Round #2 of the CalSpeed IronMan Series would get underway a little earlier than normal, as a wet track would be the cause for a cancelled Race Clinic, and subsequent slightly early start for the sold out field. Once underway however, the skies stayed sunny, and aside from a few clouds, no serious threat of rain would appear. And while the first round saw traffic play a big part in the outcome, the second round of the year would see strategy be the major deciding factor, with various types employed.
Dmitry Korotkov would lead the field away at the start, looking to bounce back from a tough season opener, but it would be Ariel Rubio snagging the first bonus points of the day with the lea don lap one. He would be the first of an eventual eight different leaders in this race, twice as many as the opener, and a big factor in the outcome. Scott Milne would take his turn at the front on lap 2, but it too would be short lived, as Alyssa Yauney took over the top spot one circuit later, with Bill Myers snagging a could laps later. It wasn’t until Diego Morales went to the lead on lap 10 did things start to settle down a little, but this would be a key point in the strategy decision of a few others.
While all the battling was gong on at the front, several drivers elected to pit early; some with a single stop, and others-mostly from the very back of the grid- elected for a double stop strategy, knocking out both required stops in just a few laps. In fact, the pit lane was busy with at least one taker on every single one of the opening ten laps, with several of the usual contenders electing to check one of the list early. There were a couple double-stoppers too, as Mark Connell pit on laps one and three from the very back of the grid, and at the opposite end, Scott Milne pit on laps five and six after leading a lap. These two would go on to finish 12th and 13th respectively, although Connell had a shot at a top ten before a late race spin.
It wasn’t until the leaders started to make their first stops around halfway did the difference in strategy really start to present itself, with the advantage going to those who had stopped early. With all the time lost in the early laps battling, the one-stoppers-namely that of Taylor Hays and Adam Nagao- would emerge in front of the former leaders, and by a decent margin. After working together for almost all of the 20+ laps Morales lead, he and Alyssa Yauney would find themselves about 1.5 seconds astern, a deficit they would never make up.
While other drivers took their shot a leading a lap to snag bonus points at the front, the real fight was between Nagao and Hays for the eventual win, and Morales and Yauney for the final spot on the podium. Morales and Yauney would get their final stop out of the way prior to the final 10 laps, with Yauney coming out ahead in the shuffle. Morales pushed to get back to the rear bumper of Yauney, and in the waning laps was in position to make his move, doing so on the white flag lap. Move and counter move came from both combatants, and when Morales went defensive intot he final corner, Yauney elected to for the opposite, carrying more speed out of the corner, winning the eventual drag race by .047 to take home third.
At the front it was a bit less exciting, with Hays dutifully staying behind Nagao for much of the race, including the lead up to the final lap. The move would not come until the Monaco Hairpin-not Hays’ first choice he explained afterwards-but the run was there, and he was able to not only stick the pass, but hold off the challenge to take home the win. After coming up short a year ago at this track, Hays led just one lap all day, and it was the most important one. Nagao would settle for second, but with his second podium in as many races, now leads the point standings.
Round #3 of the IronMan Series will take to the Tecnico layout in less than a month, so mark your calendars for March 11th, and be sure to register quick for the only time the series visits that track all year!
IronMan Series Round #2 Top 10