just a lose-lose situation. If I held it low, I was going to be beat by Henry and I was too focused on him to notice Adam had a huge head of steam.”
The finish also came after a chaotic final 90 laps. On Lap 159, Ryan Otis and Lionel Calisto had tangled together coming out of Turn 2 while battling for a top five, sending Otis spinning. Otis then hit a bump while sliding down to the apron, sending him back across the track into the path of oncoming traffic. Mike Rasimas, A.J. Musselman and Brian Beard all slammed into the side of Otis, sending debris flying across the track. All three cars grouped together along the SAFER barrier as the caution flag waved.
The incident immediately caused a rift through the field. All the cars on the lead lap at the time of the incident decided to top off on fuel. However, making sure they could get to the necessary lap to make it to the end on gas was a difficult situation. Drivers had only been able to make it 40 laps on fuel prior to the caution.
On the ensuing restart, drivers attempted to run as slow as 204 MPH down the straightaways while others attempted to charge straight to the front of the field. On Lap 164, the pace discrepancy was so big, Chris Fowler was able to go from eighth place down the middle of the backstretch to the lead by Turn 4. A couple laps later, Luis Gonzalez Nuñez also charged his way past his competitors to lead laps.
The shuffling for the lead continued until Lap 174. Jason Brophy, who had taken a wave around during the previous caution to move to one lap down, attempted to get his lap back by leading the field around the track.
“The last two stints were crazy,” said Blocker. “The first one, we were having to save so much and the whole field was going slow, like a second off the pace. It was really easy to make that number. I was able to pit at 41 laps to go, so it meant I only had to save for the first half of the stint and then I could push hard. But then, everyone else had the same idea, so I kind of got boxed in. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
Other drivers were not as lucky. Barrett Rolph, who led 27 of the 250 laps, had to pit on Lap 204. Fowler, Adam Frazier and Nuñez also missed their fuel targets. Of those cars, only Frazier went on to finish on the lead lap.
Overall, just 11 drivers finished on the lead lap in the five-caution event.
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series travels to Japan for the HyperX Twin Ring 200. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on Sept. 15.
By Justin Prince
Adam Blocker has continued his domination in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker by winning his seventh race of the season at Phillip Island Circuit.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver won the KARNOX Grand Prix of Phillip Island after having to battle with series newcomer Philip Kraus in the closing stages on Aug. 25.
Kraus, who was making his season debut for PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black, along with Connor Harrington went for an alternate strategy by attempting to run the red-walled tires for his final stint compared to Blocker’s blacks.
After letting Kraus go several laps earlier, Blocker closed in on Kraus by several seconds with under five laps to go. With an advantage in push-to-passes available, Blocker zipped by Kraus down the Gardner Straight into Doohan Corner with three laps to go.
Kraus, Harrington, Ryan Otis and Aaron Morgan completed the top five.
“Honestly, I was always planning to do red-red-black just because the track was hotter at the end and I didn’t want to give up track position in the middle,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane. “I think Phil and Connor had to do that with where they were. They were at the back of our train, so they could afford to run the blacks in the middle and then lose time, then gain it back.”
After the race, Kraus was dejected.
“It’s a little frustrating. I was looking forward to winning on my own island,” said Kraus. “I had a good shot there, but I used too many buttons in the middle stint to pull Connor along and to try and catch up to the top two on the reds.”
From the drop of the green flag, four drivers separated themselves from the rest of the pack - polesitter Otis, Blocker, Harrington and Kraus. The top four ran lap times as much as half a second quicker than the next pack behind them. Blocker spent much of the race saving fuel behind Otis. As a result, Otis had to pit a full lap or two earlier than the rest of his group for the entire race.
Then, after their pit stops on Lap 16, the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype cars deviated from Blocker and Otis on tire compound strategy.
“At first I was really concerned. I didn’t realize they were on blacks,” said Blocker. “Phil caught me and I was like ‘am I doing something wrong? Like, am I managing my tires wrong?’ Then I realized ‘Oh, he was on blacks and he was putting on reds.’
“That whole time I was trying to get by Ryan (Otis) because I felt I was faster, but I wasn’t fast enough to pass him, but I felt if I could have passed him, I could have just went to the lead. In the end, I just waited for the pit cycle to overcut him.”
Otis got into trouble though after his final pit stop. The Synergy Motorsports Silver driver came out of the pit lane in heavy traffic. After having to check up for Jason Brophy through the second sector. By the time the other cars finished their service on Lap 32, Otis was jumped by both Blocker and Kraus.
Then, after experiencing aerowash for the first time all race, Otis went off the track in the Southern Loop on Lap 35, costing him a podium finish.
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for its second triple crown race of 2021, the ButtKicker U.S. 500. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on September 4.