This week, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel heads to iRacing’s virtual Phoenix Raceway for its sixth race of the 2021 season.
The ButtKicker Phoenix 175 Presented by KARNOX, which will take place on May 10, will be the first short track race of the campaign.
Other Lionheart Racing Series events that have come to the one-mile track this season have had dirty air and track position be major factors.
“With all the downforce we have, it's close to flat out in clean air,” said Alexander van de Sandt of Team Raceverse Black. “Passing might be difficult, so qualifying and pit strategy will be important. I'm typically strong on long runs, so taking care of the tires early on will be important.”
Adrenaline Motorsports driver Chris Stofer enters the round with a two-point lead over teammate Tony Showen and Factory Backed’s Alexis Newsome.
Showen said he does not feel the pressure of a championship fight at the moment.
“There will be moments that I can't control that affect the other drivers around me in the hunt,” said Showen. “I just need to focus each week to get top five finishes and hopefully a win here and there which would put myself in the position to be there at the end to win the championship.”
Van de Sandt expects the field to stay close together at Phoenix. He feels that could lead to attrition. The Lionheart Retro and IndyCar Series races had seven and six cautions respectively earlier this year.
“With these cars, there won't be much field spread at all,” said van de Sandt. “I won't be surprised if there's some carnage at least early on.”
Drivers are expected to make it about 50 laps on fuel, according to van de Sandt. He expects drivers to potentially go further on gas depending on tire fall-off and dirty air.
“There are always many different strategies that play-out at Phoenix,” said Showen. “There may be a portion of the race where there are several cautions within a small number of laps. In this scenario, there will be drivers that don't pit under caution which will mix drivers with worn tires among new tires. This will also set up different pit cycles if we get a long green run. Pitting under green can be dangerous because of the risk of being down one-two laps if a caution flies right after you pit.”
For van de Sandt, qualifying will be a big part of his race execution.
“If I can execute well in qualifying then I'll be in a good spot,” said van de Sandt. “From there, with how close together we'll be, it's all about keeping it clean and maintaining track position.”
For Showen, he said he does not ever expect anything.
“Usually the best thing to expect is the unexpected,” said Showen.
Race coverage for the ButtKicker Phoenix 175 Presented by KARNOX begins at 10:35 p.m. ET. It can be watched on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.