By: Tanner Watkins
January 26, 2020 | 8:00 PM
After a rough start to the 2020 Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series season, defending champion Adam Blocker picked up his second win in as many starts on Sunday night. The Powerslide Motorsports driver won the Open-Wheels.com Grand Prix at iRacing’s version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, kick-starting his run for a second title this spring.
A massive field of 32 drivers were on-hand for the 39-lap event on the IMS road course, and newcomer Philip Kraus was able to take the pole by more than three-tenths of a second over the second-place qualifier – Blocker.
The race itself was one of the more orderly battles we have seen in the Indy Elite Series’ recent memory. Only a few drivers dropped out of the running early on – and 28 competitors finished within two laps of the leader.
On Lap 1, Flinn Lazier had a minor incident that took him off-track while the field zoomed by him. The Colorado native would battle back to a 21st place finish.
Austin Espitee would take a trip off-track as well – for him, on Lap 2 – but the New England club member put on a fantastic display by driving up to an eighth-place result.
The first third of the race was thoroughly dominated by Kraus, who was on a two-stop strategy while his main competition – Blocker – began nursing a one-stop game plan. While Kraus pitted around Lap 15, it would be another four laps until Blocker took to his box for service.
Watch the race broadcast from SYM TV below!
Those four laps certainly made the difference.
While Kraus re-assumed the race lead on Lap 21 – once all drivers in the pit sequence had cycled through – it was only six more laps until he would relinquish the lead for the final time to Blocker.
With Blocker nearly 20 seconds ahead, Kraus re-entered the race on Lap 28 in seventh place, just ahead of Andrew Kinsella.
In the end, Blocker would waltz home to a 9-second victory over teammate Henry Bennett. Kraus, who battled into what appeared to be a fourth-place finish in the closing stages, was rewarded with the final step on the podium when Adam Crane ran out of fuel on the final lap.
For Blocker, the only play on the night was the one-stop strategy – one that made him a winner for the second time in 2020.
“I really just decided to commit to (the fuel-saving strategy) early on,” said Blocker. “I trimmed out a little extra to make the fuel-saving easier… but I was committed to it no matter what (starting position) I was in.”
After tonight’s event, Henry Bennett has moved into the top spot for the Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series standings. Philip Kraus trails Bennett by just seven points, and after his victory this evening, Blocker is third overall – 13 points off of the top spot.
The next race of the season will be contested in a couple weeks’ time on Sunday, February 9 at the Twin Ring Motegi oval – live on SYM TV.
Kingsbury leads Road to Indy Elite standings after Archer wins
Clark Archer took victory earlier this week in the Road to Indy Elite Series presented by Open-Wheels. The race took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, just like the Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series round on Sunday.
After three rounds, Matt Kingsbury continues to lead the championship with 35 points. Archer, after winning, moves into second in the points with 21 tallies to his name. Matt Hollibaugh has 19 points, rounding out the top three spots.
The championship winner of the Road to Indy Elite Series presented by Open-Wheels will have a guaranteed spot in the next Indy Elite Series season.
Special thanks given to SYM TV for their heartfelt recognition of the passing of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, who lost their lives earlier today in a helicopter accident in Southern California.
Open-Wheels offers thoughts and prayers to the Bryant family as well as additional families affected by today’s tragedy.
Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com