For the first time in three years, the ole track announcer pulled through.
Jason Galvin made a late race pass for the lead and held on in a three-wide finish for this first Lionheart Racing Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway - now known as ISM Raceway - in the Indy Elite Grand Prix of Phoenix. It was Galvin’s fourth career win in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation.
“What a finish,” Galvin said. “I can’t believe Adam (Blocker) gave me the bottom. I think he had to defend both lanes because of Dustin (Wardlow) being up top. Once I got back to the lead, I felt pretty good.”
Galvin had to overcome a mid-race speeding penalty on pit road that sent him to the back, and then several large accidents, to climb back into the battle for the win.
The former announcer at PIR led the most laps (56) after starting third.
“This win means a lot,” Galvin said. “I’ve been close here several times. This is my home away from home. A lot of good memories were made up in that announcer booth and in the real victory lane.”
Galvin held off Blocker and Brian Yaczik over the final five laps, winning by 0.046 seconds, the third closest finish in series history.
“That was pretty crazy,” Blocker said. “Especially at the end with longer green flag runs. The craziest thing was you could make the inside or outside work down in one and two. I was hoping I could just keep the lead on the inside. But guys were getting pretty aggressive.”
Yaczik was happy with third after scoring his first top five of the season.
“It’s not bad,” Yaczik said. “You want wins, but to get a podium is pretty good. With these cars, they don’t have enough horsepower and they kick out a big wake, so you can’t run away and hide. When I got out front, they’d just swallow me up.”
The race was slowed 8 times for 31 laps. Several big accidents took out a number of contenders.
The first major wreck occurred on lap 43, when Andrew Kinsella bounced off the turn four wall while running third. Kinsella careened down track, hitting pole winner Alex Saunders. Saunders flew into the inside wall, flipping over and collecting Justin Weaver, Jorge Anzaldo, Ed Tutwiler and Frank Bieser.
On the ensuing restart, Kinsella suffered more damage when Pete Edwins crashed. Edwins race ended, while Kinsella limped home to a 13th place finish, one lap down.
Tyler Graaf and Samuel Reiman stayed out while the leaders hit pit road. On the restart, Graaf held off Yaczik and Galvin for a few laps, but on lap 56, Graaf lost the back end in turn one. Galvin narrowly avoided, but Reiman, Marc Aumick, James Krahula and Chris Lanini were all swept up.
Through the chaos, just eleven cars finished on the lead lap. Wardlow and James Brant rounded out the top five. Vincent Bluthenthal, Travis Jegerlehner, Woody Mahan, Krahula and Joe Branch completed the top ten, with Robert Blouin the final car on the lead lap.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation takes a week off before hitting the road for the second time this season, in the inaugural Becida Bar and Grill 125 at Brazil’s Autodromo José Carlos Pace.
Blocker leads Yaczik by nine in the championship points standings. Wardlow is nine points further back in third.
Galvin, who missed the season opener before crashing out early in round two at Watkins Glen, sits 20th.
Raven Motorsports, a new team comprised of Jegerlehner, Galvin, Wardlow, Anzaldo and Reiman, leads the team points heading into the race at Interlagos
The race can be seen Thursday, May 3, live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.