Fans watching the Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker Thursday night will not soon forget what they witnessed.
As championship points leader Ryan Otis, David Clymer and Chad Dalton came roaring out of turn four on the final lap of the Plasma-Tracks 200 at Michigan International Speedway, the trio fanned out three-wide.
Clymer used a side draft from Otis to creep up, wing tip to wing tip.
As the trio crossed the stripe, it was clear Dalton had to settle for third - by a wing. But the winner, nobody really knew.
“I was still coming out of turn two on the cool down lap, looking at the display,” Otis said. “I wasn’t really sure.”
At last, timing reset, and a review of the finish showed it to be true; by 0.002 seconds, the closest finish in Lionheart history, Otis captured the win over Clymer.
“I’m still trying to catch my breath,” Otis said. “I knew that in a drag race up on the banking, the guy in the middle would cross the line more often than not in first.
“But I also knew that with the rules, on the final lap you could cut some time on the apron. I guess it worked out.”
Clymer thought he had a chance until the car started moving around on the apron.
“It started getting a little loose on my, I was kinda scared for a second,” said Clymer, the winner at Indy in August. “I thought a race like this, I just need to finish, don’t do anything crazy.”
Dalton said he needed help being stuck on the outside.
“I just wanted to finish,” Dalton said. “I needed a little more momentum. Maybe if I had been up there for a whole lap and had a run. But I got up there so late, I just didn’t have what I needed.”
Finian Dcunha and Adam Young rounded out the top five.
To the surprise of many, the race was slowed by just one caution for two laps.
On lap 4, netcode contact occurred sending Ken Hacker’s car violently spinning up the track. Running inside the top ten, several cars had nowhere to go and ended up collected, including Dean Moll, Tyson Landis, Joshua Gayman, Frank Beiser and Mike Belair.
The race would run green to the finish following a lap 7 restart.
Dustin Wardlow, teammates to Otis at Raven Motorsports, seemed to be the biggest challenger to the points leader early on. But a speeding on pit entry penalty caused the man affectionately known as The Candy Man - homage to his sponsor Dewar’s Candy - to hold for an extra 15 seconds on pit road.
Wardlow, who captured the pole, would finish eighth, the leader of the next pack of cars unable to fight for the win.
Otis now leads Clymer by 150 points with six races remaining in 2019. Wardlow slipped to third, 9 points behind Clymer.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by ButtKicker returns to the track Thursday, September 26, with a short track shootout on tap.
The ButtKicker 150 at Iowa Speedway can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network at 10:35 p.m. EST, with presentation from Global SimRacing Channel.