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DRIVERS PREPARE FOR TIGHT QUARTERS AT CHARLOTTE

After a couple of months of relative inaction for the Lionheart series; just 3 races in the past 45 days, it is a quick turn around for the IndyCar drivers as the take to the track in back-to-back weeks. This time it will be at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Fisch Motors 200.

Last time out at Monza, was one of the most competitive road course races Lionheart has seen in some time. With Sage Karam missing the race, it fell to his good friend Damon Martinez to take the charge to the reigning road course king, Adam Blocker, and take it to him he did. Martinez nipped Blocker for Pole position, and lead for most of the first half of the race. Blocker, however, was never more then a second behind the rookie, and in fact the top 5 were rarely out of touch through most of the race. Blocker would get by Martinez when the rookie made a small mistake during the second stint of the race. Martinez got on the gas just a little to hard through the 3rd chicane, and spun right infront of Blocker. Somehow, the Carolina driver avoided Martinez, and both drivers avoided the wall allowing Blocker to inherit the lead, while Martinez fell down to 5th behind Dustin Wardlow, Bryan Carey and Dan Geren. Martinez would battle back to 3rd, but no one was touching Blocker from there out. Wardlow came 2nd, while Geren and Tyler Graaf would get by rookie Bryan Carey after Carey spun on the last lap battling with Martinez for 3rd.

Now the series turns to a different kind of challenge. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a fast D-shaped 1.5-mile oval, but the track is much narrower than its sister tracks in Atlanta and Texas. This will lead to tight action and the draft and aero-push will play a big factor in the race.

Last year’s winner, Dan Geren, will certainly be looking to repeat this year. In last year’s race, Geren won for the first time all year and got a monkey off his back that proved pivotal to mounting a late season charge. Geren will be hoping to replicate his success at this track and carry the momentum through to get within striking distance of points leader Adam Blocker.

If there is one driver hoping to use Geren’s template from last season, it might be the driver directly behind him in the standings. Despite winning the Indy 500, Andrew Kinsella has been caught up in more then his fair share of wrecks this season, almost none of which have been of his own making. The double points from his 500 win keeps the Canadian in outside contention, but he will need a big swing in fortunes over the final races to catch his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate.
Another driver looking for redemption is Michael Goodman. Sitting 4th in points, the New York driver has shown speed and consistency, but like Kinsella has found himself to often caught up in wrecks not of his doing. Goodman is a quiet, courteous driver, who is one of those drivers you can trust to make the right move. This will be extremely important at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the quarters will be tight, and the speeds high. Look for Goodman to be there at the end, hungry for a win.

Finally, rounding out the top 5 is Justin Weaver. There are certain drivers that you associate with different styles of track. Obviously, as this season has proven, Adam Blocker can do it all. Kinsella, excels at the flatter ovals like Motegi, New Hampshire, Kentucky, or Homestead, where throttle control is important. But for these high-speed ovals, the Lionheart drivers you think of are guys like Geren, Big Joe Hassert and Chris Stofer. Increasingly, however there is another name to add to that list. Justin Weaver has become known for his foot to the floor style, and that often finds the 8 Ball Motorsports driver at the front of races like this. Watch out for the Moby Dicky’s machine on Wednesday.

Speaking of which, tune in on Wednesday August 28th, 2019 for all the side by side, wheel to wheel action from the Fisch Motors 200 at 10:35pm eastern only on the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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RETRO SERIES DRIVERS LOOKING TO HIT HOME RUN ON BIGGEST STAGE OF THE YEAR

This is it. The big one. The one race that means more then any other for every driver in the Lionheart Retro Series. 4 corners that from above look so similar, but are so different when you get up close and personal. Turn 1 is a tunnel. The grandstands with the over hanging roof to one side, the pit lane wall to the other. It seems so narrow, even though it is just as wide as any other turn. Turn 2 with its bump just before the apex. Waiting to snatch the unsuspecting or under prepared driver and propel them straight towards the wall. Turn 3, which seems so wide open, that it dares you to go three wide. But it is all an illusion. And finally Turn 4, the turn where dreams are made and dashed. One good run out of this turn could win you the race, but one poor turn could just as easily lose it for you. These are the 4 turns of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The hallowed grounds that every fan of IndyCar can close their eyes and see. Now, it’s time for the drivers of the Lionheart Retro Series to stamp their mark on the speedway in the ButtKicker Indy 250.

Last time out it was Sage Karam just making his fuel last over a charging Adam Blocker. Blocker, last year’s champion was making his season debut in the Retro Series and nearly stole the win from the championship contender. Ryan Otis finished a fighting 3rd place, barely holding off George Sandman for the final podium position. Aaron Morgan, making only his 3rd start of the year, finished a strong 5th from 11th on the grid. The win moved Sage Karam up one position into 2nd place in the Retro standings. Ryan Otis continues to lead with a lead of 91 points. Dustin Wardlow fell down one position to 3rd as George Sandman rose 2 places to 4th. 50 points are all that separate Sandman in 4th from Taft Baldwin in 12th, meaning that this week’s double points event could have monumental repercussions on the standings.

This week 100 laps around the most famous race track in the world await, and for several drivers, the 4 weeks off since the last round can’t end soon enough.

Dustin Wardlow has to be considered one of the favourites this week. The “Candyman” has been fast all year in the Retro series, especially on the ovals, and Wardlow has traditional faired well on the biggest stages. Look for the Raven Motrosports driver to be at the front of the field on lap 100.

But if there is another driver who could be even more heavily favoured, it might be Big Joe Hassert. Hassert has traditionally made Indy a bit of his playground in years past. The NLR Sim Racing driver has been quicker but also involved in too many incidents this year. If Hassert can keep it clean, there is little reason he won’t be at the sharp end of the field on Thursday night.

If you are looking for a rookie to back, Dean Moll might be the driver to root for. Moll, who is known for his flashy car liveries is heating up on the track as well, sitting 6th in points.

Another rookie to watch out for is David Clymer of Simpit Racing. Clymer has been steadily moving up the standings after some early season wrecks brought his campaign off to a rocky start. Of late, however, Clymer is heating up, and what better stage to ignite your season than Indy?

Then there is the big question mark. Sage Karam has had real world IndyCar duties to attend to along with all the personal engagements that come along with that. Will the Pennsylvania driver be prepared to go for it this Thursday and chase down Ryan Otis? Karam is still well within shouting distance of Otis considering the double points at stake here.

For all the Thursday Night Retro action, tune in August 29th to the iRacing eSports Network presented by GSRC.

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Gone, But Never Fortgotten.

Yesterday 8/8 was the 2nd anniversary of the passing of our dear friend and fellow league member Patrick Taylor. Even though time continues to move on we continue to honour his memory in everything that is Lionheart.

He was such an amazing friend and contributor to the Lionheart Racing Series. Everyone that had the honor of knowing him would agree that he left an impression to last a lifetime. We miss you buddy! Checkered flags being held high for Patrick by everyone at Lionheart.

This amazing custom artwork should still be available via Clipping That Apex.

 

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​BARBER NO MATCH FOR BLOCKER’S DOMINANCE

Adam Blocker proved once again, he is the king of the roads. The Adrenaline Motorsports driver led the final 36 laps after an intense battle with NTT IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam, capturing the win by 52 seconds in the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Barber.

Blocker’s win was his series-leading fourth of 2019 to pace the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment.

“It’s a technical track,” Blocker said. “That wasn’t the points day I had hoped for with Dan (Geren) finishing second, but I’ll definitely take the win!”

Blocker qualified on the pole but relinquished the lead to Karam on the opening lap.

After hounding Karam for the next 17 laps, the two made contact in the turns 8 and 9 sections. Karam saved it, but decided to hit pit lane and try to relieve pressure.

But a mistake on pit entrance changed the dynamic of the race, as Karam slid into the Armco barrier.

Blocker would pit two laps later and never look back.

“I was happy to wait for the pit cycle,” Blocker said. “I was planning on taking an extra lap and trying to jump him. I pressured him and jumped him and it worked out.”

Karam came out behind Dan Geren. After eventually working his way back into second, Karam would again make a mistake, spinning off track and retiring to 28th.

Geren settled into a comfortable second place, doing his best to keep pace in the championship battle.

“I was pretty thrilled,” Geren said. “I got pretty lucky, I hit the wall on pit in on the final pit stop but it was just a front wing replacement. It was still a great finish.”

Brian Yaczik surprised himself with a third place finish after qualifying ninth.

The Loud Pedal Motorsports captain held off the final four lead lap cars to capture a podium.

“I’m not sure how I got here,” Yaczik said. “I didn’t have top five speed and I wasn’t going to go up there and pass those guys. I just let other people make mistakes.”

Connor Harrington led Michael Goodman across to round out the top five, with Dustin Wardlow and Justin Weaver the final cars on the lead lap.

26 of the 35 starters finished the race.

Blocker now leads Geren by a dominant 202 points, although the three drop weeks factored into the standings have yet to be applied.

The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment heads overseas for a maiden trip around the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21 at 10:35 p.m. EST and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcast.

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KARAM COMES UP CLUTCH AT BARBER

The final five laps went against every instinct Sage Karam has developed in his career in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Less throttle, slower laps, pressing the clutch and watching lapped cars drive away.

But it all paid off in the end. The Coanda Sim Sport driver managed an astonishing 28 laps on the final fuel stint and held off a hard-charging Adam Blocker to win the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Barber Thursday night.

It was Karam’s league-leading third win of 2019 in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker.

“I did 28 laps that last stint, I had to make up three or four laps,” Karam said. “I had to commit pretty early to push that fuel saving. Definitely a tough race, but we had to do what we had to do and thankfully I knew how to save fuel at the right times and got it done.”

Karam paced Blocker, the defending series champion making his season debut, over the opening stint of what many expected to be a two stop race. That seemed even more true when Karam hit pit road coming to lap 26 in the 53 lap event.

But it was soon evident Blocker would be able to make the race on one stop – especially after serving a drive-through penalty with no service allowed for avoidable contact, a penalty resulting from contact while lapping Cody Edlred in the final two corners on lap 20.

When Blocker exited his fuel stop on lap 27 still within 20 seconds of Karam, despite making contact with the wall on pit entry, Karam knew he had to find a way to make it to the end or give up the win to the champion.

Karam spent the final five laps pushing in the clutch in nearly every corner, gliding the car through the first section of the track and keeping an eye on Blocker as the Clemson student closed the gap to less than three seconds on the final lap.

“You can make a lot of mistakes when you’re trying to fuel save,” Karam said. “I’ve never had to push in the clutch. There were a few times where I’d go down into turn three and let out the clutch and it would try to spin on me and that was difficult.”

Karam ran out of fuel as the car crossed the finish line.

Blocker was adamant he had the fuel to make it even without the penalty, pushing to the max over the final 5 laps to try and catch Karam or force a mistake.

“That penalty didn’t help me at all,” Blocker said. “I was going to be able to go 26 laps no matter what…I thought I had a good shot at it. I actually saved too much fuel. Had I started pushing three or four laps earlier, maybe I could’ve got to him. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to pass him, but it was fun.”

While Blocker didn’t disagree that his contact with Eldred was a bit forced, he did say he felt Eldred did a poor job of letting the leaders around in an already difficult section.

“He did something really awkward,” Blocker said. “You either have to let someone go middle of the corner or on the straight. I got into him, but we both got out of it fine with no damage.”

Series points leader Ryan Otis also found himself in an intense battle over the final 10 laps, battling a heavily damaged car – the result of also catching the wall during his sole pit stop – and holding off rookie George Sandman by .317 seconds at the stripe.

“I had about 40 seconds of optional repairs that I didn’t take after that mistake,” Otis said. “I was struggling with the car after that. George was faster, but I knew it would be hard to pass. This is a difficult place to pass.”

Aaron Morgan continued his strong run of late with a fifth place finish, passing an out of fuel J.P. Windschitl by inches at the finish.

25 of the 31 starters finished the race. Eight cars finished on the lead lap. James Paulson and David Altman both retired after big incidents, the only two major crashes in the event.

Otis now leads Karam by 91 points. Dustin Wardlow, who finished 10th after needing a second fuel stop, is 24 points behind Karam in third.

The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker takes a month off to prepare for its biggest race of the season. The ButtKicker Indy 250 is scheduled for Thursday, August 29 at 10:35 p.m. EST. Defending race winner Alex Saunders and Blocker have both indicated their intentions of running, adding to the already strong field. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action.

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CANDYMAN VICTORIOUS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire Motor Speedway might as well be renamed Candyland.

Dustin Wardlow took the lead with 20 laps to go and held off early race favorite Marc Cohn to win the Tower Rentals 175 Thursday night.

It was the second consecutive win for Wardlow at NHMS in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker.

“Cross your fingers and stay off the wall,” Wardlow joked when asked why he’s been so good at the Magic Mile. “I don’t know, but I’m liking it, whatever it is.”

Known as the Candy Man – after his longtime sponsor Dewar’s Candy – the Bakersfield, Calif. driver spent most of the race chasing Cohn, who led a race-high 118 laps from the pole.

But after green flag stops, and while battling back through off-strategy cars, Wardlow took advantage of Cohn’s mistake exiting turn two and rocketed past on lap 138. Wardlow inherited the lead when the caution flew with 21 laps remaining and the leaders hit pit lane for fuel.

“That whole race was about trying to stay within half a second,” Wardlow said. “And then everything just kinda broke my way again with the traffic.”

Cohn couldn’t help but feel dejected despite his second-place finish and strong points night.

“I did everything I could with lapped traffic,” Cohn said. “I got held up for a while and it was costing me time, I made a mistake forcing the move and went high and that ultimately cost me the lead. Driver error.”

Big Joe Hassert sliced his way through the field over the final 40 laps, moving up from outside the top five to the podium in the final 40 laps.

“I got a little happy on the loud pedal (on the final restart),” Hassert said. “I tried to time out Dustin and swung and missed. All the sudden, there was Aaron. It was a good battle.”

Aaron Morgan and Scott Holmes rounded out the top five.

The race saw the caution flag fly seven times for 25 laps, including the final yellow with three laps remaining. The race-ending wreck had major championship implications.

Ryan Otis, the points leader and on a run of seven consecutive top five finishes, went tumbling down the front straight after Holmes pushed up the track and into him in a battle for fifth.

Otis finished 19th, his worst effort of the season.

As a result, the championship battle tightened up.

Otis leads Wardlow by 100 points. Sage Karam, who missed the event while racing in the NTT IndyCar Series event in Toronto, sits third, just four points behind Wardlow. Cohn jumped up to fourth, another five behind Karam.

The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker heads back to the road and a doubleheader week with its sister series, the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, in the rolling hills of Alabama.

The Minus 273 Grand Prix of Barber is scheduled for Thursday, July 25 and can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network at 10:35 p.m. EST, with Global SimRacing Channel on the call.

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