Sage Karam made a statement Wednesday night.
The NTT IndyCar Series veteran racked up his series-leading fifth win of 2020 at Phillip Island in the HyperX Grand Prix, leading all but three laps, after a daring first lap pass.
“It was a good night overall,” Karam said. “Was able to get out, break the draft, get in clean air and run a clean race.”
Karam reignited his rivalry with two-time defending Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment champion Adam Blocker in the first seconds of the race.
As the field barreled into the wide-open first turn, Karam used the draft to slingshot inside of Blocker, who captured his third pole of 2020.
Just before making his move, the two appeared to touch. On corner exit, Karam sliced across the nose of Blocker, completing the pass. The contact gave Blocker a mandatory rear wing change on his first pit stop, ending any hope to compete for a win.
He would rally to finish third.
“I took the racing line into turn one, lap one, and Sage just hit the back of me,” a frustrated Blocker said. “Could’ve wrecked the whole field. I had to lift a little and he cleared me. I was happy with my pace. I had the pace for him, pace was right there. It would’ve been a fight the whole race. It just sucks.”
Karam defended the aggression, which gave him a clear track for the rest of the race.
“I had a really big draft going into turn one,” Karam said. “I was able to make the move. This track isn’t one of my favorites because it’s easy to make a mistake. But I ran a mistake-free race.”
Joshua Chin benefitted from the wing change for Blocker, finishing second.
“Happy to take second, it’s good for the points,” Chin said. “Adam had those issues with the rear wing and that let me get out there all alone in second, and was just able to run quick enough to keep second.”
Andrew Kinsella finished fourth, with Connor Harrington rallying from 31st to fifth to keep his championship hopes alive. Harrington served an EOL penalty at the beginning of the race for contact in the previous round.
25 of the 33 drivers to start the race finished, with 15 on the lead lap. Several incidents shook up the field.
On lap two, Bryan Carey spun in turn 6. Dustin Wardlow, Tyler Graaf and Jason Galvin all made contact with the spinning Carey. Only Wardlow would continue, and several other cars also received damage in the ensuing stackup.
On lap 14, Damon Martinez and Nathan Lewis raced wheel-to-wheel through the tight Honda and Siberia complex, only to make contact coming up the hill towards turn 9. Lewis shot off the track, slid through the grass and then plowed into Brian Yaczik.
Martinez was penalized after the race for avoidable contact. Lewis and Yaczik could not continue.
The top five in points also finished top five in the race, and the championship picture looks similar following the event.
Karam, searching for his first Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX championship, leads Kinsella by 35 points. Blocker sits seven further back in third, with Harrington fourth and within striking distance as well.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads back to the ovals for the next two events, the second leg of a three-in-a-row stretch, this Wednesday night.
The DMLC Racing Channel 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway can be seen live Wednesday, October 14, on the Global SimRacing Channel and iRacing eSports Network at 10:35 p.m. EST.
The adage ‘good things come to those who wait’ has perhaps never been more fitting in the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX.
Tony Showen finally broke through for his first career win in the premier Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment Wednesday night, holding off Joshua Chin in a thrilling photo finish in the Fisch Motors 200 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The landmark victory for the Adrenaline Motorsports driver came in his 114th career IndyCar series start. Shown has one win in the Lionheart Retro Series.
“I was looking at the stats today actually,” Showen said in victory lane. “And I said to myself ‘good god, what a loser.’...I have no idea what just happened. I ended up in the back because my fuel didn’t fill, and from there on it was road rage mode.”
Showen held off Chin after the race was turned upside down by a caution with eight laps remaining, trapping a contingent of cars that had dominated the race a lap down, and assuring the alternate strategy cars could make it to the finish.
Jorge Anzaldo, battling to get laps back after having to pit for fuel, ducked onto the apron on the front straight after approaching a group of cars in fuel saving mode. When he got to turn one, Anzaldo lost control, and slid up the track into the middle of the pack that had led most of the race.
Jason Galvin, Connor Harrington, Joe Branch and others were taken out in the ensuing melee, which also trapped Brian Yazik (race high 41 laps led) and Adam Blocker (30 laps led) a lap down.
That setup a two lap sprint to the finish. Showen jumped out in front, allowing Chin to make a big running as the final lap began.
Chin even nosed ahead down the back straight, but Showen ducked to the apron exiting turn four and held on to win by 0.025 seconds.
“I knew if you were on the bottom you were golden,” Showen said. “You could just hold it down there and have the short way around. It was just a matter of staying out of his draft.”
The second place finish for Chin marked his sixth top five finish of the year, and catapulted him back into the championship race.
“It was more possible in one and two to get around people up top,” Chin said. “In three and four, it was pretty much impossible. The bottom was just too good. You needed the other driver to make a mistake.”
Scott Holmes was the surprising third place finished, a career best finish for the rookie. Bart Workman finished fourth, just ahead of Mike Rasimas in his series debut.
13 cars finished on the lead lap, thanks mostly to the final caution. The yellow flag flew seven times, while 12 drivers swapped the lead a total of 19 times.
Two major incidents caused a massive points shakeup.
Sage Karam was involved in a lap nine crash, ending his night in dead last. Karam still leads the championship standings, but by just 19 over a surging Andrew Kinsella.
Then, on lap 77, Harrington stayed out on old tires and immediately pushed up into Joe Hassert, an early race favorite, causing a crash. Hassert’s night was over, and Harrington struggled until being involved again in the final caution.
As a result, Harrington fell to fourth in points, with Adam Blocker third. The top four are separated by a mere 37 points with seven races remaining.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series enters its home stretch and returns to the road course side of action with round 14, the HyperX Grand Prix of Phillip Island. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network and Global SimRacing Channel on Wednesday, October 7 at 10:35 p.m. EST.
With just 3 road courses remaining on the 2020 Season the time to show road superiority starts now. Three drivers sit within striking distance of points leader Sage Karam. A strong showing at Phillip Island will definitely be necessary in order to close the gap.
Karam who has been known to dominate the road events sits just 19 points ahead of Andrew Kinsella and 37 ahead of fourth place Harrington. Defending series champion Adam Blocker sits 32 points back and is in a position potentially inherit the lead if he can find a way to victory lane tonight.
Blocker is the defending race winner from 2018 having won over Dan Geren by 12.366 seconds. The closest finish at Phillip Island came at the inaugural event back in 2016 when Jake Wright won over Dan Geren by 0.609 seconds. Geren would eventually find victory lane in 2017 in one of the best battles at the Australian track in league history.
Series rookie Chris Fowler has shown significant pace coming into the HyperX Grand Prix of Phillip Island, having started on pole for the second warm up race and finishing 4th. The lap times are there, can Fowler dig deep and bring home a solid finish?
The Team Championship continues to heat up with SKM climbing one spot in the standings to second behind Alkentech Simulation / NHR e-Sports. Adrenaline Motorsports Red is 40 points back from first. Can Adrenaline climb back up or will their championship streak come to an end? With 7 races remaining it may come down to the 500-mile finale at Auto Club.
Who will win the HyperX Grand Prix of Phillip Island?
Tune in live on the iRacing eSports Network at 9:35 pm CST with coverage provided by the Global Sim Racing Channel.
For more information on HyperX and their products visit www.hyperxgaming.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
Race Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KIgJsEb2EM&feature=emb_title