LEXINGTON, Ohio – Christian Rasmussen is on a roll.
Two weeks after claiming his first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory on the streets of Toronto, the 19-year-old emerged triumphant again tSaturday at a warm and sunny Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Jay Howard Driver Development.
Polesitter Hunter McElrea had to be content with second, with Pabst Racing teammate Colin Kaminsky following him home in third.
A clean start saw McElrea initially hold his advantage over second-place qualifier Rasmussen, only for the Dane to pull off a bold out-braking maneuver in Turn Two to claim the lead. Behind, England’s Matt Round-Garrido, who had qualified sixth for BN Racing, also made an excellent start to emerge in third place by the completion of the opening lap.
By then the caution flags were already waving after USF2000 debutant Timmy Pagliuso ran off the road and became stuck in the “China Beach” gravel at turn four.
The leading positions remained unchanged at the restart, but only until turn four, where Round-Garrido continued his spectacular early charge by rounding up McElrea in Turn Four and then securing second place by virtue of having the inside line over the top of the hill at Turn Five.
Rasmussen took full advantage of the in-fighting to extend his lead at the front of the pack. A series of consistently fast laps enabled him to stretch his lead with every lap before taking the checkered flag after 20 laps with a commanding lead of 9.5753 seconds over the best of his pursuers.
“My ears were ringing at the checkered flag because the guys were yelling on the radio,” Rasmussen said. “I’m so happy to reward the guys for all their hard work. There was a little gap going into turn two and I took it, so I was able to get past Hunter and then keep that gap. It was a good race, I could just take care of myself. I could see that I was pulling away lap by lap. It’s something else when you have someone right on your gearbox.
“I had the fastest race lap and was very consistent. We are a new team to this series and I am new here as well, and I haven’t been to many of these tracks so we knew it would be hard at first. But we’ve managed to turn that around, so hopefully we can continue to build on this momentum.”
Having worked his way into second place, Round-Garrido was unable to pull away from McElrea. The Englishman defended staunchly for several laps but there was no stopping McElrea, who finally found a chink in the armor and reclaimed second place at Turn Six with just over three laps remaining.
Teammate Kaminsky also took advantage of Round-Garrido’s loss of momentum to sneak through into third. Close behind them at the finish line were two more Pabst Racing Tatuus USF-17s in the hands of Brazilian Bruna Tomaselli and Yuven Sundaramoorthy both of whom secured career-best results.