An argument could be made that Ridin’ Shotgun Motorsports was the unluckiest team in the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX.
The man they call Little Train, Lionel Calisto, withstood a one-lap shootout to capture his first win in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel, and the first victory for his team, taking the win in the Watchman 250 presented by DMLC Racing Channel at Pocono Raceway Thursday night.
“This is unbelievable,” Calisto said. “Just incredible, I’m speechless.”
Calisto outlasted the field in a carnage-filled event, the first of the Triple Crown events in the Retro Series, as just 12 cars finished, and not all got away clean.
“It’s our first win as a team here,” said Calisto, a regular challenger in The Majors series with his team.
The race was shaping up for an exciting finish, with only defending series champion Ryan Otis among the top 15 drivers having previously secured a win.
But Dean Moll lost the back end of the car trying to pass Calisto in turn three with five laps remaining, collecting Otis, Jorge Anzaldo and David Clymer as well.
That setup the final sprint to the line, but neither Aaron Morgan nor Chris Ragan could find the momentum to make a move.
“I had that sweet spot on the high line,” Calisto said. “It just worked in turn three. I was just hoping I could hold it and it got us back to the line.”
Morgan jumped two spots in the points, up to third and just 23 out of the championship lead with his second place, yet another podium in a strong season. Morgan leads the series with four top 10 finishes in five starts.
“I said I was going to follow up in one and get a good run, and pass him in the tunnel and hold in in turn three and hopefully he doesn’t get run on me,” Morgan said of the final lap. “I knew I needed to go high in turn three and for some reason, the golden moment came and I had him cleared and didn’t take it.”
Ragan was thrilled to capture his first podium in the Retro Series.
“I thought I could get a good run on that restart,” Ragan said of his first podium finish. “But once I realized I wasn’t going to get to the lead, I just focused on keeping Finian (D’Cunha) behind me.”
Championship points leader Sage Karam went out early, as did George Sandman, who fell from second to fourth in the standings after the race.
No single driver dominated the event. In a 100 lap racer, an astonishing seven drivers led at least 10 laps. Moll (16) led the most, but Calisto, Dustin Wardlow, Mike Rigney, Paul Jenkins, Otis and Jason Bosse also led double digit laps.
Karam leads Otis by 10 points, with Morgan 13 back of the lead in third. Sandman sits fourth, with Finian D’Cunha fifth. Little Train moved up to sixth, gaining 10 spots with his double points win.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel next heads to the land down under, and Phillip Island Circuit, for the Fisch Motors Grand Prix of Phillip Island, set for Thursday, May 28. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network with Global SimRacing Channel producing the show at 10:35 p.m. EST.