February 27th, 2017 by Jason Galvin
Get used to this sight, it’s likely to become a familiar one for fans of the Lionheart Retro Series in 2017. Ryan Otis dominated the Watkins Glen 100 presented by DewarsCandy.com on Thursday. Otis led every lap en route to a 22 second win over Jake Wright, proving his road course prowess will be hard to beat.
“I drove the wheels off of it trying to get away (from Wright),” Otis said in the virtual victory lane. “I was anticipating sooner or later catching up to some traffic. I was afraid he’d close the gap, so I was pushing 100 percent the whole time.”
But by the time pit stops rolled around, Otis knew he had the race in hand, barring a mistake.
“I had a good 10 seconds there,” Otis said. “I knew if I didn’t miss my stall or get a penalty I’d be okay.”
Wright backed up to Brendan Hobbart towards the end, but Hobbart couldn’t close the gap.
“Everybody was pretty respectful and everyone was pretty spread out as well,” said Wright, the two-time defending Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment champion. “If I can continue to have races like tonight, I think I’m in good hands.”
Hobbart, a relative unknown amongst the stars of the Lionheart series, cruised to a career-best third place finish.
“Catching the guys up front, I knew I wasn’t going to have anything for Jake or Ryan,” Hobbart said. “At the end of the day, it’s keep it on an island, just keep it out of trouble.”
Dustin Wardlow beat Jason Galvin to round out the top five. The two drivers, both from Bakersfield, Calif., battled intensely with David Altman for the first eleven laps. But Altman crashed just before pitting, and Galvin ducked in early, only to be held up by Tony Showen, allowing Wardlow to open up a comfortable gap.
“This is crazy competitive here,” Wardlow said.
The race was relatively clean, sans a few single car spins, with 15 Lotus 79s finishing on the lead lap.
Wright jumped to the points lead with another strong finish, 12 points ahead of Jason Galvin, who won at Homestead to open the season. Michigan winner Bob Mikes slipped to third in points after finishing 8th at Watkins Glen. Teammates Joe Branch and Chris Stofer sit fourth and fifth following the first road course race of the season.
The Lionheart Retro Series returns to the ovals for its first Triple Crown event, the double-points Pocono Raceway 250 on Thursday, March 16 at 10:40 p.m. EST. The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel.