By Justin Prince
The reigning champion is already in winning form.
After starting in 18th place, three-time Lionheart IndyCar Series champion Adam Blocker has won the HyperX Miami 200.
It is the Adrenaline Powerslide driver’s series-leading 23rd victory in his career.
“I was able to pick my way through guys when the race started and just keep out of trouble,” said Blocker in HyperX Victory Lane. “I just played the pit strategy right and once I got up there in the front, I wanted to be in the top two to save my tires … By the time I got an opportunity, I just gave (Connor Harrington) some dirty air and we got the separation. Luckily we went green from there because that just made it easy.”
After a restart with under 80 laps to go, Blocker and PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype’s Harrington would go back and forth several times for the race lead. The battle included a few close calls at the bottom of the front straightaway.
Then, on Lap 77, Blocker would start gaining up to three-tenths of a second per lap on Harrington and the rest of the field. Blocker would eventually lead over Harrington by more than two seconds before the final pit stop window.
Harrington would eventually go on to finish second. Jason Brophy, Henry Bennett and Joshua Chin also finished inside the top five.
“I wanted to kind of make a concerted effort to make it to the end,” said Harrington. “Adam was really pinching me into Turn 1 and I didn’t really want to send it and wreck him. I decided to just kind of ride behind, make a little bit of fuel and the dirty air is what got me. The goal was to keep up with him and undercut him at the pit stop and we were just too far behind to do that.”
Several contenders were involved in major incidents in the five-caution race to start the 2021 season.
One of the biggest incidents of the race happened on Lap 20.
NTT IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam and 2020 series runner-up Andrew Kinsella would make contact in Turns 3-4 in a battle for fifth position.
Karam would slide up the track incident into the front wing of Kinsella. Kinsella would then go over the engine cover of Karam and crash into the outside safer barrier coming out of Turn 4. Then, as Karam slid down the track, Matt Taylor would collide with Jay Brant, snapping his suspension while spinning down to the apron.
Jorge Anzaldo meanwhile would collide with Karam’s car at the top of the track, pinballing off the wall as the yellow came out.
“I was trying to let Karam in front of me,” said Kinsella after the incident. “I was off the throttle for most of the corner and was trying to cut down below him, but it looks like when he tried to hit the apex, he just started sliding. He was scrubbing a lot more speed than I anticipated, but there was nothing I could do.”
Later, the race would finish under caution after a crash after Richie Hearn and Scott Holmes collided down the frontstretch coming to four laps to go.
Hearn had tried to move up from the bottom off Turn 4 while Holmes was running the wall off the corner. The left front tire of Holmes’s car then collided with the right rear tire of Hearn’s, destroying the suspension instantly on Holmes. Hearn was sent flying into the inside wall at 175 MPH, smashing into a shower of car parts along the safer barrier.
At the same time, Holmes had launched off Hearn’s rear tire into the outside wall, bouncing down the track into Tyler Graaf. Graaf and Holmes were sent spinning the full length of the frontstretch with both coming to rest in the racing line in Turn 1. Adam Frazier would also get collected, breaking his left front suspension on Holmes’s car and slamming into the outside wall as the caution flag waved.
It is only the second time in series history a race ended under caution at Homestead-Miami Speedway.For PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype, it was a strong start to the 2021 campaign. Harrington, Brophy and Chin had controlled the tempo of the race the first half of the event, leading a combined 60 of 134 laps.
“Frankly for a new organization, I don’t think we could have asked for a better night other than one of our cars being on the top step of the podium,” said Harrington. “I’m confident those results will come later on in the year.”
The Lionheart IndyCar Series heads to the virtual Long Beach Circuit for its second race of the year, the HyperX Grand Prix of Long Beach. The race can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on March 24th at 10:35 p.m. EST.