For the first time all season, Adam Blocker faced a challenge on a road course. Ultimately, it did not matter.
The defending champion in the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment pulled away following the first pit stop to win the Plasma-Tracks Grand Prix of Monza, the inaugural event for the series at the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
“I have no clue how I did that,” Blocker said. “I was all over Damon (Martinez) and I saw him starting to spin. I somehow kept the car clean and avoided him.”
Blocker beat Dustin Wardlow by 7.85 seconds.
The Adrenaline Motorsports driver led 22 laps after starting second and battling with Wardlow and pole winner Damon Martinez during the opening stint of the race.
This included a caution when Andrew Kinsella and Brian Beard got together in the opening turn. Everyone was able to continue after repairs in the pits.
“Damon did a great job defending,” Blocker said. “I think I had more pace but I didn’t want to push the envelope going for points. But it worked out.”
Martinez led 13 laps and looked poised to snag his first Lionheart win, holding off Blocker’s challenges lap after lap.
But Blocker stayed out one extra lap during the open pit stops, and as he exited pit lane, the pair went side-by-side into the first turn. Martinez turned a bit too much, causing contact that gave Blocker the lead.
But the battle wasn’t over.
Martinez stormed back around Blocker entire the third and final chicane, only to see the back end snap on corner exit, sending Martinez spinning into the sand and ending his chances at a win.
“I just put the right wheel on the curb too much,” said Martinez, who finished third. “Thankfully I kept it off the wall. I saw Adam in my mirror and then passing my front nose. It was close.”
Wardlow capitalized on the mistake and ran a clean race to the end to finish second.
“I was shocked to even be able to hang with these guys as long as I did,” Wardlow said. “I was hoping for a top ten and ended up with a podium. It was great.”
Dan Geren and Tyler Graaf rounded out the top five.
25 of the 33 starters finished the race, with Scott Bolster, Chris Lanini and Joe Flanagan amongst the drivers involved in crashes.
12 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Blocker’s stranglehold on the championship standings continues.
The Clemson student leads Dan Geren by an eye opening 217 points.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment returns to its oval roots over the next three races, all critical events if Geren wants a shot at Blocker.
Up first, a trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Fisch Motors 200 is set for Wednesday, August 28. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with production from Global SimRacing Channel at 7:35 p.m. EST.