NO REST FOR LIONHEART’S WEARY
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.