July 25th, 2017 by Patrick Taylor
The Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment is in the midst of the tightest championship battle in league history. The top three drivers are separated by less then 30 points and others are still within striking distance of the lead. Anything can happen in the remaining eleven rounds and appropriately enough, the league visits Dover International Speedway on Wednesday night for a sim race that could be the most unpredictable event of the season.
The series debuted at the “Monster Mile” in 2016 and while the race was by no means a wreck-fest, 10 cautions certainly thinned the herd as the 150-lap sim race wore on. Current points leader Jake Wright was among those who fell victim to Miles the Monster. Wright finished 33rd after an early-race incident ended his run. Also among those who felt the wrath of Miles were usual contenders Ron Hacker, Brandon Limkemann, Jorge Anzaldo, Joe Branch, Robert Blouin and Pierre Daigle.
Wright can ill-afford a similar result this season with Dan Geren and Andrew Kinsella looming large in his rear-view mirror. Both Geren and Kinsella gained ground on the defending series champion last week at Michigan and one or both could theoretically leave Dover with the points lead if things go their way.
Geren ran a consistent race last year at Dover, starting sixth and finishing seventh. He may need to push a bit harder this season with the championship lead so close in sight but he’ll also be lacking teammates Jonathan Goke (who won the race last season) and Ian Adams, neither of whom are currently active in the league. If Geren and his only #NailedIt teammate Michael Gray (who finished seventh last season) can have another safe and consistent run, both could find themselves closer to first overall when the checkered flag flies.
Kinsella would obviously love to re-gain the points lead he held for much of the season and, as one of the league’s most consistent drivers, he certainly has a shot at doing so. The Canadian rookie obviously didn’t run Dover last season, but he did prove himself capable of surviving a short oval earlier this year at Phoenix. There, the Adrenaline Motorsports sim racer started twenty-fifth and ultimately worked his way through the field to finish eighth.
While Team #NailedIt had a strong run last season at Dover, it was AGR Motorsports’ Jason Galvin who broke up their podium party with a solid second-place run. Already a winner this season at Texas, the California-based sim racer could just as easily find his way to victory lane again this week. Galvin, who sits just over 100 points out of the championship lead, is not out of the picture yet and an upset win in Dover would move him closer to the top.
Focusing only on the usual favourites would be a mistake with the kind of close sim racing expected on the Monster Mile. Among those who could pull off an upset win include Controlled Chaos Racing teammates Bob Mikes and Dave Barber. Mikes, already a winner this season at Kentucky, was the biggest-mover at Dover last season and gained 20 positions during the sim race. Barber, meanwhile, notched career-bests in both qualifying (sixth) and finish (twelfth) last season. Barber has already come close to victory lane several times since and the Wisconsin-based sim racer is hungry for his first career win.
Other racers to watch this week include a trio of rookies. Michael Goodman came close to earning his first career victory last week at Michigan and has already logged hundreds of practice laps in preparation for this week’s race. Meanwhile, Adam Blocker will make just his second career start at Dover after an impressive run at Milwaukee saw him finish fourth overall. Woodrow Mahan will also make his second Lionheart start after a short-lived debut last week at Michigan; his race ended due to contact after just four laps. However, Mahan is a veteran of the Premier Racing League, and undoubtedly has plenty of experience at Dover. Now, he just needs to adapt that experience to the much-faster Dallara DW-12!
Finally, two underdogs to keep an eye on this week are Joe Hassert and Jason Robarge. Both sim racers have struggled this season with bad luck, bad timing and – in Hassert’s case – technical issues. However, Dover presents an opportunity for both to turn their luck around. Hassert finished fourth here last season after starting mid-pack. Robarge, meanwhile, scored a solid fifth-place result after qualifying just inside the top ten.
The American Cancer Society Race for the Cure 150 will be broadcast live on the Global SimRacing Channel and iRacing Live on Wednesday, July 26th beginning at 10:35PM ET. For more information about the Lionheart Indycar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, please visit www.lionheartracingseries.com.