In his final race before deploying for another tour with the United States Air Force, Jonathan Goke fended off challenges from Jason Galvin and Team #nailedit teammates Ian Adams and Michael Gray to win the Monster Mile Challenge at Dover International Speedway, his fourth win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“Me and Ian were talking the whole time, and I was defending against him” Goke said. “I hate defending against my teammate like that, but you have to do it if you want to win.”
“I hate this style of racing, but if you want to win, you have to keep the bottom.”
A caution with three laps remaining sealed the win for Goke, who led a race-high 66 laps. But it was Galvin who tried to ruin the going away party, leading 50 laps and bearing down on Goke in the final laps before a caution with two laps remaining ended the event.
“The car was hooked up, I could put the car wherever I wanted all race,” Galvin said. “I think I was the only person who could pass Goke and Ian. I’m a little frustrated with a certain someone...they didn’t finish in the top three...I get what Goke is saying about running the bottom, but when you get inside someone and they put you in the wall, it’s frustrating.”
At one point, Team #nailedit drivers occupied the first four spots. Pit strategy moved Gray to the front of the pack with 45 laps to go, and Dan Geren snuck past Galvin on a restart. But the AGR Motorsports driver was able to slide back around Geren, before a thrilling battle with Gray. For nearly 30 laps, Gray protected the bottom. The two touched on lap 137, with Galvin scraping the pit wall on the front straight.
On the final restart, Galvin made his move, driving past Gray and then Adams, when the second place driver pushed in turn three while trying to make a move for the lead.
But a crash involving Pierre Daigle, Robert Blouin and Joe Flanagan on lap 147 assured Goke he would go out on top.
Adams held on for third, edging Joe Hassert. Jason Robarge took fifth. Gray dropped to seventh, just behind Geren.
“The car was running great today, we felt good and finally got the pole out the way, two weeks in a row the first pole and the first win,” said Adams, who won at Iowa last week. “I was trying to maybe make the outside work there at the very end and try and get the nose on him and make him have to lift and get a quick caution...it was just a great run.”
George Adams, Ryan Otis and Chris Stofer rounded out the top 10.
The race saw 19 lead changes, with six drivers swapping the top spot. Galvin led 50 laps, Gray 17 and Adams 15. James Krahula and Alfred Shepperd each led a lap under yellow.
10 cautions slowed the race for 38 laps, including a big wreck on lap 39, ending Bob Obrohta’s night and severely damaging Bob Mikes and championship leader Jake Wright.
Wright’s point lead dropped to 164 with his 33rd place finish. Goke moved past Geren into second, but that will change with the departure of the defending iRacing Fixed Indy champion. Goke said he should be back in time to compete for the championship in 2017.
In the post-race media session, Galvin wished Goke well during his deployment.
“I have grown immense respect for Jonathan Goke,” Galvin said. “We’re going to miss him. Losing him to deployment is a big loss to this league. We can’t thank him enough and everyone else in this league that has served this country, Trevor Bisset and Vincent Bluthenthal, anyone else who I don’t know about off the top of my head, we can’t thank them enough for doing what I didn’t have the courage or bravery to do. I hope he stays safe over there and I’m going to miss racing him like crazy over the next couple of month. I can’t wait to get him back next season.”
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment take a week off before returning for its final road course event of 2016, the Indy GP of Monterey on the beautiful Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The event can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on October 12. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.