In the end, it all worked out like it should. At least, that’s what Jason Galvin thought. The Bakersfield, Calif. driver led the most laps in a mostly dominating victory in the Simpit 200 at the virtual Milwaukee Mile Wednesday night.
But the race was not without its oddball moments and featured a thrilling finish on the tight one-mile oval.
“The last ten laps were like hold on for dear life,” Galvin said. “The car was light on fuel, the track was hot, the tires were old. I thought I was wrecked in turn one on the final lap. But it all worked out.”
The win was the fifth of his career for Galvin in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
After capturing his first career pole, Galvin jumped out to an early lead before the race was red flagged following the opening caution on lap five. A race session error caused officials to call for a complete restart, including qualifying.
Over the final 15 laps, Blocker closed the gap to Galvin and made multiple attempts to complete a pass on the outside to no avail.
On the final lap, Galvin’s car pushed wide in turn two, allowing Blocker to get a run down the back straight. After popping to the outside and even taking the lead by a nose in the final corner, Galvin powered back in front on the bottom and won by a half-car length.
The final margin of victory: 0.062 seconds.
“Adam and I have had our moments in the past,” Galvin said. “But we’ve raced so well together this year in the few times we’ve been able to. I respect him so much. He ran clean all night.”
Blocker said he did everything he could to get around Galvin, but ran out of laps.
“As Jason said, I kinda screwed up the strategy a little bit,” Blocker said. “I guess it could’ve gone either way depending on how cautions went. Then we had a incident on the next pit stop, there was a checkup and I hit (Dustin) Wardlow. It was enough to give him a rear wing change and me a front. That put me back.
“Just slowly over the green runs made up track position, taking advantage of others' mistakes in traffic. The last stint, I knew Jason would pit early. I figured he would come out in front of me but I’m not in a position to risk short-pitting because of the points. It worked out because Galvin caught some traffic and I had much better tires, and it really allowed me to attack. Good race to Galvin, that was fun. We raced clean.”
Galvin said he didn’t disagree with the call to form a new session, but was nonetheless selfishly disappointed. In the second session, Galvin qualified third behind championship leader Adam Blocker and Justin Weaver.
Blocker’s decision to pit on a lap 27 caution ultimately may have been the difference in the race.
Galvin stayed out - along with several other top ten cars - and inherited a lead that he would only lose during pit cycles.
“I knew track position was important, I wanted to be out front,” Galvin said. “I don’t think I was the fastest car. I think Adam and Justin and even Mike were all better than me honestly. But track position was everything.”
Michael Goodman came home third, having run in the top five the entire race.
“I had a great night,” Goodman said. “I made a mistake early on and lost some confidence. Then I almost lost the car. I wanna apologize to Justin, it probably ruined his race. But it just feels good to have all the hard work, and see some good results.”
Goodman was part of the biggest scare amongst contenders. On lap 132, the top four of Galvin, Goodman, Weaver and Blocker overtook then-leader Samuel Reiman, who was on the tail end of his fuel run.
As Goodman exited turn two, behind the dirty air of Galvin, the car stepped out. Justin Weaver nearly clobbered Goodman, and Blocker made an evasive move to the inside to jump from fourth to second.
Weaver would pit under a caution two laps later, banking on more wrecks that would allow the Nashville driver to get to the end on fuel.
But the lap 134 caution for Isaiah Dupree’s spin proved to be the final of seven yellow flags.
Weaver inherited the lead for a few laps late in the event, but had to hit pit road with 10 laps remaining for a splash of fuel. Weaver settled for fifth, right behind Dan Geren. Big Joe Hassert was sixth after starting 25th, the biggest mover in the race.
Weaver’s fuel stop setup the dramatic dash to the end between Galvin and Blocker, leading to the closest finish in Milwaukee history in the Lionheart series.
The 2019 running of the Simpit 200 was much cleaner than last year’s event. After a record 17 cautions in 2018, the seven yellow flags this year were seen as a surprise.
19 of the 34 starters finished the race. 12 cars finished on the lead lap.
Blocker’s points lead improved to 172 over Geren. Andrew Kinsella missed the event, falling to eighth in points. As a result, Michael Goodman jumped to third, a stark 71 points behind Geren.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns this week. The LPM 200 at Texas Motor Speedway is set for Wednesday, July 3 at 10:35 p.m. EST. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action. Justin Weaver is the defending winner of the event.