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.
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