By Justin Prince
Adam Blocker has continued his domination in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker by winning his seventh race of the season at Phillip Island Circuit.
The Adrenaline Powerslide driver won the KARNOX Grand Prix of Phillip Island after having to battle with series newcomer Philip Kraus in the closing stages on Aug. 25.
Kraus, who was making his season debut for PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype Black, along with Connor Harrington went for an alternate strategy by attempting to run the red-walled tires for his final stint compared to Blocker’s blacks.
After letting Kraus go several laps earlier, Blocker closed in on Kraus by several seconds with under five laps to go. With an advantage in push-to-passes available, Blocker zipped by Kraus down the Gardner Straight into Doohan Corner with three laps to go.
Kraus, Harrington, Ryan Otis and Aaron Morgan completed the top five.
“Honestly, I was always planning to do red-red-black just because the track was hotter at the end and I didn’t want to give up track position in the middle,” said Blocker from HyperX Victory Lane. “I think Phil and Connor had to do that with where they were. They were at the back of our train, so they could afford to run the blacks in the middle and then lose time, then gain it back.”
After the race, Kraus was dejected.
“It’s a little frustrating. I was looking forward to winning on my own island,” said Kraus. “I had a good shot there, but I used too many buttons in the middle stint to pull Connor along and to try and catch up to the top two on the reds.”
From the drop of the green flag, four drivers separated themselves from the rest of the pack - polesitter Otis, Blocker, Harrington and Kraus. The top four ran lap times as much as half a second quicker than the next pack behind them. Blocker spent much of the race saving fuel behind Otis. As a result, Otis had to pit a full lap or two earlier than the rest of his group for the entire race.
Then, after their pit stops on Lap 16, the PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype cars deviated from Blocker and Otis on tire compound strategy.
“At first I was really concerned. I didn’t realize they were on blacks,” said Blocker. “Phil caught me and I was like ‘am I doing something wrong? Like, am I managing my tires wrong?’ Then I realized ‘Oh, he was on blacks and he was putting on reds.’
“That whole time I was trying to get by Ryan (Otis) because I felt I was faster, but I wasn’t fast enough to pass him, but I felt if I could have passed him, I could have just went to the lead. In the end, I just waited for the pit cycle to overcut him.”
Otis got into trouble though after his final pit stop. The Synergy Motorsports Silver driver came out of the pit lane in heavy traffic. After having to check up for Jason Brophy through the second sector. By the time the other cars finished their service on Lap 32, Otis was jumped by both Blocker and Kraus.
Then, after experiencing aerowash for the first time all race, Otis went off the track in the Southern Loop on Lap 35, costing him a podium finish.
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for its second triple crown race of 2021, the ButtKicker U.S. 500. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on September 4.