Robert Blouin made 13 gallons of fuel last 41 laps to win the Big Joe Cam Anniversary 150 at Chicagoland Speedway, his first win in the Lionheart IndyCar Series. Blouin led just one lap, but it was the most important lap, as he passed Michel de Jonge’s slowing car in turn one on the final circuit and stretched his fuel all the way to victory lane.
“I have no idea what I was thinking,” Blouin said. “The second to last caution, we pitted and filled it up with fuel and put on some tires, just hoping we’d have enough to go until the end. The last caution helped us out, and our team there we just had a good strategy and it played out for us.”
de Jonge’s car began sputtering at the stripe with the white flag waving. He finished 12th, the last car on the lead lap.
“The call was, if Michel pitted on that final yellow, we would’ve come in, because there were about 12 cars between us that would’ve gotten their lap back,” Blouin said. “But Michel stayed out, so we stayed out because those cars all had to drop back.”
Tony Lurcock finished second, with Big Joe Hassert hot on his trail in third. The two fell victim to the fuel game, as all but three cars short pitted around lap 75 for tires and fuel. That left de Jonge, Blouin his teammate, Krysta Nelson, as the only three cars on the lead lap.
Nelson’s night ended when Michael Gray collided with her as he was trying to re-enter the track on the back straight. That brought out the final caution with 13 laps to go, and allowed Blouin to save enough to get the win.
“I learned that if you kept the car up high, you could ramp it down off the corner and it would give the car a good run down the straight,” Lurcock said, disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to race for the win.
“The second half of the race I felt like my tires went away a lot more than they did sitting in the middle of the field,” Hassert said. “Getting caught a lap down, I knew that de Jonge was going to stay out because he’s done it before. He ran out on the apron on the last lap so he almost had it, but it was just a puzzling night.”
Several accidents impacted the points. Series leader Jake Wright was taken out by polesitter Korey Connor on lap 38. Connor tagged the outside wall, and came across the track into Wright, who retired in 23rd.
That wreck brought out the second caution, with Connor also playing a role in the third yellow on lap 56. Connor and Vincent Bluthenthal came together off turn four, with Connor rolling down the front straight, ending his night.
The first yellow came on lap 10, when Ian Adams slid up into Jason Galvin in a battle for sixth. Galvin’s teammate, Jason Robarge, was caught up in the ensuing crash, and Tommy Rhyne also ended up in the wall. Only Adams continued.
James Krahula and Tony Showen rounded out the top five. Adams, Ricky Hardin, Dylan Lee, Chris Stofer and Brandon Limkemann were the back half of the top 10.
Hassert led a race-high 33 laps. There were 25 lead changes amongst 12 drivers, and four cautions for 16 laps. 19 of the 27 starters finished the race.
Wright’s points lead fell to 108 over James Krahula, with Pierre Daigle, Hassert and Hardin rounding out the top five.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series next heads to the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, for the Unacceptable 125 on Wednesday, November 18. The race can be seen live on Global SimRacing Channel at 9:40 p.m. EST.
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