Heading into the 2014 IronMan Season Finale, the stage was set to be one of the most exciting races of the season, and it would deliver in full; providing twists and excitement in spades, it was the perfect end to an exciting year in the category. Seven different drivers would contest the Summer sub-championship, while the final podium places would also be up for grabs…
Just like they were last round, Aaron Downs and Jon Kimbrell were strong out of the gates in qualifying, this time hooked up to maximize their overall pace. The stepbrothers would lead the way in the session for the first few laps, bolstering their chances at the summer title they were each in the hunt for. Then on lap 4, Arkham stable mates Riley Dugan and Bruce Allen leapt to the top of the charts, and it looked like it was going to be an Arkham front row for the first time since the Oval event back in May. Instead, the aforementioned Downs would put down a stellar lap, stealing away the pole position, followed by a career qualifying run from Sean Fite, scoring the third overall time. With all of the breakout runs in qualifying, the title contenders would be split up throughout the front half, setting up what would be an eventful 50 minute race…
Top 10 Grid positions (*-Title contender)
1. Aaron Downs*
2. Riley Dugan
3. Sean Fite
4. Bruce Allen
5. Jon Kimbrell*
6. Mark Connell
7. David Kelmenson*
8. Patrick Britain*
9. Alyssa Yauney
10. Dennis Kimbrell*
13. Steve Spring*
17. Jose da Silva*
One of the toughest things about the Grande Counter Clockwise layout is getting through the tight ‘Short Beach’ corner that the front straight dumps into after the green flag flies. Unfortunately for first time front row runner Riley Dugan, he would find out just how hard it is to negotiate it, especially when being shoved from behind by the row you’re leading. Buried in the tires from the get go, Dugan would go from 2nd, to last, then put together a career performance, rallying his way back up to finish inside the top ten. That frantic start that saw Dugan’s podium hopes dashed, also had ill effects on several other contenders, and many had to play catch up from the drop of the green, including Allen, Connell, and da Silva who were all collected.
This turned things on their head right away, and shook up the strategies and approach for many in the front half of the pack, with drivers affected in different ways. On the other side of the coin, some were able to take advantage of the mishap, and found themselves in great positions. Sean Fite came across the line to complete lap one in second, Yauney was fifth, and Justin Tolman started his march to the front by crossing 8th, up from a 12th place qualifying effort.
Pit stops would happen after just five laps in the books, with Jose da Silva the first to jump in, looking to salvage not only a Summer title run, but his place on the overall podium after the turn 1, lap 1 issues. Stops would trickle in from there, with assorted drivers from throughout the field making stops, including da Silva with a hail-mary attempt, coming in for his final stop with still about 30 minutes to play. It wasn’t until Alyssa Yauney’s stop on lap 14 that some of the front pack started to look towards pit lane, and pit road became busy for the next several laps. Several drivers from inside the top ten would make their stops including Tolman, Britain, Allen, Connell and Spring, while Dugan and Dennis Kimbrell each did back to back stops to get them out of the way before the mid waypoint of the race. Meanwhile at the front, drama was starting to brew as excessive bump drafting boards were hung out to drivers nearly every lap, officials urging drivers to stay within the rules…
If the first twist in the point standings battle was the turn one incident at the start, then the second twist would be the bump drafting black flag given to Jon Kimbrell on lap 25. The Summer Champ by the numbers at that time, the multi-time champion pushed the envelope a bit too far, and was caught bump drafting to the point of receiving a full black penalty, which instigates a drive down pit road. This essentially took Jon out of the running, and promoted David Kelmenson to the ‘provisional champ’, as he was running 2nd to Downs at the time…
Drivers continued to flow into the pit area regularly throughout the middle of the race, as drivers made their required stops, looking to fins any edge they could as the laps ticked away. And it was during these stops that yet another twist in the story happened…
With Down’s large lead, it looked like second was all Kelmenson was going to get, but it would have been enough to score the summer championship, and at the time, 3rd in the overall standings. With about 10 laps to go, he came in to make his second and final pit stop, but there was a bit of a bottleneck in the first box, and contact was made with a driver. While not on purpose, any contact on pit lane means a full black flag, and with that, David’s chances were dashed.
This put things in the hands of two drivers at the end: Leader Aaron Downs, and Patrick Britain, who at the time was in a race-long battle with Justin Tolman, the two fighting for the final spots on the podium. Knowing that he needed to get around Tolman for the Summer championship, Britain attacked, and attacked again, but Tolman expertly fended off the IronMan champion to hold on to the spot. With Aaron crossing the line a whopping 17+ seconds clear of that battle, Tolman would cross the line second over Britain, with Sean Fite and Bruce Allen crossing not far behind for 4th and 5th respectively.
Aaron’s win scored him the Ironman Summer Shootout Series title after all the math had been done, winning a tie breaker with Patrick Britain that had to go through several levels before declaring a winner by each driver’s 2nd best summer finish. After the race, we caught up with the Round #8 winner, and the new Summer Shootout Series Champion Aaron Downs, who’s a man of few words:
CS:Congratulations on scoring not only the win, but with it the Summer Sub-Championship. How was the race from your point of view, and did you know you had the championship when you crossed the line?
AD:The race was great, and I had a great kart during the race. I was just trying to stay consistent and time my pit stops right, but during the race I had no idea I was going to win the Summer Sub-Championship.
The 2014 CalSpeed IronMan Series has been an exciting roller coaster of a season, with multiple different winners, and excellent championship and podium fights. In the end, Patrick Britain scored the Winter Sub-Championship, and followed it up with a Overall Championship a round early, and is joined by Jon Kimbrell and Jose da Silva on the podium, with Aaron Downs taking home the final hardware of the season in the Summer Sub-Championship. These drivers will all be awarded at the CalSpeed Series’ Banquet on November, joining the history books of previous IronMan greats.
Congratulations to all the winners and champions in the 2014 IronMan Series Championship!
Final Top 10 IronMan Overall Standings
|3.||Jose da Silva [M]||558|
|5.||David Kelmenson [M]||525|
|6.||Mark Connell [M]||516|
|7.||Steve Spring [GM]||509|
|8.||Dennis Kimbrell [M]||507|
|10.||Vince Burke [M]||365|
Final Top 10 IronMan Summer Sub-Championship Standings
|4.||Jose da Silva [M]||257|
|5.||David Kelmenson [M]||256|
|6.||Dennis Kimbrell [GM]||238|
|7.||Steve Spring [M]||233|
|9.||Mark Connell [M]||222|
*Wins off Tie Breaker (2nd best Summer Finish)