In one of the most impressive displays of side-by-side racing in league history, Dan Geren held off James Krahula and Jason Robarge to earn his first win of 2017 Wednesday night in the “We’re there when you need us!” 150 at Twin Ring Motegi. It’s win number five in Geren’s Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment career.
“I’m still shaking,” Geren said from the virtual victory lane. “First that battle with Jason, I thought I could pull ahead of him but he stuck with me. And then with James, that battle, I don’t know how many laps side-by-side, but by God, thankful for that caution. I might’ve been a hair short on fuel.”
The race was slowed by just two cautions, including one with four laps remaining that robbed fans of a sure-to-be excellent finish between the top three, causing the event to finish under yellow. Rory Collins collected the turn two wall while trying to pass Vincent Bluthenthal, a caution Geren didn’t mind seeing.
“I think I was about 0.2 gallons to the positive, so it was going to be real close,” Geren said with a big grin.
Krahula and Geren ran side-by-side for a majority of the final 25 laps, after the second round of green flag pit stops sorted themselves out.
“I really wanted to stay down low, but I know exactly where I messed up,” Krahula said. “At one point Robarge got to us, and I thought he was still under Dan, so I was going to pinch him, I didn’t want to have to start racing Jason. And somehow Dan got clear and got past us.
“I’m really mad because I finished second and I wanted to win that thing, but when you run a race like that, you can’t be mad at all. That was just incredible.”
Robarge echoed the sentiments of his fellow podium drivers.
“To have a race like that, man that was amazing,” Robarge said. “I was trying to stay back and let them go at it, I thought the way they were racing they might wreck out, so with 10 laps to go I was going to gun it and go get them. It just didn’t work out.”
The first caution of the race came early, as Ian Adams and points leader Andrew Kinsella made contact battling for a spot in the top 20. The duo were entering turn three on the second lap when the contact occurred, with Adams backing into the wall, ending his race.
Michael Peters and Tyler Turnbull were also collected in the ensuing scramble.
From there, 90 green flag laps saw furious action throughout the pack. Jonathan Goke, Brandon Limkemann, Brian Yaczik, Jason Galvin and Jake Wright swapped positions for many of those laps. The group would bring up positions four through eight when the checkered flag flew.
Kinsella avoided damage in the Adams accident and battled to ninth, while Pierre Daigle quietly hung around the top 10 all race, and finished tenth.
Geren led a race-high 78 laps, with Krahula taking credit for five laps led and Robarge clicking off two up front during pit stops. Limkemann, Chris Lanini, Michael Gray, Joe Branch, Ryan Otis, Scott Bolster and Michael Goodmann all led laps during pit cycles.
34 of the 39 starters finished the event, with 23 cars on the lead lap.
Kinsella’s points lead stands at 18 over Yaczik, who moved up to second with his strong run. Goke sits third, with Michael Gray dropping to fourth and Limkemann still fifth after four rounds of racing.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads back stateside for the Dragonfly Racing Kentucky 200 on Wednesday, April 12 from Kentucky Speedway. Krahula is the defending race winner, and is looking for his first win of 2017 at the fast 1.5-mile tri-oval.
The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST Wednesday night. More information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series and its feeder leagues can be found at www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.