After leading 46 of 50 laps, Mike Rasimas has won his first race of the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience season.
The GRAAFix LC Motorsports driver took the checkered flag for the HyperX Grand Prix of Sonoma by more than three seconds.
Matt Taylor, Aaron Morgan, David Sirois and Richie Hearn rounded out the top five.
Pit strategy towards the end of the race became a major talking point after Rasimas pushed his final stint of the race six laps further than Taylor’s. Despite being stuck behind traffic, Rasimas was still able to edge Taylor out of the pits by 10 car lengths.
Taylor led Laps 34 and 35 in the race after staying close to Rasimas for much of the race after the two drivers tied for the pole with a 1:20.918.
“I’m so happy about this,” said Rasimas. “I practiced a lot this week. Matt is so fast at this track and I just thought after he pitted … I thought maybe I was done for. But then the cycle came through and I was ahead by enough to stay ahead of him. Super proud of that drive.”
Taylor said his team decided to split the second half of the race in two to go lighter on fuel. He felt not getting the edge for the pole was the major difference.
“It’s just incredibly hard to stay on somebody’s gearbox. I could stay behind him, but I just couldn’t quite get the run,” said Taylor. “I didn’t want to just throw it up the inside from a car length or two back. I think I could have made it stick, but I didn’t want to race him like that.”
The championship picture took a turn as well after Sage Karam missed the apex of Turn 10 on Lap 15. Karam, who had just pit from third place the previous lap, went through the grass to the right of the track before coming back onto the racing surface. In the process, Karam made wheel to wheel contact with Trevor Malone. The contact launched Malone’s car several feet into the air, flipping him upside down into the tire barrier and a set of billboards.
The contact significantly destroyed Karam’s suspension.
Karam went on to finish in 22nd position, 24 laps down. He, Malone and Robert Mikes were the only drivers to not finish the race.
As a result of the incident, Karam’s championship lead was reduced to 22 points over Rasimas.
“All season, I’ve really been trying to have consistent finishes,” said Rasimas. “They’ve always been fourth or fifth place finishes like this which is good. But, I want to start getting some wins and some podiums.”
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series heads to Twin Ring Motegi for the Global Electronic Technology 175 Presented by Minus 273 on July 22. Coverage starts at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV and ESTV.