By: Tanner Watkins
January 13, 2019 | 8:00 AM
In the second round of the 2020 Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series championship, defending title winner Adam Blocker took home his first victory in the new year by winning the Coca-Cola 150 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
A total of 38 cars were on the entry list for Sunday night’s race, meaning four drivers would be sent packing before the green flag even flew. In the end, upstart IES driver Philip Kraus took the pole award (ahead of Joshua Chin and Andrew Wood) while the following drivers were bumped from the field in qualifications: Coen Evans, Aaron Roufs, Gabriel Perez and Bryan Carey.
It didn’t take long for the first accident of the night to occur – on an evening where eight caution flags would slow the race’s pace. After starting 10th, Chris Stofer was the first driver out of the race when he ended up in the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 2.
The first 30 laps saw a handful of notable drivers make early exits due to accidents: Simon Briant on Lap 7, last week’s winner Jason Brophy by Lap 17, Charles Anti on Lap 27, and both Logan Simmons and Andreas Eik on Lap 30.
Briant’s exit was particularly bizarre – caused by a chain-reaction stack-up just before the green flag was to wave for the second time. Briant pumped the brakes as drivers slowed in front of him, but unfortunately, Frank Levick was unable to avoid the slowing Sadi Sim Autosport driver and ran into the back of the No. 22 machine.
For the second caution period of the evening, Kraus relinquished the lead for the first time when Chin stayed out on track while nearly all of the leaders pitted.
Chin held the lead through to Lap 31 – when Eik and Kraus made contact while fighting for second place, later collecting Simmons. Chin would pit under that caution period while Adam Blocker, Andrew Kinsella and Henry Bennett – Powerslide Motorsport teammates – stayed out to lead.
On Lap 44, Dakota DiCienzo was involved in an accident that avoided a caution period. The third yellow of the evening came when Wood and Blocker came together in Turn 1, though the No. 32 was able to keep his car out of the wall and continue on during Lap 50.
For the next third of the 150-lap race, Chin and Blocker would become the main players up front. A few notable names exited the race as well with accidents of their own, including Tim Doyle, Ray Kingsbury, and Matt Pawelski.
It wasn’t until Lap 87 when the next caution would fly – which was Kingsbury’s end to the night as a result of a netcode incident in Turn 3.
In the round of pit stops following Kingsbury’s accident, disaster struck as Chin’s car lost power upon entry to his pit box and was unable to re-fire for multiple laps under yellow – falling well out of contention after leading 53 laps.
With Chin out of the picture, the rest of the evening was relatively straightforward for the 2019 Indy Elite Series fall champion Blocker.
He would not relinquish the lead after assuming the top spot on Lap 89, winning by 1.4 seconds over his teammate Kinsella, and first-year driver Kraus.
“A win (at New Hampshire) is pretty big for the points, and I think we are going to be strong at all of the short tracks and road courses – which is seven of the twelve races,” said Blocker post-race, in response to a tough season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week.
Blocker did note that it would have been tough to overcome Chin if not for his own issues, though the veteran driver was more than happy to take home his sixth career Indy Elite Series win.
After two rounds of the 2020 championship, Brophy was able to hang onto a slim points lead despite his early exit from Sunday evening’s race. He sits just 14 points ahead of second-place driver Henry Bennett, followed by Kraus, Stofer, and Joe Branch in the top five.
Blocker, after winning this week, is ninth at 38 points behind the leader.
The Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series will take a weekend off before resuming activities on January 26th for the Open-Wheels Grand Prix of Indy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The race will be shown live in its entirety on SYM TV, the official broadcast partner of the Indy Elite Series.
Kingsbury continues Road to Elite winning ways at New Hampshire
In the second round of the Road to Indy Elite Series presented by Open-Wheels.com, Matt Kingsbury made it two-for-two in 2020 by taking victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kingsbury has put himself in the driver’s seat early on by jumping out to a 14-point lead on Matt Hollibaugh in the Road to Indy Elite championship standings. The winner of the season title will have a guaranteed spot into next season’s Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series championship.
The next Road to Indy Elite Series round will be held at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, running the road course configuration ahead of the Indy Elite Series in two weeks’ time.