Dan Geren was not going to be denied.
The Iowa native took on all challengers and never backed down - rarely even giving up a lap - leading a race-high 102 laps from the pole and capturing the LPM 200 at Texas Motor Speedway Wednesday night.
It was the third win of the season for the Synergy Motorsports driver in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“Clean air was king,” Geren said after leading 102 of 134 laps. “If you could hold the bottom, after about 15 laps the aero wash behind was too hard to deal with.”
Geren held off challenges all race long. Lap after lap, drivers lined up to stake a shot at Geren: Brian Beard, Sage Karam, Connor Harrington, Jason Galvin, Brandon Limkemann, Brian Yaczik and more. Only twice did Geren truly get passed for the lead, and he rocketed back to the front shortly after each time.
“I knew I had to do something after Adam Blocker had issues,” Geren said. “We’re trying to make a move in the points.”
Karam survived a scramble to the finish to hang on for second. A caution with two laps remaining prevent Galvin from making a late charge.
“I knew clean air was everything, so I wanted to be first or second knowing you could run both lanes here,” Karam said. “Happy to come home in second. I just didn’t have the tire to get under Dan at the end.”
Galvin captured third, after nearly wrecking when Damon Martinez forced the Milwaukee winner onto the apron in turn three. The Loud Pedal Motorsports driver charged back to a podium spot using the outside lane late in the race.
“I backed off at one point,” Galvin said. “I had zero faith the front cars were going to make it to the end. I got lucky I was able to battle back to third at the end. That race was insane.”
Joe Branch and Joe Hassert completed the top five.
The race ended under caution when Harrington squeezed four wide entering turn three. The lapped car of Bart Workman was up against the wall, and Harrington came down to make slight contact with Hassert.
While gathering the car, Isaiah Dupree attempted to pass Harrington. Contact between the two shoved Harrington back up into Workman, who hit the wall to bring out the race ending caution.
Dupree held on for seventh, just behind Michael Goodman. Harrington slipped to tenth.
The championship battle regained some intrigue with Geren’s maximum points night (pole, most laps led and no incident points combined with a win).
Defending series champion Adam Blocker was twice swept up in crashes not of his doing.
First, on lap 20, Karam pushed up the hill exiting turn two. Chris Stofer was making his move on the high side and ended up in the wall, with Brandon Limkemann left with nowhere to go.
As Limkemann spun down the track, Blocker plowed into him. Limkemann and Stofer were both unable to continue. Blocker’s pit crew went to work replacing the front wing and trying to salvage a good points finish.
Then, on lap 58, the big one struck. Tyler Graaf pushed exiting turn two, tagging the wall. The ensuing crash took out Blocker, George Sandman, Dustin Wardlow and Marc Cohn.
As a result, Blocker’s lead over Geren shrunk to 122 points. That’s even more important with the double points Indy 500 up next.
The Thumbs Up, Cancer Down Indianapolis 500 presented by Dewar’s Candy is set for Saturday, July 13 at 4:00 p.m. EST. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with presentation by Global SimRacing Channel.