By: Tanner Watkins
April 5, 2020 | 11:00 PM
It has been a dominating return to Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series competition for Zachary Campbell, who won his second consecutive race on Sunday by taking victory on the Long Beach Street Circuit.
For the 51-lap race around iRacing’s version of the historic Long Beach streets, Campbell qualified on the pole while Adam Blocker, Eric O’Connor and Flinn Lazier rounded out the first two rows. Unfortunately for Blocker and Lazier, they would have to fall to the end of the field due to previous race penalties.
On Lap 1, the field darted into Turn 1 without much issue, but trouble surfaced towards the middle of the pack with a multi-car accident collecting drivers such as Chris Cahoe, Clark Archer, and Gabriel Perez – among others.
For the second consecutive week, a full-course caution slowed the pace of the race on Lap 1.
When action resumed on Lap 4, drivers more carefully navigated the early corners to safely restart the race. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t keep attrition from becoming the theme of the race – which is common at street course circuits.
While Campbell steadily left his competition further and further behind, a slew of accidents knocked out drivers such as Joshua Chin, Bradley Walters, Chris Stofer, Matt Pawelski, and many more.
Check out the full race replay from SYM TV below!
Incredibly, after 16 laps we had seen eight drivers exit the race, and by Lap 36, only 15 cars were left on track after starting the event with 34 competitors.
A frenzied three-lap stretch between laps 34 and 34 saw many frontrunners have issues, including Christian Steele, Riley Thompson, Andrew Kinsella and Flinn Lazier in one accident on Lap 32, and then Liam Quinn, Adam Crane and Ray Kingsbury in another multi-car crash on Lap 33.
Finally, on Lap 34, Adam Blocker smacked the tire barrier exiting a corner with Simon Briant following closely behind. Given the nature of street courses, Briant had nowhere to go and followed Blocker’s tracks straight into the defending series champion.
During this melee, current points leader Philip Kraus moved his way into third place – and one of the best battles of the race was held between he and O’Connor for second place in the closing stages.
Despite a valiant effort – and an advantage on the push-to-pass allotment remaining – Kraus was unable to overtake O’Connor for the runner-up position while both drivers finished on the podium.
In the end, it was Campbell who walked to a 28.523-second victory while leading all 51 laps in the Elite Long Beach Grand Prix.
“It was a really fun race overall,” said Campbell to SYM TV postrace. “I love Long Beach as a track – I think it is fantastic. I wish iRacing would finish (the track)… it is one of the best street courses in the world and one of my favorite tracks.”
Campbell noted how stressful the race was with spotters outlining accidents happening around the track, but still called the race enjoyable.
After ten rounds in the 2020 championship, Kraus holds a commanding 73-point lead ahead of Bennett – with only rounds at Circuit of the Americas and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway remaining in this season.
The Coca-Cola of Kokomo Elite Series returns to action in two weeks with the Coca-Cola Classic at COTA on April 19, live on SYM TV.
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR.