In the first year of the Masters Championship (age 40+) it really came down to two drivers, Dave Messimer and Diego Morales, withMessimer edging out Morales by just 3.5 points at the end. 8th and 9th overall respectively, Messimer’s edge came from his slightly more consistent runs,scoring five out of eight rounds inside the top four, albeit with no wins. Morales put up three races inside the top four, including the only win by a Master’s driver in the 2012 event, coming up just shy in the closest title fight yet in this class.
Third place in class belonged to Sergio Bravo, who although started out strong with a 2nd in round one, would see his hopes dashed early, getting collected in on track incidents, and other things that kept him out of the fight.
In the second year of the event it was a completely different story, as eventual champion Jay Schreiber was able to win by a large margin when the final points were tallied. That said, challenges for the title came often, as several drivers put up strong runs, but lacked the consistency needed to reel in Schreiber. Scoring two wins, two seconds and a pair of fourths provided the breathing room he needed to sit at the top, clinching the Masters title before even taking the green for the Super Final.
Scoring second place in the class, and one spot better from the previous year was Sergio Bravo. Although he scored some better results with five races inside the top 4, including a pair of second place finishes, Bravo was still plagued by some bad luck that kept him too far from Jay to truly challenge at the end. Sitting third was The 2012 champ Dave Messimer, who while scoring a pair of wins, didn’t have the consistency he had the year prior, and had to settle for the third step.
Now in its third year, many questions loom ahead of the event, the first of which is who will be the new Masters National Champion? With both prior winners unable to attend this year we are guaranteed a new champ, and this year’s field is deeper in talent than ever before. Will Sergio Bravo convert his success in the local Super Series to move up one more step and claim the crown, or could it be Diego Morales, who has been the closest of any of the returning drivers. Or will it be a brand new driver from outside prior podium runs?
Below we take a closer look at the top returning drivers, including a new driver to the masters group, and a dark horse pick who could be one of the many drivers to raise eyebrows this weekend…
2014 Top Contenders
Sergio Bravo- 19 starts, 1 pole, 1 win (2012 LCQ), 7 T3’s, 9 T5’s, 2 F.L.
Setting the bar for Masters drivers at CalSpeed via his three consecutive Super Series Masters titles, and now the Overall Super Series title last year, it is a wonder that he hasn’t been at the top step here at the Grands. There is no question in whether or not Bravo has what it takes to score the win; things are just going to need to go more right than wrong for him to do it.
Craig Stanton- 8 starts, 1 pole, 2 wins, 3 T3’s, 4 T5’s
Actually a very strong contender for the podium last year, Stanton slipped to fourth in the Masters ranks after needing to leave on the final day for a car test. Such are the sacrifices of a professional racecar driver. This year however, there are no tests on the horizon, and Craig has zeroed in on this championship as a priority to not only race, but win as well.
Diego Morales- 18 starts, 1 pole, 1 win, 3 T3’s, 8 T5’s, 2 F.L.
Although the 2012 Masters runner-up hasn’t been at the track regularly since last year’s Grands, when he does show up, the results are convincing. Coming back this past April to the Super Series after nearly a year hiatus, Morales scored the overall win, hushing any doubters on whether or not he will once again be a championship contender at the 2014 contest.
Fred Ogrim- 18 starts, 3 poles, 3 wins, 4 T3’s, 8 T5’s, 1 F.L.
“Coming of Age” here in 2014, regular front-runner and overall championship contender Fred Ogrim adds his name to the Masters list, and is sure to be a contender for the title. This will be Ogrim’s debut as a Master’s contender, and judging by how he has done not only at the Sport Kart Grands, but elsewhere, his chances of scoring the win in his first try are very good.
David Kelmenson- Dark Horse Pick
While past performances may lend someone to pass over David Kelmenson’s name when looking for title contenders, this doesn’t take into account his massive improvement over the past year. Now solidly second and challenging Sergio Bravo for the Super Series Masters title, Kelmenson is fresh off his first career Super Series win, and carries a lot of momentum into the Grands.
Masters Entry List (By 2013 rank)
1. #2 Sergio Bravo
2. #4 Craig Stanton
3. #5 Diego Morales
4. #6 Ben Blank
5. #7 Jose da Silva
6. #9 Ben Morse
7. #10 David Kelmenson
8. Fred Ogrim
9. Jeff Saiani
10. Steve Jasinski
11. Kevin Bligan
12. Rodney Bryant
13. Chris Hebert
14. Dennis Kimbrell
15. Steve Spring
16. Michael Kinney
17. Vince Burke
18. Jeff Latimer
19. Chris Carter
20. Steve Lattanzi
21. Charles Crowe
22. Michael Birkle
23. Greg Reinhardt
24. Mark Connell [R] 25. Kevin Taylor [R] 26. Jeremy Aldridge [R] 27. Jason Collins [R] 28. Ed Lewis [R] 29. Doug Lewen [R] 30. David Arnold [R] 31. Mike Arnold [R] 32. Ed Duggan [R] [R]- Denotes Grands Rookie