Adam Blocker lost the lead of the DirtyBlinds.com 250 in the final corner. An aggressive move from Dustin Wardlow looked to be the race winner as the Lotus L79’s roared out of turn three at Pocono Raceway and towards the checkered flag.
And then, everything changed. The Adrenaline Motorsports driver accelerated from the outside line, as if he were shot out of a cannon, and nosed ahead of Wardlow in a photo finish – .010 seconds – the closest finish in Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation history.
It was the second win of the season for Blocker, who led 19 laps while swapping the lead with Wardlow over the race’s final stint.
“That was fun,” Blocker said. “We had a great race up there, with Wardlow and (Alex) Saunders.”
Wardlow, who also finished second to Blocker at the season opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a photo finish that was at the time the closest finish in series history, thought he might have made the race winning move.
“Being part of something that special is always good regardless of where you come out,” Wardlow said. “I’m grateful for a good finish…there was some great racing going on, and I was waiting to see how it would pan out. I still want to win, but I’m happy with this as well.”
But Blocker rolled the outside just enough, and perhaps pulled a slight tow as Wardlow shut the door on corner exit.
“I don’t even remember how we got to that position on the final lap,” Blocker said. “All I knew he was on inside in three and I was hoping he would have to lift and I would roll the outside, but he got a good enough run on the bottom to clear me.
I think he just scrubbed a little too much speed coming around me, and then that little bit of a tow, when the finish is that close, every little bit helps.”
Defending series champion Jake Wright had the best seat in the house, running third over much of the final stint – all while holding off Michael Goodman and Brian Yaczik in their own battle – capturing his second top five of the season.
“Everybody tonight was super quick,” Wright said. “Everyone brought their A game. This season had been kinda off for me but I’ve started doing some interesting things. Tonight I thought not qualifying would be fun. It was a very fun race.”
Alex Saunders once again looked like the driver to beat, leading a race-high 43 laps, but had to fight his way back to the front after pitting as the yellow flew for Jorge Anzaldo’s spin on lap 63.
Saunders was able to get back to the lead in 20 laps, but while racing Wardlow and Blocker with 10 laps remaining, Saunders made an aggressive move to the bottom in turn three when the rear tires lost grip, sending the Nighthawk Motorsports driver spinning up the track, into Justin Weaver and then the wall.
Saunders finished 20th.
Surprise pole winner Chris Lanini never led a lap, and saw his night end early on lap 10 while battling with Saunders and Dan Geren for the lead.
As the trio exited turn one, Lanini washed up into the wall while trying to allow Geren extra room. The California drive saw his car catch the wall, and bounce violently down the Long Pond Straightaway before coming to a stop.
It was Saunders who rocketed to the front on the opening lap, after starting third. Joe Hassert and Ryan Otis each led laps as well before being swept up in incidents, setting up the frantic finish between Blocker and Wardlow.
Blocker leads the points by 27 over Wardlow, who moved up a spot with his third top five finish of 2018. Brian Yaczik sits 37 points back of the lead in third.
Raven Motorsports extended its lead in the team standings on the heels of Wardlow’s strong showing and a top ten by Samuel Reiman. In its inaugural season, Raven Motorsports sits 49 points ahead of Adrenaline Motorsports.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation heads overseas after a short break, for the HPP Simulation 175 at the Twin Ring Motegi oval. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 7.
For more information on the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation, and the Lionheart Racing Series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.