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COHN PICKS UP SECOND WIN, MOVES INTO CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION AT GATEWAY

A new championship contender has officially arrived.

Two weeks after securing his first career victory in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker, Marc Cohn backed it up with a thrilling win over league veteran Dustin Wardlow in the Sinbad Vapors 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

The pair were wheel-to-wheel when the final caution came out with two laps remaining, with Cohn roughly a half-car length ahead.

“Oh my gosh, thank you to Dustin,” Cohn said after jumping out of the virtual Lotus L79. “That was some of the best racing I’ve had in a long time.”

Cohn and Wardlow battled throughout the final stint in the event, swapping the lead on several occasions.

“I have no idea how I got in front of him,” Cohn said. “I was struggling so much on the bottom. I thought it was going to end up being a photo finish to the line.”

Wardlow appeared poised to break through for his first win of 2019, after being wrecked out of the top five in three consecutive events.

But the Raven Motorsports driver had to settle for second as the final yellow flew for a wreck in turn four, when David Altman spun and collected two others.

“After the season I’ve had thus far, I’m totally thrilled with this,” said Wardlow, who led a race-high 49 laps. “Marc ran a really good, clean, hard race and that’s all anyone is asking for.”

Justin Kirby came home with a somewhat controversial third place finish, after contact with Joe Hassert on lap 141 sent the Motegi winner flying into the wall in turn two.

“I feel terrible about that,” Kirby said. “I thought it was a racing deal but I still feel bad about it.

“Hopefully we can keep running up front though. It was fun.”

Kirby was not penalized after race control ruled the duo made corresponding moves towards each other.

Points leader Ryan Otis came home fourth, with Mike Rigney completing the top five.

The race was slowed by eleven cautions for 40 laps, and the action started early.

Lionel Calisto didn’t make it out of turn two on the opening lap, after starting at the rear of the field. Calisto attempted to pass the slower Robert Blouin on the outside, but cut it too close and contact sent the man they call Little Train careening off the wall.

Sage Karam entered the race looking to rebound from an early crash at Motegi and reclaim the points lead, but contact with the wall exiting turn two led to a spin and Ken Hacker could not miss the wreck.

Both drivers retired after just 28 laps.

Karam maintained second in points, 50 back of Otis. George Sandman sits third, with Cohn up eight spots to the fourth position in points, 73 out of the lead.

The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker now gets a month break, before gearing up for the first Triple Crown event of the year.

The Pocono 250 presented by DMLC Racing Channel is scheduled for Thursday, June 13. The broadcast is set to begin at 10:35 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel handling production.

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LIONHEART DRIVERS PREPARE FOR FIRST EVER
​DUAL IN DETROIT

It’s been nearly a month since the IR-18’s have turned a competitive lap, however the drivers have not been idle in the meantime. This Wednesday, the drivers will face their most challenging night yet, with not one but two 75-mile races around the picturesque Belle Isle street circuit in the Loud Pedal Motorsports Dual in Detroit. Full points will be on offer in each race, making it doubly important that the driver knows the track well. Add to that the tough nature of the track, with unforgiving concrete walls lining the track, and you will not find a more challenging night in Lionheart this season.

In the month off, it wasn’t all practice for Lionheart members, however, as the iRacing Indy 500 saw tremendous success from the Lionheart contingent participating. Of the 1900 drivers who participated in at least one of the 4 running’s of the 500; Brian Greenlee finished 2nd in his split, Bart Workman, Stephen Laarkamp, Tony Showen, and former series driver Jonathan Goke all were victorious in lower splits, while Adam Blocker and Andrew Kinsella both had top split victories in the first 2 time slots of the event. The Lionheart Series would like to extend congratulations to all Lionheart drivers who participated in the annual event.

Last time out at Pocono, Dan Geren became the first 2-time winner this season, edging out Adam Blocker by 0.3 seconds. Jason Galvin shook off his hard-luck start to 2019 with a 3rd place finish, while Tony Showen and Brian Yaczik rounded out the top 5. Adam Blocker remains at the top of the standings 38 points in front of Geren, with Andrew Kinsella, Dustin Wardlow and rookie Bryan Carey rounding out the top 5.

From one of the longest, fastest and widest ovals to the tightest, twistiest and slowest road course, these races will require a completely different style and mindset from the drivers. One mistake will very easily put a driver in the concrete wall, and with no fast repair available, it will mean the end of one of the races, and many lost championship points.

Adam Blocker, Lionhearts road course king since the retirement of Jake Wright, will be looking to continue his reign at Detroit. With Sage Karam tentative due to his real-life Indy 500 commitments, it could be Adam’s races to lose. But the Carolina driver has spent much of the last month preparing for the iRacing Indy 500, so that has opened the door to the like of Dan Geren or Tyler Graaf to potentially step in and steal the victory. Both drivers have logged hundreds of laps in preparation for this race, and look like they could have the speed to challenge for victory.

One of the key aspects to the race will be merely keeping the car between the concrete walls, and pointed straight. In that area, rookies Bryan Carey and John G. Hill might be at an advantage. Carey drove a very smart race at Watkins Glen, passing faster cars as they made mistakes, while Hill has yet to incur an incident in over 1000 simulated miles so far this year. If both drivers remain clean on Wednesday, look for both of them to be in the top 10 at the finish of either race.

In the team championship Adrenaline Motorsports Red maintains the lead with all 3 of their drivers in the top 5 in points. Synergy East is 2nd on the back of 3 wins in 5 rounds. Loud Pedal Motorsports was the big mover last week on the back of Galvin’s 3rd and Yaczik’s 5th place finishes, and their teams sit 5th and 6th respectively.

For 2 times the action, tune in this Wednesday, May 22nd for the Loud Pedal Motorsports Dual in Detroit at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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WHICH DRIVER WILL WEATHER THE STORM AND COMPLETE THE VOYAGE TO VICTORY LANE?

The tracks may look very similar, but they couldn’t be more different in how they drive. Last week, the Lionheart Retro Series was at Motegi; an egg-shaped oval, where a thrilling finish saw Big Joe Hassert hold off a charging Dean Moll for the win. This week the are at the also egg-shaped Gateway Motorsports Park for the Sinbad Vapors 200.

The two tracks however, similar the track map might look, are very different. Gateway is smaller, narrower, tighter and bumpier. Where last week saw 3 for 4 and even 5 wide moments. This week anything more then 2 wide will be a crowd. The track is also flipped in comparison to Motegi. Turns 1 and 2 are the tight ones here, meaning that drivers have a long flat-out section between the exit of turn 2 and the finish line where they will be going flat out to try and beat their opponent to the line. The banking to is less pronounced, especially in turns 3 and 4. The driver who wins this one will be the driver who matches patience with aggression and opportunism. It won’t be easy.

Last week Joe Hassert made the last few laps lot a lot easier than they were in reality. Dean Moll, Taft Baldwin, Ryan Otis and Paul Jenkins all tried, but none could get by the veteran Lionheart driver, as Hassert captured his first win in any Lionheart series since 2017. Moll made it close at the line, but ultimately had to settle for 2nd while Baldwin managed to get around Otis for 3rd. Both Hassert and Moll moved up 10 spots in the championship into 7th and 8th respectively, and both will be looking to continue that momentum.

Despite missing the podium, Otis managed to take over the championship lead from Sage Karam as the Coanda SimSport driver had another rough race, this time of his own doing. Karam pushed wide coming out of 4 and caught the wall, spinning back into traffic and collecting a number of drivers including the previous rounds winner Marc Cohn. Dustin Wardlow was caught by a spinning car while running up front for the 2nd week in a row. All 3 drivers will be looking to bounce back at Gateway.

George Sandman had a quietly consistent run at Motegi, and found himself 6th when all the dust settled. This performance saw the road course veteran tighten his hold on 3rd in the championship. With more consistent finishes like this on ovals, neither Otis nor Karam should discount Sandman’s push towards the championship.
Newcomers Taft Baldwin and Chad Dalton are 2 rookies who have really shown some speed this season. Baldwin already has a poll, while Dalton has shown himself to be adept at driving through the field. These are 2 rookies to keep an eye on.

Speaking of rookies, this season saw a record number of rookies take the grid, and it shows in the results column. 31 of 45 drivers have already recorded at least 1 top 10 this season through 5 races. These races are truly anybody’s to win, and although a few drivers have run consistently at the front, no one has finished consistently there yet. We have a long way to go, and everything still to race for this season.

The Sinbad Vapours 200 will fire off this Thursday, May 16th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern. Tune in to the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC to catch all the action.

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A NEW DAY DAWNS IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN

After a long night in Phoenix last week, the sun is rising on a new day this week in Japan as the Retro Series visits Twin Ring Motegi for the SimXperience 175. If you have yet to see a Retro Series race at the famous egg-shaped Japanese oval, then boy have you missed out. The Cosworth Engines, 70’s ground effects chassis and flat, smooth racing surface combine for some can’t miss viewing, with 4 and some times 5 wide racing down the back stretch before it all funnels down into 2 lanes at the tight turns 3 and 4. If there is one race other then Indy you can’t miss this season, it would be Motegi.

Last week at ISM Raceway, it was the Watchman, Marc Cohn taking home his maiden Lionheart Retro Series victory. The NLR driver avoided some late race carnage to come home with the win over veterans David Altman and Ryan Otis. Dean Moll and Chad Dalton rounded out the top 5. This result vaulted Cohn up 15 spots in the championship into 7th place. Otis meanwhile cut into Sage Karam’s early championship lead, pulling within 25 points.

Form a short, narrow 1 mile oval, the Retro drivers now travel to a wide open 1.5 mile oval with high banks and even higher speed. Draft will be in full effect for the first time this season, with the drivers expecting regular 3 wide racing down the back straight.

Marc Cohn will certainly be looking to continue his momentum from last week into the Motegi race, and while Cohn is a rookie in the Retro series, he is no stranger to the Motegi Oval, having piloted a Nissan GTP to victory in the offseason Challenge Series here. Cohn has shown he is no slouch in the draft, and will certainly be considered one of the favourites for this week.

Few drivers remain from last years race who have experienced this before, but one of those is the defending race winner Alex Saunders. Saunders, however, has real life commitments that may or may not allow him to race for the 2nd straight week. One driver from that race last year who will be there and knows his way around the draft is Big Joe Hassert. Hassert finished 3rd last season and was challenging for the lead when the caution came out with 3 to go. Look for Hassert to use his draft expertise to be at the front again this week.

Draft racing can often produce unconventional winners, and Lionheart has a history of strong debuts from talented rookies. Both of these factors could work in rookie Pat Dotson’s favour. Dotson is an experienced sim racer and the creator of the GS-5 racing seat from SimXperience, who also happen to be sponsoring the event. No pressure Pat! Pat will be joining HolGan Racing for the remainder of the season. With Daren Gangi and Scott Holmes.

Last week may have been a dream for Marc Cohn, but it was a nightmare for Sage Karam and Dustin Wardlow. The pair were up front for nearly the entire race, until with just under 30 laps to go a spin by then-leader Dylan McKenna took out both contenders. Both will be looking for better luck at Motegi.

Catch all the action from the SimXperience 175 this Thursday, May 9th at 10:35pm Eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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DAN GEREN PICKS UP 2ND WIN OF THE SEASON AT POCONO

One year ago, Dan Geren had his eyes on a win at Pocono Raceway. His internet connection had other ideas.

On Wednesday night, Geren earned redemption. The Iowa native and Synergy Motorsports driver recovered from a poor – by his standards, at least – start spot to lead the most laps and win the iRacingiFlag 300 presented by Fat Dog Racing.

Geren retook the lead from championship rival Adam Blocker with 10 laps to go and pulled away, earning his second win of the season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.

“I wasn’t feeling it all week, all day,” said Geren, who started 12th. “Ron Hacker had to pull me out of it. This is redemption, Pocono owed me one.”

Geren nearly lost the race on its final restart.

A lap 90 caution following Chris Stofer’s single car crash allowed the leaders to top off the fuel tank and take tires for a final dash to the finish. Loud Pedal Motorsports driver Jason Galvin jumped to the outside of Geren on the restart, allowing Blocker to draft up from third and make a three-wide pass into turn two.

Blocker would lead from lap 95 until 110, holding off Geren and Galvin. But Tyler Graaf exited the pits ahead of Blocker early in the run, and despite being a lap down was able to hold Blocker at bay for over 10 laps.

When Blocker got a run on Graaf coming to 10 laps to go, the second-year driver moved over on the exit of turn three. That’s when Geren saw his opportunity to strike, using the draft and the long front straightaway at Pocono to slingshot past Blocker and back to the lead.

“I found a little bit of a pick-me-up in a couple of turns, and it allowed me to stick with Adam the whole time,” Geren said. “He’s so good. I just snuck by him. I got around Blocker.”

Blocker was less than thrilled with Graaf.

“To be honest, I think I would’ve been able to keep (Geren) back if the lapped car wouldn’t have been unpredictable,” Blocker said. “(Graaf) said he was going to let us by on the straight but he started to pull over in the corner, and it caused me some aero wash. But I’ll take second. I wasn’t always up there in this race.”

Galvin was able to run down Blocker but said he used too much tire in the process, settling for third. It was the first finish of the season for Galvin, who was wrecked while in position to win at Kentucky.

“That was a fun race,” Galvin said after driving through the field from 21st on the grid. “I didn’t think I had much for Dan or Adam but then that last run I was able to stay with them. It makes me wish I did things different on the final restart. But those two are the best we have on oval tracks, so if you finish third behind Dan and Adam that’s a good night.”

The 120 lap race took one hour and 45 minutes to complete. The event was slowed by six cautions, including a wreck with two laps remaining that forced the checkers to fly along with a yellow flag.

Blocker’s Adrenaline Motorsports teammate Tony Showen led 16 laps early but settled for fourth, while Galvin’s teammate Brian Yaczik finished fifth after his pit crew cost him three positions on the final stop.

Bob Mikes, Connor Harrington, Justin Weaver, pole winner Mike Rigney and Andrew Kinsella rounded out the top ten.

Blocker leads Geren by 38 points after round five of the 25 race season. Kinsella sits third, 44 points behind Geren.

The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a month off, but the break is a welcome one. The series is set to debut at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit for its first ever dual event.

Both 32 lap Loud Pedal Motorsports Dual’s in Detroit will take place on Wednesday, May 22. The events can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with production by the Global SimRacing Channel, with the broadcast beginning at 10:35 p.m. EST.

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SUNSET AT PHOENIX TO RAISE THE INTENSITY LEVEL


As the sun sets over the Phoenix hills this Thursday night, it will be setting on the first night race of the season for the Lionheart Retro Series competitors. Some say that when it does, the hills glow with an almost god-like fire. By the end of the night, however, the only fire will be in the Cosworth DFS engines, as they scream towards the checkered flag at the Sam Maxwell Customs 175 from ISM Raceway.

Last time out at Sebring International Raceway, it was Sage Karam dusting the field for a second race in a row. Karam has quickly established himself as the man to beat on the road courses this season. The fight for best of the rest, however was very close till the end, as 2nd through 5th were separated by a scant 3 seconds. Debutant Dave Walsh started his Retro career well with a 2nd place finish over George Sandman, Alex Saunders and Ryan Otis.

After 3 races, we have come to 2 conclusions. One, Sage Karam will be extremely hard to beat on road courses this year. Two, this might be the tightest, most balanced field the Lionheart series has ever seen. While Karam is out in the points lead by 39 points over Ryan Otis, on the back of 2 road course wins, the gap between 2nd place Otis and 12th place Chris Lanini is separated by only 40 further points. With a series of ovals coming, it will be interesting to see if Karam can manage to hold back all the would-be title challengers until the next road course, 4 rounds from now.

A mix of rookies and veterans alike are hoping they will be the one to break away from the pack and mount a serious challenge to Karam, starting with round 1 winner, Alex Saunders. Saunders lies 3rd in the championship, and rebounded nicely in Sebring after crashing out at Watkins Glen. Saunders is looking to get his title run on track and can’t afford to let Karam get to big a lead too early in the season.

Veteran Ryan Otis and rookie George Sandman are 2 drivers who will be sorry to see the road courses go. Both managed to finish in the top 5 at the previous 2 road events, and will now be hoping that their disappointing round 1 results are the exception rather then the rule.

The back half of the top 10 in points is populated with drivers who have found success in consistency rather then outright speed. Paul Jenkins, followed by the Raven Motorsports teammates of James Paulson, and league founder Jorge Anzaldo, and Travis Jegerlehner have all used consistency over outright speed to cement their early stake on the top 10 in points. But now we travel to phoenix, where drafting and speed are the order of the day. Will these drivers be able to translate their quiet consistent performance onto the frantic mile oval?

Finally, we need to look at some of the hard-luck stories so far. Richie Hearn and Lionel Calisto have both shown the speed to be at the front, but have been hard pressed to put it all together on race day. Sometimes the chaotic nature of oval racing, where instinct often overtakes logic, is just enough to turn a driver’s luck from bad to good. These two drivers could sure use a good finish to get their campaigns back on track.

This year, after two seasons at the old configuration, the Retro Series will run at the new version of ISM Speedway, as for the first time ever, this race becomes a night race. The shifting light as the track transitions into the darkness will add a new layer to what is already promising to be a spectacular race.

To witness all the action first hand, tune in Thursday May 2nd at 10:35pm Eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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