It was an offseason of change for the stars of the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation. New drivers, new teams and a new series sponsor have changed the landscape of the series dramatically. But it is a familiar track for the Lionheart drivers as the series opens the schedule at Homestead Miami Speedway, the traditional starting track for all Lionheart seasons and the site of last week’s all-star race. Last week, Adam Blocker barely edged out Ryan Otis in the non-points All-Star Race on the Homestead Roval. Now they are driving for real on the high banked oval. Before we get to that however, a re-cap of the off-season goings is in order.
The team landscape may have seen the most changes during the offseason. Gone are former staples #NAILEDIT, AGR and Streamline Motorsports. Replacing them are new teams like Raven Motorpsorts, Loud Pedal Motorsports, Skid Mark Motorsports and 8 Ball Motorports. In fact, the only team to retain its complete line-up for the new season is the team that finished 2017 the hottest. Adrenaline Motorsports is back with it’s complete lineup of Chris Stofer, Joe Branch, Tony Showen, Adam Blocker and Andrew Kinsella.
No Name has lost Brian Yaczik to Loud Pedal Motorsports where he will be joined by Brian Greenlee, Woody Mahan and Marty Davis. AGR’s Jorge Anzaldo and Jason Galvin have formed Raven Motorsports, along with Samuel Reiman, Travis Jegerlehner and Dustin Wardlow.
Dragonfly Racing has also experienced some turnover, and now consists of Vincent Bluthethal, James Paulson, Chris Lanini, Ryan Otis and Robert Blouin. Area 51 is also back with Jack Bogan, Pete Edwins and Rory Collins. New team 8-Ball Motorsports will consist of Justin Weaver, Michael Goodman, Ron Hacker and Marc Aumick. The New Lunar Republic has a pair of rookies in Tyler Graaf and Nate Dean. Finally, Controlled Chaos returns with Bob Mikes, Scott Bolster and Mitch Mohler.
Got all that? No? Not to worry, because the musical chairs likely aren’t finished with some powerful free-agents still to be claimed and some rookie drivers looking to prove themselves worthy of a spot on a top team.
Speaking of Rookies, we start the season with 20 drivers eligible for the Buttkicker Rookie of the Year title. Some names such as James Krahula, George Adams, or Mitch Mohler will be familiar to those who follow the Lionheart Indycar Series, while others such as James Brant, Marty Davis, Tyler Graaf and Nate Dean will be completely new. One thing is certain, with 20 drivers eligible for the Rookie of the Year title, and the fabulous prize package that goes along with it, all will be fighting for the grand prize. Winners choice of a ButtKicker Gamer2 or ButtKicker Sim Kit!
But the rookies don’t get to have all the fun, since the winner of the 2018 Lionheart Retro Series will go home with none other then a set of the finest pedals in sim-racing, the HPP 3P PRX SE pedals. There are already 3 favourites for the title right off the hop.
Jake Wright pulled off the double last year, winning both the Lionheart IndyCar and Retro titles. With a set of HPP pedals from his IndyCar series win, Wright will be even more formidable this coming year. He also will be able to devote his efforts solely on the Retro Series, after announcing that he will not be going for 4 in a row in the Indycar series.
Adam Blocker joined Lionheart mid-way through the 2017 season and started only 10 of the 18 races last season. Despite this, he had the most series wins with 4. Facing a full season of Retro in 2018, Blocker will be looking to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and do what no one has been able to do; beat Jake Wright over the course of a full season.
The person that came closest to accomplishing that feat last season was Ryan Otis. Otis captured the most pole positions with 5, but had only 2 wins to show for it. If Ryan Otis can turn some of that bad luck into good this season, he will surely be in the race to the championship at the end of the season.
Looking at the team championship, some interesting new dynamics have been created. Raven Motorsports is composed of the drivers who finished 3rd through 7th in last years championship, while No Name holds 3 of the top 8 from last years championship as well. It was Adrenaline Motorsports, however, that finished the season the strongest, almost managing to catch No Name Racing in the finale last season. Look for these 3 teams to be battling all season long to find out who will be the fastest.
And yet, we are only scratching the surface for storylines in the upcoming season. The ButtKicker 200 at Homestead Speedway will likely only serve to create more of them. Will one of the favourites get their season off on the right foot, or will it be a dark horse upsetting the order from last year. With rookies making up nearly half the grid, will one of them walk away with the win, or will it be a wily veteran using his experience to survive the chaos. Tune in to find out! The ButtKicker 200 will be live Thursday March 15th at 10:35pm Eastern only on GSRC and iRacing Live.