Justin Weaver avoided the final wreck of the race, and then roared away on a one-lap shootout to win the USMC Wounded Warrior 200 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was the first career Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment win for the Tennessee native, who also captured the pole.
“It feels great to win,” Weaver said. “Definitely have had a struggle this year, seems to be feast or famine and we feasted tonight baby!”
Weaver battled with Joe Hassert and Adam Blocker over the final stint in the race, taking the lead for good as Hassert slid up the track and contacted the wall in turn four with six laps remaining. The wreck also ended Brian Greenlee, Ron Hacker and Jason Galvin’s night.
“I knew Kinsella was going to be all over me there,” Weaver said. “I got a heck of a start there, that Ford motor for 8 Ball Motorsports gave me a good kick, and it was smooth sailing there at the end.”
Andrew Kinsella benefitted from the wreck, moving into second after starting 24th. But Weaver played the green-and-white restart perfect to pull away.
“I got a speeding penalty on pit exit, hit the button too soon,” Kinsella said. “I don’t know how I was able to recover to be honest. We had a car to win for sure.”
Brian Yaczik roared through the field after sustaining damage and needing to pit late in the race. The Michigan driver came home third, using fresh tires to slice his way through the field. Had the seventh - and final - caution not flown, Yaczik could have pulled off a Texas Two Step upset.
“That pit stop with thirty something to go, apparently we had rear wing damage,” Yaczik said. ”That wasn’t fun. And then I was kinda upset with that last caution. I was listening to Weaver and Kinsella, and had that gone green I was going to pass both of them. But oh well.”
Bob Mikes and Blocker rounded out the top five.
Kinsella extended his points lead to 17 over Blocker, his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate.
Dan Geren looked strong in the early going, leading a race-high 67 laps. But on lap 72, Hassert turned Geren going down the back straight, ending his night.
Dustin Wardlow and Ken Hacker also tangled, on lap 115. Hacker appeared to push out of turn two, making contact with Wardlow and sending the Dewar’s Candy machine flipping into the fence.
Hassert led 36 laps, while Weaver paced 22 laps. Blocker, Tyler Graaf and Robert Blouin also led laps.
20 drivers finished on the lead lap. Jorge Anzaldo was the first car a lap down, after being hit by Matthew Mercer on lap 101.
Anzaldo was attempting to follow Pierre Daigle and Jason Galvin into the pits when Mercer made contact. Anzaldo’s crew fixed the car, but not before he lost a lap. Daigle finished two laps down after receiving a black flag on the restart, and then a pit speeding penalty. Galvin received an end of the line penalty and was racing back towards the front when contact in the Hassert wreck ended a top ten run.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Europe now for its debut at the legendary Circuit de Spa Francorchamps.
The HPP Simulation Grand Prix of Belgium is set for Wednesday, September 12 and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network, broadcasted by the Global SimRacing Channel, at 10:35 p.m. EST.