The 2017 season of the CalSpeed IronMan Series went through Classico Counter Clockwise this past weekend, as round #8 in the championship took place under clear skies and hot temperatures. It would also turn out to be a pivotal race in the title chase, with the big players split up on track for the first time in several rounds…
First time pole sitter Alexander Bermudez would lead the field out of the Bypass corner for the first time, but it was fellow Masters driver Jose da Silva taking over right away, leading the opening several laps. Also starting towards the front was Chris Huerta -a driver who has been looking to get back to form from earlier in the year- working up from the fifth spot to claim the lead by lap seven. His time at the front was short-lived however, as counter-clockwise ace and overall point leader Adam Nagao stole the lead away on lap nine after scything his way up from 10th. He had brought Sean Fite along with him, and soon it was Nagao, followed by Fite, da Silva and Huerta for a few laps, before a bit of infighting saw the order change amongst the trailing trio. Huerta would move back up to the runner-up position, dropping Fite to third, and da Silva to fourth, still a second and a half over the rest of the field. There the group would stay until hitting lapped traffic around lap 18, which is where things really started to spread out from Nagao to his rivals…
Around this same time -albeit about 6 seconds astern of Nagao- was Alyssa Yauney moving into the fifth position around the aforementioned Bermudez. While she only started one position behind Nagao, it took her a lot longer to work through the pack, and she was unable to stay with her Summer Series rival. But just like we have seen in prior races, the two-time winner in 2017 once again methodically worked her way forward, entering the top 5 about a quarter way into the race.
Conversely, fellow title contender Taylor Hays saw things not go his way at all, and while he had a surge in the beginning to see him just outside the top 5, his climb to the top halted there, prompting a strategy call that saw him the first of the front runners to pit. In fact he would do the back to back strategy, putting him just a few seconds back from where he was on track, allowing him to snag a tow of drivers towards the back of the top ten. In the end however it would not be enough, and as the laps waned, Hays made another crucial strategy call that saw him cross the line as the last driver on the
From lap 20 or so on there was very little changing in terms of position; Nagao still maintained a healthy -albeit static- margin over Huerta, Yauney continued to tick off laps to try and reel in the front four, and aside from da Silva moving around Fite on lap 24 the only passing happening was them moving through traffic. This was essentially the primary task for any driver at the front on Classico last month, and here again on the reverse direction of the same layout, it proved an important part of the outcome.
It wasn’t until lap 39 that there was a change in position, with Jose making the move for 2nd on Chris, with Yauney securing 4th over Fite one lap later. The new running order would not last long howerv, as the infighting sprang back up, seeing Yauney make the move on Huerta after only two laps behind, only to have Huerta return the favor after another pair of circuits. This was also when the first of the pits tops came from the leaders, as Sean Fite dipped into the pits, seemingly looking to avoid losing time in the scuffle. Yauney was the next to blink, exiting in front of fight to maintain her spot in the order. Both da Silva and Huerta would elect to stay out for several more laps, with Huerta finally coming in with just under 15 minutes to play, and da Silva one lap later. While they both would come out in front of Yauney and the now trailing Fite, the former would make her way by Huerta after one lap, staying front for one more before ducking down pit road for her final stop at the ten-minute mark. Again it was da Silva and Huerta staying out, with the latter making the move for 2nd a few laps later. That move would turn into the lead for a brief time as Nagao went near back to back on his pit stops, relinquishing the top spot with a little over five minutes to play. Split up now and on their own for the final few circuits, there would be no draft help for either of the lead two drivers, while Yauney was able to snag a few tenths her and there through lapped traffic. Huerta would exit out of his stop on the penultimate lap just .5 seconds in front of Yauney, with Da Silva coming out just behind, losing the final podium position on the final lap. Huerta would hold off Yauney for second, but the driver on the day was none other than Adam Nagao. Known for his prowess on the counter-clockwise layouts at CalSpeed, the reigning champion proved it once again, scoring his second win of the season.
IronMan Series Round #8 Top 10
|4)||Jose da Silva|