Rasmussen was the big winner as he held onto the series lead. He started from the pole position after posting the fastest lap in yesterday’s second leg of the triple-header weekend.
The track was still damp following heavy rain earlier in the day. Rasmussen was cautious on the opening lap, holding onto his three-point championship lead.
Rasumussen and d’Orlando traded fastest lap times over the course of the final five laps but it was Rasmussen who finally secured one more crucial championship point and The Ticket Clinic Fastest Lap Award on the very last lap.
Rasmussen crossed the finish line 2.2626 seconds clear of a disappointed d’Orlando, who earned some consolation by claiming the Tilton Hard Charger Award.
“I’m definitely relieved,” Rasmussen said. “The conditions made it difficult – there was no standing water but we had some damp areas early on. We could see that it caught some of the INDYCAR drivers out at the end of qualifying so we knew it would be an interesting start. I was careful because I knew the car would be faster toward the end. I started to close the gap on him and d’Orlando made a mistake in the Carousel and I was able to take the lead.”
d’Orlando did get his own win on the weekend. He just barely held off Gold in the last 20-laps to claim a well-deserved maiden victory. The margin between them at the checkered flag was a hair over half a second.
“I saw Rasmussen overshoot Turn Four and I knew he was going to be pretty aggressive,” he said. “I waited to see if he would make a mistake, but I didn’t expect him to throw himself off like that. I feel for him, but that’s the way it goes. From there, I treated it like open lapping, focusing on my marks and my braking points. I knew Reece was back there, putting on pressure, I had to just focus forward. Huge thanks to my family, the team and all my sponsors, this is incredible.”
But Gold still got vengeance, gaining a win as well. He has been on-fire as of late and it was no different in the second race of that day. He led from the start, chased by Barrichello and Shields. . Gold ensured a clean sweep of the day’s PFC Awards for brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape as the winning car owners.
“This feels awesome – we’ve had a lot of seconds and thirds so another win feels great. We came into the race weekend 50 points behind and now we’re only (three) points back (in the championship chase), so we have a really good shot.”
Just five races now remain but Rasmussen still sits in a comfortable spot for Jay Howard Driver Development.
“It was a pretty wild weekend for us as a team, with lots of competitive action out on the track and some typical fall weather that is for sure,” Howard said. “Christian (Rasmussen) had some ups and downs but showed his pace with two poles and a win there at the end. Nolan (Siegel) continues to go from strength to strength, and another podium is the least he deserves. I was also impressed with his recovery drive in Race 2. (Christian) Bogle was outstanding once again in race trim, and we will be working hard to maximize his qualifying at New Jersey and St Pete. Also, good to see Wyatt (Brichacek) was in the thick of the action in the midfield, and he is certainly making progress in his rookie USF2000 season. Big thanks to all the boys for all of their efforts this weekend, and looking forward to one last big push for the final two events of the season.”
The current standings are as follow:
1. Christian Rasmussen, 287
2. Reece Gold, 273
3. Eduardo Barrichello, 237
4. Michael d’Orlando, 214
5. Christian Brooks, 201
6. Josh Green, 176
7. Matt Round-Garrido, 175
8. Cameron Shields, 153
9. Jack William Miller, 149
10. Kiko Porto, 141