All around America, short tracks around the country rumble every Wednesday throughout the summer with the sound of race car engines. From midgets to late models to modifieds nothing is better then spending the night at your local short track. Now it’s time for the Lionheart boys to get in on the action. It’s short track racing Lionheart style from ISM raceway for the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down Phoenix 200!
Last week at Kentucky, we had a first a first-time winner with Scotty Johnson taking his first ever Lionheart Victory. Johnson had stayed out as the caution came out at the tail end of the final pit cycle when Connor Harrington turned Jason Galvin down the back straight. The two had been running at the front for most of the race and would have cycled back to the front, however Harrington misjudged it as he tried to dive under Glavin, and turned the California driver into the wall. Ken Hacker also had his best ever Lionheart finish with his 2nd place effort, while reigning champ Adam Blocker turned a 41st qualifying position into a 3rd place result, showing the form that made him a champion last year. Dan Geren led the most laps, but only managed 4th after the late caution forced him to use his tires up just to get through the field to the leaders. Tony Showen rounded out the top 5.
In contrast to the high banks of Kentucky, the D shaped oval at ISM presents the next challenge Lionheart drivers will have with a short track. Last year it was Brian Yaczik tasting his first Lionheart victory at ISM. With 2 first time winners in 3 races already in 2019. The odds are in favour of another new winner happening a second time in 2 years at ISM.
Bryan Carey is so far the cream of the rookie crop. The Canadian has demonstrated that he can run consistently on ovals and is a threat on road courses. With 200 tricky laps at an oval where lifting will be a factor, maybe Carey will be able to apply his road course speed to his oval consistency and take the checkered flags at the end.
Or maybe it will be Michael Goodman. Goodman has been one of the most consistent drivers in Lionheart history, constantly knocking on the door of wins with top 5’s and top 10’s galore on his resume. Goodman has qualified at the front in all 3 races this season, however his last 2 have ended in heartbreak not of his own creation. Perhaps a short track race at Phoenix, a track similar to the Rock, where he took his all-star race win, will finally net him his first points paying Lionheart win.
But then there are the veterans who are looking to get wins of their own. Brian Yaczik is always dangerous and will be looking to defend his win. Andrew Kinsella has been up front at almost every short track in the past 2 seasons, however is another driver with a string of bad luck. Maybe this will be the day he breaks through and gets his first win of 2019. Jason Galvin is always fast and aggressive, and will be looking for revenge for his late race heartbreak at Kentucky.
James Krahula and Joe Branch are to consistent drivers who are known for fuel strategies of opposite ends. Krahula will pit early and often, while Branch will extend his tank past where most other drivers will. Both strategies can work depending on when the yellow flags fall, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of them near the front at the end if the yellows fall their way.
The final element all the drivers will have to contend with is the setup. After last years race saw a distinct inability to pass the leader in clean air, the Lionheart race engineer has taken away a substantial amount of downforce from the drivers, force the drivers to lift at both ends of the race track, even in clean air. This has been done in the hopes that the aero-push that prevent passes for the lead last year will be a thing of the past, however it also has resulted in many drivers needing to adapt their driving style to extract the most out of the set-up. It would not be surprising to see a few unknown names at the front of the field.
For all of the action from the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down Phoenix 200, tune in on Wednesday April 10th at 10:35pm eastern on the iRacing eSports Broadcasting Network present by the incomparable folks at GSRC!