In contrast to the month before, round #3 for the CalSpeed IronMan Series would see bright sunny skies and warm weather greet the 30 driver field, with the canvas being the challenging Tecnico layout. What ensued was one of the closest and hardest fought races we have ever seen in this series, employing speed, strategy, and sheer grit to come out on top. And perhaps a little bit of luck too…
Chris Carter would lead the field down the front straight for the start on the first counter-clockwise layout of the year, and while he would lead lap one, Jose da Silva would immediately make a move for the top spot to take over on lap two. This duo would lead the way at the sharp end for the opening third or so of the race, joined by Vince Burke for the first ten or so laps. The driver who made steady inroads however-and would eventually link up with da Silva- was Diego Morales. Starting 13th, Morales scythed his way through the field to finally meet up with da Silva on lap 19, the duo immediately finding a boost of speed with the former clocking the fastest lap. There Morales would stay until inheriting the lead from Jose when he cam in for his first stop, with Diego following suit the very next lap.
While Morales and a few others elected to work their way to the sharp end before coming in for their first pit stop, there were some that had a different plan, including reigning champ and back to back Tecnico winner Adam Nagao. Last month Nagao teamed up with Taylor Hays on the early pit strategy but got nipped at the line for the win, and he would once again find help in the same strategy. Pitting in on lap one from the 15th starting spot, Nagao would be joined by several others in the laps that followed, including Alyssa Yauney (14th), Bill Myers (12th), and Taylor Hays (16th) in the laps that followed. Nagao would hold a bit of an advantage of the rest of the group however, with Hays eventually connecting with him Cameron Jocelyn and Ryan Curtin pitting on lap 9 and 10 respectively.
When the leaders made their stop after the third-distance mark, it became apparent just how close this IronMan race was, as Morales and da Silva were again linked, but only had a .5 second advantage on Fite. Further, it was less than a second to Jocelyn-who had caught and passed Nagao-and also had a train of drivers in tow back to 14th (Burke). The whole group was covered by less than seven seconds, and could all see each other on the front straight. Just before the halfway point Jocelyn made the move to the top spot to lead lap 28, maintain the top spot for just two laps before electing to complete his second stop right at the halfway mark. Nagao would be the only one to head in with him, and the two had already proven to be a formidable pairing…
The second half of the race would be the alter ego of the first, trading patience and working together for infighting that broke up what once seemed a harmonious group. First curve ball was a spin from Sean Fite out of the third spot, dropping him down the order and out of contention for the podium, and then Taylor Hays kicked off pit stops for the rest of the front runners a few laps later. Hays would come in on lap 39 and exit just under a second behind the Jocelyn/Nagao team, and would immediately be joined by Morales (Lap 40), da Silva (41), Chris Huerta (42), and Curtin (43). Unfortunately for Hays, the lot of them would come out in front of him, the leapfrog game uncharacteristically not going his way.
With about 15 minutes to go, the battle for the win and the podium truly ignited, with Nagao and da Silva finding their way by Jocelyn, with Morales just behind in 4th, but not content to stay there. What ensued was one of the fiercest lap-after-lap fights for position ever seen in an IronMan event, mostly because they don’t typically last long starting in the final couple of circuits. But this was with several laps remaining, and what was once a 4+ driver fight for the top spot turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight for third, allowing the top two to break away. Move and counter move ensued between Jocelyn and Morales, with very little quarter given, also allowing Huerta capitalizing on occasion. A mix of traffic and ill timed moves would allow Jocelyn to finally come out on top and get away securing the third spot, but the fight was not over behind him, further helping him maintain the advantage, and eventually the final podium spot.
As the laps waned it was Adam Nagao and Jose da Silva at the sharp end working towards a final showdown between them for the top step on the box. Unfortunately coming to the white flag an ill-timed move by a lapped driver broke the duo up, as contact with da Silva in the bypass corner saw him make a great save, but lose touch with Nagao. Nagao would go on to win his third Tecnico IronMan Series win in a row, padding his point lead with his first win of the season.
It was easily one of the most exciting, even if a little out of character IronMan races we have ever witness at CalSpeed, and the Grande CCW canvas for round #4 should make for another great show. Registration is already open, so be sure to sign up today!
IronMan Series Round #3 Top 10
|2)||Jose da Silva|