The race had it all: side-by-side action, spectacular wrecks, fuel milage, pit strategy and yes, a photo finish, even if it wasn’t on the final lap. And in the end, the car that spent the most time up front, held on to win.
Jason Galvin picked up his second win of the Lionheard IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment season in the American Cancer Society/Race for the Cure 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Wednesday evening. Galvin kept his nose ahead of Chris Stofer as the caution flew exiting turn four and the leaders coming to two laps to go.
“It was borderline dizzying out there,” Galvin said from the virtual Victory Lane. “To keep hugging the bottom, you had to keep your eyes focused on that white line and I had to keep telling myself ‘just keep hitting your marks.’ Fortunately it worked out and we got kinda lucky with the timing of that yellow right there.”
Galvin led a race-high 46 laps, while becoming just the third driver to win multiple races this season. Stofer was looking to do the same, while trying to make it two in a row after his win at Kansas one week ago. The two, along with Brian Yaczik dazzled the crowd all night, combining to lead 94 of the 133 laps.
But it was Yaczik who brought out the race deciding caution. With three laps remaining, the series rookie tried to shoehorn his way inside Galvin on the back straight. Galvin closed the door, causing Yaczik to drive onto the apron and back up onto the track in turn three. After a pair of wiggles, Michigan driver looked to have it saved. But under power, on 33 lap old tires and with little fuel in the car, his virtual Dallara DW12 snapped around, and Yaczik smacked the wall before rolling violently down the front straight. He’d finish 21st.
“I felt bad, but I didn’t,” Galvin said. “Yaczik ran a great race, I have a ton of respect for him, we raced clean and hard all night. But with three laps to go, that’s for the win. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry, because I hope he would’ve done the same thing.”
During the chaos, Galvin too bobbled on old tires, and Stofer began to make his move. But with the two entering the first kink on the 1.5-mile speedway’s front section, the caution flew for Yaczik.
“I think that’s some karma,” Stofer said of his second place run. “Last week we had the yellow come out and it was reversed, I was just in front. That’s how racing goes.”
Stofer’s teammate at Adrenaline Motorsports, Tony Showen, came home a strong third after starting outside the first row.
“Certainly in my mind I was thinking I was overdue, so I’m happy,” Showen said. “Once I saw those guys were up there, I had a good gap where I knew I wasn’t going to catch them and I had a good gap behind me, so I was conservative on that last run just to save the tires.”
Four cautions slowed the race for 14 laps, but it was a wreck that didn’t bring out the yellow that had the most impact on the results.
On lap 27, polesitter, race leader and series champion Jake Wright was battling Dylan Lee, who had stayed out on the first caution to gain track position. As the two exited turn four, Lee appeared to come down into Wright, sending the two-time champion sliding through the grass. Lee also spun across the grass. Wright’s car was severely damaged, finishing 25th, while Lee rallied to finish 6th.
The setup allowed for action-packed racing throughout the field, and the results supported it. Galvin drove from 24th to the win, while five other top ten finishers started outside the fast ten in qualifying.
Ronald Hacker and James Krahula rounded out the top five. Lee, Jared Turnbull, Dan Geren, Pierre Daigle and Tyler Turnbull finished sixth through tenth.
With the championship already locked up, Wright leads Dan Geren by 191 points. Jonathan Goke, out on deployment with the United State Air Force, is 48 back of Geren in third, but likely to fall behind Jason Robarge and possibly James Krahula after the double-points season finale. Robarge is 22 points back of Goke, with Krahula another 33 behind.
Galvin sits in sixth, but an intense battle with Joe Hassert, Ron Hacker, Michael Gray and Pierre Daigle see the back half of the top ten separated by just 32 points.
For Galvin, winning twice in his second season was something that seemed out of the realm of possibility just three months ago.
“It’s just incredible, the group of guys we race with week in and week out, it’s the best show on iRacing I think,” Galvin said. “And we threw the pink wheels on it to support Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the American Cancer Society. What a great race.”
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes the week off before packing up and heading west to Auto Club Speedway for 300 miles of action packed racing in the season finale. The final Triple Crown race of the season as well, the Auto Club Speedway 300 can be seen in its entirety on Wednesday, November 9, live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway this week for its penultimate race. For the second season in a row, Jake Wright will take the green flag having already clinched the series championship. However, the lack of drama at the top of the standings isn't expected to have much impact on the racing. Much like last season, Atlanta should be a strategy-filled battle throughout the field.
This week's outcome is likely to depend heavily on tire wear and pit strategy. Some sim racers in the field may choose to pit as early as 22 laps into a run, hoping to gain speed from fresh tires. In early practice sessions, lap times have increased by a half-second or more during a long fuel run, so a conservative pit strategy can be a wise decision. However, if a yellow flag should fly before the pit cycle is complete, those who pit early can find themselves trapped a lap down.
The alternative strategy will be to remain on track and wrestle an ill-handling Dallara DW-12 until the fuel tank is dry, which should take around 37 laps. Last season, Ed Tutwiler chose this strategy and stayed on track longer than everyone else. When a perfectly-timed caution slowed the race, Tutwiler found himself alone on the lead lap. He remained near the front of the field until a late-race spin on pit road dashed his hopes of victory.
With a field of almost 40 sim racers trying to out-race and out-think their opponents, the winner will be difficult to predict – and could come from anywhere in the field. Jason Robarge took the victory at Atlanta last season after starting ninth. More recently, Chris Stofer earned his first career win last week in Kansas after qualifying 18th overall.
Stofer's unexpected win turned around a disappointing season, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Adrenaline Motorsports sim racer back at the top this week. Stofer has already put in hours of testing on the league's fixed setup and should have a good handle on what to expect from the virtual Dallara in all conditions.
He should also expect to see his Kansas rival Joe Hassert somewhere near the top of the field again this week. “Big Joe” came home fourth last season at Atlanta, which was a remarkable finish after Hassert's race was nearly ruined by major connection issues early on. There's little doubt Hassert will be hungry for a win after falling short of Stofer by just 0.011s in Kansas.
As for defending winner Robarge, he remains in the fight for second overall in the championship – and the $150 prize that goes with it. He needs a good finish to catch Dan Geren, who currently holds a 64-point advantage. It will be an uphill battle this week because Robarge will be starting from the back of the field. The Florida sim racer received an EOL penalty after incurring on-track incidents in back-to-back races. To make matters worse, he finished 14th last week at Kansas while Dan Geren came home third.
With such an unpredictable race, there's always the chance that an underdog could emerge and join the growing list of drivers who have earned their first career wins this season. Alfred Shepperd finished a career-best fifth at Atlanta last season. For Shepperd, this week's race will mark his fiftieth career start in the series – and a victory would be the perfect way to celebrate!
Meanwhile, Dragonfly Racing teammates Ed Tutwiler and Robert Blouin will also have plenty to fight for this week. Both sim racers are holding spots in the Top 20 overall, but both will need to collect some points in the final two races if they want to hold off the competition. Tutwiler will be eager to finish strong after his solid run at Atlanta last season, while Blouin could easily find his way to a top finish with the right strategic calls.
Finally, Jake Wright may have the championship wrapped up, but he will still have something to race for this week. Wright currently has 10 career wins, just one back of all-time leader Jesse Vincent. With two races left, the possibility exists that Wright could finish the season not only as the back-to-back series champion, but also as the league's all-time wins leader.
The American Cancer Society Race for the Cure 200 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and iRacingLive on Wednesday, October 26th, beginning at 10:35PM ET.
Following a week off after Atlanta, the series will head to Auto Club Speedway on November 9th for the fourth season finale, which will also be a double-points Triple Crown race. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
Any sim racer who wins a race in the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment can usually recall the details of their first victory for years after. For Chris Stofer, his first career win at Wednesday night's Lehmann's Landing 200 will be particularly memorable because it was also one of the closest finishes in league history.
Stofer took the checkered flag by just 0.011 over “Big Joe” Hassert in a finish so tight that even the league's veteran broadcast team was initially unsure who had won the race. The two sim racers battled side-by-side for four laps following a late-race restart. Hassert initially got the jump on Stofer and defended the bottom line throughout the final run. However, it was after Hassert dove down to the apron with the finish line in sight that Stofer pulled ahead by a nose.
“It was definitely a tough race, that's for sure,” said Stofer in victory lane. “It could have went either way at the line. I had no idea how close it was. That was a lot of fun!” The Adrenaline Motorsports driver expressed surprise that he was able to secure the win while running in the higher line. “I wanted to follow him down there as much as I could so he didn't have as much of an advantage,” said Stofer of Hassert's last-lap dive to the apron.
The final battle between Stofer and Hassert was reminiscent of the league's season-opener at Homestead, where Hassert ultimately took the win. Neither driver had been as close to victory lane since the Miami opener – a fact that was not lost on a dejected Hassert after the race.
“I don't know why he passed me,” said Hassert. “I wasn't sliding at all; I didn't scrub any speed. He just got a hell of a run, I guess.” For Hassert, the tight finish was equally frustrating after he lost the pole position by an even-smaller margin to teammate Jake Wright. “I tied for pole, and I lose the race by a hundredth. What else can you say about the night?” Hassert still managed to find something positive about his evening. “Hopefully I gave everybody a good show!” he added. “We're just getting ready for Auto Club. I want to win that race by ten seconds!”
The late-race caution was ironically caused by an incident at the front of the field. After light contact with between Stofer and then-leader Hassert, a major check-up occurred that ultimately collected Dave Barber and defending race winner James Krahula, both of whom had been solid front-runners all evening. Barber and Krahula finished a disappointing 17th and 19th respectively.
Dan Geren rounded out the podium, moving himself into second place in the overall championship standings with the solid result. Unfortunately for Geren, points leader Jake Wright finished right behind him in fourth, which officially eliminated Geren from the championship hunt and crowned Wright as the two-time series champion.
“Congratulations to Jake,” said Geren after the race. “He's pretty much wrapped this thing up now; there's no way I can catch him.” Geren promised an even closer battle for the league championship in 2017. “You deserve this win, but next year I'm coming after you!”
Chris Stofer's teammate Tony Showen came home fifth, tying his season-best finish. Race sponsor Trevor Bissett guided his Lehmann's Landing car to a sixth-place finish after dedicating the race to his mother who had fallen ill earlier in the week. Rounding out the top ten were Brian Yaczik, Kansas-native Chris Gutierrez, Ron Hacker and Jorge Anzaldo.
The race was slowed by 5 cautions for 20 laps. Only 8 of the 34 starters failed to finish. Nine different sim racers led laps with 30 lead changes taking place during the race. The 0.011 margin of victory for Chris Stofer was the second-closest finish in league history, behind only a Season One race at Indianapolis.
The series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next week for the American Cancer Society Race for the Cure 200. Jason Robarge is the defending race winner, and Pete Edwins is the race sponsor. The event will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and Iracing Live on Wednesday, October 26th, beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
There's a lot on the line this week as the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment arrives in Kansas for the Lehmann's Landing 200. With only three races left in the 2016 season, numerous positions remain up for grabs throughout the standings. Over a dozen spots are separated by less than five points – and several by just by a single point. With over $1,100 in prizes on the line this season, look for the intensity level to rise as the November 9th season finale at Auto Club Speedway looms larger.
There is only one sim racer whose position in the standings is truly secure – and that position just happens to be first overall. Defending series champion Jake Wright leads his biggest rival Dan Geren by an impressive 206 points. Following Wright's dominant win at Laguna Seca, it would take a string of almost-unthinkable disasters to prevent him from joining Jesse Vincent as a two-time series champion. In fact, it's very likely Wright could officially clinch the title this week.
Dan Geren is the only sim racer with a chance to catch Wright – and it's a slim chance. He would have to win each of the three remaining races while Wright would need to finish at the back each week. While the odds are strongly against Geren, he still has plenty to race for. A second overall finish would be the best of his career, and a second win this season would also be a career high for him, having earned a single win in each of his past two seasons. For added motivation this week, Geren's first career win came at Kansas Speedway in Season 2.
Jason Robarge is just 33 points behind Geren and could easily give him a run for his money. Robarge has quietly built a career season in 2016 after missing the first two races due to computer issues. Yet, despite his success, the Florida-based sim racer has yet to visit victory lane this season. He could easily do that in one of the three remaining races – especially at Atlanta, where Robarge is the defending winner. Earning a win and securing second in the standings would be the perfect end to an impressive season.
James Krahula is also still in the fight for second overall,and considering he finished in that position last season, he shouldn't be counted out. Krahula is coming off an impressive run at Laguna Seca where he overcame a pre-race EOL penalty to finish a solid eighth. The Texas native is the defending winner of this event, partly thanks to his trademark pit strategy. Look for Krahula and his teammates to be a major factor this week at Kansas, just as they were earlier in the season at Kentucky. There, at a similar track, Krahula won as part of a No Name Racing podium sweep.
From positions six through fifteen, things are equally tight. A solid performance at Kansas Speedway could help any of the sim racers fighting for these spots. Included in this pack are Michael Gray, Joe Hassert, Jason Galvin and Joe Branch – all race winners in 2016. Slightly further back in the standings are late-season chargers Ian Adams, Brian Yaczik and Ryan Otis, all of whom could still find their way into the top twenty before the season ends.
Beyond the individual standings, there are other awards and bragging rights still up in the air. No Name Racing seems like a lock to repeat as team champions, but nothing has been clinched. Team #NailedIt could still catch their arch rivals, and considering #NailedIt drivers have won the last three Lionheart oval races, anything is possible. Upstart AGR Motorsports has pushed their way into third overall thanks to solid and consistent finishes from their entire line-up. Despite that, Adrenaline Motorsports is only 47 points back and has an equally talented roster. The winner of the team championship earns $25, while the cleanest overall team will also claim a $25 prize.
The Lionheart series will continue their support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this week by running pink paint schemes on many of the virtual Dallara DW-12's in the field. Series namesake Dan Wheldon and his family will also be in the thoughts and prayers of Lionheart members this week, as October 16th marked the fifth anniversary of his tragic passing. In just a few weeks, series title sponsor First Medical Equipment will present its Dan Wheldon Driver of the Year Award to the league member that best embodies what the league stands for. The winner will receive a copy of Lionheart: Remembering Dan Wheldon by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson. To learn more about the book, please visit www.lionheartbook.com.
The Lehmann's Landing 200 will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and Iracing Live on Wednesday, October 19th, beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.
The race was never in question, much like the season championship. And now, defending Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment champion Jake Wright is knocking on the door of a repeat title.
Scratch that. He’s got the battering ram out, and he’s ready to break the door down.
Wright led all but one lap on his way to victory in the IndyCar GP of Monterey, his series-leading 8th win of the year. 6 of those wins have been on road courses.
“It was scary, but it was a fun race, everybody was very respectful out on the track,” Wright said of his performance and having to weave through lapped traffic. “The track is just so tough and so fun, I love racing here. I had a good run.”
Wright’s lead over Jonathan Goke is now 193 points, but Goke is away on deployment with the United States Air Force and will miss the remainder of the season. Wright’s lead over third place Dan Geren is 206.
Geren essentially has to win the remaining three events, and collect multiple bonuses for laps led and poles, all while hoping Wright finds trouble and fails to score more than the minimum five points in each race if he hopes to pull the greatest upset in sim racing history.
His chances of that upset were crushed in turn two at the beautiful northern California road course.
Starting 4th, Geren locked up the tires while trying to avoid Christian Steele, who was having connection issues.
Geren was unable to save the car, which slid left before snapping back right, where Jason Galvin had no time to react. The two collided, damaging both entries.
Geren finished 21st. Galvin rebounded to 14th. Steele was eventually penalized for his connection issues, and chose to retire instead of serving the penalty. He finished 30th.
Wright said his focus now is to just avoid trouble.
“The plan is to just finish the race,” Wright said of the next event. “I think if we can just score some points at Kansas, we can lock it up.”
Road course ringer Ryan Otis collected his fourth top 5 in seven starts, and was the only other leader, snagging bonus points when Wright hit pit road.
“I really didn’t have the speed or pace to keep up with Jake,” Otis said. “Earlier in the week I was doing well and could turn some good laps, but tonight I just couldn’t keep up.”
Brian Yaczik avoided the opening lap scuffle in turn one, and pulled off third.
“We finally put together a solid road course race, start to finish and brought home a top five, I’m happy,” Yaczik said. “I had a really good understanding of how the track flowed, and it was a matter of finding the happy spot.”
Aside from the turn two incident, the race was rather uneventful. Just five of the 33 starters finished on the lead lap. George Adams held off Michael Gray, after the two made contact and spun in the final turn, to take fourth.
Joe Branch, Ronald Hacker, James Krahula, Alfred Shepperd and Jason Robarge rounded out the top 10.
Many of the drivers in the series doned pink paint schemes or wheels in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to the ovals for the final three events, starting with the Lehmann’s Landing 200 at Kansas Speedway on Wednesday, October 19th. The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST.
Trips to Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway round out the 2016 season.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
As the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment prepares for its final road course race of the 2016 season at Laguna Seca, it’s very apparent that things have changed dramatically since the series first hit the road back in March. Back then, Jake Wright seemed virtually unstoppable and many expected him to sweep all seven road races this season. Wright has won five of six, but as the season progressed, it became apparent that many of his opponents were raising their game to present a serious challenge to the defending series champion.
It was on March 30th at Watkins Glen that Wright first proved himself as the man to beat on the road. After Christian Steele surprised many by taking the pole, Wright passed him on Lap 14 and never looked back, ultimately winning the race by five seconds over Steele. Two months later, Wright won Road America by a similar margin over Jonathan Goke. He went on to dominate both Montreal and Sonoma, finishing more than twenty seconds ahead of his nearest challengers, lapping the majority of the field in the process.
Just when it seemed Wright would indeed go undefeated on the road, Lionheart left North America for a two-race international swing – and everything changed. At Brands Hatch, Michael Gray kept himself within striking distance and then used a strong pit stop to squeeze ahead of Wright. A fierce battled ensued, which ultimately resulted in contact between the two drivers. Gray emerged victorious, nearly running out of fuel as he crossed the finish line to take the upset win.
Gray’s teammate Dan Geren stepped into the spotlight at Phillip Island, snatching his first career road course pole and leading 13 laps. It was only a self-spin that cost him victory, and even after the incident, Geren recovered and chased Wright down. The race was highlighted by Geren’s daring pit lane exit that momentarily placed his Dallara DW-12 back ahead of Wright’s car. The two championship contenders battled side-by-side through the next few corners and Wright managed to re-gain the lead. He ultimately won the race by just under a half-second.
All of this points to an exciting and unpredictable race at the virtual Laguna Seca, a facility that hosted Indycar racing for more than twenty years. It’s unclear if the winner will be decided by a daring pass in the corkscrew – a move that made Alex Zanardi famous in 1996. However, it seems very likely that Jake Wright will once again face at least a few challenges for the win. The main question is: who will pose the biggest threat?
Dan Geren has once again been quick in practice, and Michael Gray has been virtually equal to his teammate in pace. However, it’s rookie Ryan Otis who has proven himself to be quickest thus far. Otis has already won a practice race at Laguna Seca, and he’s topped Wright on the time charts on at least one other occasion. Otis qualified an impressive second at Sonoma, but an EOL penalty kept him from battling for the lead. He did show his abilities elsewhere on track though, charging through the field to finish a solid fourth. Could Otis break through, or will Geren and Gray once again prove to be Jake’s biggest challengers? Could an unexpected winner emerge? One thing is certain: the list of potential contenders continues to grow!
Elsewhere in the field, Pierre Daigle and Jason Robarge are slated to make their fiftieth career starts at Laguna Seca. Both sim racers joined the series in Season 2 and they are both battling for positions within the top ten overall this season. Meanwhile, two new drivers will make their debuts this week, as Jared and Tyler Turnbull join the main Lionheart roster. The uncle-and-nephew combination are the first family duo to race together in the league since brothers Ray and Matt Kingsbury shared the track in Season 2.
Lionheart is also proud to carry on their annual tradition of participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October. Once again this season, cars from No Name Racing, Team #NailedIt, Dragonfly Racing and numerous others in the field have added pink to their paint schemes to support the cause. These special paint schemes will run this week at Laguna Seca, as well as upcoming races at Kansas and Atlanta. Please visitwww.nationalbreastcancer.org for more information.
The Indycar Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live on the Global Sim Racing Channel (GSRC) and Iracing Live on Wednesday, October 12th, beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visitwww.lionheartracingseries.com.