A flawless final pit stop pushed James Krahula to the lead and the Unacceptable Racing driver finally got over the hump to win the American Cancer Society Race for the Cure 150 presented by DirtyBlinds.com at Kansas Speedway. The win marks the first victory for Krahula in his debut season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series.
“I’m back from the future!” Krahula exclaimed in victory lane after climbing from his virtual Back to the Future-themed car. “This was the most difficult race of the year…I couldn’t practice this week, I would get on the computer and I would feel dizzy. So I don’t know how I was able to come in here and come away with this win.”
Krahula led a race-high 36 laps, including the final 22 laps after green flag pit stops. After several near misses, the Texan was able to hold-off teammate Tommy Rhyne and No Chance Racing’s Jason Robarge to win by 0.628 seconds.
“These things are so aero-tight after you heat up the front tires, so you just have run where the other guy’s not,” said Rhyne, who lost second place in the final corner in the season opener at Homestead to a connection issue. “I don’t have a whole lot of time in this car, other than what I’ve done here. It’s a ton of fun.”
Dan Geren dominated the early stage of the race from the pole. The defending race winner looked to be the heavy favorite, but an accident on lap 35 effectively ended both Geren’s and Joe Hassert’s chances of taking a win.
With Geren leading and Hassert in tow, the two sim racers slowed off Turn Four to make their first pit stops. Hassert closed quickly and the two collided, damaging both entries.
Both drivers blamed the other, with Hassert criticizing Geren during the race. The Iowa native and Team #NailedIt leader threw the blame back at Hassert.
“I just looked at the replay, and it looked like he didn’t get slowed down enough,” a dejected Geren said. “But it looked like a racing deal. We both got going again, and I rebounded up to 14th.”
Hassert finished 12th.
The race featured two cautions. On lap four, Joe Branch, who entered the night second in points, made contact with Michael Gray. As Gray’s car slid across the track, Michel de Jonge, winner of the last two races in the iRacing.com-based series, ran out of room and collided with Gray. Brandon Limkemann and Krysta Nelson were also collected. Gray and Branch continued, but the other three cars retired.
On lap 38, Ian Adams, who led 10 laps early, made contact with the wall on the front stretch while running all alone. He finished 24th.
The win moves Krahula up to second in points, 129 back of Jake Wright. The series points leader struggled with his car in the draft but salvaged a fifth place finish. Chris Stofer came home fourth.
Tony Showen, Korey Conner, Jason Galvin, Ricky Hardin and Pierre Daigle rounded out the top ten.
Branch finished in 15th, dropping him to third in points. de Jonge finished 27th in the 28 car field and fell to fourth, while Daigle holds steady in fifth.
The 49 minute race saw eight drivers swap the lead 14 times, but many more lead changes occurred away from the stripe.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series continues its high-banked half-mile trend next week, as the Dallara DW12s tackle Texas Motor Speedway for the U.S. Armed Forces 150 presented by Deadzone Racing. Race sponsor Jonathan Goke will miss the event while deployed in the United State Air Force. Goke was a winner at Michigan earlier in the year. The green flag drops at 10:50 EST on Wednesday, October 28 and can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel.