He had to sweat it out, but Andrew Kinsella became the first driver to find victory lane twice this season in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment – doing so in just three races – taking the win at Kentucky Speedway in the OMA’s Kentucky 200, in loving memory of grandma’s no longer with us.
League member Marc Aumick sponsored the event, dedicating it to his mother-in-law Shari Boggs. Known as Oma to her grandkids, Boggs lost her five-year battle with cancer in June 2017.
The race hit home for Kinsella, who has twice experienced the tragedy of losing a grandmother, both in the last six months.
“I really wanted to win this one,” Kinsella said. “I can’t say enough about Marc for putting this one on. To win this particular race just means so much to me right now.”
It wasn’t easy.
After a long battle with pole winner Dan Geren (his third in as many events) and teammate Tony Showen, a caution with 13 laps remaining obliterated all signs of what was at the time a clean race.
With the lapped car of Rory Collins separating second-place Showen from his Adrenaline Motorsports teammate, and Geren making a run to the inside down the back straightaway for second, the No. 31 car darted to the inside.
The move was too late; Geren had already pulled alongside. The two made contact, sending Showen spinning into the outside wall in turn three. As cars slowed for the caution, Showen attempted to spin the car around and continue, but lost control, striking Jorge Anzaldo, and ending the race for both.
Nine cars stayed out, including the top six. But No Name Racing teammates Joe Hassert and Jason Galvin led the charge to pit road for fresh tires.
Collins failed to yield to commands to drop to the rear when the pace lights went out, delaying the restart one lap, a move that proved critical.
Galvin and Hassert, along with Brian Yaczik and Dustin Wardlow, charged through the field, even as cars on fresh tires and cars on old tires collided on the final lap, sparking two major wrecks.
But the charge came up one lap short, as Galvin crossed the line 0.247 seconds behind Kinsella.
“I think the key was to be up front,” Kinsella said. “I made it a goal to get to the front before all the craziness with the tires happened.”
Galvin was disappointed in the delayed restart.
“We feel like we got robbed there,” Galvin said. “The yellow got delayed, and that was the lap. I knew it. I told my teammates that was going to cost us the race, and the second I cleared Dan I knew it. I was too far behind Andrew, and I got to where I needed to be on the last lap, but there was just no way I was going to pass him at that point.”
Hassert seemed equally frustrated.
“I crushed my tires early,” Hassert said. “I thought I’d be able to save enough early, but on lap 14 I was done. I spent the rest of the night buried in traffic. And then the end was difficult. You can’t help what other guys are doing…I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is.”
Yaczik – the winner in Phoenix last week – rebounded from a spin in the pits to finish fourth, with Wardlow coming home fifth while avoiding the last lap carnage.
Geren was collateral damage in the first big wreck, exiting turn four as the white flag flew.
Chris Stofer pushed up into Pierre Daigle, and as Stofer bounced off the Canadian driver, hooked Geren into the wall.
Geren finished 23rd. It’s his third crash in as many races, despite leading the most laps in each event and not being at fault in any of the incidents.
Stofer was also involved in the second wreck, when Ron Hacker rear ended the damaged No. 7 exiting turn four, in a wreck that also took out James Krahula, Woody Mahan and Brian Greenlee.
As a result, the top three cars in points have already opened up a full race lead on fourth.
Yaczik continues to lead the way, the only driver to finish in the top five of each race.
Kinsella trails by 10 points, with Galvin two points back in third.
Hassert sits fourth, 49 points behind Galvin and 61 out of the lead. Brandon Limkemann continues a strong start of the season and sits fifth.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a week off before hitting the road for the first time in 2018.
The SimPit Grand Prix of Watkins Glen is set for Wednesday, April 25. The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35pm EST.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.