Enter Sandman. The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker rookie proved he’s not just a road course ace, leading the final six laps and surviving a green-white-checkers dash to the finish to win the Pocono 250 presented by the DMLC Racing Channel Thursday night
Sandman held off series veteran Ryan Otis in a drag race to the finish, capturing his first win by .030 seconds.
“This isn’t a true oval, it drives a lot like a road course,” said Sandman, who has shown his chops on tracks that turn both left and right this year. “I think that helped tonight.”
Sandman got a great jump on Otis and IndyCar star Sage Karam on the final restart. Otis made a run into turn one on the final lap, nosing ahead on the outside.
But Sandman held the prefered line down low and held off Otis until the duo came off the final corner. Otis tucked in and popped out at the last second, trying to draft past for the win, but ran out of track.
“That was pretty fun,” Otis said. “I wanted to be on the high side and just barely came up short. That was good fun to the end.”
Sandman enjoyed the final shootout.
“I knew that if I could get out in clean air, I was much faster,” Sandman said. “I just wanted to hold the inside. If they could get me on the outside then so be it.”
Karam had to settle for third, unable to get a run around either of the two leaders as the pair battled side-by-side.
“I didn’t expect to finish to be honest with you,” said Karam, who battled from 29th to the podium. “My first lap on the track in this car was in qualifying. I was just happy to finish.”
Lionel Calisto and Chris Lanini rounded out the top five.
Otis, Sandman and Karam opened up a further gap in the standings and firmly established themselves as the trio to beat in Retro action.
Otis leads Sandman by 52 points, with Karam in third, 57 out of the lead.
Pocono pole winner and race sponsor Marc Cohn is fourth, another 40 back of Karam, after finishing 12th in the race following the final crash of the race. Chris Lanini moved up seven spots to fifth in the standings.
The race was slowed by 9 cautions for 26 laps, including the final wreck on lap 94. Cohn and Dean Moll collided in turn one while battling for the lead. Cohn pushed up in front of Moll, who couldn’t lift in time. Moll’s car flipped to the infield, ending his race. Cohn limped his car home a disappointing 12th.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker hits the road for its next race, the Sam Maxwell Customs Grand Prix of Imola. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action, at 10:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 27.
Deep in the Lehigh lies the strangest oval in America. 3 unique turns form this triangular race track, and one of the trickiest cars the Lotus 79, takes on iRacing’s trickiest track as the Lionheart Retro Series roars into Pennsylvania for the Pocono 250 presented by the DMLC Racing Channel.
Last time out at Gateway, it was Marc Cohn snatching his 2nd Retro victory of the season, as he fended off Dustin Wardlow over the closing stages of the race. Justin Kirby had a strong showing in 3rd while Mike Rigney and Ryan Otis rounded out the top 5. Cohn’s victory saw him vault up 8 positions into 4th overall in the standings, announcing Cohn’s candidacy for not just rookie of the year honors, but a legitimate shot at the overall championship. Otis remains the point leader, stretching the gap over 2nd place Sage Karam to 50 points a third of the way through the season. George Sandman has had a quietly consistent season going to sit 3rd in the standings, 7 back of Karam.
If there is one thing that this Retro season has taught us, it is to expect the unexpected. 32 different drivers have finished inside the top 10 at least once through the first 6 races. The only constant among those drivers…that’s right it is championship leader Ryan Otis, who has 5 top 5’s in 6 races. Otis has managed to avoid the carnage the best of all the drivers so far this season, and with a difficult race ahead, that ability to bring the car home will be key.
Sage Karam has had back to back poor finishes with DNF’s at the egg shaped Motegi and Gateway Ovals. That stretch of the schedule is behind us however, so will Karam’s form also rebound?
After a rough debut, Chad Dalton has strung together some strong finishes of late, finding himself 5th overall in points. Will Dalton be the next driver to step up and conquer a Lionheart series race?
If consistency is what you are looking for, however, look no further then series veteran Travis Jegerlehner. Jegerlehner has finished no worse than 20th through 6 races, which is the best worst finish of anyone. Unfortunately, with a best finish of 9th, Travis is not as far up the standings as we are accustomed to seeing. One thing we do know, however is that Jegerlehner is fast, and it is only a matter of time before he is contesting for wins again. Will it be this Thursday at Pocono?
In the team standings, Raven Motorsports Black extended their lead over NLR Sim Racing to 102. Interestingly, NLR has 3 of the 6 wins this season, but it is Raven with the consistent finishes putting them out front.
In the rookie standings, Karam maintains a slim lead over Sandman, Cohn and Dalton. The Rookie of the Year title always produces great finishes, and this year is shaping up to be no different.
Who will reign supreme at the trickiest triangle in America? Tune in on Thursday June 13th at 10:35pm eastern to find out, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.