From the moment Josh Chin arrived in the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX, the question became when, not if.
When would the road racing star break through for his first win?
That question was answered Wednesday night.
Chin held off two-time defending Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment champion Adam Blocker in a furious fight to win the Turn Racing Grand Prix of Sonoma, his first triumph as part of the SKM IndyCar team.
“It feels great,” Chin said. “Feels like I got the monkey off my back, after a few bad runs the last couple races.”
With teammate and championship leader Sage Karam sitting the event out, it was Chin who captured the pole and led all but four laps, but the race was not without drama.
Blocker, long considered the series top road course racer, led four laps and spent the final 10 stalking Chin.
“I was absolutely terrified,” Chin said of the final laps. “I think I’m happier to have a win than anyone else here.”
Blocker’s charge came up short while navigating lapped traffic over the final few laps.
“Good to be back on the podium,” Blocker said. “We’ve been close to wins and just haven’t gotten them. Either bad luck, or mistakes by me. We were pretty even on pace I thought, and I locked the rears up early and lost a good amount of time. We were just so even on pace it took me forever to get the time back.”
Blocker’s Adrenaline Motorsports teammate Andrew Kinsella came home third, 25 seconds behind the leaders.
“It was a lonely race, but I had to keep an eye on my relative,” Kinsella said. “I think Mike (Goodman) had to change a front wing on that last stop or it would’ve been a close race. It was nice to start in the top five on a road course for once, and run my own race versus running other people’s races.”
Michael Goodman was fourth, with championship contender Connor Harrington in fifth.
The race was uneventful after the opening lap, which saw Justin Weaver lose control coming up the hill to turn two. The spinning car of Weaver bounced into Adam Frazier, sending both off the track and out of the race. Brian Yaczik also picked up rear wing damage, leading to an early retirement for the Michigan native.
Later on the opening lap, Jason Galvin lost control in turn four. Galvin spun to the inside of the track, causing a few drivers to make evasive moves. Galvin dropped to 26th but rebounded to finish 14th, one lap down.
Karam’s absence tightened the championship battle. The points leader is preparing for the Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which is likely to cause him to miss another start as well.
As a result, Harrington trails Karam by just 51 points now. Kinsella and Blocker are also both within 90 points of the lead, although Blocker also faces schedule uncertainty with his real-world job as an engineer with Ilmor Racing set to take him to Indianapolis as well.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment enters a three-race oval stretch now, starting with the HyperX Pocono 200. The race can be viewed live on the iRacing eSports Network at 10:35 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 19, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcast.
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