In the midst of a championship battle that is suddenly tighter than ever, the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads to West Allis, Wisconsin and the historic Milwaukee Mile for the Area 51 Milwaukee Mile 150.
Last week at Sonoma, Jake Wright reminded everyone that he is the class of the field on road courses with another dominant victory – his fourth of 2017. Unfortunately, the sim race did not go as well for points leader Andrew Kinsella who became involved in a multi-car incident while he was running second. The Canadian’s first dose of bad luck this season opened the door for Wright and several other contenders to further close the gap in the overall standings.
More unfortunately still, Kinsella is unable to make the race this week, meaning that things are guaranteed to get even more interesting atop the standings. A new points leader could likely emerge from the 150-lap event but contenders like Wright, Dan Geren, Michael Gray and Ryan Otis should not count their chickens before they hatch. Past Lionheart events at Milwaukee have proven that the 114 year-old track is anything but predictable.
If the past is any indication, Ryan Otis may stand the best chance of visiting victory lane amongst the top contenders. Despite numerous wins in the Lionheart Retro and Challenge series, Otis has yet to win a race in the Dallara DW-12. Luckily for him, Milwaukee may be the perfect place to change that. In each of the past two seasons, a first-time winner has been crowned at the Mile. Last season, it was Joe Branch who earned his first Lionheart win. Branch also nabbed the first-ever win for Adrenaline Motorsports and Ryan Otis would obviously love to do the same for his Streamline Motorsports operation.
If a first-time winner is crowned for the third season in a row, Ryan Otis is hardly the only contender for the honour. Pierre Daigle has over sixty Lionheart starts without a victory and Milwaukee is one of his best tracks. The Canadian started third last season and would go on to finish in the same position – a career-best result at the time. Daigle has been enjoying a solid 2017 campaign thus far with No Name Racing and he could end up being the man to beat in Wisconsin this season.
Daigle may not be the only threat from Canada as Dragonfly Racing’s Patrick Taylor earned the best starting position of his career last season at Milwaukee, qualifying on the front row next to polesitter Jonathan Goke. Taylor’s night ended early due to contact but the British Columbia native is hopeful that another strong qualifying effort will translate into a better finish. He may have history on his side as fellow British Columbian Greg Moore earned his first career CART victory at the Milwaukee Mile in June of 1997.
Another possible candidate is Wisconsin-native Dave Barber, who has come close to victory lane several times this season only to have the win snatched away by a cruel twist of fate. With his Barber Financial offices located only minutes from the Mile itself, the Controlled Chaos sim racer is hoping to become the hometown hero and break the jinx that has kept him out of victory lane.
This season’s rookie crop happens to be filled with a number of sim racers who could easily earn their first Lionheart win this week. Michael Goodman of AGR Motorsports has found his way into the top ten overall and seems primed to get his first win sooner rather than later. Scott Bolster has had his share of bad luck this season. However, he finished third a few weeks ago in the Lionheart Retro Series race at Milwaukee and survived multiple incidents to do so. Perhaps luck will remain on his side in the DW-12 this week. Finally, there is newcomer Adam Blocker who will make his series debut with defending winners Adrenaline Motorsports this week. Blocker also impressed in the recent Lotus 79 event and led 23 laps before an incident ended his night. Could Blocker follow in teammate Andrew Kinsella’s footsteps and win his first-ever Lionheart start?
While Milwaukee could prove to be unpredictable, usual contenders like Jake Wright, Jonathan Goke, Dan Geren, Michael Gray, James Krahula, Jason Galvin and Bob Mikes should never be ruled out. Wright has never finished lower than third in two starts at the Mile while Goke is the defending polesitter. Gray and Galvin both finished inside the top ten last year as well. Meanwhile, Bob Mikes won the recent Retro Series race at Milwaukee and will be hoping for another boost to his Indycar championship hopes with a good run in Wisconsin.
Last but not least is defending winner Joe Branch. Branch started seventh last season and ran a quiet race, ultimately using solid pit strategy to get himself into the lead. There is no reason he can’t do the same again and the Indiana-native is often strong on one mile ovals.
This week’s event will mark the official halfway point of the 2017 season for the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment. The second half of the season will begin at Michigan on July 19th. Other tracks in the back half of the schedule include Dover, Atlanta, Chicagoland as well as a second-consecutive visit down under to Phillip Island. The league champion will be crowned on December 13th at Auto Club Speedway and will receive a set of HPP 3P-PRX-SE pedals valued at $1247.00 along with numerous other prizes.
The Area 51 Milwaukee Mile 150 will be broadcast live on the Global SimRacing Channel (GSRC) and iRacing Live on June 28th beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.