For the first time in IronMan series history, this weekend’s event will not take place on a Saturday, but instead, will hit the track Sunday morning. It will be a day of firsts, not only in the Sunday raceday, but also a first time champion will be crowned as the Winter Sub-Championship comes to a close.
The Championship Showdown
Heading into Round 2 (the 4th race of the year), Taylor Hays is the current points leader hot off of his 2nd career win last month. However, just 10 points behind him is his T4 teammate, Steve Spring. 10 points is the equivalent of two positions at the front of the field, and when lead lap bonus points are factored in (3 for leading a lap, 2 more for leading the most), it is very easy to see either of these two leaving the track on Sunday as the Winter champion.
What further complicates things is the race drop. Every driver will have their lowest score dropped from the first four races, which means that several drivers could have their points haul on Sunday not even count. In fact, the eventual champion could theoretically drop their score on Sunday.
Between the top two drivers, Hays and Spring, Hays has to finish in the top 10 to have a chance at the title, regardless of what Spring does. Spring has a current race drop of 74 which means that is the lowest total he will bring home on Sunday, Hays has to score 64 in order to tie him. So, if Spring somehow finishes 30th and Hays finishes 11th, Spring would still be the Winter champion even though Hays currently leads the points.
As if that isn’t enough, these two are not the only ones in contention. Current third place driver, Ariel Rubio still has a shot, although he needs a very specific set of circumstances to happen in order for him to realize his goal. Spring must finish 6th or worse (7th if he leads a lap) , Hays must finish 9th or worse (10th if he leads a lap, 11th if he leads the most laps), Spring cannot lead the most laps and Rubio must win. If Rubio leads the most laps, he can finish 2nd and the above scenarios all still fit. The bottom line for Rubio is that he must dominate this race on Sunday to have a chance.
Current IronMan Top 10
|9||Jose da Silva||68||-||62||65||5||62||200||138||1||1|
RL= Races Led
RLM = Races Led Most Laps
One thing to keep in mind, is that anything can happen on Sunday as the IronMan series heads to the most unpredictable track on the schedule; Nuovo.
Aside from the three drivers mentioned above, who will all certainly be in contention for the win, there are several potential spoilers in the field. We’ll start with the most notable, the winningest driver in IronMan history returns this weekend, and his name is Sergio Bravo.
Since he is not contesting the entire season, Bravo will only have one goal in mind, get win number 7. Bravo already has one podium this year in his only start and has been up front all season in the Super Series. When you add in the fact that Bravo has won 4 of his 6 races on Nuovo, he is the clear favorite on Sunday.
There is a whole cast of drivers to keep an eye on as well, each of whom has proven themselves at some point this year or last, drivers like two-time winner Mark Connell, last weekend’s PRD Pilot class winner Alyssa Yauney, 2014 Sport Kart Grand Nationals standout Andrew Wood, and consistent front runners like Chris Huerta, Justin Tolman, Ian Enz, Jose da Silva and Charles Eichlin. There is no shortage of talent in the field for Round 2; no less than 13 drivers have a chance at winning.
There are a lot of great storylines to keep an eye out for on Sunday, but one that might get shuffled to the back until the next round is the overall championship battle. Even though there are only three drivers in contention for the Winter championship, the title chase for the 2015 season is still wide open. If Hays and Spring stumble just a bit this weekend or later in the season, there are at least 7 more drivers who will suddenly be back into the fight.
It is all up for grabs this Sunday on “The Superspeedway” – Nuovo!
Round 2 Starting Grid
|Driver||Round 4 Finish||Round 2 Start|
Full IronMan Record Book – HERE