Andrew Kinsella heard the talk, but he didn’t listen. Everyone said a wily veteran would win the season opener for the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment at the challenging Homestead-Miami Speedway. Instead, it was a rookie in his series debut capturing the checkered flag in the First Medical Equipment 200 Wednesday evening, holding off Pierre Daigle on a green-white-checker finish.
“What a race,” Kinsella said from the virtual victory lane. “I knew as long as I got about three tenths on that last restart I could hold off Pierre. And I got a good jump, so I felt good about making him work the outside and I knew I had the tires.”
It was a bumpy race for Kinsella, who nearly had his race ended on lap 48. While battling in turn one, Rory Collins came down the track as Kinsella was exiting the turn. The two touched, and Kinsella gathered it up while Collins careened off the outside wall, ending his race.
A long green flag run saw Kinsella take advantage of short pitting to work his way through the field. The Canadian had a three second lead when the third and final caution of the night flew for a half-spin by Jason Galvin on pit exit. But countrymate Daigle was unable to close the gap during the final two lap sprint to the finish.
“It feels good, starting off the year with a second place finish feels good,” said Daigle, who won both practice events leading up to Wednesday’s show. “There’s a part of me that’s disappointed, but I have to be happy with this...it was a great start.”
Dan Geren led a race-high 74 laps from the pole, but settled for third.
“I thought I was going to have something at the end, but that definitely wasn’t the case,” Geren said. “I was pulling for Pierre to get that first win...just another one slipped by him.”
Brandon Limkemann and Michael Gray rounded out the top five. Defending series champion Jake Wright brought out the first caution on lap 4 when, while racing Limkemann for second place, a freak incident brought on by a connection issue in the race server caused the two to collide. Wright slammed the wall, ending his race. Limkemann escaped without damage.
Wright finished 36th, just ahead of Jared and Tyler Turnbull, who wrecked avoiding Wright, and Chris Stofer, who finished last after catching the wall in turn two on lap 3.
20 cars finished on the lead lap of a race slowed for just 12 laps by cautions. 12 drivers swapped the lead 19 times. Three quarters of the field earned bonus points for a clean race.
Kinsella leads the points heading to round two of the fifth Lionheart season. The Thumbs Up, Cancer Down 150 at Phoenix International Raceway is set for Wednesday, March 15 and can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 7:40 p.m. EST.
The Lionheart Retro Series returns the following night, also at 7:40 p.m. EST on GSRC with the Pocono 250, the first Triple Crown event in series history. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, head to www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.