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OTIS LOOKS TO CLOSE IN ON FIRST LIONHEART TITLE

From the lake country of Wisconsin to Sonoma wine country, you couldn’t pick to more different settings in America for back-to-back races, yet the Lionheart Series travels to Sonoma for another treasure of a race. The DMLC Racing Grand Prix of Sonoma goes off this Thursday with all the top Retro drivers in attendance.

It was chaos on the last lap, last time out at Road America. A combination of lapped cars and not enough fuel saw a tight last lap battle devolve into a cake-walk for Series veteran Alex Saunders, making just his 6th start of 2019. Saunders took the win ahead of Ryan Otis by 25 seconds. Lionel Calisto was 3rd, followed by Dean Moll and Marc Cohn. These results don’t accurately portray just how close the race actually was. For the last 5 laps, Sage Karam was glued to the bumper of Alex Saunders, rarely more then 0.7 seconds behind him. But it all came undone on the last lap. Into Canada Corner, Karam was over-taking a lapped car when the two made contact, spinning both the lapper and Karam. In the end it may not have mattered, as just seconds later, Karam sputtered to a stop on the uphill towards the checkered flag. Sage wasn’t the only driver to sputter. Scott Holmes was sputtering as he came to the line, but just nipped Finian Dchuna at the line for 6th place, followed closely by Chris Ragan.

The result is that with just 4 races to go, Ryan Otis has a commanding, but not definitive lead in the championship. Otis is 166 points up on 2nd place David Clymer. Paul Jenkins Is 185 back in 3rd, while Dustin Wardlow has been the hard luck story of the year; 200 points back in 4th, despite many laps at the front of the pack.

For Ryan Otis, the name of the game from here on out is consistency. If Otis can consistently finish in the top 5, the championship is his. Simple as that. Helping him in that is the 2 road courses paired with the 2 ovals. Otis has been consistent on the road so far this season. While he might not have the outright speed, he has not made a mistake. That, more than anything, is the reason Otis has a stranglehold on this championship right now.

For those chasing Otis, they can only hope for a miracle. First there is David Clymer. He is competing with Paul Jenkins for the rookies of the year title. Just 19 points back. Jenkins is hoping for a better result on the Sonoma road course then he found at Road America. That being said, no one stands to gain more than Clymer., whose 26th place finish was not what the rookie needed as he tracks down championship leader Otis.

The two drivers to watch, however, might be Sage Karam and Alex Saunders. Saunders, who has not been able to run a full schedule this season secured the win at Road America and is looking to run out the schedule for the rest of the season. Always fast on the road course, Saunders is looking to make up for lost time and win some races.

Sage Karama might have something to say about that. Karam very nearly grasped the victory at Road America, but for the last lap goings-on. This week at Sonoma, fuel is not anticipated to play quite the same role it did in Wisconsin, and certainly the lapped traffic will hopefully be kinder. Will that be all Karam needs to take a win here this week?

The Lionheart Retro Series action from Sonoma can be found only on the iRacing eSports Network YouTube feed presented by GSRC at 10:35 pm eastern time on Thursday October 17, 2019.

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NO REST FOR LIONHEART’S WEARY

The Lionheart IndyCar Series prepares for its last swing through the Midwest as Adam Blocker prepares to seize the crown for himself after a remarkable campaign. The North Carolina driver has delivered in a way that few have ever been able to in Lionheart history. Now just 7 short races stand between him and the ultimate glory of the season championship. He may not even need that many to secure his crown. First, he must get through the action at Gateway Motorsports Park and the Von Hanson’s 200.

Last time out in Montreal, it was Adam Blocker once again leading the way on road courses this season. This time it was with the help of some fuel saving strategy, that saw the top 4 positions log only 2 stops while the other competitors had to log 3 each. With just seconds to go in qualifying, Blocker stole the pole from Connor Harrington by scant thousandths of a second. Blocker would escape to an early lead and hang on throughout the whole race, to take a dominating win. Behind him was anything but ordinary as rookie Bryan Carey would use that same fuel strategy to leapfrog some other drivers in the pits, and then hunt down Dan Geren for second. The rookie would come up just a bit short of Geren, as the duo finished 2nd and 3rd, just 3 seconds apart at the finish. Nonetheless, this would by a day for celebration as Carey recorded his first ever Lionheart podium. His teammate Andrew Kinsella was looking at a sure 4th place until a spin in turn 4 on lap 30 saw the Canadian into the wall and out of the race. This dealt an almighty blow to the Canadian’s championship aspiration as the Lionheart veteran is chasing Dan Geren for 2nd place in points. Moving up to 4th in the championship and in the race was Stephen Laarkamp. The last of the drivers to successfully execute the 2-stop strategy, Laarkamp overcame several bobbles to take the car home in 4th. In 5th, Tyler Graaf proved the fastest of the 3 stoppers. Despite being on the wrong end of the strategy game, the second year Lionheart driver showed some real speed on the Montreal road course, and put in the kind of solid effort that will reward him down the line.

Shifting focus for the Lionheart drivers, the first of 2 consecutive short-tracks looms large for the Lionheart drivers as they tackle the egg-shaped World Wide Technologies Raceway aka Gateway Motorsports Park. The tricky short track will inevitably produce just as much drama in the virtual world as it did in the real world this year.

Last year’s winner was Chris Stofer.  The Indiana driver has been dominant at Gateway over the past two seasons.  In Season 5 Stofer sat on the pole setting the league qualifying record at Gateway with a 24.365 set at over 184 mph.  Stofer would lead a series high 103 laps but would not find victory lane that year.  Fast forward to Season 6 and the tables would be turned as Stofer would find the checkered flag in a race that saw a series high 40 lead changes.  If Stofer could find victory lane a second time at Gateway it would be the 5th of his Lionheart career.

With a 264-point lead, it would take a lot to stop Blocker now. He has dominated the entire season of Lionheart, seemingly rarely out of the top 5. At this rate there is little reason to believe that that is about to change at Gateway. But when it comes to short track racing, you never know what is about to happen.

The man trying to track him down is Dan Geren. The Lionheart king of qualifying, and that doesn’t matter any more than on a Midwest short track. This is a track where dirty air can make the difference between taking turns 1 and 2 flat out, or having to make that subtle lift that costs you the position. With Geren hanging by a thread, qualifying could make the difference between the race hanging on or Blocker clinching with races to spare.

The Rookie of the Year title has been the tightest race all season. Damon Martinez currently leads the standings, but the race has never been tighter. Mike Rigney and John Hill are just 14 and 18 points back respectively. One bad race is all it takes from the Martinez, and these other 2 are all over him.

Not to be forgotten in this race are two other fierce competitors. Bryan Carey, fresh off his first Lionheart podium is just 49 points back, and Paul Jenkins is only 56 back. Both are well within striking distance for the rookie of the year title, which comes with its own prizes in addition to the prestige of winning one of the toughest awards Lionheart has to offer.

In summary, this should be one heck-of-a race, as the Lionheart Gladiators go out there with everything to gain, and in some cases, everything to lose. To find out who will be the winners and who will be the losers, tune in this Wednesday October 16th at 10:35pm eastern for all the action, only on the iRacing eSports Network YouTube channel presented by GSRC.

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WHO WILL EMBRACE THE SPIRIT OF VILLENEUVE IN MONTREAL?

For the 2nd time this year, the best IndyCar drivers on iRacing travel north of the border. This time, instead of the rolling hills of Mosport, they travel to the dead-flat Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve semi-street circuit in Montreal. The circuit lies on an island in the St Lawrence river that was enlarged from it’s original form for the 1967 World Expo. The island then served as the venue for the rowing events in the 1976 Olympics before a race track was put on the island after the 1977 season. Similar to Belle-Isle, the circuit is created out of normal roads in a park-like setting, but unlike belle-isle the track is up to F1 standards for both safety and smoothness. The circuit was named after Gilles Villeneuve in 1982 after the Quebec native’s death earlier in the year. Gilles had won his home race 1979, while finishing 2nd, 5th, and, perhaps most famously, 3rd in 1981, sans his front wing, after he spent most of the race driving with it obscuring his vision. The Lionheart Series will run 47 laps around this unique facility in the First Medical Grand Prix of Montreal.

Last time out at Richmond, points leader Adam Blocker drove a perfect near perfect race, to take the win. Blocker started on pole and lead 211 of the 267 laps. Brian Yaczik had his best result in what has been a tough season, as the LPM driver came home 2nd. Mike Rigney earned the hard charger award, racing his way from 30th to 3rd, through patience, strategy and some good passes. James Brant and Tony Showen also came from deep in the field to round out the top 5. The race was a tough one, as even before the drop of the green flag Ken Hacker lit up the tires on the warm-up lap, and spun down into Andrew Kinsella, who entered the race in a tight battle with Dan Geren for 2nd in the championship. Both cars were damaged, ruining Kinsella’s chances at the win before the race even started. He would ultimately finish 23rd after some net code contact with John Hill ended his race. Things didn’t end much better for Geren, as he got collected in an incident between Jason Galvin and Samuel Reiman. Geren finished 14th, 3 laps down. Ultimately only 6 cars would finish on the lead lap, as the smallest track on the circuit produced maximum carnage.

The win leaves Adam Blocker an astounding 255 points up on Geren for the championship. Rarely has Lionheart seen the kind of dominance that Blocker has shown this season. 14 top 5’s from 17 races. Those other 3 races? DNF’s; meaning if Adam Blocker has finished the race, he has done so in the top 5. With 8 races to go, the question has shifted from whether Blocker will win the championship to when. All he has to do is avoid DNF’s in as little as 4 more races, and he will have the title sewn up.

The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal is certainly a good place to start. Not only is Blocker the defending race winner, but he has been dominant on road courses this year. 4 wins, and not a finish outside the top 5. If ever there was a spot where Blocker could have something happen, it might be in Montreal. The circuit has fast straights and tight turns that offer up a demanding combination for these turbo-charged Dallara’s. Get on the gas a fraction too early or too hard and you could easily end up in the wall.

Also strong on road courses this year has been rookie Damon Martinez, even leading for a significant period of time at Monza. Montreal is very similar in character to Monza with the long straights leading to chicanes. Look for Martinez to be strong again in Montreal.

Speaking of strong runs at Monza, there was another rookie battling with Martinez as the laps wound down. Bryan Carey has shown some definite speed on the road this season, but it’s been the finishing that has betrayed him. A last lap spin at Monza while going for the final podium spot saw Carey finish 6th. At Watkins Glen, Carey hounded his teammate Andrew Kinsella for much of the last half of the race, but couldn’t find a way past before settling for 5th. Will this week be the week Carey puts it all together and finishes a road course race on the podium?

Another driver who will be looking for redemption in this race will be Connor Harrington. Last year at this race, Harrington started 3rd, but went “full send” into turn one and spun in front of the field. Harrington would ultimately battle back up to 5th, but never got the chance to truly show the speed he had. Harrington has calmed down this year, picking up his first win. Will Harrington redeem his first lap mistake from last season with a win this season?

Speaking of last season, Andrew Kinsella had his best road course race of his Lionheart career on this very track last season. The Canadian, more known for his oval racing prowess, started and finished in 2nd place with a quiet consistent drive. The road courses this season have been anything but quiet and consistent for the Adrenaline driver, who has found himself frequently caught up in other people’s incidents; from getting hit on the first lap of Belle-Isle 2 and Monza, or getting confronted by spinning cars at Belle-Isle 1, Barber, and Mosport, the only thing on the Canadian’s mind this year is getting through all 47 laps. A top 5 would must be considered a bonus; although is Kinsella wants to challenge Geren for 2nd, it might be a bonus he needs to find.

Tune in for all the action from the First Medical Grand Prix of Montreal this Wednesday, October 9th, at 10:35pm eastern time, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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NO VACATION FOR RETRO DRIVERS IN ELKHART LAKE

The Lionheart Retro Series won’t have much time for relaxing, as a short turn around sees the drivers heading full speed ahead into Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the DMLC Racing Channel Grand Prix of Road America.

Last time out at Iowa, it was Chris Lanini using some pit strategy to get ahead, then managing to stay ahead in an epic battle with Finian Dchunha down the stretch. The pair battled through several late restarts but Lanini did everything he had too to seal the win. Chad Dalton drove another strong race to finish 3rd, while David Clymer and Marc Cohn finished 4th and 5th. Much of the race was dominated by Cohn, Alex Saunders, making his 5th start of the season, and Ryan Otis. However, a yellow flag in the middle of the 2nd round of green flag pitstops saw the order shaken up with those 3 drivers buried in the back in the field. Cohn would be the only driver of the 3 to see the checkered flag. The first to fall was Otis. On the ensuing restart a chain reaction involving Joshua Gayman, and Scott Holmes left Otis with no where to go. Otis finished 21st after leading the most laps. Next Saunders and league founder Jorge Anzaldo made contact exiting turn 4, ending both their nights. The tough race saw just 15 finishers, only 8 of which were on the lead lap. Otis’ DNF meant that David Clymer closed the deficit to 130 points, while simultaneously extending his lead over Paul Jenkins to 23 in the Rookie of the Year Standings.

Looking forward, the Retro drivers are on a short turn-around on a road course, as the they invade Road America. The classic American road course will be a tough test for the Retro drivers as the blast down the long straights into the tight turns like Canada corner. Not to mention the famous Carousel that will test even the best driver lap after lap to hit it correctly.

Ryan Otis will need a bounce back race after his DNF in Iowa, and Road America might be just the answer he is looking for. Otis has been consistent on the road so far this year, and with the wide run-off areas in many areas of this track, Otis has a large margin of error to race with this week.

No one is hotter in Retro the David Clymer. Clymer has been in the top five in 3 straight races, and top 10 in 8 straight. Clymer has not been the fastest driver on the road this season, but has been consistent enough to comfortably finish in the top 10. If he can continue to do that, possibly even sneaking up to a top 5, then Clymer could stand to benefit from an Otis mistake, and cut into the lead even more.

Travis Jegerlehner might be the most consistent driver in the Retro series this season. The 3-year veteran sits 6th in points on the back of just 2 top 10 finishes. Instead Jegerlehner has used to consistency to stay high in the points standings. Rarely not running at the finish of the races, the Raven Motorsports driver might be one to watch as the high-risk, high-reward nature of Road America claims its victims.

For all the action from Road America, tune in to the DMLC Racing Channel Gran Prix of Road America at 10:35pm eastern on Thursday October 3rd, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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NOTHING CORNY ABOUT OTIS’ CHAMPIONSHIP RUN

The cornfields of Newton Iowa welcome the Lionheart Retro Series back to the heartland of America, as the L79’s take to Iowa Speedway for the Buttkicker 150.

Last time out at Michigan, it was Ryan Otis rising to the challenge and putting two hands firmly on the championship trophy. Otis beat David Clymer to the line by just 0.002 seconds for his second win of the season and a 120-point lead in the championship with just 6 races remaining. Clymer used his 2nd place finish to overtake Dustin Wardlow and Paul Jenkins for 2nd in the championship. The “Candyman” started from Pole and lead a race high 33 laps, however Wardlow faded to an 8th place finish after a speeding penalty on his first pit stop saw Wardlow playing catch-up the rest of the race. Chad Dalton rounded out the podium, while Finian Dchunha and Adam Young both got their first top 5’s of the season. Clymer extended his lead in the rookie championship over Paul Jenkins to 18 with the 2nd place effort.

Iowa Speedway is something of a home track for the Lionheart Series. Every year, league members gather at the real-world IndyCar race to spend a weekend drinking beer, chatting with friends, and watching the IndyCars take on this special short track. One of America’s newest race tracks, Iowa Speedway is located in Newton, IA and has been in operation since 2006. The 7/8-mile oval was designed and built under the auspices of NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace at a cost of approximately $70 million. But in recent years it has become a bastion for open wheel action in the Midwest, and one of Lionheart’s favorite tracks.

With just 6 races to go, time is running out for those looking to challenge Ryan Otis for the championship. Going into Michigan, smart money would have said that if anyone was going to catch Otis it would have been Wardlow. Instead, David Clymer has continued his white-hot form to vault his name into the spot closest to Otis. The question is were the last 2 races a flash in the pan for Clymer, or can the rookie keep it going? More to the point, will it matter if Otis keeps up his own hot form?

What about Wardlow? It was a very small mistake at Michigan that kept the Candyman out of contention for the wind. Will Wardlow be able to re-group quickly and forget his mistake from last week, or will it be something he dwells on that will affect his race this week? Wardlow has traditionally been quick at Iowa. A clean race could easily see him in victory lane.

And what about the rest of the top 5 from last week; Dalton, Dchunha and Young? Any of these drivers could easily be the next driver to take their maiden retro series win this season. All it will take is the right amount of patience and the right amount of luck at this tricky track.

Tune into the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC the Thursday, Septeber 26th, 2019 for all the Simulated action from the Buttkicker 150 from Iowa.

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SHRINKING GAME AT RICHMOND

Everything is smaller at Richmond Raceway in Virgina. The lap times just 15 seconds. The length, just ¾ of a mile. The width, just 3 lanes wide. The list of past winners in the field (0). The only thing bigger is the number of laps. 267 lighting quick, action packed laps are in store for the Lionheart IndyCar drivers at this weeks Midwest Simulations 200.

It was a topsy-turvy day for many of the Championship contenders last time out at Michigan International Speedway; in fact out of the top 5 in points, 2nd place Dan Geren was the top finisher in 15th after leading a race high 36 laps. Points leader Blocker finished 17th, Michael Goodman 25th, Justin Weaver 28th, and Andrew Kinsella 29th. Yikes. Instead, it was the back farther down the standings ceasing the opportunity. In a thrilling 3-lap shootout, Big Joe Hassert out-duelled Tony Showen and Brian Yaczik. Some late race controversy saw a computer glitch result in Tony Showen getting kicked from the server on the run to the checkered flag as he tried to get a final run on Hassert. Because the error occurred on an race control member’s computer, Tony was awarded 2nd place over Brian Yaczik. Series founder Jorge Anzaldo saw his best result of the year as he rounded out the top 5, after he and Joe Branch duelled for 4th and 5th over the last couple of laps. Joe Flanagan, Stephen Laarkamp, Ken Hacker, Paul Jenkins and Scotty Johnson all saw strong runs result in top 10 finishes.

Now from one of the largest ovals on the Lionheart series to the smallest, as the Lionheart IndyCar drivers head south to the ¾ mile Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. With 14 degrees of banking and 267 short laps ahead of them, the drivers will need all their patience and skill to get through this one.

On the 2 short tracks so far this year, only 3 drivers have finished in the top 10 in both. Unsurprisingly, Adam Blocker is one of them. Blocker, the commanding leader in the points championship, has, however, been on a comparative slump with back to back finishes outside the top 15. Will Richmond be the track that puts him back on track, or will the run of bad luck continue?

The other 2 names on that list are Michael Goodman and Chris Stofer. Goodman is currently sitting 4th in the points, 16 back of Andrew Kinsella, while Stofer has had a nightmarish season, seeing himself all the way down in 29th in points. For both Stofer and Goodman, Richmond presents an opportunity to capitalize on past success. For Goodman, it could mean vaulting into 3rd in the championship. For Stofer it could mean a surge up the standings for a driver that has seen strong second halves the last 2 years. Will either be able to use the momentum from the previous short track races to their advantage?

Passing can be notoriously difficult on the short Richmond oval, so qualifying may present a distinct advantage. If so, Dan Geren would be the one to benefit. With a sterling average starting position of 5.81 through 16 races, Geren qualifies an average 2.5 positions better then anyone else on the grid. If Geren is able to keep up that advantage, the Midwest driver should be a real threat for the victory.

Another driver who has had a quietly consistent season so far is Stephen Laarkamp. Laarkamp, who battled down to the wire with Justin Weaver for Rookie of the Year last year, is battling for a spot in the top 5 in points this year. The NHR e-Sports driver currently sits 6th in points, but has the 2nd best average finish of anyone on the grid this year. The catch? Ten top 10 finishes, but none in the top 5. Still it seems only a matter of time before Laarkamp converts one of those good runs into a great run. Will it be at Richmond?

The Rookie of the Year battle took another twist as only Paul Jenkins and John Hill finished all 200 miles at Michigan. Jenkins finishing 9th, while Hill finished 17th. Bryan Carey finished 22nd, one lap down while Damon Martinez and Mike Rigney failed to finish. These 5 drivers all have a shot at the title, with only 67 points separating Carey in 5th from first place Martinez. This will be the battle to watch as the season wears down.

In the team standings, an off night from Adrenaline Motorsports Red saw their gap shrink slightly, but with a cushion of 279 points on Synergy East, something dramatic will need to happen in order for this championship to change hands. Close battles in the team standings include for 3rd place, where Adrenaline Motorsports Black and LPM – Cancer Down are locked in a furious battle. Also, a tight battle rages in the back half of the top 10, with Skid Mark Black, Synergy West, NHR e-Sports and LPM – Thumbs Up all covered by 64 points.

The Midwest Simulations 200 goes off this Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern. Catch all the live action only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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HIGH BANKS POSE HIGH RISK FOR POINTS LEADER OTIS

From one track steeped in IndyCar tradition to another, the Lionheart Retro Series pull their L79’s through the gates at Michigan International Speedway. The high banks of Michigan have seen so excellent battle of man and machine over the years, and once again the Lionheart Retro Series drivers return to write a chapter of their own in the Plasma Tracks 200

Last time out at Indy was a wild affair. The L79 ground effects were in full force, allowing the Retro Series drivers to race in extremely close quarters for laps and laps on end. The inevitable chaos that ensued saw drivers who are routinely in victory lane in the fence, and some new names at the sharp end of the field. Notable among those names was your winner, David Clymer chose the biggest race of the Retro season to take his first win. There was chaos behind him, as turn 3 on the final lap saw one last crash that took out contenders Taft Baldwin, Mike Rigney, and Mike Belair. Instead it was Paul Jenkins following Clymer home, with points leader Ryan Otis taking a stranglehold on the championship with a 3rd place. Otis is not 140 points ahead of Dustin Wardlow and Paul Jenkins, who are tied for 2nd place. With the win, Clymer sits just 5 points back of Jenkins in the rookie of the year standings, as both drivers overtook Sage Karam, who missed the race.

With just 7 races remaining this season, all eyes are on the top of the standings. Ryan Otis is closing in on his first Lionheart Retro Series crown. Otis was runner up in the first season, before life events limited him to just 6 races last season. This year, however, Otis has been the most consistent driver in the field; placing in the top 5 in in 9 of 11 races so far. All that being said, Michigan is another race that can be highly unpredictable. The track is wide and inviting to 2 or even 3 wide action, which can easily leave contenders in the fence. Otis will need to survive another test Thursday night. Otis, has shown he can do this, since is also the cleanest driver in the series, and the only regular with under 2.00 incs per race. So, theoretically, 7 races are all that stands between Otis and the title.

Oh; and, potentially, 3 other drivers. Lionheart veteran Dustin Wardlow is more then capable of capitalizing on mistakes or bad luck from Otis. One of the nicest guys in the Lionheart paddock, Wardlow’s nickname of “the Candyman” isn’t just about his sponsor, Dewar’s candy. Wardlow, however is also a fierce and formidable driver on track. While he is down now, Wardlow knows that his path to the championship starts with a win at Michigan.

Meanwhile there is the battle between Jenkins and Clymer. Separated by just 5 points for rookie of the year, it will be important for these two to effectively keep one eye on their battle and one eye on Otis and Wardlow if either of them holds any ambitions on the crown at the end of the season.

Then there are the interlopers. Sage Karam, Alex Saunders, Adam Blocker, and Marc Cohn. For various reasons these 4 have missed some, or most, of the races this year. But one thing is certain of all 4 drivers; they know how to wheel this L79. All 4 title hopefuls will likely have to deal with one or more of the above-mentioned drivers.

With 7 races to go, the countdown to the championship starts now. Tune in to find out if Otis will move one step closer, or if another driver will step up and throw a wrench in his parade. All the simulated action can be found this Thursday, September 19th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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