Round 3 was the first race of the season to feature the inverted start, which would put typically front running drivers deep in the field to try and make their way forward. Timing of pit stops would be crucial for these drivers as they had to get themselves out of traffic, yet keep themselves in fast company to keep the draft and the lower lap times that go along with it.
As expected, the drivers at the back such as Steve Spring, Sergio Bravo, Mark Connell, Aaron Downs and Jon Kimbrell would quickly begin moving forward in the 60 minute race. But, what wasn’t expected was that pole sitter Ed Lewis (who started up front as a result of a DNF in Round 1) would jump out to an early lead and quickly build a sizable gap to the chasing drivers. Even when the drivers who had started at the back had made it to the front of the chasing pack, Lewis continued to hold the lead and in fact would continue to build the gap. A huge upset was looking like a real possibility at the halfway point.
Bravo had been the first driver to make his way to the front from the back, but Kimbrell and Downs were close behind after starting a few spots further back. These three were showing that they were the three to potentially catch Lewis if a little bit of help could be had in pit lane or with lapped traffic.
With just 10 laps to go, the chasing trio got their wish.
Downs, Kimbrell and Bravo had already made both of their required pit stops and were in full attack, trying to close the gap to Lewis. But, the gap was coming down slowly and would not be enough if things proceeded as they were going. As the field crossed the stripe with 10 laps to go, Lewis caught the pack of drivers racing for positions 6 through 14, each of whom had already made their stops. These drivers were racing hard trying to grab every spot they could, and Lewis decided to try and slice his way through them.
Unfortunately for the leader, it didn’t work.
Lewis began to lose half a second per lap to the chasing three drivers and quickly his gap had completely evaporated. Lewis stuck to his pre-race strategy of pitting on the final two laps, and would rejoin in 5th where he would ultimately finish. All-in-all, still a fantastic day for Lewis as he scored his best career finish and easily led the most laps of any driver.
Back up front, Downs and Kimbrell were now trading the lead back and forth with just 2 laps to go with Bravo close behind and Connell ready to pounce if the top 3 ran into any trouble. As they took the white flag, the battle for the win looked to be coming down to Kimbrell and Downs, just like last year’s Sport Kart Grand Nationals. These two brothers know each other better than anyone, and always enter each race with a plan. This time, it had worked to perfection. The two had teamed up from the drop of the green and driven from 29th and 30th on the grid to now being 1-2 with just half a lap to go.
Downs led going into the final corner, and Kimbrell dove low into Long Beach to make one last attempt. Side-by-side down the final straight, and it was Aaron Downs taking the win by less than a tenth of a second over Kimbrell.
Behind them, Bravo was just over a quarter second behind with Connell in 4th and Lewis in 5th.
Full Results: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/3393570
After two races, Steve Spring continues to hold the point lead with a 7th place finish in Round 3 backing up his win in Round 1. It is still early however, and with a race drop in play, this is still anyone’s race.
Round 4 sees the IronMan series head to the Grande circuit. Registration is now open: http://calspeed.mycustomevent.com/