The Lionheart Retro Series proves yet again that its class leading league is always going from strength to strength.
We have seen some great races over time from Lionheart, memorable (for some) that will be remembered for a long time. Are we in that phase again where we see the cream rise to the top? Mid-Ohio set the stage for round 7 in the Lionheart Series. Race reporter Justin Prince has all the details.
Sage Karam has done it again.
The Raven Motorsports Black driver has won the Minus 273 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
Karam took the checkered flag in the Lionheart Retro Series presented by SimXperience race by more than eight seconds despite having a mid-race spin.
Karam had lost five seconds in the spin approaching the esses. He then responded by running his second and third-fastest laps of the race in quick succession.
Matt Taylor, Mike Rasimas, Chris Ragan and David Sirois rounded out the top five.
It is Karam’s fifth race victory in the series in 2021.
“It was a pretty good race,” said Karam in HyperX Victory Lane. “It’s a tricky track. The actual setup and everything made it pretty difficult to drive … It definitely wasn’t easy.”
Karam immediately took the lead from pole sitter Michael O’Brien into Turn 1 on the outside, pulling away by almost a full second in the first lap.
Several drivers would have issues on the first lap, including Aaron Morgan. Morgan, who was battling inside the top 10, was hit in the left rear by Richie Hearn coming through the esses, sending him into the sandtrap.
Ricky Hardin was also served a drive through penalty for contact on the opening lap with the back end of Caleb Benci. Benci was sent flying into the sand trap and the tire barrier heading into Turn 6. The Team RaceVerse driver finished in 23rd position as a result of the hit.
The attrition continued on Lap 5 when Adam Young, who had been running in 21st position, crashed in the final corner. The Ridin Shotgun Motorsports driver missed his braking mark, sending him sliding into the grass. Young then stuffed his left front and left rear tires into the wall, destroying his front wing. He turned one more lap before parking his car in 22nd position.
On Lap 19, the bumping and banging continued on a pass attempt for 10th position. Alex Guyon hit the left side pod of Trevor Malone after drifting through the opening corner of the course. The slide sent Malone spinning to the side of the track with left front wing damage, dropping him to 14th position. Guyon also picked up damage to his right front wing in the incident.
The battle for second started to boil over after scheduled pit stops on Lap 30. O’Brien, who had a one-second faster stop than the rest of the pack, was then pressured from behind by David Sirois.
Sirois then dove to the inside approaching China Beach, bringing him into second spot. Moments later, O’Brien was hit from behind by Ragan, sending the 45 car to the side of the track. The incident sent O’Brien down to seventh place.
“After the pit stop, they were packed so tightly together,” said Taylor. “You had O’Brien who didn’t make it 28 laps, so he was on ultra fuel save, so you kind of had two guys up front who couldn’t make it with two guys behind who could and I just kind of held back a little bit to let them sort it. Luckily, I was able to avoid that incident in the middle there. Once there was separation there, I was able to try to push and put some pressure on.”
Overall, 14 drivers finished on the lead lap in the event.
Fuel strategy was also considered a key factor for the event.
Sirois had to top off for gas with four laps to go, costing the Lavoie Motorsport driver a second place finish. O’Brien and Richie Hearn also had to come down for a second stop.
“I was doing everything I could to save fuel,” said Taylor. “I was pushing the clutch in. I was trying to do everything I could to stretch that extra lap so I wouldn’t have to save in the second stint.”
Top 10 in the race
Power rankings after Mid-Ohio
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series visits the Brickyard for its second triple crown race of 2021, the ButtKicker Indy 250 on June 24. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.