UCORA IndyCar Throwback Series Reaches Halfway Point of Season at Richmond Raceway
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Ten races down, ten to go. With Thursday night’s racing at Richmond Raceway in the books, the UCORA IndyCar Throwback Series has reached the midway mark of its 2020 season.
Richmond Raceway last hosted a real life IndyCar Series event in 2009, a race won by Scott Dixon. The first time modern IndyCar visited the 3/4 mile track was in 2001. That race was won by Buddy Lazier. The history of IndyCar and Richmond Raceway, though, can be traced back to 1944 and 1945 when Richmond Raceway was still a half-mile dirt track known as Strawberry Hill Speedway. AAA Champ Cars raced there twice in those years. Ted Horn, a 24 time race winner before his 1948 death, won the 1944 event. In ten Indianapolis 500 starts, Horn finished no worse than fifth in nine of them, his sole retirement from the race resulted in a 16th place finish. The 1945 event was won by USAC Hall of Famer Tommy Hinnershitz. Following the recent eleven year absence from the raceway, IndyCar announced its planned return to the track for the 2020 season. However, the return to Richmond will have to wait as the event was cancelled amid the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Two-hundred laps were in store for the competitors of the UCORA Throwback IndyCar Series for their visit to the virtual Richmond Raceway, the UCORA standard for tracks a mile or less in length.
The pole position would belong to Chris Lanini at the conclusion of qualifying. On his outside in the second starting spot was Justin Kirby. In row two were Erik Jeffers and last week’s winner Brian Beard. Points leader Paul Jenkins rolled of just behind them in the fifth spot. Last week’s biggest mover, Jake Wright, was in for another night of heavy traffic as he would again start at the tail of the field without making a qualifying run.
Justin Kirby jumped from the pole to the lead on the initial start, but an early caution would slow the field before the 10 lap mark. Prior to the caution, Jake Wright was already making up spots from the rear of the pack working his way to 16th. After the restart, Kirby would resume his position as race leader while Wright continued his march through the field. A lap 20 caution for Gaston Arellano would slow things again as Wright began knocking on the door of the top 10 as he battled Jason Galvin for 11th. Under the caution, the front runners stayed out while drivers toward the back of the field elected to take to pit road for service.
Racing was tense on the second restart with some two and three wide battles throughout the top half of the pack. As the action started to calm down, Justin Kirby, Chris Lanini, and Travis Bennett filed into the top three spots. By the lap 30 mark, Jake Wright had broken into the top 10, partaking in a three way battle for 7th with Andy Yerk and Jason Galvin.
As Justin Kirby began to make his way through lapped traffic, Julio Compagnoni and Dieogo Asensos found trouble in turn two right in front of the leaders. While Kirby snuck through, second place Chris Lanini wasn’t as lucky as he would be collected and find the inside wall. Under the caution, the majority of the field came into the pits. However, Rick Ravon and Paul Krumrei stayed out, inheriting first and second place respectively.
Turn two became quite a trouble spot for drivers throughout the race. After restarting in the lead, Rick Ravon succumbed to the fresh tires behind him. Soon, he would get loose exiting turn two, spinning without contact to the inside of the track. Moments later, Justin Kirby would spin from second place in the same spot while chasing leader Joe Hassert. Paul Krumei also had an incident after making contact with a sideways car in front of him. The race remained under green flag conditions following the incidents.
At the halfway point, it was Joe Hassert showing the way. Behind him in second place was Jason Galvin, up from the 18th starting spot. In third was Paul Jenkins. Chris Lanini and Brian Beard rounded out the top five at lap 100. Breathing down the necks of the top five was Jake Wright, putting on a passing clinic for the second race in a row. Just after halfway, Erik Jeffers and Travis Bennett tangled in the trouble spot of turn two, slowing the field once again.
With about sixty laps remaining, another accident would collect several of the top five drivers. While fighting for the lead, Jason Galvin clipped the apron in turn two, Though he was able to lock the car down and slid back toward the apron, Chris Lanini and points leader Paul Jenkins came together while trying to avoid the spinning Galvin. Jenkins ended up hitting the inside wall while Lanini continued on after contact with the outside wall.
Joe Hassert led the field back to green with just over fifty laps remaining in the race, Chris Lanini followed in second while Jake Wright had done his best to move around cars and incidents alike to run in the third spot.
In the laps following the restart, Wright made his way past Lanini into second place. With Lanini behind him, Wright set his sights on leader Joe Hassert. With 26 laps to go, Wright brought the fight to Hassert taking the lead in a power move on the inside. While those two battled, Chris Lanini found trouble again, ending his race.
Despite a spin by Jason Galvin, who had recovered from earlier trouble to run as high as second, the race ran caution free to its conclusion. From the last starting spot on the grid to victory lane, Jake Wright had played the part of Dan Wheldon in the race. Like Wheldon, Wright made his way from deep in the field to take a win at Richmond Raceway. Wheldon started 20th to win the 2004 IndyCar event at Richmond while Wright started 21st in the UCORA event.
Second place would belong to Joe Hassert who led much of the latter stages of the race. Brian Beard would have a strong performance, that will no doubt help him in the points standings, in third position.
The UCORA Throwback IndyCar Series will be back in action with racing at the unique Gateway Motorsports Park (aka World Wide Technology Raceway) on July 2nd.
By Todd Rose