May 5th, 2020 by Jason Galvin
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.