The cornfields of Newton Iowa welcome the Lionheart Retro Series back to the heartland of America, as the L79’s take to Iowa Speedway for the Buttkicker 150.
Last time out at Michigan, it was Ryan Otis rising to the challenge and putting two hands firmly on the championship trophy. Otis beat David Clymer to the line by just 0.002 seconds for his second win of the season and a 120-point lead in the championship with just 6 races remaining. Clymer used his 2nd place finish to overtake Dustin Wardlow and Paul Jenkins for 2nd in the championship. The “Candyman” started from Pole and lead a race high 33 laps, however Wardlow faded to an 8th place finish after a speeding penalty on his first pit stop saw Wardlow playing catch-up the rest of the race. Chad Dalton rounded out the podium, while Finian Dchunha and Adam Young both got their first top 5’s of the season. Clymer extended his lead in the rookie championship over Paul Jenkins to 18 with the 2nd place effort.
Iowa Speedway is something of a home track for the Lionheart Series. Every year, league members gather at the real-world IndyCar race to spend a weekend drinking beer, chatting with friends, and watching the IndyCars take on this special short track. One of America's newest race tracks, Iowa Speedway is located in Newton, IA and has been in operation since 2006. The 7/8-mile oval was designed and built under the auspices of NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace at a cost of approximately $70 million. But in recent years it has become a bastion for open wheel action in the Midwest, and one of Lionheart’s favourite tracks.
With just 6 races to go, time is running out for those looking to challenge Ryan Otis for the championship. Going into Michigan, smart money would have said that if anyone was going to catch Otis it would have been Wardlow. Instead, David Clymer has continued his white-hot form to vault his name into the spot closest to Otis. The question is were the last 2 races a flash in the pan for Clymer, or can the rookie keep it going? More to the point, will it matter if Otis keeps up his own hot form?
What about Wardlow? It was a very small mistake at Michigan that kept the Candyman out of contention for the wind. Will Wardlow be able to re-group quickly and forget his mistake from last week, or will it be something he dwells on that will affect his race this week? Wardlow has traditionally been quick at Iowa. A clean race could easily see him in victory lane.
And what about the rest of the top 5 from last week; Dalton, Dchunha and Young? Any of these drivers could easily be the next driver to take their maiden retro series win this season. All it will take is the right amount of patience and the right amount of luck at this tricky track.
Tune into the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC the Thursday, Septeber 26th, 2019 for all the Simulated action from the Buttkicker 150 from Iowa.
Fans watching the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker Thursday night will not soon forget what they witnessed.
As championship points leader Ryan Otis, David Clymer and Chad Dalton came roaring out of turn four on the final lap of the Plasma-Tracks 200 at Michigan International Speedway, the trio fanned out three-wide.
Clymer used a side draft from Otis to creep up, wing tip to wing tip.
As the trio crossed the stripe, it was clear Dalton had to settle for third - by a wing. But the winner, nobody really knew.
“I was still coming out of turn two on the cool down lap, looking at the display,” Otis said. “I wasn’t really sure.”
At last, timing reset, and a review of the finish showed it to be true; by 0.002 seconds, the closest finish in Lionheart history, Otis captured the win over Clymer.
“I’m still trying to catch my breath,” Otis said. “I knew that in a drag race up on the banking, the guy in the middle would cross the line more often than not in first.
“But I also knew that with the rules, on the final lap you could cut some time on the apron. I guess it worked out.”
Clymer thought he had a chance until the car started moving around on the apron.
“It started getting a little loose on my, I was kinda scared for a second,” said Clymer, the winner at Indy in August. “I thought a race like this, I just need to finish, don’t do anything crazy.”
Dalton said he needed help being stuck on the outside.
“I just wanted to finish,” Dalton said. “I needed a little more momentum. Maybe if I had been up there for a whole lap and had a run. But I got up there so late, I just didn’t have what I needed.”
Finian Dcunha and Adam Young rounded out the top five.
To the surprise of many, the race was slowed by just one caution for two laps.
On lap 4, netcode contact occurred sending Ken Hacker’s car violently spinning up the track. Running inside the top ten, several cars had nowhere to go and ended up collected, including Dean Moll, Tyson Landis, Joshua Gayman, Frank Beiser and Mike Belair.
The race would run green to the finish following a lap 7 restart.
Dustin Wardlow, teammates to Otis at Raven Motorsports, seemed to be the biggest challenger to the points leader early on. But a speeding on pit entry penalty caused the man affectionately known as The Candy Man - homage to his sponsor Dewar’s Candy - to hold for an extra 15 seconds on pit road.
Wardlow, who captured the pole, would finish eighth, the leader of the next pack of cars unable to fight for the win.
Otis now leads Clymer by 150 points with six races remaining in 2019. Wardlow slipped to third, 9 points behind Clymer.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker returns to the track Thursday, September 26, with a short track shootout on tap.
The ButtKicker 150 at Iowa Speedway can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network at 10:35 p.m. EST, with presentation from Global SimRacing Channel.
From one track steeped in IndyCar tradition to another, the Lionheart Retro Series pull their L79’s through the gates at Michigan International Speedway. The high banks of Michigan have seen so excellent battle of man and machine over the years, and once again the Lionheart Retro Series drivers return to write a chapter of their own in the Plasma Tracks 200.
Last time out at Indy was a wild affair. The L79 ground effects were in full force, allowing the Retro Series drivers to race in extremely close quarters for laps and laps on end. The inevitable chaos that ensued saw drivers who are routinely in victory lane in the fence, and some new names at the sharp end of the field. Notable among those names was your winner, David Clymer chose the biggest race of the Retro season to take his first win. There was chaos behind him, as turn 3 on the final lap saw one last crash that took out contenders Taft Baldwin, Mike Rigney, and Mike Belair. Instead it was Paul Jenkins following Clymer home, with points leader Ryan Otis taking a stranglehold on the championship with a 3rd place. Otis is not 140 points ahead of Dustin Wardlow and Paul Jenkins, who are tied for 2nd place. With the win, Clymer sits just 5 points back of Jenkins in the rookie of the year standings, as both drivers overtook Sage Karam, who missed the race.
With just 7 races remaining this season, all eyes are on the top of the standings. Ryan Otis is closing in on his first Lionheart Retro Series crown. Otis was runner up in the first season, before life events limited him to just 6 races last season. This year, however, Otis has been the most consistent driver in the field; placing in the top 5 in in 9 of 11 races so far. All that being said, Michigan is another race that can be highly unpredictable. The track is wide and inviting to 2 or even 3 wide action, which can easily leave contenders in the fence. Otis will need to survive another test Thursday night. Otis, has shown he can do this, since is also the cleanest driver in the series, and the only regular with under 2.00 incs per race. So, theoretically, 7 races are all that stands between Otis and the title.
Oh; and, potentially, 3 other drivers. Lionheart veteran Dustin Wardlow is more then capable of capitalizing on mistakes or bad luck from Otis. One of the nicest guys in the Lionheart paddock, Wardlow’s nickname of “the Candyman” isn’t just about his sponsor, Dewar’s candy. Wardlow, however is also a fierce and formidable driver on track. While he is down now, Wardlow knows that his path to the championship starts with a win at Michigan.
Meanwhile there is the battle between Jenkins and Clymer. Separated by just 5 points for rookie of the year, it will be important for these two to effectively keep one eye on their battle and one eye on Otis and Wardlow if either of them holds any ambitions on the crown at the end of the season.
Then there are the interlopers. Sage Karam, Alex Saunders, Adam Blocker, and Marc Cohn. For various reasons these 4 have missed some, or most, of the races this year. But one thing is certain of all 4 drivers; they know how to wheel this L79. All 4 title hopefuls will likely have to deal with one or more of the above-mentioned drivers.
With 7 races to go, the countdown to the championship starts now. Tune in to find out if Otis will move one step closer, or if another driver will step up and throw a wrench in his parade. All the simulated action can be found this Thursday, September 19th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.