Adam Blocker used a gamble on pit road, and the draft of a teammate, to finally breakthrough and win his first Lionheart Retro Series race Thursday night, in the Infinite 150 presented by Infinite Racing Group at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“That was wild, it was all strategy for the most part,” Blocker said while celebrating.
The rookie took the lead from pole sitter Joe Branch with three laps remaining and stretched his fuel a remarkable 57 laps. The teammates pitted after a caution, 10 laps short of the projected fuel window. Another yellow on lap 79 gave the duo hope, and put them up front when the leaders hit pit road. The final caution, inside of 20 laps remaining, gave Blocker what he needed.
“We got that second caution, and that was enough to get us close,” Blocker said. “Because I was behind Joe the whole time, that was enough to save fuel and still keep time, and obviously Joe wasn’t able to do that.”
Branch ran out of fuel on the final lap, handing second to Joe Hassert, who used a lightning quick final stop to leap ahead of the early race favorites, Ryan Otis and Jason Galvin.
“It was fun, but it was hard to pass once you got to the top five,” Hassert said after recovering from a 21st place starting spot. “We just ran out of gear there to make things really interesting.”
Otis led a race-high 55 laps, but couldn’t get back around Hassert or Galvin after the final stop. Galvin ran the fastest lap of the race with four laps to go, but ran out of time to catch the leaders.
“What a battle,” Galvin said. “Ryan and I were talking, we had a lot of fun. Our lines were so different, and neither of us practiced much...and he was killing us on entry, and I couldn’t figure it out until about eight laps to go. By the time I figured it out, we just ran out of time.”
The win was redemption for Blocker, who has been in the mix in every series start, including the last race at Laguna Seca. But each time, another driver has found a way to edge ahead and keep the rookie out of victory lane. This time, the role reversed.
“There was no way I was realistically going to pass Joe, so that’s why I just decided I was going to start lifting and saving fuel,” Blocker said. “I’m looking forward to Road America now.”
Pierre Daigle finished fifth, ahead of teammate and points leader Jake Wright. The No Name Racing team had the best team performance of the night, with Hassert second. AGR Motorsports also placed three cars in the top ten, with Galvin joined by Jorge Anzaldo in ninth and Travis Jegerlehner in tenth.
Bob Mikes and David Altman finished seventh and eighth. 15 cars finished on the lead lap, capped by Branch, who coasted to the line. 18 of the 28 starters finished the race.
Five cautions slowed the race for 20 laps, and six drivers led laps.
The Lionheart Retro Series takes a few weeks off before heading to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the Road America 100. Wright takes a 31 point lead over Otis into the event, with Galvin 105 points out of the lead.
The Road America 100 can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 24.
For more information on the Lionheart Retro Series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.