It had all the drama, except a green flag finish. The iRace for Gage Indianapolis 500 saw a hectic start followed by a green flag run of over 150 laps, before the best fixed setup IndyCar racers in the world put on a display of driving worthy of the title.
In the end, Adam Blocker prevailed for his first Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment win at Indianapolis, as a caution flew with four laps remaining, robbing fans of the final 10 miles as five of the league’s top drivers weaved and jived for position.
“I can’t believe it, that was a crazy race,” Blocker said. “I pretty much made every mistake I could make...I started 33 after messing up in qualifying...I also had an incident with David Korty where I was sliding sideways in four, in full lock, I don’t know how I saved it.
“The end was just mayhem. I think I went from fourth to first on the back stretch...it worked out, and I won.”
Blocker held off Dan Geren and Joe Hassert in a three-wide battle over the final laps, with Andrew Kinsella and Jason Galvin both mounting runs but unable to find space to make moves onto the podium.
The race ending caution flew on lap 196 when Isaiah Dupre, running near the back, hit the wall exiting turn three and collected Bart Workman.
“My luck this year has definitely not been good,” said Geren, who led the most laps (77) from the pole. “I’m glad those cautions came late because I was going to have to pit for about three gallons...I’m fine with coming in second. It’s been a horrible year, so second works for me.”
Hassert mounted a charge to the front early, and spent much of the race battling Geren for the lead. But green flag pit stops shuffled the field, and Hassert found himself involved in the caution that ended the fuel mileage race.
On lap 174, Hassert pushed exiting turn two, leading to contact with Chris Stofer. Stofer careened off the wall, setting up the dash to the finish.
“I’ve done everything I could do but find the win this year,” Hassert said. “Those last laps were crazy. I was chalking up tenth place, and it was my fault that yellow came out. But we were racing hard.”
At the time of the Stofer crash, Blocker and Kinsella had opened up a gap on the cars who still needed one more stop for fuel.
Stephen Laarkamp, Brian Beard, James Krahula and Brian Yaczik had managed to save enough fuel running around near the back of the pack to try and cut a stop. All four claim they would have made it to the finish, setting up a scenario where Blocker, Kinsella, Geren and Hassert would have had fresh tires and light fuel, and a chance to run down the saving cars.
Instead, fans were treated to insanity, as several leaders, Krahula and Yaczik now included, went three and four wide in attempts to get out front.
Krahula made the first mistake, turning into the first corner too early while three wide, touching Yaczik and losing control.
The lap 186 caution also eliminated Joe Branch, and setup the final scramble.
The race was marred by two quick cautions early on.
Dustin Wardlow, who had dropped to the rear to avoid any early carnage, was turned by Michael Gray on the front straight. Vincent Bluthenthal could not avoid Wardlow.
On the restart, Jack Bogan, the race sponsor, was turned by Dan Geren. Bogan had stayed out while the leaders entered pit lane for fresh tires.
From lap 16, the race ran green to lap 174, with good racing throughout the field and the fuel drama building.
“I think Andrew and I were in good position,” Blocker said. “But that yellow came out and everything was chaos after.”
The win propelled Blocker into a tie with Galvin for third in points, 59 back of Kinsella. Brian Yaczik, who was running up front before being disqualified for too many incident points, falls to 53 back of the lead in second, after finishing 26th.
A record 41 cars took the green flag. 18 finished on the lead lap. 13 drivers swapped the lead 57 times, with six cautions slowing the action for 18 laps.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads backs to the world famous Milwaukee Mile for the Area 51 200 at Milwaukee for round eleven of the 2018 season.
The race can be seen live on Wednesday, July 25 at 10:35 p.m. EST on the Global SimRacing Channel.
For more information, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com