By: Tanner Watkins
September 8, 2019 | 9:00 PM
In a rough and rowdy race that was certainly representative of the state of Texas, David Adams narrowly edged Christopher Demeritt to the finish line to win the Triptacular Memories 225 on Sunday evening. The victory was the first MYLAPS Indy Elite Series win for Adams.
Entering the 150-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway, Ray Kingsbury held a slim 19 point advantage over Brendan Lichtenberg following the most recent race in Gateway. For the Texas round, 34 drivers would attempt to qualify.
Chad Simpson would grab the pole award for the race, edging out Henry Bennett for the top spot while Marshall Stanley was the only driver sent home at the end of qualifications.
The race started quickly with Simpson hopping out to an early lead before a Lap 6 caution slowed the pace. Riley Thompson took a trip through the tri-oval grass (which would happen to many drivers on this night) before coming to a rest before the entry of Turn 1. In the process, Dakota Dicienzo would end up in the backstretch wall in what he described later as an equipment failure.
Ten laps later, after the race had returned to green flag conditions, Sadi Sim Autosport driver Bradley Walters would make significant contact with the wall exiting Turn 4 to end his night – though the accident didn’t yield a caution. Four laps later, though, we would see the yellow flag again for an incident that knocked Andreas Eik and Niall McBride out of the running after just 20 laps.
By Lap 26, Christopher Demeritt had assumed the race lead, pacing the field ahead of Adam Blocker and Brandon Trost. Blocker would eventually overtake Demeritt for the race lead on Lap 29, and a multi-car accident on Lap 30 would bring the third caution period of the race.
In the Lap 30 melee, Rob Powers, Logan Simmons, Tony Showen, and Matt Kingsbury would all see their nights end prematurely.
On Lap 36, Trost would bring out a caution after he and David Adams came together on the exit of Turn 4. It would be the final stoppage in action before a lengthy green-flag period of racing.
Towards the race’s halfway point, it was Ray Kingsbury who had moved into contention while battling Demeritt and Jonathan Goke furiously. Michele Costantini was also in the mix, along with Simon Briant.
During green flag pit stops on Lap 71, Demeritt actually spun coming onto the pit lane and lost a bit of time. While Kingsbury led the race’s halfway lap, Demeritt would still inherit the lead after the pit stops cycled through on Lap 83.
On Lap 90, Goke would squeeze by Demeritt to lead his first laps – before a caution flew on Lap 95 for Thompson again sliding through the frontstretch grass. This time his Dallara machine would end up in the Turn 1 wall, ending his night with a 21st place finish.
Goke would continue to lead Demeritt, Costantini, Briant and Kingsbury in the next green flag stretch before a netcode incident between the latter three knocked Costantini and Briant out of the race.
Just a few laps later, on Lap 122, Kingsbury and Joshua Chin would come together in an accident that would hamper the points leader’s efforts for the rest of the evening.
In the caution period that immediately followed the Chin/Kingsbury yellow, Goke would receive a penalty for speeding on pit lane – relegating him from first to 17th in the running order. In the end, that is where Goke would finish on Sunday evening, 14 laps down.
The last 25 laps had plenty of action – especially with Demeritt staying out on old tires while many of the leaders pitted for fresh Firestone skins on Lap 123.
On the Lap 126 restart, Demeritt had his hands full with Blocker, Bennett, and Adams, who was now challenging for the top spot. Blocker grabbed the lead by Lap 127, and then Adams would shoot to the point on Lap 129.
The moment of the race came on Lap 136 when Blocker mounted a charge to pass Adams on the high line exiting Turn 2, successfully finishing the maneuver in a dazzling display of resiliency. Incredibly, on the very next lap we would see Adams blow by Blocker on the backstretch again to take the lead for the final time.
Demeritt made a run at the Sadi Sim driver at the end, coming to within 0.235 seconds of the lead when the checkered flag flew at the conclusion of Lap 150.
In his post-race interview on SYM TV, Adams noted his aerodynamic balance was a bit challenging as fuel runs progressed – and that he even hit the wall in the race’s closing stages.
“Definitely had a little bit too much front wing in (the car), so late in the run it really got tricky coming off of (Turns) 2 and 4,” said Adams. “(I) probably let it carry out to the wall a little too far and got the right front into (the wall), which slowed me down and definitely let (Demeritt) make me worry for a little bit.
“From the get-go when we started doing the setup, we were thinking about long runs and a really hot track. If we could run the low line decently and move up to the high line, anyone who stays in that low line… we should be able to blow by, and the first couple long green runs, I think that is how I made most of my spots up.”
Despite leading the most laps on the evening – 54 – Demeritt was far from solemn after picking up a runner-up finish to move just 66 points back of the overall championship lead.
“I needed to pit for new tires on that last caution, really. Or I needed to figure out how to get good runs behind (Adams), a few laps before I actually did. I started to make steam at the end, and I knew that I had a long run car so I needed to wait for the tires to equalize, but just ran out of time really,” said the experienced iRacing IndyCar race-winner.
“All things considered, it is a pretty good result. I am kind of annoyed at the end, especially for that strategy call and how close was to getting to Adams at the end. But I can’t complain about P2 – it was a good race throughout.”
The race featured nine different leaders and 25 lead changes over the 225-mile event. Seven cautions for 27 total laps under yellow slowed the pace a bit, but the race moved at a brisk pace for a duration of just 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Ray Kingsbury will hold a points lead of 11 markers over Brendan Lichtenberg when we head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca next week for the fourth round of the MYLAPS Indy Elite Series fall championship. Henry Bennett remains third (12 points back) while Adam Plunkett and Michele Costantini round out the first five.
Tune in next week as the series shifts to its first road course of the year at Laguna Seca – which will be shown live on Sunday, September 15 at 7:00 PM Eastern on SYM TV.
Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com.