CalSpeed IronMan Series Round 5 Preview

Last month’s fourth round in the 2017 IronMan championship on the Grande layout saw our fourth different winner with Alyssa Yauney taking her maiden victory in the series. She would be joined on the box by Adam Nagao in second, and Diego Morales in third; the former picking up the Winter Sub-Championship in the process.

Tomorrow will see the first time a track is revisited by the series this year, as the full grid of 30 drivers return to the Nuovo layout for their 60-minute contest. Host of the season opener, this time around will see the field in its customary inverted stance, instead of gridding up by the season opening qualifying session the last time around. Get ready for tightly grouped pack racing in this, the biggest racing weekend of the year on the fastest track on the schedule!

Round #5; Nuovo…

The Series’ return to the ‘Super Speedway’ seems fitting in a weekend that it shares with both the Indy 500 and the Coke 600, as it is the closes thing to that wheel to wheel pack racing we have at CalSpeed. We also kicked the season off on this configuration, and while the layout itself is the same, some of the specifics to this event will provide a bit of a different look to the one in January. First is the newly paved sections in Silk, Horseshoe, and Long Beach; each have been re-done since the last round on the Grande layout, and are considerably smoother. They is also a good amount more grip with the recent LAKC race laying down a lot of rubber last weekend, so much so we could see some changing conditions as the day progresses. Typically, the harder compound tires of the sport karts pick up, or ‘clean’ the surface of the competition karting rubber, so it will be interesting to see if this affects how the karts change over the hour. They may start a bit bound, and then free-up as the race wanes, but then again things could get pretty well cleaned off in the clinic- only time will tell.

Aside from the track itself, the make up of the field and the starting grid itself will probably play an even bigger role in how this event plays out. Firstly there is no qualifying this time around, so we’ll be seeing a bigger variety in strategies employed, unlike the first round where most of the regular front runners already started there. The other is the large number of new drivers to the IronMan format, with almost a third of the field made up of one-off type drivers. Regardless of pace or the possibility of lapped traffic, this could also shake things up in how drivers decide to pit -having a dancing partner is a requirement here, as is not getting held up in traffic…

Four rounds down with four different winners speaks to how deep the talent field is in this Series, but new Winter Champion and overall point leader Adam Nagao is showing why he is the defending overall champ. How? 4 podiums in 4 rounds. This is the kind of consistency he put up last year with 5 out of 8 rounds on the podium, and that his closest challenger Taylor Hays showed in his own championship year. The 2015 season saw Hays pick up 6 out of 8 races on the podium, including 5 in a row to finish out the season. Currently astern by 26 points, the man in P2 has also been very consistent, not finishing outside the top 5 yet. They say consistency wins championships, and at least in the IronMan Series, that is proven to be true.

The point deficits will shrink a bit once the second drop comes into play when we start the second half of the season in June, but for now those two drivers certainly have the advantage. Joining them in the top 5 in the standings are fellow winners Henry Morse (3rd) and Alyssa Yauney (5th), who moved into the top five after her win last month. The latter has been a bit more hot/cold with a couple podiums and a pair of finishes in the teens, but we could see things hit a new stride this weekend. Sean Fite is the only one inside the top five without a win, but we have seen him drive at his best this past couple of events, and if not for a couple mistakes or bad luck would have results to go with it. He leads all drivers in bonus points, so he has still found a way to salvage bad days, but he’ll need a bit more to take the fight to the rest of the top 5.

The guy who really needs to capitalize this weekend though is Chris Huerta; starting from P2 after a season worst finish last month, the ball is in his proverbial court to make the most of it and make sure it does not have a lasting impression on his season. With two drops coming into play after this round as well, we’ll have an even better look at just who is in the conversation at the halfway point. The sub-championship may be over, but there is still plenty to fight for in round #5…

Current Top 10 Standings After 1 Drop (Drop)

1)Adam Nagao302(90)
2)Taylor Hays276(75)
3)Henry Morse255(60)
4)Sean Fite253(57)
5)Alyssa Yauney252(51)
6)Diego Morales249(66)
7)Jose da Silva229(42)
8)Chris Huerta229(27)
9)Steve Spring213(45)
10)Bill Myers194(51)

Round #5 Provisional Starting Grid

  1. Maximilian Bui
  2. Chris Huerta
  3. Randy McKee
  4. Chris Carter
  5. Michael Floerchinger
  6. Matt Steele
  7. Steve Spring
  8. Seth Willits
  9. Bill Myers
  10. Alexander Bermudez
  11. Jose da Silva
  12. Scott Milne
  13. Henry Morse
  14. Sean Fite
  15. Taylor Hays
  16. Adam Nagao
  17. Alyssa Yauney
  18. Ian Williams
  19. Kevin Durr
  20. Lance Durr
  21. Nathaniel Small
  22. John Underdown
  23. Eric Durr
  24. Luke Durr
  25. Joy Underdown
  26. Doug Daniels
  27. Simon Wong
  28. Calvin Ku
  29. Ivan Martinez
  30. Samuel Hunt