Fighting through tears after an emotional tribute to league admin Patrick Taylor, Dan Geren delivered a redemption drive for the ages to win the RaceCentre 100 at Australia’s Phillip Island.
“This win is for Patrick Taylor,” Geren said in an emotional victory lane interview. “Words cannot express how sad we all are of his passing, the shock is still here even a week later. We love him dearly, we miss him dearly, and this wins for Patrick.”
The race marked the first event for the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment since Taylor, a native of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, died following a brain aneurysm. The 35-year-old was remembered before the race with a two-lap salute, as race director Jesse Vincent paced the field in Taylor’s blue and grey No. 81. Drivers ran special rear wings with a memorial logo to honor Taylor, the inaugural winner of the Dan Wheldon Driver of the Year award in the series.
“This has just hit us so hard,” series founder Jorge Anzaldo said before the race. “Patrick meant so much to this league. Patrick did so much for this league that we will be forever grateful, and we will do everything in our power to continue to honor him for as long as the Lionheart IndyCar Series is in existence.”
Geren looked like a driver on a mission, leading all but two laps from the pole. In 2016, Geren appeared on his way to a win at Phillip Island, but a spin cost him the lead and the race, as he came home a close second to Jake Wright.
This time, Wright couldn’t find a way past Geren.
“Jake is a very tough person to race on a road course,” Geren said. “To best him finally, it’s just awesome.
Geren’s first career road course win propelled him into a tie with Wright in the championship battle.
“If I’m going to lose a race or the championship or anything, Dan is one of those people I’d be fine losing to,” Wright said. “Dan just dominated all week. I did everything I could to maybe pass him, but couldn’t.”
Brian Yaczik came home third, fending off challenges from Dustin Wardlow and Michael Goodman. The three crossed the line within one second of each other.
“I feel a little bit like I got some justice,” Yaczik said after the race. “I was probably going to finish on the podium back at Mosport and I sped on pit road. I had to come back and get me one.”
Only one major incident affected the race. With two laps remaining, Adam Blocker got into the back of Jason Robarge as the two battled for eighth. Blocker continued on, finishing 12th, but Robarge was unable to continue and fell to 29th.
James Krahula recovered from an early off-track incident to finish sixth. Andrew Kinsella drove from 15th starting spot to finish seventh. Jason Galvin, George Adams and Ryan Otis rounded out the top ten.
36 cars took the green flag. 16 cars finished on the lead lap, while 32 cars finished the race.
Wright and Geren extended the gap to third place Andrew Kinsella to 90 points. Goodman and Krahula round out the top five in the standings.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment now take a month off, before the #NailedIt 150 at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The time off will be good for the series, which continues to heal following the shocking death of one of its most popular drivers.
“Patrick will always be in our hearts, he will always be remembered, and he will always be our friend and our fellow Lionheart family member, and we cannot thank him enough,” Anzaldo said. “You were the best, and you were the glue that held this league together.”
Donations are being accepted on behalf of the Taylor family. You can donate by visiting www.PayPal.me/LionheartSeries.
The #NailedIt150 can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 7:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, September 13.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, as well as the Lionheart Retro Series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.