Once again, Andrew Kinsella proved to be too good when it mattered most, capturing the win in the season-opening First Medical Equipment 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It’s the second-consecutive season Kinsella has won the opener for the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I love Homestead, and hats off to Brian (Yaczik), that was fantastic racing,” Kinsella said.”I hope everyone enjoyed it, because it was basically wheel-to-wheel racing at the end.”
The first race in the new Dallara IR-18 was full of action, as drivers battled a car that appeared to handle even better than its predecessor, the DW-12, in traffic.
The result was evident from the beginning, with an uncharacteristically high amount of passing. 21 lead changes occurred among seven drivers, the final coming on lap 126 when Kinsella went around Brian Yaczik, who led a race-high 51 laps before settling for second.
“I was surprised Brian gave me the outside,” Kinsella said. “We were able to roll the outside really well once the tires wore out.”
Yaczik, still searching for his first Lionheart win, was disappointed.
“I burned my (tires) up on the bottom, and I know better, I know better, I know better,” Yaczik said after the race.”If I keep making these rookie mistakes, I’m not going to win one of these things. I knew that the top was the way to be, I knew it last week and I knew it in the practice race, and I just put the blinders on and cost myself a win.”
The close racing action saw a record seven cautions for 28 laps. The third yellow turned the race upside down. Polesitter Dan Geren, early leader Ian Adams, and top-five runners Pierre Daigle and Jason Galvin were all trapped a lap down after a caution flew at the beginning of the pit cycle on lap 43, when Christ Stofer turned James Krahula.
The quartet battled from outside the top 30 to the top 10 in the final 90 laps, but Geren’s race ended early with a crash on lap 116.
The mad dash to the finish saw Brandon Limkemann, who started 32nd, record a career-best third place.
“It was an exciting night, for sure,” Limkemann said. “This is a great start for the new team.”
The league sponsor led the way for the newly formed Synergy Motorsports, which leads the team standings after strong performances from Geren, Jorge Anzaldo (7th), and Ron Hacker (14th). Dustin Wardlow finished 37th after a mid-race crash.
Joe Branch came home fourth - putting two cars (Kinsella) in the top five for Adrenaline Motorsports - with Adams finishing fifth.
Galvin rebounded to sixth in his debut for defending team champion No Name Racing. After Anzaldo, Ken Hacker’s series debut ended in eighth, with Joe Hassert and Daigle joining teammate Galvin in the top ten.
The aforementioned crash that eliminated Wardlow also put pre-race favorite Chris Stofer and rookie Isaiah Dupre on the hauler. The crash occurred on lap 101 when Ed Tutwiler drifted into Stofer in a battle for third. Dupre and Wardlow ended up collateral damage in the wreck, the largest of the race.
Geren’s feverish comeback attempt ended after Anzaldo and Branch made contact in turn three with 17 laps remaining. An accordion followed, and Geren ended up tumbling through the air, ending his race.
26 of the 43 drivers finished on the lead lap, with 31 cars finishing the 133 lap race.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment goes short track racing next week, with the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The first short oval race for the IR-18 is sure to throw a twist into the event, won by Jonathan Goke last season. Goke is now deployed in the U.S. Air Force, opening the door for a new driver to take the checkered flag.
The Thumbs Up, Cancer Down 200 is set for Wednesday, April 4 at 10:35 p.m. EST.
On Thursday, April 5, the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation returns to the track with the first road course event of the year, the Clipping That Apex Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International, also set for a 10:35 p.m. EST start.
Both events, along with all Lionheart Racing Series events, can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel.
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.