RED HOT BLOCKER WINS FUEL GAME AT MOTEGI
“I knew Laarkamp couldn’t make it when he went past me,” said Blocker, who has won the last three events. “With eight to go I just went for it. I knew we had it.”
Ron Hacker picked up a career-best second place, while Big Joe Hassert claimed the final podium spot.
“I started lifting early with 15, 16 to go and just tried to stretch it,” Hacker said. “I had about a lap left at the end of the race. We were good to go.”
Hassert dropped ten positions in the final laps while trying to pedal the car and save gas, and went from outside the top 15 to third as a result of his efforts.
“I was up to almost fifth and Jason (Galvin) had a scare and I dropped back again,” Hassert said. “I was letting people by and when I hit my number I got back in the gas with four to go and got back up to third.”
Blocker took the lead from Stephen Laarkamp with 11 laps to go, after he was confident he had saved enough fuel running around in second.
“From the beginning of the stint, I was the first car that pitted,” Blocker said. “I tried to past some slower guys and was just lifting and coasting in three and four, trying to save as much as I could with cars in front of me at the beginning.”
Dustin Wardlow moved into second, but had to hit pit road with three laps left. Justin Weaver followed suit coming to the white flag.
Tyler Graaf was the first car to run out of fuel, and a litany of others followed, throwing the top ten into disarray.
When the dust settled, it was Hacker and Hassert who made it work, with Damon Martinez coming home fourth and Brandon Limkemann coasting home to finish the top five.
Scott Bolster, Tony Showen, Mike Rigney, Andrew Kinsella and Scotty Johnson completed the top ten, all with various amounts of motor cough as the cars gasped for more fuel.
Dan Geren and Connor Harrington – who led a race-high 74 laps – were amongst the drivers who dominated up front but did not pit on the final caution, and lost a lap while making green flag stops late in the race.
The race was slowed by five cautions for 20 laps. The final caution threw everyone into a fuel frenzy.
Justin Kirby chopped the nose of Kinsella on lap 86, spinning into the turn four wall to end his race. Teams were expected to get about 38 laps on a full tank of fuel, but the green came out with 41 laps remaining, testing the ability of drivers to balance fuel saving and speed.
The fourth caution came out on lap 69. Joe Flanagan contacted the wall exiting turn four, apparently suffering from aero-push while running about one second behind Brian Beard. The resulting flip brought out the caution.
Just three laps earlier, Sage Karam also hit the wall exiting turn four. Karam was able to hold on and finished the race seven laps down in 33rd.
Jason Galvin was part of the two previous cautions.
The defending race winner worked his way up to fifth before clipping the apron in turn one, entering a long drift and hanging on. The stack up likely led to contact later in the lap between David Altman and Flanagan.
Altman smacked the wall in turn three, ending his race.
Just two laps after the restart, Bob Mikes got into the back of Galvin in turn three, with Galvin getting the worst of it and bringing out a caution.
The opening yellow came on lap eleven when Shaun Cole went around in turn three after running into Kirby, who had checked up for a slower car.
An early wreck failed to bring out a caution, after Karam and Chris Stofer were victim of netcode. Stofer spun down the back straight, ending his race.
Blocker extended his championship lead to 131 points over Geren, with Kinsella jumping to third.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment next heads to Canada and the rolling hills of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Mosport, for the Thumbs Up, Cancer Down Grand Prix of Mosport. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with production by Global SimRacing Channel on June 19 at 10:35 p.m. EST.