Saunders wins first oval after dramatic duel at motegi
Alex Saunders led the most laps, but had to hold off the only other winners in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation in 2018 to win his first oval race, the HPP Simulation 175 at Twin Ring Motegi, in a wild finish.
Saunders swapped the lead numerous times with Adam Blocker and Jason Galvin over the final green flag run, but pulled ahead of Blocker when the final caution flew with three laps remaining.
“It was tough,” Saunders said. “Jason did a really good job of staying with me on the final restart. I knew we were getting close to the end but it was too much trying to battle with Joe and Adam and Jason, so I didn’t know what lap we were on (when the final caution flew).”
Blocker rallied after dropping to the back of the lead lap with mechanical issues, charging through the field and past Galvin before coming up one spot short.
“I think he was a little bit better than me,” Blocker said. “He was better at holding the outside in three and four and I think that was the difference.”
Saunders captured his third win of his rookie season in the Lionheart Retro Series, but his first on an oval after Blocker and Galvin found ways to beat the newcomer in earlier races.
“It was really nice just to get to the end of one,” Saunders said after being involved in wrecks in his prior two oval starts. “It was intense.”
Galvin slipped to sixth in the frantic final green flag lap, allowing Joe Hassert to jump onto the podium, with Andrew Kinsella and Jake Wright both going around Galvin and into the top five.
“I don’t run much in the Retro Series,” Hassert said. “It’s only my third race in this car this season, so this was fun. I think I might’ve had some wing damage that hurt me at the end, but it was a fun race.”
The race was slowed by seven cautions for 25 laps, including a spin by Vince Bluthenthal that brought out the final caution on lap 110.
Blocker extends his points lead over Dustin Wardlow to 62, with Saunders up to third despite missing the season opener.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation is right back at it, short track style, with the Turf Monkey 200 at the Milwaukee Mile.
The race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 14.
For more information on the Lionheart Retro Series presented by HPP Simulation visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
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