A new championship contender has officially arrived.
Two weeks after securing his first career victory in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker, Marc Cohn backed it up with a thrilling win over league veteran Dustin Wardlow in the Sinbad Vapors 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The pair were wheel-to-wheel when the final caution came out with two laps remaining, with Cohn roughly a half-car length ahead.
“Oh my gosh, thank you to Dustin,” Cohn said after jumping out of the virtual Lotus L79. “That was some of the best racing I’ve had in a long time.”
Cohn and Wardlow battled throughout the final stint in the event, swapping the lead on several occasions.
“I have no idea how I got in front of him,” Cohn said. “I was struggling so much on the bottom. I thought it was going to end up being a photo finish to the line.”
Wardlow appeared poised to break through for his first win of 2019, after being wrecked out of the top five in three consecutive events.
But the Raven Motorsports driver had to settle for second as the final yellow flew for a wreck in turn four, when David Altman spun and collected two others.
“After the season I’ve had thus far, I’m totally thrilled with this,” said Wardlow, who led a race-high 49 laps. “Marc ran a really good, clean, hard race and that’s all anyone is asking for.”
Justin Kirby came home with a somewhat controversial third place finish, after contact with Joe Hassert on lap 141 sent the Motegi winner flying into the wall in turn two.
“I feel terrible about that,” Kirby said. “I thought it was a racing deal but I still feel bad about it.
“Hopefully we can keep running up front though. It was fun.”
Kirby was not penalized after race control ruled the duo made corresponding moves towards each other.
Points leader Ryan Otis came home fourth, with Mike Rigney completing the top five.
The race was slowed by eleven cautions for 40 laps, and the action started early.
Lionel Calisto didn’t make it out of turn two on the opening lap, after starting at the rear of the field. Calisto attempted to pass the slower Robert Blouin on the outside, but cut it too close and contact sent the man they call Little Train careening off the wall.
Sage Karam entered the race looking to rebound from an early crash at Motegi and reclaim the points lead, but contact with the wall exiting turn two led to a spin and Ken Hacker could not miss the wreck.
Both drivers retired after just 28 laps.
Karam maintained second in points, 50 back of Otis. George Sandman sits third, with Cohn up eight spots to the fourth position in points, 73 out of the lead.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker now gets a month break, before gearing up for the first Triple Crown event of the year.
The Pocono 250 presented by DMLC Racing Channel is scheduled for Thursday, June 13. The broadcast is set to begin at 10:35 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel handling production.
The drought is over. Big Joe Hassert returned to victory lane for the first time since 2017, edging Dean Moll to the finish in the SimXperience 175 at Twin Ring Motegi.
It was the first win for Hassert since the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker season finale at Auto Club Speedway in November of 2017.
“It’s been way too long,” Hassert said. “It was a tough one, holy cow. I was on the edge of my seat.”
Hassert led a race-high 26 laps and recaptured the lead for the final time on a restart with six laps to go.
“I hope I lived up to my name tonight,” said Hassert, whose self-appointed moniker ‘The Big Joe Show’ has long indicated moments of spectacular passing on oval tracks. “I was able to - I don’t know how, I was sideways a few times - I was able to get to the front in three and four. I made sure I had the lane I wanted in three. It was a tough one.”
Moll had a career night, leading 18 laps. But he was unable to hold off the determined and experience Hassert on the final restart.
“That was an intense race,” Moll said. “Congrats to Joe on the win. Hopefully we put on a good show. It was entertaining in the car. I had the situation I wanted. I wanted the inside in three and Joe just stuck it on the outside and made it work.”
Taft Baldwin continued his stellar rookie campaign with a third place finish. Baldwin led 19 laps and dominated a stretch along with teammate Lionel Calisto, who wrecked out late in the race.
“I was about half a car width from taking the lead and Joe took my line going into three,” Baldwin said. “Joe knew what I was doing and took the line from me. It was a lot of fun.”
Points leader Ryan Otis and Paul Jenkins rounded out the top five.
10 drivers officially exchanged the lead 27 times, with numerous more passes up front throughout the race, in what turned into an action-packed battle. The lead pack routinely raced three and four wide down the back straight.
Eight cautions slowed the race for 32 laps, and the calamity started early.
Points leader Sage Karam caught the wall on lap six as the pack exited the final turn. Miraculously, only four other cars were involved.
ISM Raceway winner Marc Cohn was unable to avoid Karam, ending the race for both drivers. Dustin Wardlow was turned around but somehow missed the wall. The spin, however, relegated a strong Wardlow to the back of the pack.
Wardlow was able to battle all the way back to second, behind Stefan Schlacher - who used fuel strategy to get out front - but with two laps left in the tank, the light L79 caught went around entering turn three.
Wardlow had nowhere to go, in a wreck mirroring one at ISM Raceway one week earlier. The multi-time Retro race winner was left to wonder what might have been for a second consecutive race.
Joshua Gayman, Chris Lanini, Pat Dotson and others were also involved.
The final caution came with eleven laps remaining, when David Altman drifted up into Calisto. Jorge Anzaldo was on the outside of a three-wide battle, and all three cars careened into the wall in turn three.
Otis catapulted over Karam into the points lead. The pair are separated by 14 points. George Sandman is third, 38 points out of the lead.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker heads to Gateway Motorsports Park Thursday night for the Sinbad Vapors 200. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with presentation by Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.
The tracks may look very similar, but they couldn’t be more different in how they drive. Last week, the Lionheart Retro Series was at Motegi; an egg-shaped oval, where a thrilling finish saw Big Joe Hassert hold off a charging Dean Moll for the win. This week the are at the also egg-shaped Gateway Motorsports Park for the Sinbad Vapors 200.
The two tracks however, similar the track map might look, are very different. Gateway is smaller, narrower, tighter and bumpier. Where last week saw 3 for 4 and even 5 wide moments. This week anything more then 2 wide will be a crowd. The track is also flipped in comparison to Motegi. Turns 1 and 2 are the tight ones here, meaning that drivers have a long flat-out section between the exit of turn 2 and the finish line where they will be going flat out to try and beat their opponent to the line. The banking to is less pronounced, especially in turns 3 and 4. The driver who wins this one will be the driver who matches patience with aggression and opportunism. It won’t be easy.
Last week Joe Hassert made the last few laps lot a lot easier than they were in reality. Dean Moll, Taft Baldwin, Ryan Otis and Paul Jenkins all tried, but none could get by the veteran Lionheart driver, as Hassert captured his first win in any Lionheart series since 2017. Moll made it close at the line, but ultimately had to settle for 2nd while Baldwin managed to get around Otis for 3rd. Both Hassert and Moll moved up 10 spots in the championship into 7th and 8th respectively, and both will be looking to continue that momentum.
Despite missing the podium, Otis managed to take over the championship lead from Sage Karam as the Coanda SimSport driver had another rough race, this time of his own doing. Karam pushed wide coming out of 4 and caught the wall, spinning back into traffic and collecting a number of drivers including the previous rounds winner Marc Cohn. Dustin Wardlow was caught by a spinning car while running up front for the 2nd week in a row. All 3 drivers will be looking to bounce back at Gateway.
George Sandman had a quietly consistent run at Motegi, and found himself 6th when all the dust settled. This performance saw the road course veteran tighten his hold on 3rd in the championship. With more consistent finishes like this on ovals, neither Otis nor Karam should discount Sandman’s push towards the championship.
Newcomers Taft Baldwin and Chad Dalton are 2 rookies who have really shown some speed this season. Baldwin already has a poll, while Dalton has shown himself to be adept at driving through the field. These are 2 rookies to keep an eye on.
Speaking of rookies, this season saw a record number of rookies take the grid, and it shows in the results column. 31 of 45 drivers have already recorded at least 1 top 10 this season through 5 races. These races are truly anybody’s to win, and although a few drivers have run consistently at the front, no one has finished consistently there yet. We have a long way to go, and everything still to race for this season.
The Sinbad Vapours 200 will fire off this Thursday, May 16th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern. Tune in to the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC to catch all the action.
Timing was everything at ISM Raceway last Thursday for the Sam Maxwell Customs 175. When to push? When to lay back? When to pit? For Marc “the Watchman” Cohn, the timing was perfect, as the rookie scored his first Lionheart Retro Series win. Cohn even picked the perfect race to win, as his personal sponsor, Sam Maxwell Customs, was also the title sponsor of the event. The moment was not lost on Cohn: “To win at Sam’s race, when Sam has done so much for me, I’m just trying not to cry right now, because this is the pinnacle of my racing career.”
Cohn came steadily through the field from an 8th starting spot, and was in just the right position when leader Dylan McKenna spun on lap 146 entering turn 1. Collected McKenna’s wreck were 2 of the fastest cars on the day in Dustin Wardlow and Sage Karam. Cohn, running just behind the pair was able to squeak through and inherited the lead. “Honestly I don’t know (how I got through that wreck) because I had been trying for laps and laps to try and get by Dustin and Sage.” But get through he did, and from there it was a matter of playing defence as Cohn managed to keep the cars David Altman and Ryan Otis at bay. The win saw Cohn rise a whopping 15 spots in the championship standings to 7th place. Otis meanwhile cut Karam’s lead in half to just 20 points.
Rounding out the top 5 were solid drivers from Dean Moll and Chad Dalton. Dalton especially had a solid drive from 23rd on the starting grid, and is the main reason the iRacing Today Motorports driver finds himself 4th in points behind Karam, Otis and George Sandman.
In the team championship, Firefly Motorports, lead by strong finishes from David Altman and Frank Bieser carried the day with 117 points, 3 points better than NLR Sim Racing lead by race winner Marc Cohn. Overall, Raven Motorsports Black still leads the way by 85 points over NLR, but they can’t afford to many stumbles.
This was a race of attrition as only 11 of 33 starters finished on the lead lap. It started off with an unfortunate netcode incident involving series founder Jorge Anzaldo and ended with a caution involving Joshua Gayman and George Sandman. Between those 2 events 11 cautions slowed the race for 43 laps.
If the drivers are hoping for relief however, the schedule makers at Lionheart have other ideas, as the series travels to Japan for their annual visit to Twin Ring Motegi, which is famous for it’s 4-wide action down the straights at speeds approaching 180mph.
Tune in this Thursday, May 9th, 2019 for the SimXperience 175 from Twin Ring Moteig, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
After a long night in Phoenix last week, the sun is rising on a new day this week in Japan as the Retro Series visits Twin Ring Motegi for the SimXperience 175. If you have yet to see a Retro Series race at the famous egg-shaped Japanese oval, then boy have you missed out. The Cosworth Engines, 70’s ground effects chassis and flat, smooth racing surface combine for some can’t miss viewing, with 4 and some times 5 wide racing down the back stretch before it all funnels down into 2 lanes at the tight turns 3 and 4. If there is one race other then Indy you can’t miss this season, it would be Motegi.
Last week at ISM Raceway, it was the Watchman, Marc Cohn taking home his maiden Lionheart Retro Series victory. The NLR driver avoided some late race carnage to come home with the win over veterans David Altman and Ryan Otis. Dean Moll and Chad Dalton rounded out the top 5. This result vaulted Cohn up 15 spots in the championship into 7th place. Otis meanwhile cut into Sage Karam’s early championship lead, pulling within 25 points.
Form a short, narrow 1 mile oval, the Retro drivers now travel to a wide open 1.5 mile oval with high banks and even higher speed. Draft will be in full effect for the first time this season, with the drivers expecting regular 3 wide racing down the back straight.
Marc Cohn will certainly be looking to continue his momentum from last week into the Motegi race, and while Cohn is a rookie in the Retro series, he is no stranger to the Motegi Oval, having piloted a Nissan GTP to victory in the offseason Challenge Series here. Cohn has shown he is no slouch in the draft, and will certainly be considered one of the favourites for this week.
Few drivers remain from last years race who have experienced this before, but one of those is the defending race winner Alex Saunders. Saunders, however, has real life commitments that may or may not allow him to race for the 2nd straight week. One driver from that race last year who will be there and knows his way around the draft is Big Joe Hassert. Hassert finished 3rd last season and was challenging for the lead when the caution came out with 3 to go. Look for Hassert to use his draft expertise to be at the front again this week.
Draft racing can often produce unconventional winners, and Lionheart has a history of strong debuts from talented rookies. Both of these factors could work in rookie Pat Dotson’s favour. Dotson is an experienced sim racer and the creator of the GS-5 racing seat from SimXperience, who also happen to be sponsoring the event. No pressure Pat! Pat will be joining HolGan Racing for the remainder of the season. With Daren Gangi and Scott Holmes.
Last week may have been a dream for Marc Cohn, but it was a nightmare for Sage Karam and Dustin Wardlow. The pair were up front for nearly the entire race, until with just under 30 laps to go a spin by then-leader Dylan McKenna took out both contenders. Both will be looking for better luck at Motegi.
Catch all the action from the SimXperience 175 this Thursday, May 9th at 10:35pm Eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
As the sun sets over the Phoenix hills this Thursday night, it will be setting on the first night race of the season for the Lionheart Retro Series competitors. Some say that when it does, the hills glow with an almost god-like fire. By the end of the night, however, the only fire will be in the Cosworth DFS engines, as they scream towards the checkered flag at the Sam Maxwell Customs 175 from ISM Raceway.
Last time out at Sebring International Raceway, it was Sage Karam dusting the field for a second race in a row. Karam has quickly established himself as the man to beat on the road courses this season. The fight for best of the rest, however was very close till the end, as 2nd through 5th were separated by a scant 3 seconds. Debutant Dave Walsh started his Retro career well with a 2nd place finish over George Sandman, Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis.
After 3 races, we have come to 2 conclusions. One, Sage Karam will be extremely hard to beat on road courses this year. Two, this might be the tightest, most balanced field the Lionheart series has ever seen. While Karam is out in the points lead by 39 points over Ryan Otis, on the back of 2 road course wins, the gap between 2nd place Otis and 12th place Chris Lanini is separated by only 40 further points. With a series of ovals coming, it will be interesting to see if Karam can manage to hold back all the would-be title challengers until the next road course, 4 rounds from now.
A mix of rookies and veterans alike are hoping they will be the one to break away from the pack and mount a serious challenge to Karam, starting with round 1 winner, Alex Saunders. Saunders lies 3rd in the championship, and rebounded nicely in Sebring after crashing out at Watkins Glen. Saunders is looking to get his title run on track and can’t afford to let Karam get to big a lead too early in the season.
Veteran Ryan Otis and rookie George Sandman are 2 drivers who will be sorry to see the road courses go. Both managed to finish in the top 5 at the previous 2 road events, and will now be hoping that their disappointing round 1 results are the exception rather then the rule.
The back half of the top 10 in points is populated with drivers who have found success in consistency rather then outright speed. Paul Jenkins, followed by the Raven Motorsports teammates of James Paulson, and league founder Jorge Anzaldo, and Travis Jegerlehner have all used consistency over outright speed to cement their early stake on the top 10 in points. But now we travel to phoenix, where drafting and speed are the order of the day. Will these drivers be able to translate their quiet consistent performance onto the frantic mile oval?
Finally, we need to look at some of the hard-luck stories so far. Richie Hearn and Lionel Calisto have both shown the speed to be at the front, but have been hard pressed to put it all together on race day. Sometimes the chaotic nature of oval racing, where instinct often overtakes logic, is just enough to turn a driver’s luck from bad to good. These two drivers could sure use a good finish to get their campaigns back on track.
This year, after two seasons at the old configuration, the Retro Series will run at the new version of ISM Speedway, as for the first time ever, this race becomes a night race. The shifting light as the track transitions into the darkness will add a new layer to what is already promising to be a spectacular race.
To witness all the action first hand, tune in Thursday May 2nd at 10:35pm Eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Sage Karam continued his early season stranglehold on the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker, leading all 34 laps in an easy win during the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Sebring Thursday night.
It was the second win and third top five in as many races for the NTT IndyCar Series driver preparing for his sixth Indianapolis 500.
“This is always a tough track to handle, especially in these cars,” Karam said. “I was lucky enough to break the draft early, that’s kind of the name of the game in theses cars.”
Karam sat on the pole and jumped out in front right away following a restart on lap four, finishing 22 seconds ahead of second place Dave Walsh.
“I had a really good race start and then we had that yellow,” Karam said. “But I had just as good of a restart, so I just put my head down and ran clean laps.”
Walsh was stuck in a hornets nest on the final laps, edging George Sandman by 0.42 seconds for second.
“I was very inconsistent,” Walsh said. “I finally got past Ryan Otis. On the last lap, I got run off the track by a lapped car and George pushed me the rest of the lap. It was closer than it needed to be.”
Sandman had his mirrors full as well, with Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis both finishing within 2.5 seconds.
“I didn’t do as good as I thought I could in qualifying,” Sandman said. “It was slippery out there, and the yellow took away the fuel savings and I think I could’ve done better with that.”
Eleven of the 34 starters finished on the lead lap, in a race that featured a rare full-course caution on a road course.
As the field exited turn one, J.P. Windschitl tagged the back of Justin Weaver. The duo were racing in the back half of the top ten.
As they spun across the field with 20 plus cars coming, race control threw the caution to avoid others wrecking to avoid.
After the restart, the race ran fairly clean.
Karam leads Otis by 39 points, with Saunders another six behind, after three rounds.
The fourth race on the 18 event calendar heads to the Valley of the Sun and ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Sam Maxwell Customs 175 is scheduled for Thursday, May 2 with a 10:35 p.m. EST start on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action.
28 Days Later
It’s been 28 days since Sage Karam put on a dominating display at the SimXperience Grand Prix at the Glen. While the movie of the same name was a horror film, the 28 days the rest of the field had to practice their road course game was sorely needed as Karam dominated the Glen race. Ryan Otis, one of the strongest road drivers in Lionheart finished the 37 lap event 24 seconds back. George Sandman, a rookie with a large amount of road racing experience finished 36 seconds back. Overall only 10 cars finished on the lead lap. The Lionheart Retro field is hoping that the horror of the Glen will give rise to a new day at Round 3, the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Sebring.
Based on last round’s display, it would be difficult to look at contenders beyond Karam, however 2 that can’t be overlooked are Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis. Word in the paddock is that Saunders has another commitment that may keep him from racing. He made an uncharacteristic mistake at the Glen, so if he can make the race look for it to be a very motivated Alex Saunders. Otis meanwhile had a solid display and ran with Karam for a little while. Where the Glen was smooth and flowing, Sebring will be tight and bumpy. Will this play into Otis’ hand?
Three rookies to look out for on Thursday night are J.P. Windschitl, Richie Hearn, and Lionel Calisto. Windschitl has been fast in practice, while Richie Hearn was fast at Watkins Glen before running into some issues and retiring. Calisto, meanwhile, was able to recover from his mistake, albeit 3 laps down due to a tow. Despite this fact, he was setting lap times that would have put him in the top 10. If these 3 can make it through the full event, look for them to be at or near the front.
Speaking of making it through events, so far only 2 drivers not named Sage Karam have managed to finish in the top 10 in both races so far. Dustin Wardlow and Chris Lanini are both names readers and viewers of the Lionheart series should recognize. Both well understand the value of finishing a race above all else, and find themselves 3rd and 8th respectively in the points because of this. As some of the rookies learn this lesson the hard way, Wardlow and Lanini are already off to excellent starts to the season.
In the team standings, Raven Motorsports Black is off to very strong start to the season thank to the efforts of Otis, Wardlow and James Paulson, who are 2nd, 3rd and 6th in the main championship with 2 races down. Already 74 points back is NLR Sim Racing, while Raven Motorports Silver is a further 28 points back. From there down, however, things get crowded, as 3rd through 16th are separated by less the 100 points. All it will take is a couple bad races for the Raven Black team, and this could easily turn into any teams championship.
This Lionheart Retro Series season is just a couple rounds old, and already plenty of intrigue is developing. So far the veterans are dominating, but with so many rookies in the field, that won’t last forever. Sebring will be a tough test for rookies and veteran alike, as this is the first time the Retro series has raced on the track. The long bumpy airport runways and the tight twisty road sections will both test these L79 drivers in equal measure.
Who will be triumphant at the end? Will it be Karam, Otis or Saunders? Or will it be a rookie, staking his claim on the Retro Series. Tune in Thursday April 18th at 10:35pm eastern to find out, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Despite a record number of rookies in the field, it was 2 wily veterans of the Lionheart Retro series who were battling wheel to wheel for the win last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis, the two most decorated Retro Series presented by ButtKicker drivers in the field, found themselves at the pointy end of the field in the closing stages. Wheel to wheel they raced for laps on end, until, with just 5 laps to go, they touched wheels and Otis was spinning down into the apron. For a minute it looked like the race would stay green, however the caution did fly, and Alex Saunders started the 2019 season exactly where he ended the 2018 season; in victory lane. 2nd went to rookie Nathan Lewis, a very strong debut for the 10-50 Barbanera Racing driver, while Lionheart founder Jorge Anzaldo go his season off to the right start with his first ever Retro podium in 3rd. Ken Hacker and Sage Karam rounded out the top 5.
It’s a short turn around for the Retro drivers, as round 2 comes just one week later. From last weeks high speed oval, the Retro series now travel to one of the fastest road courses on the schedule; Watkins Glen. The SimXperience Grand Prix at the Glen sees Alex Saunders return to the scene of his maiden Retro victory one year ago.
This year might be tougher sledding for the road course ace, however. True, arch nemesis Adam Blocker is no longer in the series, however there are no shortage of strong road course drivers waiting to take his place.
We have already witnessed what Sage Karam can do on a road courses as he beat both Blocker and Saunders on the streets of Montreal. The glen is much different beast, however, as the tight chicanes are replaced by fast sweeping corners. Similarly, the Charlotte roval, site of Karam’s all-star domination is a tight slow course. Will Sage be able to build on his top 5 in Round 1 and his All-Star race victory, or will the nature of the course play into the hands of others?
Some of the drivers looking to hit the reset button early in the season are Justin Kirby, Josh Gayman and George Sandman. All 3 finished outside the top 20 in Homestead, however all 3 also know that they can do much better, particularly as the series shift to the first road course race of the season. Noted road racers all, they know that one race won’t define their season, however an improvement this round is vital to keep the championship in arms reach.
Veterens Ryan Otis, Travis Jegerlehner and Dustin Wardlow will also be looking to the Glen to re-affirm that just because the Retro series has a lot of talented rookies doesn’t mean that the old guard will be going anywhere. Look for these 3 to be fighting for the top 5, and possibly even the win.
Then there is Marc Cohn. Cohn fell victim to a poor pit strategy call at Homestead after spending the majority of the race at or near the front. The 2019 Challenge Series winner, Cohn has demonstrated himself a steady road course driver, who is able to hit his marks when it counts. With calamity on the first lap a definite possibility, look for the NLR Sim Racing driver to be at the sharp end of the finishing order this week.
The real question coming into week 2 for the Retro Series is, with all the rookies, will we have another veterne winner, or will one of these rookies break through and notify the established drivers that this season belongs to the rookies?
Tune in on Thursday March 21st to find out. The SimXperience Grand Prix at the Glen will go live at 10:35pm eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.
Alex Saunders began his pursuit of a championship in the best way possible, winning the Sam Maxwell Customs Miami 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Thursday night.
“This is a great start to the season,” Saunders said. “It sucks that Adam (Blocker) isn’t around to defend his title, but this field is pretty stacked still. It won’t be easy. This was fun.”
Saunders dominated the event, leading a race-high 57 laps, and helping put to bed some of the bad memories from the season finale in 2018. Saunders lost the championship by a single point to Adam Blocker, who did not return for the 2019 season.
“It got really hectic there, and I hate it for Ryan (Otis) that the race ended that way,” Saunders said.
The race finished under caution after Ryan Otis - the championship runner-up in 2017 - pushed up into Saunders as the cars exited turn four with six laps to go. Otis spun low, and avoided the wall. But the caution flew as he rejoined the field, with another pack charging forward.
By that point, only five laps remained, and the race never restarted.
Rookie Nathan Lewis was just ahead of Jorge Anzaldo in a great battle for second and third.
The podium was a strong statement from Anzaldo, who spent much of the evening in the lead pack.
“This is my first Retro podium,” Anzaldo said. “What a race, that was awesome. I just didn’t have enough to get up there at the end.”
Ken Hacker and pole winner Sage Karam rounded out the top five.
The race was slowed six times for cautions, but none had a bigger impact than the final.
In 2017, Ryan Otis gave Jake Wright all he could handle in the inaugural season of the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker.
After a season off, all of the preseason talk has centered on Otis and Saunders, and they didn’t disappoint Thursday night.
Otis was able to get going and salvage a 12th place finish after the spin.
Attention will no doubt once again be on these two as the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker heads to the winding roads of Watkins Glen and the Classic Boot layout for round two.
The SimXperiance Grand Prix at the Glen can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with coverage from Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 21.