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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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THE GREEN HILLS COME ALIVE WITH THE ROAR OF THE LIONHEART SERIES

The green hills of Michigan are about to come alive with the sound of V6 power. The Lionheart Series is coming to Michigan International Speedway for the Sim Racers 4 Mental Health 200.

Last time out at Charlotte, Justin Weaver and Connor Harrington put on a show up front. The 2 swapped the lead numerous times over the last few laps, with Harrington using a small mistake to get around Weaver the final time with just 1 lap remaining to take the win. Andrew Kinsella capitalized on the same mistake to finish second, just 0.188 seconds behind Harrington. Weaver would settle for 3rd, while the Adrenaline Motorsports duo of Tony Showen and Joe Branch rounded out the top 5. It was a tough day for points leader Adam Blocker, as the Carolina driver got caught up in the final wreck of the night, ultimately finishing 22nd, 21 laps down. Fortunately for Blocker, 2nd in points didn’t fair much better, as Dan Geren made a mistake and caught the wall just 38 laps into the race. As a result, Blocker maintains his commanding lead in the championship, but the battle for 2nd is heating up. Kinsella is just 35 points behind Geren, with Michael Goodman and Justin Weaver also within shouting distance of 2nd place.

Site of the first ever Lionheart Race, the IndyCar drivers make their annual pilgrimage to Michigan International Speedway. The high-banked oval will be welcome relief from the narrow confines of Charlotte. 4 or even 5 lanes wide in some places, the drivers will have to balance the draft with the need for clean air as the tires fall off.

For drivers strong in the draft, look no further then the top 3 from last week. Weaver, Kinsella, and Harrington are notoriously strong in races like this, where draft and tire fall-off is equally important. Look for these 3 to be up near the top this week as well.

A driver to watch out for is Joe Branch. Branch is one of the best fuel savers in the series; consistently being able to stretch the fuel one or 2 extra laps. At a big track like Michigan, that can be a huge advantage. If we get a long stretch of green flag running, it might just be that Branch will be raising the winner’s trophy at the end of the night.
With routine heavy-weights such as Brian Yaczik and Jason Galvin having down seasons, Big Joe Hassert has been flying the flag for the Loud Pedal Motorports team this season. All 3 drivers, however should not be overlooked at Michigan. Hassert in particular is strong in the draft, and will play a factor on Wednesday night.

Finally, a bounce back race from Dan Geren seems highly likely. Geren has always been strong at Michigan, where the high banks and wide track suits his style. Geren will need a good race if he wants to keep any hope of catching Adam Blocker by season end alive. He will have one eye looking back as well, however, as Kinsella, Goodman and Weaver are coming for him.

The rookie battle saw a bit of a shake-up as Mike Rigney finished 9th, while John Hill, Damon Martinez, and Bryan Carey all finished outside the top 15. This is a battle that will be coming down to the wire, with Martinez only 31 points up on Rigney. From here on out, it is very likely that the most consistent of those 4 drivers will take the crown, which could just give the Hill, the cleanest driver in Lionheart this season.

Tune in Wednesday September 18th, 2019 at 10:35pm eastern for all the simulated action, only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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