They’re Back! The Lionheart IndyCar series is back from a 3-week summer vacation to mark the halfway point in the 2018 Season with the GSRC Grand Prix of Sonoma. GSRC has been given the title sponsor spot for this event as a thank you from Lionheart for working with the league for close to 4 years as the exclusive broadcast partner to the series. GSRC’s first ever broadcast with the series was on Nov 12th 2014; the Season 1 finale at Auto Club Speedway. It saw Jesse Vincent win the event and the Championship over Richard Behr by just 1 point. Lionheart hosted its first running at Sonoma in Season 2. The series has run Sonoma every year since then, however with the real-life IndyCar series shifting to Laguna Seca next season, will this be the final year in California wine country for the virtual IndyCar drivers as well?
Last time out in Milwaukee, Brian Yaczik went nearly wire to wire, starting on pole and leading 193 of the 200 laps enroute to the victory. Dan Geren, Adam Blocker, and Big Joe Hassert were the other 3 drivers to lead laps, and finished in spots 2 through 4. Pierre Daigle rounded out the top 5. The race at Milwaukee really separated the men from the boys, as some members of the Lionheart community struggled to come grips with a set-up that ran looser then many in recent years. Those who had it figured out had rave reviews of the set, while those who didn’t found themselves spinning out, mainly on restarts, which lead to a record number of cautions (17) for 66 laps of the 200-lap event. Despite the number of slowdowns, there were a couple of green flag runs that allowed some drivers to work their way through the field. Points leader Andrew Kinsella finished 29th after being involved in an incident with Justin Weaver.
Kinsella continues to lead the championship ahead of a charging Brian Yaczik. Yaczik sits just -5 points back from last season’s rookie of the year, however the Canadian has a drop week in hand after missing the race at Michigan. With drop races incorporated, Yaczik falls close to 50 points behind the Canadian, and actually falls behind Adam Blocker, who has also missed a race. Ken Hacker was the biggest mover after Milwaukee gaining 5 positions in the standings after a solid 7th place finish at the 1-mile oval. Scott Johnson was another driver who gained ground after Milwaukee gaining 4 spots.
From the tight confines of Milwaukee, the Lionheart Series shifts gears to the Twisty ups and downs of Sonoma. Once again, the new IR-18 chassis marches on to another road course, where the car has certainly seemed to excel. The IR-18 has broken record after record on road courses this season. Jake Wright’s previous qualifying and race laps records were 1:13.527 and 1:13.740. With drivers lapping in the low 1.12’s and even the occasional high 1.11’s, expect Sonoma to be yet another place where the records will fall.
If Kinsella is looking for a bounce back race, Sonoma may not be the right place for it. During last season race, Kinsella had moved from 8th to 2nd before encountering a stopped car in the middle of the hairpin on the back of the course. Kinsella would make contact with a car and flip onto his lid ending a promising run. That result marked the last time Kinsella lead the points in his rookie season as Jake Wright took over from there. The momentum is definitely on the side of Yaczik, Geren, and Blocker, who are coming off top 3 finishes and have proven to each be top notch road racers this season.
These 4 will certainly not be the only drivers contesting for the win Dustin Wardlow, Stephen Laarkamp and James Krahula have all shown speed on the road courses and can be expected to be in the hunt at Sonoma, however the stiffest competition might be from someone more familiar to Lionheart Retro viewers, as Alex Saunders has been added as an alternate to the IndyCar roster and is expected to make his debut at Sonoma.
Adrenaline continues leading the team championship sitting 136 points ahead of 2nd place No Name Racing. The lead currently stands at 136 points. Synergy Motorsports is in 3rd, 187 points back. These 3 teams have separated themselves from the field, with 4th place Loud Pedal Motorsports over 500 points off the lead.
Ron Hacker is leading the cleanest driver standings after 11 races with just 13 incs. Stephen Laarkamp sits in 2nd place with fewer incidents but has run only 10 of the 11 races so far this season. By no small coincidence, Ron Hacker is also leading the Iron Man standings by 8 miles over Matt Mercer. Both Mercer and Hacker sit tied with 1,335 laps but Hacker has the further distance.
With the second half of the season approaching, the series will soon begin tracking the turning point award. It is given to the driver who makes the most improvement in the 2nd half of the season. Last season’s winner Chris Stofer is looking like a prime candidate to repeat as winner of this award, as a truly horrific run of luck has seen the Indiana driver 29th in points with just a pair of top 5 finishes to his name so far this season. Other names to watch out for for 2nd half turn arounds include Brian Beard, Tyler Graaf, Dustin Wardlow, Brian Greenlee and Bob Mikes. All 5 of these drivers are 20th or worse in points right now, but have at least 1 top 10 finish to their names.
The story lines certainly are plentiful heading into the midway point in the season. To watch as history is made, tune into GSRC and iRacing live on Wednesday August 22nd at 10:35pm EDT for the GSRC Grand Prix of Sonoma.