The saying goes, “sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.” Chris Stofer was both Wednesday night, taking the win in the HPP Simulation 200 at Michigan International Speedway, his second win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
Stofer edged ahead of Michael Goodman as the second, and final caution flew with two laps remaining.
“I feel bad for (Michael Goodman), I didn’t even get to race it out with him,” Stofer said from victory lane. “But I’ll take the win. He and I swap drafted there and it was fun.”
Stofer led 41 laps, and Goodman led 26 more, as the duo dominated the event. Stofer edged ahead of Goodman on the front straight, and just as the leaders came to two laps remaining, the caution flew for James Paulson, who had contacted the wall in turn 2 and slid all the way to turn 3, before coming to a stop, unable to get off the track.
“It feels good regardless, I’m very happy,” Goodman said after his near-win. “I know this will sound corny, but I didn’t even care (that the yellow came out). I just wanted get a clean run in, and it was a good finish.”
For Stofer, the win was a bit of redemption. The Indianapolis-based driver previously won at Pocono, but the win was overshadowed by contact with Dave Barber while racing for the win. He completed just three laps in the season opener, and was buried in 15th in points before Michigan.
But Stofer left little doubt he’s prepared for a strong second half surge.
“I want to put that first half behind me, and just focus on the second half and see how much ground we can makeup in the standings,” Stofer said.
Dan Geren also benefitted from the timing of the caution, beating Jason Galvin for the final podium spot by virtue of location on the track.
“I had a lot higher hopes for that race,” Geren said. “But from what happened with me and Galvin earlier in the race, to him and I working together to get third and fourth, that was a fun race.”
On lap 10, Geren and Galvin were racing for fourth. Exiting turn 2, Geren pushed up and turned Galvin. The duo both slid low, Galvin nearly perpendicular to the pack. But somehow, both gathered it up and rebounded over the next 90 laps.
“I know Dan didn’t do that intentionally,” Galvin said after the race. “He’s so clean, he just pushed in the dirty air. I’m glad we saved it and rebounded, but it’s a shame. I really thought the two of us were the best cars.”
Andrew Kinsella finished fifth, part of a great run for Adrenaline Motorsports. Tony Showen finished seventh while leading eleven laps, and Joe Branch was eleventh.
The only other incident brought out the first caution, on lap four. Ed Tutwiler pushed into Woodrow Mahan in turn three, sparking a massive crash. Dustin Wardlow catapulted into the fence, and Jack Bogan, Frank Bieser and Marc Aumick were also collected.
On the restart, Goodman, Stofer and Showen jumped out front and remained there for a majority of the race. Showen shuffled back during green flag pit stops.
Pierre Daigle finished sixth, followed by Showen, Bob Mikes, Jake Wright and Ron Hacker.
Nine drivers swapped the lead 37 times.
Wright, the two-time defending series champion, leads Geren by 21 points. Kinsella is third, 30 points back of the lead.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway, for 150 head-spinning laps. The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, July 26.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.