Once again the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series Championship went undecided until the last race event of the season. With Ely Navarro, Matt Christensen, and Daniel Moreno all in contention to win the overall championship, the showdown in Sebring made for thrilling racing.
With Moreno mathematically in contention, it would’ve required unlikely collapse from both the drivers ahead of him in the points. However, after 15 races already race the difference between Ely and Matt was a slim 26 points.
Qualifying for Race 1
Clearly Moreno was unfazed by the odds as he laid down the fastest time in qualifying of the three championship contenders with a 2:27:497 – good enough for P2 overall. Navarro qualified right behind Moreno in P3, just 0.23″ off of Moreno’s pace. Illustrating just how tight the field was, Christensen had to settle for P5 despite trailing the leader by 0.655″.
Despite starting on the third row, Christensen was determined to lay his claim to the championship title. Unable to improve his position at race start and briefly slipping back a spot on the second lap, Christensen began his race-long march to the front of the field. Recovering from his second lap slip, Christensen popped up to fourth and then third in subsequent laps. Playing the long game on a track that favors patiently timing the draft, Christensen darted up to first by lap seven before relinquishing the position. Also biding his time was Navarro who was in the three car train that managed to gap the field. With Christensen regaining first position by lap 10, he would defend mightily to keep Navarro behind him until the checkered flag. While Navarro surely was eyeing the race victory, he knew finishing immediately behind Christensen through each of the final races would be enough to secure an overall championship. A solid strategy for sure, but it would still require two more races to see the approach payout. For the moment, Christensen set the tone and clearly was not about to bow out of the championship fight with a spectacular Race 1 victory that would see him claw back an important five championship points and ensure that Moreno was no longer mathematically in contention.
With the starting order for Race 2 determined by Race 1 fastest lap times, Christensen was the best positioned of the two remaining championship contenders. Laying down a lap time in the first race that was good enough to put him in P2 behind Race 1 fastest lap pace-setter, Emily Linscott. Navarro meanwhile would have to settle for P4 at race start, lining up directly behind Christensen. Fueled by a chance at winning the overall championship, Christensen managed to leap past Linscott in the opening lap sitting at the front of the field through the first five laps until a full course yellow changed the dynamic of the race. Following the restart, Christensen slipped to third with Navarro pipping him into second. Recognizing that he would need to overtake Navarro for position to retain hope of taking the title fight into the final race, Christensen’s last lap heroics were for not as Navarro came across the finish line P2 ahead of Christensen and ending the latter’s title hopes.
With the overall championship decided in Race 2, Ely woke up for the final race knowing that he had done what needed to be done to secure the championship. For his part, Christensen had battled the to-be-crowned champion all season long and with his vice championship secured was eager to finish the season on the podium. With Christensen sitting in P2 for race start following a blistering qualifying session, Navarro qualified just behind him .2″ adrift. In what served as a microcosm of the entire season, Ely and Matt changed position for the lead a remarkable seven times. Playing the draft the two had created a small alongside Trey Burke gap from the rest of the field. Despite Christensen holding the race lead on the penultimate lap, it was once again Navarro coming across the line claiming race victory and sealing the season as the 2020 Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series Champion.