A performance for the ages was almost all for not, as Jake Wright sputtered to his fourth win of the season in the Premier Racing League 200 at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday night. The defending Lionheart IndyCar Seriespresented by First Medical Equipment champion led 125 of 133 laps, but a long green flag run to end the race saw Wright run out of fuel coming to the line, nearly throwing it all away.
“I was clutching it coming out of four,” said Wright, who extended his points lead with his first oval win of 2016. “It was fuel saving insanity down there. I have to tell you, that was one of the most stressful and most rewarding finishes I’ve had in my iRacing career just because of how close we were on fuel. But we made it, so that’s what matters.”
Wright held off his teammate, Brian Yaczik, to win by 0.179 seconds, as several other lead-lap cars ran dry on the final lap, shaking up the finishing order.
“I’m wore out,” Yaczik said. “That was intense. I was doing the fuel mileage, we were all groaning when that last caution came out…but the fuel mileage we got it right on the nose. We crossed the line with .01. I had the thing matted.”
James Krahula completed the No Name Racing sweep of the podium, the second time NNR has done so this year. But after making contact with Jason Robarge on the final restart on lap 97, Krahula was far from celebratory after the race.
“I wasn’t too worried about fuel, I knew I’d be able to make it,” Krahula said. “I got into the back of Robarge on the restart and ruined his night, I couldn’t feel worse about that. It kind of takes away all the feeling of a good finish when you screw up somebody else’s night.”
Robarge called it a racing deal after seeing a replay.
“I started to go, then I checked up,” said a frustrated driver, after battling back to tenth. “I tried to anticipate the start. It sucks.”
The race was slowed by five cautions for 21 laps, but it was a back straightaway melee on lap 61.
Racing for eighth, Ed Tutwiler appeared to catch the apron and slide up in front of last week’s winner Jason Galvin. Unable to avoid contact, Galvin bounced off Tutwiler and into the outside wall exiting turn two. His damaged Dallara then turned across the track, collecting Dan Geren, Patrick Taylor, Chris Stofer, Tony Showen and Dave Barber, ending the race for each involved.
Several other cars sustained damage in the wreck, and between the wreck and several ill-timed cautions, just 13 of the 37 cars completed all 133 laps.
Chris Lanini started last but used strategy to get up front and stay there, finishing fourth. Dylan Lee came from 22nd to fifth. Matthew Mercer, Joe Hassert, Bob Mikes, Joe Flanagan and Robarge rounded out the top ten. Robert Blouin, Brandon Limkemann and Vincent Bluthenthal were the others on the lead lap.
Wright’s point lead extends to 132 over Jonathan Goke, who fought issues all night and finished 17th. Krahula, Joe Branch and Geren complete the top five in points.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to Michigan International Speedway next week for round eleven. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday. For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.