CalSpeed IronMan Series 2022 Round #9 Preview

(Its been a hectic few days at CalSpeed, and unfortunately time has not permitted a video preview; instead here is the written take on what we could expect for IronMan Series Round #9 tomorrow!)

It is the second-to-last IronMan Series race of the year, and the final 2-Hour challenge for its drivers, with tomorrows round #9 taking to the Classico Counter Clockwise layout for the second time this year. The championship picture is starting to get a bit more clear, as three drivers have broken away from the rest of the pack, looking like the question isn’t who will be on the podium, but perhaps what order…

Last month we saw Chase Nickells go two for two in his latest starts, scoring the win on Classico, with fellow title contender Donnie Clarke second, and Summer sub-champ contender Sam Hunt rounding out the hardware spots in third. For the penultimate round, the Classico CCW circuit is very familiar to these drivers, and one where a variety of strategies can see a driver -or drivers- come away with the win…

Track Spotlight: Classico Counter-Clockwise

 Track Facts: Classico CCW

·      Turns – 14

·      Overall length – .599 miles

·      Front Straight – 475 feet

·      Back Straight (Sportivo to Monaco) – 395 feet

·      Braking Zones – Esses, Hairpin, Turn 4, Bypass

·      Primary Passing Zones – Esses (Draft), Silk, Hairpin, Turn 4, Bypass

·      Track Record- 57.618, Ayrton Demoss, Super Series Round #1 2020

Classico CCW is more than just “heading the other way” on the shortest of CalSpeed’s repertoire of configurations, as everything changes with the way you take the corners. With nearly each turn being a ‘decreasing-radius’, passing zones and challenge abound as each corner tightens up. The Esses reverse require xcellent line chois and footwork to get the most through them and Contino, with one of the most fun complex’s at CalSpeed greeting you at the end of the back straight: Silk into hairpin. On the edge of adhesion in the sport karts, there are a multitude of lines to take and the hard braking zone of hairpin is a phenomenal passing zone. From there it is up the hill passed Scandi and towards Turn 4, and while a great passing zone as well, it is the start of a challenge end of the lap that also includes Bypass, and the Kimbrell corner before finish up the lap back on the front straight.

Entry List…

Unlike the last 2 hour event in June, round #9 will see a predominantly SOLO field, with the split in favor of the single entries 11 to 6 – nearly a 180 turn from round #6. Leading the field away will be the combo of Sean Fite and Bill Kreig, with fellow endurance aces Diego Morales and Jose da Silva making up the entry in the P2 spot. 4 SOLO entries follow, led by former 2 hour hour winner as a team entry Evan Lawrence. This will be his first foray into SOLO territory, as is the guy starting back in 9th, and looking to reel in the point leader that starts just behind him, Chase Nickells…

  1. Sean Fite/Bill Kreig
  2. Diego Morales/Jose da Silva
  3. Evan Lawrence (SOLO)
  4. Emerson Thieman (SOLO)
  5. Ariel Rubio (SOLO)
  6. Alyssa Yauney (SOLO)
  7. Ayrton Demoss/Sam Hunt
  8. James Lieser/Doug Yauney
  9. Donnie Clarke (SOLO)
  1. Chase Nickells (SOLO)
  2. Sheng Wu/Carl Zhu
  3. Chris Carter (SOLO)
  4. Adrian Comstock/ Chris Fox
  5. Jacob Reis (SOLO)
  6. Mike Gonzales (SOLO)
  7. Jeremy Aldridge/ Lee Povey
  8. Dmitry Korotkov (SOLO)

Overall Championship…

Chase Nickells is the man to beat right now in the IronMan Series

Chase Nickells has won the last 2 events he has entered, including the last 2-Hour race run at round #6. He’ll obviously be carrying a bit of momentum in and will be looking to add points to his 16 he already has in the bank, and on a track where he was just off the podium the last time we were here. That 16 point lead coming in has him in an improbable clinch scenario – he’ll need to be near perfect and have our P2 man take a drop to sew it up before October. But Donnie Clarke has been one of the most consistent drivers all year, and owns the best drop in the series -the exact reason why the clinch will be tough to see happen. P2 last month for Donnie, the Classico CCW circuit was a good one for him earlier this year, finding the podium, which was 1 of 4 already this year. But while he is certainly focused on the championship, he only has a 4 point advantage on P3…

Ayrton Demoss. Teamed up with Sam Hunt for a podium in the last 2-Hour, the former point leader will be looking for more of the same to keep his title hopes alive – Classico CCW was the place of his worst finish of the year back in round #4, but he had a top 5 in this race last year, and a podium in the 2021 Spring race as well. Fourth place man Diego Morales leads the charge for the “best of the rest” title, needing a lot of help to score season-ending hardware here in 2022. At 52 markers astern from 3rd, it may be more about bragging rights for the driver in 4th, but given the tough drop rounds from Demoss, it is still mathematically possible to steal a silver cup away in the IronMan Series. The same could be said for the 2020 series champ, as Sean Fite sits another 18 points back and rounds out our top 5 heading into tomorrow’s contest. Fite scored bonus points in the spring event on this course before settling for a top 10, but finished on the podium here in this race last year with teammate Bill Kreig; that same pairing goes off from pole this time around, so lets see what they can do…

Summer Sub-Championship…

Sam Hunt is looking to reel in Nickells for the Summer Series point lead

Atop both standings, Chase Nickells has no clinch opportunity here in the Summer Sub Championship (he missed round #7) essentially meaning this event is a stage-setter for what he will need to do at the season finale to score the cup. 28 points to P2 is solid, but not insurmountable…

Especially when the challenger is Sam Hunt. Teamed up with Ayrton Demoss in the last 2-hour for a podium, he carries in a bit of momentum after a 3rd last month, having finished 3rd, 4th, 3rd the past three events. He swept the Classico CCW races last year including a win in this race with Michael Hazlewood, and will once again be with stablemate Demoss this weekend. With usual teammate Kiron Chakraborty moving to the east coast, 3rd place driver Donnie Clarke will take on the 2-hour solo for the first time, endeavoring to at least match his P3 from when we were here in the Spring. Looking to also best the point leader in the overall standings as well, the plan is simple for Clarke – go win.

Ariel Rubio was 4th in last 2-hour as a solo, and will be doing it alone again tomorrow. Interestingly enough, Rubio results spiked during and after the last twice around the clock contest, backing up his P4 with his first career podium one round later, a stat he’ll be looking to add on tomorrow, albeit on a track that hasn’t been too kind to him yet. And for the race winner at round #7 Emerson Thieman, the 43 markers out of first is a tough ask in a winner-take-all sub-championship, and he’ll need some serious help to score a come from behind silver cup here. Still, a race winner in your rookie season and in the conversation for a title is nothing to shake at and he could still surprise in these filial two events…

Tomorrow is sure to be an exciting final 2-Hour event at CalSpeed, with both the overall and the Summer title still up for grabs, and should set the stage for an awesome finale in October…