For the third time in a row, Sage Karam has won at Watkins Glen in dominating fashion.
Karam started on the pole and led almost every lap of the ButtKicker Grand Prix at the Glen to score his second Lionheart Retro Series Presented by Simxperience victory in a row.
Ryan Otis, Matt Taylor, Aaron Morgan and Mike Rasimas rounded out the top five.
“It was a good race for sure,” said Karam, who led 36 of 37 laps. “This track, the draft is so huge, so I really wanted to push the first few laps to try and break that. Once I was able to get above a second lead, I kind of went into trying to save some fuel, but trying to run some fast laps. It was difficult, but I was able to pull out a big lead.”
The race could have ended much more differently.
Gary Corley, who had been running 23rd place, spun out entering The Boot and flipped upside down into the middle of the track.
Karam, who had won the race by more than 14 seconds, just avoided significant contact with the right side of Corley’s car.
“Obviously the biggest worry is you have a car spinning in front of you or a couple cars tangled up.,” said Karam. “When spinning or up in the air, you really don’t have any control. You have to pick which way to go and pray … Thankfully we got away with it today.”
Taylor, who started on the outside of the front row, had been kept under pressure by Morgan throughout the second half of the race until Lap 28. Morgan would spin after carrying too much speed into Turn 7. He would slide to the left of the track, locking up the brakes while doing so.
Morgan would quickly get back up to speed after spinning the tires, but would lose more than 10 seconds and one spot as a result of the incident. The Avatar Auto Racing driver would then go back and forth with Rasimas for several laps before finishing in fourth.
“I was kicking myself for the spin, but hey it put on a show,” said Morgan.
Otis said it was a good race for him. The two-time champion had held onto second place from the drop of the green flag. It was Otis’s 45th career top five finish in the series.
“I think either my races go really well, or they go really, really bad,” said Otis. “I’m always trying to be consistent obviously and put myself into position to win. That wasn’t the case today. Karam just smoked us.”
Several other drivers struggled with pivotal mistakes throughout the race.
On Lap 6, Isaac Snider would spin coming into the final corner from the Top 10 after clipping the grass on the left side of the track. Snider would then spin, smashing the rear end of his Lotus 79 into the tire barrier. Snider would go on to finish in 25th place, two laps down.
Then, on Lap 13, Ariel Alaniz had been running in 13th before clipping the grass entering the boot. Alaniz would slide from the right side of the track into the armco barrier on the exit of the chute. The Independent driver did not finish the race and was scored in 27th.
Later on in the race, Thomas Lovelady would also crash in Toe from ninth place.
On Lap 31 Lovelady would slide the back tires coming out of the corner, then bobble hard left into the armco barrier. The front nose would immediately be crushed in. Lovelady would then smash the back end of the car against the wall. Lovelady would finish three laps down in 25th place.
Overall, nine drivers did not take the checkered flag.
“(Watkins Glen) is definitely a little bit draining,” said Otis. “It takes a lot of focus. You can’t have a lot of distractions. It’s definitely taxing. Not physically, but mentally.”
Next race, the Lionheart Retro Series Presented by SimXperience will be going short track racing for the KARNOX 175 at Phoenix. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on April 1st at 10:35 p.m. EST.