By Justin Prince
Robert Maleczka III has continued his stretch of dominance in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel by winning his fifth race of the 2021 campaign.
The Factory Backed driver took the victory in the Minus 273 Pocono 200 Presented by HyperX on Sept. 13 after leading 19 of the 80 laps.
Chris Fowler, Matt Taylor, Barrett Rolph and Craig Forsythe rounded out the top five.
Maleczka III’s victory has now placed him inside the championship conversation despite missing several races. He exited iRacing’s virtual Pocono Raceway with a 59-point deficit to Rolph, the current championship leader.
“I think I just have to keep winning,” said Maleczka III from HyperX Victory Lane. “This race I got a ton of luck it seemed. That last run, everyone around me was either hitting the wall, wrecking or making insane saves like Chris (Fowler). I hope it looked good on the broadcast.”
As a result of various fuel strategies, Maleczka III was in 11th place shortly after his final pit stop on Lap 56. He eventually drafted up to the net lead group, which included Fowler, Rolph, Nick DeGroot, Luis Gonzalez Nuñez and Forsythe.
The race started to trend towards Maleczka III’s direction on Lap 61. Rolph and Fowler were fighting hard for seventh position on track hard into Turn 2. Fowler and Rolph entered the Tunnel Turn side-by-side. Fowler pinched the Ascari Autosport car, grazing his right side pod and sending him sliding out of the corner. Fowler weaved back and forth for several moments before being able to save his car without contact.
Maleczka III continued his charge on Lap 65. He drove around the outside of Rolph through Turn 3 to take away sixth position before setting his sights on Nunez and DeGroot, along with a lapped down car in Brian Beard.
Trouble struck entering the next corner however.
DeGroot nudged the rear tire of Beard’s car, spinning the silver and red car immediately. Beard locked up the brakes before being slammed into by both DeGroot and Nuñez. The impact sent Beard spinning back up the track into Nuñez again, connecting both cars as they slid into the outside SAFER barrier. Beard and Nuñez both made it into the infield grass without triggering a caution flag.
The incident moved Maleczka III into third place on track with Forsythe.
Forsythe, who drives for Team RaceVerse Black, did not back down.
Maleczka III attempted to dive underneath Forsythe several times entering the corners. The two drove side-by-side the entire way around the track on Lap 67.
By Lap 70, team strategies helped Maleczka III.
Alexis Newsome, who had been running one lap down, was reeled in by current leader Chris Stofer. Stofer had been trying to stretch his fuel significantly after having to pit earlier than most of the field early in the event.
When Stofer reached Newsome, she slowed her car down significantly down the straightaways, backing Stofer up to Forsythe and Maleczka III.
On Lap 71, both Forsythe and Maleczka III took advantage, making their battle for the overall race lead with 10 laps to go.
Then, with the two drivers coming to nine laps to go, Maleczka III got his best chance yet.
After lining up behind Forsythe coming out of Turn 3, the Factory Backed driver quickly drove by him down the frontstretch. Forsythe then slammed his right-side tires into the outside wall exiting Turn 1, ending his hopes at a victory.
Maleczka III went on to win by more than four seconds.
Next race, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to Iowa Speedway for the GRAAFix Esports 175 at Iowa Presented by Midwest Simulations on Sept. 20. Coverage will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and can be watched on tape delay on ESTV.