History has been made for the Lionheart Racing series in iRacing, Alexis Newsome has become the first ever female champion in the series.
All year the Lionheart Racing series has put on an amazing show and great field of drivers that has made us at simrace247, very proud to be their league partners and sponsors.
Justin Prince has the full race report.
Newsome Becomes First Female Lionheart Racing Series Champion
For the first time in the history of the Lionheart Racing Series, a female driver has won the drivers championship.
Alexis Newsome won the inaugural Lionheart IndyCar Series Presented by The DLMC Racing Channel title by finishing second in the Thumbs Up Cancer Down 300 Presented by Minus 273 at iRacing’s virtual Auto Club Speedway.
Newsome beat Barrett Rolph in the standings by 25 points. She finished her 2021 campaign with four wins, three poles, nine top fives and 11 top 10s.
Her Factory Backed teammate, Robert Maleczka III, won the race. Their combined performance helped them clinch the team championship by 142 points over Team RaceVerse Red.
Rolph, Chris Fowler and Caleb Benci completed the final top five of the season. “It’s been a long season,” said Newsome from HyperX Victory Lane. “(There were) a lot of mistakes. I’m glad it turned out this way.”
Newsome had been more than 50 points behind Matt Taylor for the championship lead with four races to go. At the time, Newsome had finished outside the top 10 three of the past four rounds.
However, her fortunes changed down the stretch. She finished second or better in three of the final four events of the campaign, including at Auto Club.
Her worst finish was ninth place during that span. Her top three championship rivals – Rolph, Taylor and Tony Showen – had two top fives and one top 10 finish combined during that same period.
“I mean, it was spiraling there for a while,” said Newsome. “I kept thinking I couldn’t run one race without keeping it off the wall. I just started driving at 95 per cent until I got my confidence back.”
For Maleczka III, it was a bittersweet ending to the season. Despite missing several races, he finished third in the drivers standings. He had also won seven races, the most by any driver in the series this season. Maleczka III also started from the pole position five times.
“Hats off to Newsome. She deserved the championship there,” said Maleczka III. “I’m glad we could work together the whole race.” Right from the start, Maleczka III and Newsome were in-sync. The Factory Backed teammates tried to swap draft with each other down the straightaways.
Then, on Lap 8, the two drivers were able to break the draft of the pack. Craig Forsythe aero washed up the track coming out of Turn 2. He slid into the left front wing of Charles Teed’s car, forcing both drivers to check up.
Benci and Teed then went three-wide with Forsythe for third place, costing the pack even more time. By the end of the lap, Newsome and Maleczka III were already more than a second ahead.
In Maleczka’s opinion, the two drivers had more pace while working together than the entire field. “Rob just working with me through the whole race like that was (about) trying to get the team the championship,” said Newsome.
The Factory Backed drivers controlled the race up front from there. In a no-caution race, they led a combined 144 of 150 laps.
However, the race was not incident-free. On Lap 56, Teed and Paul Jenkins collided in Turns 3-4 while battling for 15th place. Teed then pinballed off of Jenkins’s right front tire, sending him into the outside wall.
As Teed straightened his now-destroyed Dallara DW12 out, Jenkins spun into the pit lane. As Teed tried to cut across the track to pit, only to be hit at full speed by A.J. Musselman.
His Dark Horse Motorsports car was then launched into the air for several seconds before landing in the front stretch grass.
Despite the chaos, the crash did not cause a caution. The pit lane carnage continued on Lap 119. Jorge Anzaldo was having a quiet night in his Synergy Motorsports Blue car when he sped entering the pits.
Anzaldo was going more than 90 MPH when he slid into the grass, right into the path of the pit wall. As he attempted to avoid the wall, Anzaldo clipped it with his right rear tire, sending him flipping down the pit lane.
In the end, just seven drivers finished on the lead lap.
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