Kansas has been the sight of some spectacular finishes in the Lionheart series. In 2016, the finish was so close the commentators didn’t even know who won initially. This year, the racing has also produced some spectacular moments, such as an Indy 500 decided by a scant 0.021 seconds. Put these 2 ingredients together and you virtually guarantee an awesome race. That might be why it is called the GSRC/Big Joe Show Spectacular.
But first things first; we have crowned a champion last week at New Hampshire. Adam Blocker won the crown the only way he knew how; by winning the race. This one was a fuel mileage run at the end, with the caution falling just outside the window to make it. A second caution 3 laps later made the last stint do-able, but required a lot of fuel saving to make it happen. Adam Blocker, Chris Stofer, Dan Geren and Andrew Kinsella all pitted on the first caution and stayed out on the second, and were able to stretch the fuel just far enough to finish in that order. Brian Yaczik and Justin Weaver pitted on the 2nd caution, but were unable to make up the lost ground, finishing 5th and 6th. The win mathematically guaranteed Blocker the title. With 3 races to spare, the defense came easier than the initial title for the Carolina driver, who had Dan Geren and Andrew Kinsella take him all the way to the final race last season.
This year so far it is the same order, but Geren and Kinsella will be racing for 2nd from here on in. Geren currently holds the lead over the Canadian by 90 points, however with 3 races, including 1 double points race, anything can still happen. Geren has finished 2nd in 3 straight title fights, while Kinsella has finished 3rd in both his Lionheart seasons. Neither should get to comfortable however. Closing in fast behind them is Brian Yaczik, who is having a 2nd half of the season to remember. 26th place after the first half, Yaczik has worked his way all the way up to 4th place, with some consistently stellar runs. Yaczik is 48 points back of Kinsella for 3rd, and is coming up fast.
Last week, we got our final short track out of the way, now we move on to our final 1.5-mile event. Aptly named, the Big Joe Show Spectacular, every year series regular Big Joe Hassert sponsors a race sure to produce an exciting finish. Last year Dan Geren barely beat Connor Harrington to the line, after a caution free race.
Besides Geren, Yaczik, Blocker and Kinsella, drivers to watch out for include Chris Stofer. Stofer finally got a podium after a long drought. Stofer finished a strong 3rd last year at Kansas, and it is very likely that he will be a factor at the end of this week’s race as well.
Connor Harrington is another driver that should be strong at Kansas. Harrington loves tracks where the draft is important, and that is definitely true of the Kansas Tri-Oval. Harrington to took the win earlier this year at another 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte. He will be looking to go one better compared to last year and take the top step of the podium.
Never to be overlooked at a track like this is Big Joe Hassert. The man who sponsor this race has done so with purpose. He is strong at tracks like Kansas and already has a win this year at the draft track at Michigan.
Draft races, however, often have another side to them. Sometimes it is not the fastest driver that wins, but the driver with the best fuel strategy. Joe Branch may be the best at the draft strategy. Several times this year, Branch has put himself in positions to succeed by playing the long game. Will this race be the one where it finally takes the Indiana driver to victory lane?
One other race to keep an eye on is the Rookie of the Year standings. Mike Rigney continues to lead Damon Martinez by 13 points John Hill is a further 44 points back, making this the tightest points battle for some meaningful prizes. $75 plus a Buttkicker, SimVibe Software key, and more await the winner of the rookie of the year crown, and as of right now, it is too close to call.
Tune in the Wednesday, November 20th for another installment of the best IndyCar action on iRacing. The race will go live at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network, presented by GSRC.