Not many drivers, knowing they had the championship in hand, would choose to make a diving pass on the final lap of the season to get the race win — but that's not Mathias Ramirez.
Ramirez had AJ Myers and Jimmy Cabrera as his main threats in the championship heading into the weekend. Myers grabbed the pole on Friday, earning bonus points that would inch him closer to the Sarasota, Florida driver.
However, Ramirez took the first two heat race wins and looked to be making the championship chase easy to calculate. That was until the bottom end went on his power plant in heat three. With the 18th place finish, this gave Myers and Cabrera more championship points after heat racing that moved them both closer.
Sunday came and Ramirez would start fifth for the prefinal, with Myers and Cabrera taking the front row. Cabrera went on to win the race and with the result had jumped Myers for second in points. Ramirez had made it to second and now only needed a top five result in the final to secure the championship.
Despite having a caved in right rear bumper (that somehow surprisingly didn't rub his tire) from a breathtaking moment in the opening laps of the 18-lap final, where he could have just as easily DNf'd as he could have kept going, the 16-year old drove as though he had nothing to lose.
After the dust up, Ramirez emerged in second, roughly one second behind Cabrera. Lap after lap, the 16-year old inched closer to Cabrera, with nobody in sight in third.
The final lap came and a second place finish was more than enough to secure a championship, but that wasn't where Ramirez wanted to finish. The pass for the lead was made, showing his respect and trust in Cabrera that he wouldn't be taken out. The AKT Racing pilot had just missed out on his first Florida Winter Tour victory by two tenths of a second.
Barrichello nipped Myers at the line by a mere .002 for the third spot. Myers came home fourth, cementing his podium position in the championship, behind Ramirez and Cabrera. Running alone in fifth was Ethan Simioni.
Race Results - Top Five
2018 Florida Winter Tour Orlando Shifter ROK Final
|429||VAN DER STEUR RORY||11.218||52.357|
|455||JOSE DIAZ JUAN||17.088||52.669|
|492||GARRISON AUSTIN||4 Laps||51.843|
|442||STEVENS MICHAEL||10 Laps||52.944|
|423||FRITSCH CHRISTIAN||11 Laps||52.719|
|493||LEGRAND DOMINIC||13 Laps||54.163|
|456||HOLLINGSHEAD ZACHARY||15 Laps||52.792|