By: Tanner Watkins
May 6, 2019 | 9:00 AM
In an unpredictable, challenging and grueling race, Jonathan Goke outlasted the challengers and carnage on Sunday evening as he won the Indy Elite Series’ fourth annual Indianapolis 500 presented by Redline Ace.
The race was contested on the popular online motorsports simulation, iRacing.
With 20 laps to go in the event, Goke was leading the way with many drivers rounding through their final pit stops. As the laps continued to click off, amazingly Goke continued to pass the entrance to pit road on each circuit around the 2.5-mile oval.
Despite a train of four cars lined up in an attempt to reel in the former iRacing Indianapolis 500 top split winner, Goke continued to motor ahead in his rainbow-colored Dallara IR-18 – even extending the gap to insurmountable lengths.
In the end, the experienced veteran found his way to the checkered flag first and won the race by a sizable 9.6-second margin. Goke dominated the 500-mile event by leading 150 laps while just six drivers finished the race on the lead lap.
“I wish I could say it was hard, but it kind of wasn’t,” exclaimed Goke after the race. “Dan and Ray built me a rocket ship… and working with Zac the entire way to make sure he won the championship, I can’t believe it.”
The victory for Goke brings things full-circle for him in the Indy Elite Series. After being welcomed back to the league on a conditional basis following previous conflicts, Goke has made the most of his opportunity in winning the year’s biggest race.
“I have to send a shout-out to Joe (Branch),” added Goke. “I talked to him before the season and he said that I could come back on a conditional basis if I watched the attitude that I had in the past.
“Hopefully I’ve earned the respect back – this is just amazing. I can’t believe it… this is awesome!”
Finishing runner-up was Adam Dock, who led three laps on the day, followed by Zac Campbell (more on him later), Riley Thompson and Chris Cahoe in the top five.
In total, nine different drivers led laps in the 2 hour, 29 minute race. The pace was slowed by four caution periods for a total of 11 laps completed under yellow. The competitive event featured 31 lead changes.
While Goke was coasting to victory, it was Campbell who fought his way to a podium finish to clinch the 2019 Indy Elite Series championship. Campbell won the title by 58 points over Henry Bennett.
In 10 starts, Campbell led the league with three victories (Pocono, Circuit of the Americas and Long Beach) while notching seven top-five finishes and a top ten in each race. Bennett was able to achieve the same stat line featuring seven top-fives and ten top-tens, but the three victories for Campbell (to Bennett’s zero) was enough to push him across the line first.
Campbell also claimed the pole for this year’s Indy Elite Series Indianapolis 500, one final feather in the cap for 2019.
The race, which featured a full field of 33 drivers, was faced with carnage early on.
Five drivers, including the reigning iRacing Indianapolis 500 winner and former series champion Joshua Chin, were collected in an early accident that saw five drivers out of the race by lap two. Over the next 40 laps, another four drivers would make their exit, and by the race’s midway point there were only 16 men left on track.
Some of the best drives in the field were found in the fourth and sixth place finishers. Thompson marched from 20th on the grid to just one spot off of the podium in a strong performance, and Dan Lee Ensch fought from a 29th place starting position to finish 6th.
Other strong runs included a 7th place finish from Andrew Wood (started 22nd), a top-ten result for Richard Holt (started 28th) and a finish of 11th for Flinn Lazier after starting 31st. Lazier is the son of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.
And with that, the 2019 Indy Elite Series season is in the books. Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for continued sim racing coverage in May as we will shift our focus to the upcoming iRacing Indianapolis 500 held on Saturday, May 18.
Header image by Joe Branch/Indy Elite Series.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.