The Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX has developed a reputation for being the toughest fixed IndyCar league in iRacing.
Wednesday night might have proven that this year, the competition has soared to unimaginable heights.
Chris Stofer held off furious charges from Michael Goodman and Jason Galvin to win the Oma’s Kentucky 200 at the virtual Kentucky Speedway, marking the fourth different winner in four events this season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.
“I just kinda got lucky in a way of picking the right line at the right time,” Stofer said, who won for the fifth time in his Lionheart career. “I tried to run where others weren’t running, keep that clean air on the nose. It paid off in the end.”
Stofer roared to the front of the field after starting 28th, bringing 19th starting Galvin with him, and by mid-race, the duo had launched an assault on Goodman for the lead.
After a flurry of late-race cautions, Stofer held off Goodman and Galvin’s repeated attacks until a final yellow on lap 132 caused the race to end behind the pace car.
“That was a lot of fun driving up through the field like that,” Stofer said. “I had a terrible qualifying effort and started in the back, and just wanted to avoid any wrecks. I was happy with the way everything worked out tonight.”
The race ran caution-free for the opening 113 laps, allowing Goodman to pace the field early and battle for the lead once Stofer and Galvin arrived. But the wrecks at the end of the race hampered any shot Goodman had at getting back around Stofer.
“As you could tell, I was pretty fast, just a lot of stuff going on at one time,” Goodman said. “Just to be able to finish the race and finish where I did, I’m definitely pleased with it.”
Galvin made quick work of the field early, and by the end of the first pit cycle found himself battling for the lead. The California driver said he was too willing to give up the lead to Stofer, assuming the race would run clean to the finish, and was just in the wrong spot at the end of the race.
“I knew from practice we’d be good, and last year we led a bunch here and got wrecked near the end,” Galvin said. “So I felt good about tonight. There’s one moment I’d like to have back, but it all worked out in the end.”
NTT IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam finished fourth, while Connor Harrington reclaimed the points lead with a fifth-place finish.
The first caution of the race came on lap 113, and eliminated two of the best cars in the race - and had potentially devastating championship implications - when then third place Goodman was late to slow for pit road, causing Joe Hassert to crash into Adam Blocker.
Both cars careened off the wall, flipping back towards the grass off turn four. After running in the top-five all event, the duo finished 37th and 38th, the last two cars in the field.
The wreck could be especially bad news for Blocker, who missed the season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway while attending the since-cancelled IndyCar event at St. Petersburg, Fla. The two-time defending series champion has now essentially used both of his drop weeks, just 20 percent into the season.
Following the wreck between Hassert and Blocker, the field failed to gain any momentum again.
On the ensuing restart on lao 118, Josh Chin - who entered the night as the points leader - tried to squeeze three-wide with Ken Hacker and Joe Branch. Hacker and Chin touched wheels, and Hacker crashed into Brian Beard to bring out the second yellow.
With 10 laps remaining, the third caution flag flew when Scott Holmes encountered connection issues, causing him to be hit by several other cars and crash.
The race-ending caution flew with three laps remaining, when teammates Andrew Kinsella and Tony Showen got together while running in fourth and fifth. Kinsella spun into Brandon Limkemann, ending strong runs for both drivers.
The race featured 25 lead changes among seven drivers, with Goodman leading a race-high 69 laps from the pole.
27 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Harrington’s third top-five of the season gives him a two point advantage over Goodman. Stofer jumped to third in the standings, while Chin slid to fourth, still just seven points out of the lead.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment is set to take three weeks off before returning for its first triple crown event of the season on Sunday, April 26 at Michigan Speedway.
The Lionheart Michigan 500 presented by ButtKicker is set for a 6 p.m. EST green flag, and the event can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action.