Preview: Lionheart IndyCar Series rumbles its way to Kentucky
Updated: May 6
This week, the Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by Buttkicker returns to iRacing’s virtual Kentucky Speedway for the eighth running of the OMA's 200.
The 134-lap race, which takes place on May 5, is a yearly tribute to Shari “OMA” Boggs, an educator and volunteer from Hackettstown, N.J., who died in 2017. She had collected more than 1,600 sets of pajamas and more than 1,300 books for needy children, taught English as a second language and many other programs. Boggs had been inducted into Hackettstown
Medical Center’s Senior Hall Of Fame for her work.
Kentucky has had seven different winners in seven years. Only once in the race’s history has the driver who has led the most laps - Joe Hassert in Season 2 - taken the checkered flag. Dan Geren has also led a series-high 279 laps at the track and has never won.
Last year’s race winner, Chris Stofer, said it was very difficult to make a pass for the lead.
“What sticks out the most for me last season at Kentucky was how hard it was to pass the leader,” When I finally got into first, I had a very hard fought battle, but managed to come out on top.”
Adrenaline Powerslide’s Adam Blocker is entering Kentucky with a 30-point lead in the overall drivers standings over PRIVATE LABEL Team Hype’s Connor Harrington.
The series utilizes the 2011 version of the Kentucky Speedway for its races.
Andrew Kinsella, who won the OMA’s 200 in Season 6, said that version of the track is very wide to race at. The Adrenaline Motorsports Red driver added that while his preparation is going well and it's a facility he likes, the tires could make the race interesting. He expects the field to be packed together when on fresher tires.
“(The legacy track) creates a number of different ways to get around the corner, particularly as the tires fall off.” said Kinsella. “As the tires go away, the car tightens up, particularly in traffic. The tools can help, but you don’t want to go overboard with them. On its own, the car is actually a bit free to start, so if you suddenly get a bunch of clean air with too much weight jacker in it, it can bite you.”
Stofer added the overall layout makes the racing more difficult compared to other speedways.
“It doesn't have the banking like many of the other cookie cutter one-and-a-half mile tracks and because of that, it makes for an exciting race,” said Stofer. “Most of the time, there are multiple lanes to use and that usually translates into good racing on the track … I have noticed it takes some guys a lot of practice to get it down, but it can be a drivers track more so than other tracks of similar size.”
Fuel is estimated to reach around 42 laps for the event. Drivers in turn are expected to take three pit stops to make it to the end of the race.
“I think the undercut is going to look pretty tempting to a lot of people,” said Kinsella. “There is some fall off here, so you can gain an advantage that way and get yourself some track position. At the same time though, I think there is quite a bit to be gained by extending out as long as possible as well, if you can take care of your tires. Where you don’t want to be is in the in-between group.”
Kinsella said he feels he has not had the best start to the season. Overall, he feels it will be tough to determine what type of races drivers will experience.
“Like any oval race, you are going to need the right combination of strategy, speed and luck to win,” said Kinsella. “I think track position is important here, and I’m fortunate to have an amazing team that always is top the field when it comes to strategy, so overall I’m confident.”
Stofer said his strategy will be to get towards the front and save fuel. He feels he does not need to lead the most laps, only the last one.
“I think it will take a bit of luck to avoid wrecks and also make sure to pit at the right time,” said Stofer. “If I can manage to be in position at the end to make some moves, it would be nice to repeat and win again this year.”
Race coverage for the OMA's 200 begins at 10:35 p.m. ET on May 5. It can be watched on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.