The ninth round of racing in the UCORA Throwback IndyCar Series emanated from the virtual Watkins Glen International Thursday night. Two weeks ago, the series visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what turned out to be a terrific show claimed by Joseph Hassert. Even with the trading of packs and full throttle racing for twists, turns, and elevation changes, the racing was still highly entertaining.
Claiming the pole in qualifying was Dan Geren, who entered the week second in points. Next to him on the front row was Brian Beard, who also sat next to Geren in the points in third place. Points leader, Paul Jenkins, would roll off from the fifth starting position. Twenty seven cars in total lined up for the green flag to run the 44 lap race.
Geren would jump into the lead after the drop of the green flag and lead the field through the first lap around The Glen. Behind him, though, several drivers found themselves in trouble in turn one. As can be expected with any race at Watkins Glen, whether it be NASCAR, IndyCar, or IMSA, the first turn of the first lap was a hotspot for issues. Involved in the turn on tussle was Erik Jeffers, who was the first car to go around, John Garrett, and Jordon Mondigo.
While the drivers up front fell into a semi orderly rhythm, racing further back in the pack was intense. One of these intense battles saw Jason Galvin, Marc Cohn, and Jeff Wubker go three wide down the backstretch for the seventh position while Hugo Galaz watched closely behind.
Back up front, Dan Geren came under attack from Brian Beard. Beard would take the lead on lap 6. Geren, falling to second, soon came under attack from Justin Kirby but was able to hold onto the second spot. Further back in the top ten, Jason Galvin would spin out of the final corner, falling from sixth position to outside the top 20.
The battle for second turned into trouble just past the quarter mark of the race. Dan Gerne, tucked into Justin Kirby’s slipstream, made contact with the rear of Kirby’s car, sending Kirby spinning into the gravel. Somehow, Kirby managed to stay inside the top ten while Jackson Freer moved to third. Meanwhile, Brian Beard began to stretch his lead to almost four seconds.
At the end of lap 15, the front runners of Beard, Geren, and Freer, all came into the pits for service while Paul Jenkins, Hugo Galaz, and Jeff Wubker stayed out for an additional lap. Jenkins and Wubker both narrowly avoided disaster as a car spun ahead of them at the pit entrance, causing both to take evasive action to miss the stricken car.
After pit stops cycled through, Brian Beard resumed his position as leader of the race. The second place battle continued to rage on between Jackson Freer and Dan Gerne with those two trading that spot back and forth. Somehow, Jason Galvin had already worked his way back into the tenth spot roughly 15 laps after his spin dropped him down the order.
At halfway, things up front had calmed down for the most part while battles in the midpack turned attention their way. Chris Lanini, Hugo Galaz, and Diego Asensos, running 12th through 14th, butted heads with each other with Lanini eventually coming out in 12th with Asensos and Galaz falling in line behind him. Unfortunately, Jason Galvin would drop out of the race at this point despite his incredible recovery to the top ten.
In the closing laps of the race, it was all Brian Beard up front, as he led 13 seconds clear of the field. Behind him it was anyone’s guess who would take home second. Dan Geren, who had held the spot for most of the race, spun exiting the boot section of the track, allowing Brandon Shown and Jackson Freer to battle for the second step on the podium. With the white flag in reach, Freer replicated the Geren incident, except Freer found the wall. Shown moved into second. Moving into third place was the race’s biggest mover Jake Wright, who started all the way back in 24th.
Brian Beard would take the top step of the podium with his first win of the season. Second and third went to Brandon Shown and Jake Wright in that order. Beard became the sixth different winner in nine races, once again showing the competitive nature of the UCORA Throwback IndyCar Series.
The next race for the UCORA Throwback IndyCar Series will take place in two weeks time at the Richmond Raceway.
By Todd Rose