Kansas has been the sight of some spectacular finishes in the Lionheart series. In 2016, the finish was so close the commentators didn’t even know who won initially. This year, the racing has also produced some spectacular moments, such as an Indy 500 decided by a scant 0.021 seconds. Put these 2 ingredients together and you virtually guarantee an awesome race. That might be why it is called the GSRC/Big Joe Show Spectacular.
But first things first; we have crowned a champion last week at New Hampshire. Adam Blocker won the crown the only way he knew how; by winning the race. This one was a fuel mileage run at the end, with the caution falling just outside the window to make it. A second caution 3 laps later made the last stint do-able, but required a lot of fuel saving to make it happen. Adam Blocker, Chris Stofer, Dan Geren and Andrew Kinsella all pitted on the first caution and stayed out on the second, and were able to stretch the fuel just far enough to finish in that order. Brian Yaczik and Justin Weaver pitted on the 2nd caution, but were unable to make up the lost ground, finishing 5th and 6th. The win mathematically guaranteed Blocker the title. With 3 races to spare, the defense came easier than the initial title for the Carolina driver, who had Dan Geren and Andrew Kinsella take him all the way to the final race last season.
This year so far it is the same order, but Geren and Kinsella will be racing for 2nd from here on in. Geren currently holds the lead over the Canadian by 90 points, however with 3 races, including 1 double points race, anything can still happen. Geren has finished 2nd in 3 straight title fights, while Kinsella has finished 3rd in both his Lionheart seasons. Neither should get to comfortable however. Closing in fast behind them is Brian Yaczik, who is having a 2nd half of the season to remember. 26th place after the first half, Yaczik has worked his way all the way up to 4th place, with some consistently stellar runs. Yaczik is 48 points back of Kinsella for 3rd, and is coming up fast.
Last week, we got our final short track out of the way, now we move on to our final 1.5-mile event. Aptly named, the Big Joe Show Spectacular, every year series regular Big Joe Hassert sponsors a race sure to produce an exciting finish. Last year Dan Geren barely beat Connor Harrington to the line, after a caution free race.
Besides Geren, Yaczik, Blocker and Kinsella, drivers to watch out for include Chris Stofer. Stofer finally got a podium after a long drought. Stofer finished a strong 3rd last year at Kansas, and it is very likely that he will be a factor at the end of this week’s race as well.
Connor Harrington is another driver that should be strong at Kansas. Harrington loves tracks where the draft is important, and that is definitely true of the Kansas Tri-Oval. Harrington to took the win earlier this year at another 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte. He will be looking to go one better compared to last year and take the top step of the podium.
Never to be overlooked at a track like this is Big Joe Hassert. The man who sponsor this race has done so with purpose. He is strong at tracks like Kansas and already has a win this year at the draft track at Michigan.
Draft races, however, often have another side to them. Sometimes it is not the fastest driver that wins, but the driver with the best fuel strategy. Joe Branch may be the best at the draft strategy. Several times this year, Branch has put himself in positions to succeed by playing the long game. Will this race be the one where it finally takes the Indiana driver to victory lane?
One other race to keep an eye on is the Rookie of the Year standings. Mike Rigney continues to lead Damon Martinez by 13 points John Hill is a further 44 points back, making this the tightest points battle for some meaningful prizes. $75 plus a Buttkicker, SimVibe Software key, and more await the winner of the rookie of the year crown, and as of right now, it is too close to call.
Tune in the Wednesday, November 20th for another installment of the best IndyCar action on iRacing. The race will go live at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network, presented by GSRC.
In annals of tricky oval corners, Turn 2 at New Hampshire Motorpseedway is one of the most under rated. Whether it was Scott Sharp using Mike Groff as a launching ramp in 1994, or Tony Kanaan taking out a portable washroom in 2011, the exit of turn 2 has been treacherous in the real world. In the virtual Lionheart series, there has also been dramatic moments. Brian Yaczik spun out of the lead in season 5, while that same year, Andrew Kinsella used two passes in that same spot to win his 2nd Lionheart series victory. Two things are certain going into this week; the one-mile oval has produced some action-packed races, and the Skid Mark Motorsports 200 may be the most aptly named race on the schedule!
Last time out at Road America, Adam Blocker once again dominated on a road course, although the record gap of nearly 1 minute he enjoyed earlier this season at Barber, was reduced to a mere 9 seconds. Dan Geren kept Blocker honest for much of the race, never straying to far back, and ultimately finished 2nd. The Adrenaline Motorsports teammates of Andrew Kinsella and Bryan Carey battled through most of the race, with Kinsella ultimately emerging triumphant after a small mistake at Canada Corner saw the two London Ontario drivers swap positions. Connor Harrington rounded out the top 5. The result leaves Adam Blocker needing an 8th or better finish this week at New Hampshire to clinch back-to-back championships. Dan Geren is 224 points back, while Andrew Kinsella is a further 136 points back of Geren. Really it is 3rd through 6th where the greatest battle will be. Kinsella leads Stephen Laarkamp by a mere 18 points, while Just Weaver and Brian Yaczik are both 36 points back of Laarkamp.
Now we come to New Hampshire, and if there is one track that might give Dan Geren some small hope, it would be the 1-mile oval. Last year Geren managed to hold of Kinsella by a scant 0.1 seconds as the Midwest driver was good to the last drop of fuel, running out as he crossed the finish line in a fuel mileage gamble that just barely paid off. Geren will need to repeat another win this year to maintain any slim hope in the title fight.
Speaking of Kinsella, the Canadian driver loves New Hampshire. Before he finished 2nd to Geren last year, it was the site of his 2nd Lionheart win in his rookie season, giving Kinsella an average finishing position of 1.5 at the mile oval. Kinsella still has a shot at 2nd; if he can get the win at New Hampshire, the Canadian might just be able to catch Geren.
Adam Blocker might be the one driver not looking forward to New Hampshire. At least in the Lionheart Series, Blocker has not had the best of luck at the flat track. In his rookie season, Blocker was involved in a crash, finishing a distant 22nd, while last season he finished 10th, but never really looked the threat to win. However, he doesn’t need to win this one. He only needs two spots better then last year to clinch his second Lionheart title.
Last year, the rookie of the year title came down to 2 drivers, Stephen Laarkamp and Justin Weaver. These two drivers once again find themselves very close to each other as the season winds down, sitting 4th and 5th overall. Last year, Weaver finished 4th in the epic duel to the flag. Laarkamp has got to where he is through consistency. 12 top 10’s but only 1 top 5. Weaver has been more up and down, with 11 top 10’s, and 4 top 5’s, but also more DNF’s.
This year’s rookie of the year title is the crown no one seems to want to seize. Mike Rigney had an unfortunate netcode event at Road America, and now sits just 19 points in front of Damon Martinez, while John G. Hill is just 9 points further back. This rookie battle is going to be going down to the wire!
For all the action, tune in this Wednesday, November 13th at 10:35pm eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Summer time in picturesque Elkhart Lake Wisconsin has, for many years, been synonymous with one thing; the roar of an IndyCar around the magnificent Road America circuit. Now it may not be summer in the real world, but the beauty of sim racing is it can always be racing season! The Lionheart drivers pack up from Iowa 2 weeks ago and head due north for the Rogue Buck 125 at Road America presented by Irish Whitetail Distillery.
Last time out at Iowa it was Dan Geren surviving till the finish to take his 4th win of the season by 1 second over Brian Yaczik. Geren dominated the race, leading 192 of the 229-lap event. No one else lead for more then 11 laps, and only 5 drivers finished on the lead lap after a tough race. Tony Showen, Big Joe Hassert and Joe Branch dueled for 3rd place with Showen eventually taking it, with Hassert just piping Branch at the line by less then a tenth of a second. Championship leader Adam Blocker did not have a good night, finishing down in 24th place after getting knocked around and finally ending his day in the fence. This has put a delay in Blocker’s victory party, but he still leads the championship by 217 points over Geren. While Geren will be unlikely to catch Blocker, one thing his win did do was stretch his lead over Andrew Kinsella, who missed the race with computer problems. This has created a log jam for 3rd place, with Justin Weaver 4 back of the Canadian, and Stephen Laarkamp 3 back of Weaver. With 5 rounds to go. 3rd place is the battle to watch in this championship.
No from one of the shortest tracks on the schedule, to the longest. The Lionheart drivers will tackle the fast straights and tight turns of the picturesque Road America circuit. First opened in 1955, Road America is a quintessential American road course, with its elevation changes, off camber corners, and tight confines. Road America provides plenty of braking zones where over taking will be relatively easy, so get ready for some serious action from this road course this week.
Adam Blocker will be looking to rebound from his poor Iowa showing, and there is no better track from the South Carolina driver than a road course, where he has dominated this year. With a good result, Blocker could open the possibility of clinching the championship as early as the New Hampshire race; however, if something were to happen and Blocker would DNF again, it could stretch the battle out longer, to either Kansas, Laguna Seca, or even the finale.
While the odds may be slim at this point, you can bet that one man who will not be giving up is Dan Geren. The Midwestern driver recently announced that he will be taking a break from full time driving duties next season. Geren has finished 2nd in each of the last 3 season championships. As long as he still is mathematically alive, you know that Geren will look to go out with a bang this year.
3 drivers to watch out for this week will be Sage Karam, Connor Harrington and Justin Weaver. All 3 have been very fast on road courses this season, but it is the consistency that has bit all 3 in the results column. That being said, it is unlikely that bad luck will befall all 3 this round, so look for at least one of them to be up there challenging Adam Blocker for the win.
In the rookie battle, Mike Rigney has pulled out a lead over Damon Martinez and John Hill. So far of the 3, Martinez has shown the most promise on the road course, but just like the 3 drivers mentioned above, it is the consistency that has been the rookies biggest impediment this year. Will Martinez have the patience at Road America to take a big chunk out of Rigney’s lead? Or will it be another unforced error costing him valuable points in the rookie of the year fight?
For all the simulated action, tune in this Wednesday, November 6th at 10:35pm eastern time only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by the one and only GSRC.