The curtain may be coming down on the Lionheart IndyCar Series season, but the fat lady has one more encore to get through first. Will it be a rookie sealing the Rookie of the Year title in style? Will it be a veteran going out in style? Will it be a champion taking one last bow? This is the lionheart season finale; the SimXperience Championship 300.
Last time out at Laguna Seca, it was a race of dominance and of mistakes. The dominance came from series champion Adam Blocker. Blocker finished the last road course event of the season exactly where he has so many times this season, with a dominant victory, this time over Connor Harrington by a whopping 54 seconds, the largest in Lionheart IndyCar Series history. The mistakes came from nearly everyone else. Dan Geren tried to overtake Blocker into turn 1 on lap one, but overcooked it, got loose and collected Justin Weaver. Rookie Bryan Carey was running a spectacular 3rd place early before a series of mistake put him out of the race as well. Andrew Kinsella got loose out of the corkscrew and brushed the wall, rendering his car barely drivable, and costing him 3rd as well. Kinsella would soldier on well off the pace, eventually finishing 2 laps down in 16th. Dustin Wardlow was running near the top 5 the whole race before he spun coming out of the last corner and caught the wall with his nose. He would replace the nose and finish one lap down in 12th. The people who didn’t make mistakes? Besides Blocker and Harrington, Tyler Graaf would finish 3rd, Stephen Laarkamp 4th and Justin Weaver would recover from the first corner mishap to finish 5th. Only the top 4 cars ended the race on the lead lap.
That certainly won’t be the case this week in Auto Club. What awaits the Lionheart drivers this week is 150 laps, 300 miles of drafting excitement. The 5-lane wide California oval is known for high speed and even higher action. The fewest lead changes in event history was 13, while the most is 36. Despite the action, the race has traditionally been very clean. Only once has the race had more then 4 cautions, and that was back in season 1. Look for the action to come fast and hard on Wednesday.
A number of championships have already been decided going into the finale. Adam Blocker has obviously clinched the overall championship, and he has also clinched the Road Course championship as well. Adrenaline Motorsports Red has clinched the team championship on the backs of Blocker, Kinsella and Bryan Carey, while the Red and Black Adrenaline teams have combined to secure the organization championship.
There are, however still people very interested in the outcome of this race, not the least of which is the rookie of the year battle. Mike Rigney and Damon Martinez are separated by just 10 points, with the edge to Martinez. John Hill is 42 points back, while Bryan Carey is 57 back. With double points on the line, all 4 of these drivers still have a mathematical shot at the title.
The title of best oval driver in Lionheart is also still up for grabs. Adam Blocker leads by 64 over Dan Geren, while Big Joe Hassert is still mathematically alive, 100 points back.
Finally, the Iron man award for the driver who puts in the most miles in the season. 4 drivers can still mathematically achieve this title, with Geren, and Blocker joined by Tyler Graaf and John Hill.
But it’s not just championships that are being perused. Dan Geren, who is running his last Lionheart race tonight, will be attempting to become the first 3-time winner of any of the triple crown races. Geren, the reigning Driver of the Year award winner, has announced that he will not be back next season, and a win at Auto Club would be a fitting send off for the Midwest driver. Oh, did I mention that Geren is also the defending race winner?
Andrew Kinsella and Big Joe Hassert meanwhile are looking to join Geren as 2-time winners. Kinsella is the only Lionheart driver to achieve the “career triple crown”. His first triple crown victory coming right here at Auto Club in his rookie season, followed by Pocono in season 6 and the Indy 500 earlier this year. Hassert meanwhile has more starts (140) than any other active driver and has won 7 times in his career. Both will be searching to join Geren as 2-time Auto Club winners.
Tune in this Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 at 10:35 pm eastern for all the live action only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC, THEN stick around after the race for the end-of-year award presentations and 2020 schedule announcement.
The season is winding down. Just 2 races remain in another epic Lionheart season. Adam Blocker may have already locked up the championship in one of the most dominating single season performances in Lionheart history, but there is still plenty to drive for; plenty more corners to take on the edge, and plenty more passes to be made. In terms of famous corners, there might not be any more famous, or more treacherous then the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. This week, the Lionheart drivers will be taking on that famous corner 56 times at the Grand Prix of Monterey present by Graafix.
Last time out at Kansas, the Big Joe Show Spectacular lived up to its name, in more ways than one. Not only was the racing close and exciting for much of the event, but Big Joe Hassert managed to take home the win in his sponsored event! Big Joe would lead series founder Jorge Anzaldo to the line by 0.225 seconds. It was the best result for Anzaldo in quite some time, who beat his spinning teammate Dan Geren to the line. Geren had led a race high 41 laps, however as he negotiated the apron coming back to the line, a small misjudgement caused the car to spin, costing Geren the position. Tony Showen and Bart Workman rounded out the top 5.
The 3rd place for Geren has cemented the Midwest driver into 2nd place in the standings. Geren is 111 points ahead of 3rd place Andrew Kinsella with just two races remaining. As long as he keeps his nose clean at Laguna Seca, Geren should be able to enter the Auto Club finale secure in the knowledge that 2nd place is his once again, for the 4th straight year. All he has to do is finish ahead of Kinsella.
Speaking of Kinsella, the Canadian had a quiet day at Kansas due to some early race damage that robbed the Canadian of his usual speed. Kinsella is 51 points ahead of Brian Yaczik for 3rd in the championship, and will likewise be looking to firm up his hold on that spot.
From 4th through 11th is where things get tight. Brian Yaczik is a mere 77 points ahead of 11th place Connor Harrington. Yaczik, who had a miserable start to the year has really come alive in the second half of this season, and will be looking to keep his hard fought 4th over the next two races. To do that, he will have to keep some very fast drivers at bay. Besides Harrington, Stehen Laarkamp, Justin Weaver, Big Joe Hassert, Tyler Graaf and Tony Showen are all within striking distance, and it’s not just bragging rights on the line either. 4th place gets $170 in prize money, while 11th is down to $50. That’s a big difference, and it all comes down to these next 2 races.
Meanwhile, the Rookie of the Year race is as tight as ever. Mike Rigney leads Damon Martinez by just 8 points. Still in with an outside shot at it, Bryan Carey is 37 points back of Martinez and John Hill is just 3 points back of Carey. This race is still wide open, and to the winner goes not only the $75 cash prize, but a plethora of physical prizes including an awesome Buttkicker Gamer2 or Simulation Kit.
Tune in this Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern for the final road course of the season, as the Grand Prix of Monterey presented by Graafix will be live on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC