This time, Mike Rasimas had enough fuel.
The impressive rookie captured his first career Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel win Thursday night, saving enough fuel to get to the finish as points leader Ryan Otis tank ran dry on the final lap at World Wide Technology Raceway.
The win was vindictive for Rasimas, who one week prior ran out of fuel while leading late at Iowa Speedway.
“Happy to be here,” Rasimas said after his fifth top five in seven career starts. “I’m a little surprised my first win came on an oval, but you have to put a full race together here, and like tonight was all about fuel mileage. It’s definitely a challenge.”
Rasimas followed Ryan Otis to pit road on lap 10, following the only caution of the race, and many teams felt like they would be able to one stop the race from that point.
Half the field stayed out, leading to Sage Karam’s mid-race domination.
But when Karam had to pit for a final time with 15 laps remaining, questions started to arise about the leaders.
For Otis, who rarely had a car in front to catch a tow, the tank ran dry on the back straight during the final lap.
That allowed Rasimas, who stalked Otis over the final 40 laps, to drive around and take the win.
“I had no idea if he was saving at all,” Rasimas said. “I kept trying to put pressure on. I actually hit the wall exiting turn two, it’s funny, I thought the race was over. And so I was just going for it. And then a second later Ryan came on and said he was out.”
Ricky Hardin used fuel saving of his own to come home in second, nearly nine seconds back of Rasimas.
“Man it feels like I just won the Indy 500,” Hardin said. “I’ve had such a bad season here in Lionheart. I was surprised Otis ran out. I really wasn’t that close, but I’m also not as fast as he is.”
Finian D’Cunha, who once again intentionally sat out qualifying, rallied from 25th to third despite the lack of cautions or attrition.
“I spent the entire last run looking at my fuel calculator, seeing if I had enough to get to the end,” D’Cunha said. “I really couldn’t save anything. I tried everything I could. I was just hoping I had enough fuel to get to the end.”
Richie Hearn followed D’Chunha, driving from 26th to fourth, while Otis coasted home in fifth.
The finish was enough to allow Otis to extend his points lead, as Karam’s decision to stay out under the only caution assured he would have to make two green flag pit stops.
Karam finished in seventh, the highest running car on that strategy, just behind Lionel Calisto.
Dustin Wardlow ran the fastest lap of the race and even led two laps, but fell to 19th after speeding on pit road during his final stop.
Karam led a race-high 81 laps, the bonus point helping to ease the pain of finishing behind Otis, as the Retro Series enters the home stretch of the season with just five races remaining.
Otis leads Karam by 67 points after factoring in the two drop weeks the series allows. Calisto is third, still very much in the championship battle, 80 points back of Otis. Wardlow and Aaron Morgan round out the top five.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel is the back half of a Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX double header this week, heading to Brooklyn, Michigan for the Turn Racing 200 at Michigan International Speedway.
The race can be seen live on Thursday, September 24, at 10:35 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network and Global SimRacing Channel.
Michigan International Speedway has meant a great deal to the Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX. It was the site of the very first Lionheart IndyCar Series race in July 2014 and has appeared on the schedule every season for both the Indy and Retro Series. Michigan has also produced some of the most exciting moments in the league over the past six and a half years.
The race last season was certainly one of those moments as it produced 3 and 4 wide racing throughout the entire race and ended with the closest finish in Lionheart Retro Series presented by the DMLC Racing Channel history. 2019’s running also saw just 1 caution across the 200-mile event proving that drivers in the Retro Series know how to race wheel to wheel at over 200 mph.
Ryan Otis comes into Michigan as the defending race winner having beat out David Clymer by just 0.002 seconds at the line. The Oregon native is looking to rebound after coming up short at the recent HyperX Gateway 150 when his Lotus 79 machine ran out of fuel in turn 3 on the final lap.
Fortunately for Otis he was able to salvage a 5th place finish and stay ahead of Sage Karam in the points. Sage finished in P7 at Gateway and now sits 67 points back from Otis who maintains his points lead through Round 13 of this 20-round season.
Mike Rasimas has hit the ground running this season moving up another 4 spots in the standings after scoring his first Retro Series win at Gateway. Rasimas sits in 13th overall despite having 4 fewer races than the rest of the field. Finishing outside of the top 10 only once in hist first 7 starts he is likely to break into the top 10 before this season comes to a close.
Ricky Hardin is coming off a solid run at Gateway where he finished in second place behind Rasimas. Hardin will be looking to take that momentum to Michigan where his skill on ovals will likely see him battling up front.
Tune in Thursday September 24th, 2020 live on the iRacing eSports Network via Global Sim Racing Channel to watch the cars and stars of the Lionheart Retro Series with coverage beginning at 9:35 pm CST.
Race Link: https://youtu.be/ON1udQg21-A
For more information on Turn Racing and their products visit www.turnracing.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by the DMLC Racing Channel is set to return to World Wide Technology Raceway today for the HyperX Gateway 150. This will mark the 4th consecutive year that the series has seen the famous 1.25-mile oval. Gateway is unique in that turns 1 and 2 have 11 degrees of banking which is quite different than turns 3 and 4 which have 9 degrees. This presents itself for a real challenge for both the setup designers and drivers as each end of the track requires a different approach.
New for 2020 the setup has been designed to remove much of the snap oversteer that the Lionheart Retro Series drivers have come to experience with the Lotus 79 on the ovals. This has presented a car with much more understeer than previous runnings at Gateway. Aero wash this season is also eliminating any evidence of pack racing this year and drivers will have to us all their skill to setup passes and make them stick.
The previous race winner Marc Cohn and two-time race winner Adam Blocker will not be in the field for tonight’s event. This once again is setting the stage for a first-time winner at Gateway. This season has already produced 6 different winners, with one of them coming from series rookie Matt Taylor with his impressive win at Twin Ring Motegi. Gateway is similar to Motegi in that both ends of the track are not identical and not easy to master. Can Taylor once again find the speed needed to reach victory lane?
Qualifying will certainly be crucial to success with the setup provided to the series for this week’s event. Chris Fowler has shown some great pace in qualifying starting on pole in the first of two warm up races. Ryan Otis has posted the fastest official qualification time so far this week and will certainly be looking for the pole to aid in securing a good finish as well as extending his championship points lead over Sage Karam.
Finally fuel strategy will likely come into play as some drivers will attempt to stretch the fuel to make it on one stop. Estimated fuel runs are near 56 laps so cautions will need to happen in order to make that a reality. In terms of history with incidents Gateway has had its share of them with a series high of 11 in 2019 for a total of 40 laps under caution.
Tune in 9/17/2020 live on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel to watch the cars and stars of the Lionheart Retro Series presented by the DMLC Racing Channel at the virtual World Wide Technology Raceway.
Race link: https://youtu.be/E_4kowJqGhs
For more information on HyperX and their products visit www.hyperxgaming.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series Powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
Fans won’t look at Thursday’s Thumbs Up, Cancer Down 150 at the virtual Iowa Speedway and think of vintage Sage Karam.
But the NTT IndyCar Series driver won’t care.
Karam charged to second place following the final caution, and inherited the lead for the first time with four laps remaining when rookie Mike Rasiumus ran out of fuel, capturing his sixth win of the season in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Karam said. “The race was hard. Dirty air was really bad. I got stuck in the back for a while, but was able to benefit from good pit stops and a couple of restarts. Really interesting race.”
Karam started 19th in the 29 car field following a qualifying mistake, and patiently worked his way into the top five. But the career series wins leader (12) seemed stuck in third until a restart following the sixth and final caution of the race on lap 134.
Karam had tried time and again to get around Tommy Rhyne, with the two even touching wheels on lap 133, but Rhyne continued to look like the stronger car until lap 142, when Karam made a sweeping move into turn one and was able to pull away from Rhyne.
Still, one of the hottest drivers in the league led the way, and despite having not pitted since lap 72, Rasimas continued to stay out well past the projected 75 lap fuel window, albeit with plenty of caution laps mixed in.
“I knew I was kinda racing Tommy Rhyne,” Karam said. “But then we kept getting yellows and I started to think ‘maybe Mike can make it now.’ I thought he was a lot worse on fuel than he actually was. When we got to five to go, I thought he was going to make it. I didn’t know until I saw him pull over, and it was a sigh of relief. I couldn’t get around him.”
Alas, it was not to be, as Rasimas continued to wait for one final yellow flag that never came. His Lotus 79 sputtered on the back stretch with four laps remaining, turning the lead - and the win - over to Karam.
“It just kept getting closer and closer and closer,” Rasimas said. “I just kept trying to save fuel when I could, trying to stretch it out. I needed one more yellow. I was actually pretty happy I got as far as I did. I had to try. It was the only way I was going to beat those super fast guys.”
Rhyne held on for second, even closing on Karam in the final two laps, but ran out of time. The finish was a career best for Rhyne.
“I was just going off the information my teammates could give me,” Rhyne said of being the first car to make the trip to pit road and make it to the end. “I thought if it went green, we would’ve won. It was just so hard to pass the leader, almost impossible.”
Bobby Mikes put on the show of the night, blowing past pole winner and early race favorite Dustin Wardlow (100 laps led) and points leader Ryan Otis in the final 20 laps. It was the best finish of the season for the two-time Retro Series race winner.
“It was an interesting race,” Mikes said after being involved in multiple cautions but surviving each. “I was just waiting for the tires to come in. It’s the age old 79 question, when will they come in? And they finally came in late and we were really good.”
Otis finished fourth, just ahead of a disappointed Wardlow.
18 drivers finished the race, with 15 on the lead lap.
Rasimas fell to 17th, three laps down, after coasting back into his pit stall to top off.
Karam closed the championship gap to 63 points back of Otis, the defending series champion. Lionel Calisto jumped to third in points, with Wardlow up two spots to fourth following Aaron Morgan’s late race crash. Morgan sits fifth, 161 points back of Otis.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel takes three weeks off before returning on Thursday, September 17 at World Wide Technology Raceway, formerly Gateway Motorsports Park, outside St. Louis for the HyperX Gateway 150. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network and the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:35 p.m. EST.