By Justin Prince
Multiple time Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker champion Adam Blocker has won his 30th career race.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver won the HyperX Grand Prix of Road America on Nov. 3 after using strategy to get ahead of pole sitter Connor Harrington.
After stretching his second fuel run of the race by an extra four laps, Blocker was able to overtake the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype driver during the final pit cycle of the race. With Blocker taking the red-walled tires for the final run - Harrington was on blacks - and less fuel needed in the tank to get to the end of the race, he was able to beat Harrington by more than four seconds.
Ryan Otis, Henry Bennett and Robert Maleczka III completed the top five.
It was Blocker’s ninth victory of the 2021 season.
“That was a hard race,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane. “That was a helluva drive from all of us up there.”
Blocker had qualified in fifth place when his strategy got some early assistance from some attrition at the front of the field. On Lap 2, Philip Kraus was in second place heading through the Moraine Sweep when Alkentech Simulations NHR e-Sports driver Matt Taylor attempted to pass him. Taylor charged to Kraus’s right side into the braking zone for Turn 5. He proceeded to ram into the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black car’s sidepod, sending the two drivers hard into the walls in the run-off area.
Both Kraus and Taylor had started the race on the red-walled tires. The incident left Otis and Chris Fowler as the only drivers on that compound of tires remaining inside the top 10 by the end of the lap.
“I knew some of the guys on reds at the start would be tough to deal with,” said Blocker. Fortunately, for me at least, a couple guys got together up there and (Philip) Kraus got hurt in that. It’s unfortunate for him, but it definitely helped me out.”
Harrington was not happy about the incident after the race. He said he thought his team missed the strategy for the race. However, he also said their plans were impacted by Kraus’s crash.
“I think we were looking pretty good until Phillip (Kraus) got clattered into the back of,” said Harrington. “It would have been nice to have another team car to help work the strategy a little bit. It just sucks for him. He was absolutely destroyed.”
A few laps after the incident, Blocker moved into the second position after Otis let him by on the Moraine Sweep. Blocker said Otis helped ensure both drivers would not lose time with the switch. By the end of Lap 8, Blocker was ahead of Otis by several seconds.
Afterwards, Blocker started focusing more on his strategy.
“I was honestly just saving fuel for the first half of the race,” said Blocker. “I saved a little bit so I could minimize the time on the reds and it just really paid off at the end.”
As Blocker saved fuel, other parts of the field started having issues. On Lap 11, Fowler had been exiting Turn 14 when Mike Rigney got loose coming out of the corner. Rigney was able to save his Dallara IR-18 from spinning and had to slow down. As he was gathering his car back up to speed, Fowler darted to the right, clipping Rigney’s right rear tire. The contact immediately broke Fowler’s suspension and front wing, forcing him to park his car at the other end of the frontstretch.
A lap later, Adam Frazier smashed into the tire barriers in Canada Corner after carrying too much speed. Then seconds later, Jay Brant made the same mistake, veering just to the right of Frazier’s destroyed car before slamming into the wall. A third car, Taylor, then made a similar mistake, sending his car sideways into the sand. Taylor’s car then hit the tire wall with his sidepod, ending his race completely.
After the first round of pit stops, Blocker closed up on Harrington and fast. With Harrington taking reds during the middle stint compared to Blocker’s blacks, his pace fell off quickly. Once the tire wear started to come into effect, Blocker was able to reel in Harrington by a full second per lap. By the time Harrington decided to pit on Lap 20, Blocker had closed the gap between him and the leader to under five car lengths.
After Blocker completed his pit stop on Lap 24, he was able to jump ahead of Harrington by a couple seconds and never looked back.
With the victory, Blocker has a 115-point lead in the championship standings over Harrington with two races remaining. If Blocker outscores Harrington by 12 or more points during the Alkentech Simulation Grand Prix of Detroit on Nov. 17, he will clinch his fourth driver’s title in a row.
Coverage of the penultimate race of the 2021 season starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.