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 from Copenhagen, Denmark, emerged triumphant again this afternoon at a warm and sunny Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Jay Howard Driver Development.
Polesitter Hunter McElrea had to be content with second place, 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 2 to claim the lead. Behind, 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, from Fishers, Ind., ran off the road and became stuck in the “China Beach” gravel at Turn 4.
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 4and then securing second place by virtue of having the inside line over the top of the hill at Turn 5.
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! I’m so happy to reward the guys for all their hard work,” said Rasmussen. “There was a little gap going into Turn 2 and I took it, so I was able to get past Hunter and then keep that gap. I could see that I was pulling away lap by lap.”
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 6 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 Bruna Tomaselli and Yuven Sundaramoorthy, both of whom secured career-best results.
Despite adding a fourth driver to its roster for the first time this weekend, the usually dominant Cape Motorsports team earned a best finish of seventh, with newcomer Jak Crawford, 14, narrowly edging out home state favorite and championship leader Braden Eves and Darren Keane.
Zach Holden completed the top 10 for Legacy Autosport, while Reece Gold, 14, picked up the Tilton Hard Charger Award after working his way from 15th on the grid to 12th at the finish.
Rasmussen’s performance ensured a second PFC Award for former USF2000 and Indy Lights champion Jay Howard as the winning team owner. He will have an opportunity to add a third one tomorrow morning when Rasmussen once again will line up second behind polewinner Hunter McElrea following a separate qualifying session earlier this morning. Tomorrow’s 11th round of the 15-race championship will start at 11:05 a.m. EDT.