Christian Rasmussen dominated the first USF2000 race at Laguna Seca, as Hunter McElrea extended his points lead.
Title contenders Braden Eves and McElrea started the race on the front row, but that order lasted only a few corners before Rasmussen split the pair.
Two laps later, Rasmussen went down the inside of Eves at Turn 2 for the lead, and never looked back. A bulging lead was briefly trimmed mid-race, but he stretched it even further in the final few laps and took his third win of the season by 4.4573 seconds.
Eves only held second place for one lap after Rasmussen got through, as McElrea pulled off a move at Turn 3 that had begun with the rivals running side-by-side all the way from Turn 11 on the previous lap.
McElrea’s Pabst Racing team-mate Colin Kaminsky almost made it three-wide down the pit straight during that move, and himself only took another lap before taking the final podium spot from Eves.
While Jak Crawford didn’t end up passing Cape Motorsports team-mate Eves for fourth, the positions lost compared to McElrea means Eves goes into the season-ending race with a 12-point deficit. This could be easily overturned though, with McElrea starting race two from last place after failing to set a qualifying lap.
Behind Crawford, by just 0.172s, was DEForce Racing’s Eduardo Barrichello. Early on it looked like Barrichello was slower and had his sixth place under pressure. In the closing laps though he was resurgent and almost took fifth.
Darren Keane (Cape) and Rasmussen’s Jay Howard Driver Development team-mate Wyatt Brichacek were also involved in the train of cars behind Eves.
Race results (20 laps)
|1||Christian Rasmussen||Jay Howard Driver Development||28m49.1941s|
|2||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||+4.4573s|
|3||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||+9.4027s|
|4||Braden Eves||Cape Motorsports||+13.6619s|
|5||Jak Crawford||Cape Motorsports||+14.6917s|
|6||Eduardo Barrichello||DEForce Racing||+14.8641s|
|7||Darren Keane||Cape Motorsports||+15.4156s|
|8||Wyatt Brichacek||Jay Howard Driver Development||+17.0336s|
|9||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||+21.3742s|
|10||Zach Holden||Legacy Autosport||+22.4607s|
|11||Reece Gold||Cape Motorsports||+26.8713s|
|12||Bruna Tomaselli||Pabst Racing||+32.6114s|
|13||Kyle Dupell||Newman Wachs Racing||+34.3535s|
|14||Nolan Siegel||Newman Wachs Racing||+36.0428s|
|15||Yuven Sundaramoorthy||Pabst Racing||+38.7530s|
|16||Ayrton Ori||Legacy Autosport||+39.9632s|
|17||Jack William Miller||Miller Vinatieri Motorsports||+47.1341s|
|18||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||+50.4385s|
|Pole: Eves, 1m24.9937s? ? ? Fastest lap: McElrea, 1m25.585s
1 McElrea 342? ?2 Eves 330? ?3 Kaminsky 259? ?4 Rasmussen 256? ?5 Keane 255? ?6 Sulaiman 201? ?7 Crawford 177? ?8 Tomaselli 164? ?9 Gold 154? ?10 Holden 151