By: Tanner Watkins
December 8, 2019 | 8:00 PM
For the penultimate race of the 2019 MYLAPS Indy Elite Series fall championship, Adam Blocker entered the evening with just one prerequisite left to clinch the 2019 title: start the race. In the end, he did much more than that, leading 20 laps en route to a victory in Sunday night’s round at the historic Road America circuit on iRacing.
Blocker’s Powerslide Motorsports teammate Henry Bennett began the evening as his primary challenger, snatching the pole with a lap of 1m41.921s that just edged out Team Chimera’s Joshua Chin by three-hundredths of a second. Blocker would start third, while 26 drivers in total would start the race.
Simon Briant, after posting the eighth-fastest time, had a hardware issue that forced him to miss the race start, rolling off last from pit lane.
As the 25-lap race went green, Bennett and Blocker jumped to the point as Chin slotted in third. An early accident saw Tony Showen, Richard Holt, and Logan Simmons have issues on the opening lap, and Bradley Walters would have an issue of his own on Lap 2 to prematurely end his night.
After starting from the pits, Briant’s night got worse when he slid off track at the final corner on Lap 2 to lose even more ground – though he would make it up in a valiant effort through the night.
Up front, Bennett held the lead through the first five laps before Blocker grabbed the race lead on Lap 6. Chin would get around Bennett by Lap 8, and the battle all night would eventually settle on Blocker and Chin.
Through a round of green-flag pit stops, Chin was closing on Blocker with just laps remaining until the final pit stop of the night for each driver. After closing to within a half-second of the leader, Chin nearly lost control of his car in Turn 1 on Lap 19 – effectively ending his pursuit of the race victory.
Both drivers would pit within the next two laps, and in the end, Blocker had saved enough push-to-pass in the race’s early stages to thwart any comeback attempts from Chin – would would eventually finish 3.976s behind the Powerslide Motorsports driver.
With the victory at Road America, Blocker grabbed his fourth triumph of the 2019 fall championship – further solidifying his season as one of the best in the series’ history. And while much of the evening saw the focus planted firmly on Blocker vs. Chin, the race was won on the only lead change of the night between Blocker and Bennett.
“I got close enough where I was on his gearbox in (Turns) 1 and 3, and used push-to-pass into Turn 5, then did a switchback and got (Bennett) into Turn 6,” said Blocker, describing the pass on his teammate in the post-race interview.
“After that, Henry and Josh helped me out a little bit because they fought and lost a little bit of time. Josh was then faster than me, because he caught me from three seconds back. He had a slide that cost him a chance, but I had more push-to-pass saved up on him, so even if he got past me, with the straight-line advantage I think I could have gotten him back.”
Despite the hard-charging effort that fell just short, Chin was pleased with his runner-up finish considering the conditions he was up against.
“I was pretty happy with how the race went… I knew I was at a straight-line deficit to Adam and Henry, and it was going to be a struggle all night, and it showed from Lap 1 with that back-and-forth… having them battle each other. I finally got around Henry and it was working out nicely, but I had to use up a little more push-to-pass to do that than I probably should of, and it left me hanging out dry for the second lap of the race.”
With the victory, Blocker moves his points lead to an insurmountable 159 markers heading into the final race of the season. The MYLAPS Indy Elite Series will conclude its 2019 fall championship next Sunday, December 15 with an always-exciting round at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
The race will be shown live at 7:00 PM Eastern on SYMTV.
Image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com