It was déjà vu for Sage Karam.
This time, the Pennsylvania native got the job done in the ButtKicker Indy 250.
In a finish reminiscent of the Indy Lights Freedom 100 in 2013, Karam rolled through turn four at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway behind the leader, before popping to the inside and hoping for the run that eluded him seven years ago.
“That was really fun,” Karam said after the race. “It reminded me of the Freedom 100. You try to position yourself for the last lap but in the back of your mind, you know if a yellow comes out it could be over. I just wanted to not be in the lead going into the final corner...I wanted to keep at least one car in front of me, and I got a run and it just worked out. It went to plan, and it usually doesn’t go that way.
It definitely reminded me of the Freedom 100. I was in the same position. Unfortunately that didn’t really work out in real life, but it was nice to get some redemption here.”
Karam crossed the stripe 0.026 seconds ahead of Ryan Otis. Mike Rasimas and Trevor Malone, who hit the pit wall in the scramble to the finish, flanked the championship contenders.
Dustin Wardlow, who won the inaugural event in 2017, came from 27th to finish fifth, with David Clymer in sixth. The margin from first to sixth: 0.080 seconds.
“The racing was so clean, it was awesome,” Karam said. “When you can race like that, so close with guys you really trust, it’s awesome. It reminded me of my karting days. It was just a great race. It’s good when you know who you’re racing.”
Otis was thrilled with second, and knew he was a sitting target heading into the final set of turns.
“I did a few practice races, and in both of them, there was a photo finish,” Otis said. “In both races, the car on the outside had the better run and won it. So I thought I would be good. But when Sage got the run, he just had a huge run and beat me.”
Rasimas completed the podium for the second time in as many events, an impressive start for the series newcomer.
“I’m still kinda shaking a little from that finish,” Rasimas said. “I just didn’t want to wreck anybody. I knew when I was kinda up there alone in the last corner that it was probably over. But it was fun.”
Karam and Otis dominated the event, leading a combined 72 of 100 laps, but the race still featured plenty of action.
59 lead changes occurred despite 12 caution laps, including a massive crash on lap 80 at the front of the field.
Marc Cohn and George Sandman were leading the field with Indy 500 veteran Adrian Fernandez in third. The Mexican star made an aggressive move to the middle, but ran out of room and turned Cohn into Sandman.
Over a dozen cars careened left and right off the walls, allowing Otis and Karam to move back to the head of the field, setting up the frantic run to the finish.
Just 13 of the 36 starters finished the event, many undone by the turn two wall, which seemed to jump out and bite cars at a frequent rate.
Otis is still the points leader, but Karam has closed the gap to just nine. Sandman’s DNF caused him to slide to 92 points back of Otis, with Dustin Wardlow jumping three spots and emerging once again in the championship battle in fourth.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel drivers take a month off to catch their breath before heading to wine country, and the rolling hills of Sonoma Raceway for the HyperX Grand Prix of Sonoma. The race can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the action, at 10:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, July 30.
After 7 rounds complete in the 2020 season, drivers will start to shift their focus on the 2nd half of the season with unquestionably the most important race of the entire year. The ButtKicker Indy 250. The Round 8 event will be the 4th running at the Brickyard in as many seasons with tension building up to the drop of the green flag.
The 2nd leg of the 2020 triple crown holds extra importance as it will be a double-points paying event. The championship battle has remained close up front despite Sage Karam’s dominance this season. Karam who won 4 times this year is trailing the defending series champion Ryan Otis by 21 points despite Otis only reaching victory lane once in 2020. Otis has remained consistent though, which has proven to pay off for the 6-time series winner by scoring 5 top 5 finishes so far. Not to be forgotten George Sandman who currently sits in 3rd overall is just 39 points back from first place. Sandman known for being a road ace, has shown his pace and the ability to win on the ovals as evident by his season opening victory at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Series race engineer Andrew Kinsella has brought a new setup package for this year’s running at Indianapolis, aimed to produce a challenging but rewarding drive for those able to navigate traffic and stay in the draft. The high ground effects producing Lotus 79 was never designed or intended for oval racing, which has been a challenge for league setup engineers as well as drivers over the last 4 seasons. Pocono would certainly be a perfect example on how difficult the car can become as the fuel load lightens and heat builds into the tires. Dean Moll who experienced heartbreak while so close to a possible win experienced the sudden oversteer that drivers have come to expect with the L79 on ovals. The changes made for this year look to provide a stable handling car and in turn exciting racing for the fans.
Adrian Fernandez Known for his 11 IndyCar victories as well as former American Le Mans 2009 Championship teammate Luis Diaz continue to acclimate themselves to the Lionheart Retro Series and look to be strong competitors for the race. Richie Hearn who also shared the track with Fernandez during the CART era of IndyCar in real life will reunite on iRacing once again this Thursday night.
The ButtKicker 250 will also carry the biggest prize list in league history for a single event. Series sponsors ButtKicker, SimXperience, HyperX, Minus 273 and Espo Designs have all participated in making this event special for drivers. In total the prize and purse package is close to $1500.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel returns to action Thursday, 6/25/20 live on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel with coverage beginning at 9:35 PM CST.
For more information on the ButtKicker brand of products visit www.thebuttkicker.com Fans may also use promo code LION20 for 20% off orders.
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
Race Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE2zsbMtlKc&feature=emb_title
Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX continues its “Month of June” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the second straight week, the cars and stars of Lionheart’s crown jewel prepare to do battle in their virtual IR-18 machines.
The Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indy will be the second race to hold the same title out of 5 events spanning across the month of June. Both the Lionheart IndyCar Series powered by HyperX and the Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel will race the oval and road course configurations. The IndyCar series will also host a special qualifying broadcast for the first time in league history where drivers will compete in a traditional fastest 4 lap average format.
The last time the series visited the road course configuration at Indy was back in Season 3 on October 14th 2015. Michel de Jong took home the victory over eventual Season Champion Jake Wright by 4.878 seconds. Michel would also sweep both events at Indy that year by winning the series’ first 500-mile event as the league had run only 250 miles at the famed speedway through its first two seasons.
This week drivers will also have to contest with the newly released ability of adjusting the in-car tools adding a new dimension and challenge for the remainder of the season. Front and rear anti roll bars can now be adjusted along with the cars weight jacker on the fly allowing drivers to adjust to varying changes in the cars handling throughout the race. iRacing also has also implemented the ability to adjust fuel map ranges for fixed setups which can aid a driver in saving fuel and matching the power curve for each track.
The championship battle continues to heat up as Andrew Kinsella climbed up one spot in the standings. Kinsella now sits behind points leader Sage Karam by 70 points. 2020 has produced four different winners across the first 7 races, however Karam is certainly favored coming into the event. Karam kicked off the month by winning the inaugural Retro Series event at the Indy GP and has been on a hot streak in the IndyCar. Karam nearly won the last 3 races in a row however third place driver Connor Harrington put an end to that streak with the big win at Motegi Oval.
Lionheart returns to action Wednesday June 17th 2020 for the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis with race coverage being brought to live on the iRacing eSports network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel.
Coverage begins at 9:35 PM CST
Race Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkyvHjCv8TA&feature=emb_title
Sage Karam was admittedly not on his game at Phillip Island.
His focus was never in doubt Thursday night.
Karam dominated the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, collecting his 10th career Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel win in the process.
“It was definitely a good bounce back race,” Karam said. “We had two races in a row that didn’t really go to plan. I felt a lot more confident coming into today.”
Karam captured the pole, and held a one second lead over points leader and defending series champion Ryan Otis by the end of the opening lap.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver lost the lead only during the lone pit cycle en route to a nearly 10 second victory.
“I felt like if I could break the draft early on it would be a big difference here,” Karam said. “It worked out. I got like a one point two second lead early on and that really helped.”
Otis attributed a poor opening lap to being the difference in the race, noting he could match pace at times but never consistently.
“This is such a tough track to drive,” Otis said. “The setup was really challenging, I thought it was great fun. My plan was to try and stay in the draft with Sage and I just lost the nose in the last right hander on the opening lap and lost the draft. Then I had to try to keep up on merit, and that’s always hard.”
Series newcomer Mike Rasimas shocked the world. In his first Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX start, Rasimas started seventh and worked his way to the front, grabbing the final podium spot after Richie Hearn’s contact with Ryan Cornes on the penultimate lap.
“I’m pretty comfortable with the track, it was just about learning the setup,” said Rasimas, who runs the open setup official Lotus 79 iRacing series. “I find it really educational to me to have to deal with other peoples setup and find out what makes it tick. You have to adjust your driving to the car, instead of adjusting the car to your driving.”
George Sandman held onto third in the championship standings with his fourth place finish, while Hearn limped a crippled car around to finish fifth.
The race marked the debut of a pair of real life world champions, but both found their first Lionheart starts to be a challenge.
Adrian Fernandez, winner of eleven races in his CART and IndyCar career, and his 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship winning teammate Luis Diaz, both experienced spins while running inside the top 10.
Diaz battled back, but again found trouble late in the race, dropping to 12th. Fernandez, a superstar and racing icon in his native Mexico, was swept up in a crash between Scott McClendon and Mike Rigney midway through the event.
McClendon was disqualified from the race for causing contact with multiple drivers and then speeding down pit road at over 130mph while serving a penalty, and was ultimately removed from the league.
The rest of the event was relatively clean, with drivers suffering solo spins but no major incidents.
18 of the 32 starters finished on the lead lap, with just six cars retiring early.
With the win, Karam closed to within 21 points of Otis. Sandman sits 39 points back of the points lead in third.
The beginning of the event was punctuated by the exciting announcement that HyperX is giving fans of the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX an opportunity to win top-of-the-line gaming hardware this month.
Fans who correctly guess the pole winner, top five qualifying cars, leader of the race at halfway, winner and driver with the fastest lap during the HyperX Indianapolis 500 will be entered to win a combination of prizes including the Cloud Alpha S Blackout Gaming Headset, Alloy Elite RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, FURY Ultra RGB Mouse Pad and Pulsefire Dart Gaming Mouse.
More details will be announced in the coming week, but entries will open via Twitter by using the hashtag #HX500 on June 21, and entries will close prior to qualifying on June 24.
The Month of June continues for the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX with the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment taking to the Indy GP circuit Wednesday, June 17 for its Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
On Wednesday, June 24, the IndyCar stars take to the IMS oval for the first ever HyperX Race for the Pole. On Thursday, June 25, the Retro drivers return for the ButtKicker Indianapolis 250. And the month concludes with the HyperX Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, June 28 for the IndyCar’s.
All of the events can be seen live on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcasts, at 10:35 p.m. EST on their respective dates.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by the DMLC Racing Channel is heading to Indianapolis as part of Lionheart’s “Month of June” celebration. The Lotus 79 will kick things off when it returns to action June 11th 2020 for the inaugural running of the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis. 2020 has been an exciting season so far with a championship battle of the ages between defending series Champion Ryan Otis and real-world NTT IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam who currently sits behind Otis by just 28 points.
As sim racing has continued to gain in popularity, it has drawn in more real-world professional drivers to compete in eSports events. Lionheart has enjoyed competing along side some real-world IndyCar drivers such as Tony Kanaan, Sage Karam, Richie Hearn and Matheus Leist.
Adrian Fernandez a legend of IndyCar is about to make his iRacing and Lionheart debut Thursday night.
Fernandez scored 11 IndyCar victories and drove one of the most iconic liveries in motorsports with Quaker State and Tecate sponsorship. His red, green and white paint scheme was a favorite among fans.
Fernandez also found success in the American Le Mans Series reaching victory lane 9 times. Fernandez also took home the Championship in 2009 alongside teammate Luis Díaz.
Díaz who was introduced to the Lionheart Racing Series by Fernandez is no stranger to iRacing. Having scored 35 wins in official road races the Mexican driver will be another welcome addition to the Lionheart roster which is already packed with talented sim racers.
The series will also welcome Mike Rasimas to the series. Rasimas a talented sim racer joined iRacing in 2018 but has already put up some big numbers. Boasting an Oval iRating of nearly 5500 and a Road iRating of over 3900 he has found victory lane 58 times between both disciplines.
“I am so excited to announce the addition of our latest drivers to the Lionheart Roster,” said Lionheart founder Jorge Anzaldo. “Adding drivers such as Adrian Fernandez and Luis Díaz add another level of prestige to our series and we are all excited to have this opportunity. Being a long time IndyCar fan and having the opportunity to share the virtual track with these amazing drivers is a dream come true for me.”
The trio of drivers is certain to climb the standings ladder before the season comes to a close in December.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by the DMLC Racing Channel returns to action Thursday, June 11th, 2020 live on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel. Coverage begins at 9:35 PM CST.
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series visit: www.lionheartracingseries.com
For more information on Minus273 visit. www.minus273.biz
Race Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIf0VJltkjQ&feature=emb_title
Sage Karam was off his game.
Ryan Otis pounced.
The defending Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel champion, Otis captured his first pole of the season and led every lap of the FISCH Motors Grand Prix of Phillip Island Thursday night, winning for the first time in 2020.
“I put in a lot of time just trying to make sure I brought my A game,” Otis said. “I was expecting it to be a knife fight this week. I feel like I’m spent. It probably looked boring, but I was doing my best to drive the wheels off that thing.”
The win catapulted Otis into the point lead after Karam’s second-consecutive DNF.
The NTT IndyCar Series driver started second, but finished 19th after a series of incidents.
The trouble started before the green flag, when Karam slid off track in turn 10 on the pace lap.
Once the action got under way, Otis checked out quickly while Karam attempted to fend off teammates Chris Ragan former IndyCar winner Richie Hearn.
On Lap 8, it was Hearn who tried a tricky pass in turn 9, but after slight contact with the rumble strip, Hearn bounced off Karam and spun off track. Karam, still battling a slide from the contact, nearly lost control in turn 10, leading to contact with Ragan and Jason Bosse.
All three held on, while Hearn spent the remainder of the race battling back to finish sixth.
Karam’s adventures were still just getting started.
On lap 17, Ragan appeared to get on the binders too hard, and slid into Karam in the sharp hairpin known as Honda Corner.
Ragan was penalized by race control, taking a drive thru penalty and finishing 15th, a lap down.
Karam recovered once again, although with front wing damage, while David Clymer took advantage and moved into second place.
It appeared Karam had finally settled in, closing to within two seconds of Clymer before the final pit stop, when the glass slipper finally broke.
Karam appeared to miss the entrance to pit road, dropping the left side tires into the grass. The Pennsylvania native then chased the car across the access road, sliding off on the right side. Karam’s attempts to save the car became futile when he slammed into the tire barrier at pit entrance, ending his race.
Karam was quick to apologize, telling leaguemates he simply did not practice enough after suffering simulator burnout over the previous week.
Karam’s loss was Clymer’s gain, as the Avatar Auto Racing leader ran a clean race to comfortably finish in second.
“I had some decent pace tonight but I definitely didn’t see a podium finish,” Clymer said. “It was cool. It felt like a little bit of redemption (after crashing from the lead at Homestead). It seems like every year I start a little slow, so maybe we’re turning it around.”
The strong finish came at a great time for Clymer, as the series heads to Indianapolis for the month of June. Clymer is the defending winner of the IMS oval race in the Retro series.
George Sandman had a remarkable drive after being caught up in a lap one crash in Honda Corner, as Pat Dotson was shoved into the Homestead winner. Sandman leap frogged Dustin Wardlow on the final pit stop to grab the final podium spot.
“I don’t know what really happened on the first lap,” Sandman said. “There was some other stuff that happened and I just had to start picking guys off one at a time. It was almost more fun that way.”
Aaron Morgan continued his consistent season, finishing fifth, just behind Wardlow.
Otis leads Karam by 28 points at the one-third mark of the season. Sandman sits three points behind Karam, and Morgan is just one point further back, setting up what appears to be a four car battle for the championship, although the season is still young.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel kicks off an exciting month of June for the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX, with the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
The 48 lap inaugural event at the IMS road course for the Retro series can be seen live on Thursday, June 11, at 10:35 p.m. EST on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel presenting the action.
The Retro series then heads to the big oval on June 25 with the ButtKicker Indy 250, while the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment also tackles the Indy GP circuit before the first ever HyperX Race for the Pole. The month of June ends with the HyperX Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, June 28.
For the first time in the Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel history the Lotus 79’s will roar to life down under at Phillip Island. Located in Victoria Australia the 2.762-mile 12 turn circuit has hosted everything from Supercars through Formula 4 and thanks to the technology of iRacing, the Lotus 79.
While this may be the first running of the Retro Series at Phillip Island, it is no stranger to the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX. Phillip Island was run 3 consecutive years in Seasons 3 through 6. It produced 3 different winners with Jake Wright winning the inaugural running and Dan Geren wining in Season 5 and Adam Blocker in Season 6.
The Round 6 event will complete the first third of the season and the championship battle remains tight as ever. Defending series champion Ryan Otis sits just 10 points back of Sage Karam. Finian Dcunha sits just 40 points back from Karam in 5th place. Lionel Calisto jumped 10 positions after his big win at Pocono and now sits 6th overall.
The Team Championship presented by HyperX also remains close through the first 5 rounds. Raven Motorsports continues its winning tradition as both Raven Silver and Black hold on to the top two positions in the standings. It’s still anyone’s championship to win as the top 5 teams are separated by just 66 points.
The FISCH Motors Grand Prix of Phillip Island will be broadcast live on May 28th 2020 on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel. Coverage begins at 9:35 pm CST.
For more information on FISCH Motors visit www.fischmotors.com
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
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.
With four rounds in the books the series looks forward to the first of its 3 big races for the 2020 Season. Back again for the fourth straight year Pocono will present a difficult challenge for the drivers as it has each season. Located in the Pocono Mountains in Long Pond, Pennsylvania and known as the “Tricky Triangle” Pocono Raceway is unique in that each corner is modeled after a turn at a different track.
Turn one features 14 degrees of banking and is modeled after Trenton Speedway. Turn two also known as the tunnel turn is modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway features 9 degrees of banking. Turn three with its 6 degrees of banking is modeled after the Milwaukee Mile. Pocono Raceway is definitely unique in its design as it presents so many challenges to drivers as well as race engineers trying to master a setup for 3 entirely different corners.
This difficulty has translated into the sim as the Retro Series has had its share of ups and downs at the famous track. Last season saw the most cautions ever at Pocono for the series with a total of 9 for 26 laps. The Lotus 79 becomes alive as the fuel load decreases which tends to give the car more oversteer. For the drivers the car can feel like its on the razors edge but typically rewards the most talented drivers who can master both the car and the track.
Pocono has also had its share of excitement over the last two seasons with dramatic photo finishes. Season 2 saw Adam Blocker win over Dustin Wardlow by just 0.010 seconds. Last year Sandman won over defending series champion Ryan Otis by 0.030 seconds.
Series points leader Sage Karam is on a hot streak of late winning the last 3 Retro Series events. If Sage finds a way to win at Pocono, he will become the only driver in Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX history to accomplish this goal. A feat that has not been done in close to 6 years of competition.
The championship battle for 2020 has definitely taken a turn as 2018 season runner up Alex Saunders has withdrawn from the remainder of the season. Many drivers will certainly be looking to take advantage in his absence and try to establish themselves as championship contenders.
The Watchman 250 Presented by the DMLC Racing Channel will take place live May 14th 2020 on the iRacing eSports Network courtesy of the Global Sim Racing Channel.
Race coverage begins at 9:35 PM CST.
For more information on the DMLC Racing Channel visit Facebook @TheDMLCRacingChannel
For more information on the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX visit www.lionheartracingseries.com
Race Link: https://youtu.be/iiqDqYcPd_I
Sage Karam warned the field. The NTT IndyCar Series driver said after his Donington Park win two weeks ago that Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Canada was his favorite track.
Thursday night, Karam showed why.
Karam joined Alex Saunders as the only drivers in Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel history to capture three consecutive wins, leading all but two laps in the HPP Grand Prix of Mosport.
“I love this place, love coming to this track, I raced here in real life and have fond memories,” Karam said. “It was a fun race, a fun setup. The car was easier to drive than I thought it was going to be.”
Karam captured the pole by nearly a half-second, and set sail early. The only question was fuel consumption, with the race teetering on a one-stop window. After pitting on lap 25, Karam conceded the lead to defending series champion Ryan Otis for two laps.
After Otis pit, Karam focused on opening up a large gap and then saving fuel through the final laps, crossing the line 5.8 seconds ahead of Otis, and with enough fuel to celebrate.
“I was kinda worried about it early,” Karam said of a one-stop race. “But when they got together I started saving, and that helped. I saved the whole last stint.”
Otis had an adventurous race, first dropping a tire and nearly wrecking on lap three. Saunders had to drive off-track to avoid Otis in the turn three slide, and fell back to sixth in the process.
After pit stops, Saunders overtook Otis - who did not need to save fuel - and was holding off the 2019 champion and Mosport winner when the duo closed in on the lapped car of Paul Jenkins late in the race.
As they entered the tricky turn five, known as Moss Corner, Jenkins slowed and forced Saunders to check up. Otis, with a ton of momentum, couldn’t slow in time and plowed into Saunders' right rear tire.
Otis miraculously survived with no nose damage, while Saunders was forced to retire, a crushing blow to his championship hopes.
“I feel so terrible, I’ve apologized to Alex multiple times now,” Otis said. “I know we caught lapped traffic. I wasn’t trying to pass, we were just flowing into the corner and it stacked up. I should’ve anticipated it.”
Aaron Morgan again was Mr. Consistency, navigating the Otis and Saunders incidents, as well as avoiding a sliding Jason Bosse and challenges from Dustin Wardlow and a fuel-starved George Sandman to take the final podium spot.
“That was a lot like Donington where there was just stuff happening all around,” Morgan said. “Just survived, one of my favorite tracks.”
Bosse held on for fourth, while Wardlow finally got the bad luck monkey off his back to finish fifth.
Sandman, who entered the night five points behind Karam in the championship battle, ran out of fuel in the final two corners and coasted home in sixth.
Eleven cars finished on the lead lap, while 23 of the 30 drivers to take the green made it to the end.
Finian D’Cunha might have secured the lucky driver of the year award at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
After dropping a tire in the opening corner and spinning across the track in front of half the field, D’Cunha was hit hard by rookie Bruno Miranda.
Miranda was forced to retire, while D’Cunha did an airborne 360 degree spin and continued.
Just 12 laps later, D’Cunha again spun on the exit of turn three. This time, it was James Paulson who could not avoid him. Paulson jumped over the nose of D’Cunha, flipping into the wall and ending his race. D’Cunha again managed to survive, missing half his front wing, but still drove the crippled car home in 13th.
Ryan Cornes and Greg West also saw their nights end in separate crashes in The Esses.
Karam’s points lead jumped to 25 over Sandman, with Otis moving around Saunders into third. Morgan jumped up two spots to fifth in the standings, 63 back of the lead.
Karam has won five of the last seven events in the Lionheart Racing Series powered by HyperX, having captured two IndyCar victories in the last six weeks as well.
The Lionheart Retro Series presented by DMLC Racing Channel returns to the track, and to oval racing, at Karam’s home track, Pocono Raceway, on Thursday, May 14. The Watchman 250 presented by DMLC Racing Channel is the first leg of the Retro Series Triple Crown, and is set for a 10:35 p.m. EST start on the iRacing eSports Network, with Global SimRacing Channel producing the broadcast.