Chase Nickells SOLO’s to a 2-Hour IronMan win at Round #6!

As it has for the last few years, a twice-around-the-clock contest would kick off the second half of the CalSpeed IronMan Series season, with drivers electing to either team up with another, or go at it alone. And while most of the field elected to go with the former, the eventual winner would do it all be himself…

Frank Hsu would lead the field away for the start of the 2-Hour affair, heading up the hill and into the Kimbrell corner for the first time on the Sportivo layout. Things would get hectic right from the drop of the green, as they would heading onto that corner 4 wide at the start. Having to make evasive maneuvers, a small mistake from point leader Ayrton Demoss would see him turned around, falling off the back of the train and heading down pit lane in a change of strategy. Back up front and it was Sheng Wu taking over lead duties on lap one, pacing the field for the opening 15 or so minutes, before Denis Shakhovsii took his turn at the sharp end. Denis’s time at the front would last a handful of laps before the big mover of the race -James Lieser- took over before lap 20. That’s how long it took him to work up from almost last, but once he got to the front, he would not be able to break away from the chasing pack, led at the time by Evan Lawrence and Chase Nickells, with Emerson Thieman, Donnie Clarke and Chris Fox, and Ariel Rubio to go along with Denis and Sheng.

Right around the 30 minute mark things started to get a bit antsy at the front, with the lead swapping from James to Evan to Chase, back to James, and then to Donnie Clarke. From Then on it would pretty much either be Donnie or Chase holding on to the lead, with differing pit stop strategies seeing the pair flip back and forth turns at the lead, right up to the mandatory kart swap at the midway point. Clarke elected to wait until the very last opportunity for his switch, handing off to regular 2-Hour teammate Kiron Chakraborty, while Chase nailed down his swap as a solo entry three laps prior. From there it was all Chase Nickells, coming out of the pit cycles with a hefty lead, and leading for the next 45 minutes unchallenged.

While Chase seemingly cruised out front, elsewhere drivers were putting in work to either rebound from the first half of the race, or continue their climb up the ranks after starting towards the back. In the case of Michael Hazlewood, he had taken over from Aaron Scott at the midway point, sitting in the fifth spot with the podium in sight. For his part, Scott had worked up from nearly last, and then elected to pit early, eventually running by himself until Sean Fite linked up after his own stop on lap 8. This pair would prove to be a quick one, and by the time Scott handed off the reins, the strategy looked like it was working, as the time difference to those that had yet to pit was in his favor. For Hazlewood, it was more of the same mistake-free driving we have come to expect, which paid dividends in a race that saw plenty of mistakes and uncharacteristic bobbles from some of the best. In the end it would culminate into a P2 finish, a bit off the front, but well clear of third.

And speaking of third, that was a story of rebounding; after a lap one spin, Ayrton also put his head down and cut consistent laps -most of the time by himself- focused to make sure the first mistake would be the only one on the day. When the Winter Series champ handed off to his teammate Sam Hunt, he gave the reigning Super Series champ over an hour to finish the job, and he did not disappoint. Cutting the fastest laps of the race, Hunt not only continued the march forward, he secured the final podium spot for the pair, a big turn around in his teammates title hopes to be sure.

But to win an endurance race you need to be not only quick and consistent; you have to be mistake free – which is exactly what Chase Nickells was. He started 13th, worked his way to the lead, made 5 trips down pit lane including a kart swap, and came out the other side with a dominant win, the second of his career and first as a SOLO effort in a 2-hour.

Want your shot at the best of the best in the IronMan Series? Round #7 takes to the Nuotivo course in July, and there are spots still available, so sign up today!

IronMan Series Round #6 Top 10

  1. Chase Nickells
  2. Michael Hazlewood / Aaron Scott
  3. Sam Hunt / Ayrton Demoss
  4. Ariel Rubio
  5. Diego Morales / Jose da Silva
  6. Donnie Clarke / Kiron Chakraborty
  7. Sean Fite / Bill Kreig
  8. Chris Fox / Matthew Justmann
  9. Denis Shakovskii
  10. James Lieser / Jetson Lieser

Overall Point Standings Top 10

  1. Ayrton Demoss                     384    
  2. Chase Nickells                      361    
  3. Diego Morales                      350    
  4. Donnie Clarke                       348    
  5. Bill Kreig                                323    
  6. Jose da Silva                        315    
  7. Alyssa Yauney                     312    
  8. Sean Fite                               306    
  9. Kiron Chakraborty                301    
  10. Michael Hazlewood             291    

Summer Series Top 5

  1. Chase Nickells                      105    
  2. Michael Hazlewood             98       
  3. Aaron Scott                           95       
  4. Ayton Demoss                      90  
  5. Sam Hunt                              90