By Justin Prince
Connor Harrington has won the OMA’s 200 at iRacing’s Kentucky Speedway, giving PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype its first team win in Lionheart Racing Series competition.
Harrington took the checkered flag under caution after leading 81 of the 134 laps in the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker event.
Andrew Kinsella, Jason Galvin, Jason Brophy and Adam Blocker rounded out the top five.
Harrington said the race as one of his most special victories in his sim racing career.
“Words can’t even describe it,” said Harrington from HyperX Victory Lane. “I’m just so happy for everyone at PRIVATE LABEL and Ethika as well as Ty Stover and Tommy Milner for putting their faith in myself and the team. I’m honoured and humbled to give them their first win in the Lionheart IndyCar Series.
“This is always a hard league to win races in, so to get one done tonight is very special.”
Harrington had to hold off a hard-charging Kinsella before the fourth and final caution of the race. Adrenaline Motorsports Red’s Kinsella, who was on seven-lap fresher tires, had closed the gap between him and Harrington from more than four seconds to under two with eight laps to go.
Kinsella then reached a wave of lapped traffic, costing him half a second before a crash on the frontstretch between Sage Karam and Tony Showen caused the fourth and final yellow of the race.
“I think the strategy was going to work out for us, but the lapped cars just didn’t fall our way,” said Kinsella.
Galvin, who passed Brophy right before the yellow, had to make his way through the field from 26th place.
“You had to have a versatile setup and that’s what we had,” said Galvin. “I worked the bars up and down and back and forth on the weight jacker and changed my line. It’s kind of exhausting … ultimately I’m just happy I got up there and got a little lucky and caught a caution at the right time, but the car was good.”
Adrenaline Motorsports Red, Black and Powerslide started with control of the race after their conglomerate qualified in first, second, third and fifth with Henry Bennett, Blocker, Bryan Carey and Kinsella respectively.
With the clean air, Bennett maintained control of the pack with Blocker. The two drivers pulled away by as much as a second from the rest of the field during the portions of the race.
“Line was really important (in qualifying),” said Kinsella. “We did make a small tool adjustment, but it wasn’t anything big. The big thing was finding the exact right line and finding a way to just not scrub the tires through the corner. If you had any sort of scrub, you were losing hundredths of a second per corner.
“If you could pull off a run without scrubbing too much, which fortunately four of us did up at the front, you were going to have a good starting position and I think it benefitted us throughout the race.”
That command of the field changed on Lap 35 when Chris Fowler snapped loose coming out of Turn 4. The Alkentech Simulations NHR e-Sports wiggled into the outside wall, scattering parts of his front wing and sidepod across the track. Brian Greenlee had to take evasive maneuvers during the incident by cutting through the infield grass.
It was the second yellow of the race.
Harrington and his teammate Joshua Chin had settled into third and fourth positions when they decided to stay out under caution. The decision gave Harrington his first lead of the night.
“We took a gamble at that caution. We figured it’d be the right play,” said Harrington. “We knew track position was going to be king and it’s a lot easier to separate out when you have a good teammate who is going to work with you instead of trying to race somebody.”
The third caution shuffled the field once more in the middle of the next green flag pit stop sequence when Carey had a technical issue going into Turn 3. He drove hard into the outside wall due to a headset failure while racing.
Harrington stayed on the lead lap and elected to not pit for tires, opting for the clean air.
Overall, 14 cars had to take the wave around to stay on the lead lap because of the timing of the yellow.
The Adrenaline cars were lined up in a row behind Harrington after the restart when traffic started to come into play.
“We were doing really good with Connor there after that last yellow, then Ricky Hardin came out in front of us and it’s really hard being the third guy in line, so Connor was able to get a really nice gap,” said Kinsella. “Then when he was pitting, we had a bunch of cars come out in front of us. Just when we needed to go, we had a whole bunch of dirty air. That put us even further behind … But overall, you have to be really happy with that race.”
Next, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by ButtKicker will be going to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the ButtKicker Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on May 19th at 10:35 p.m. EST.