IronMan Round 6 Preview; Summer Title Heats Up…

Last month saw Classico mark the start to the second half of the season, as well as the kickoff for the second sub-title of the year, the Summer Championship. Sergio Bravo made his third appearance of the year, and subsequently dominated the event on his way to his first win and second podium so far. There were several other drivers that had a chance at a podium, but it would be current overall leader and Winter Sub-Champion Taylor Hays picking up his third podium of the year in second, with current second in points Mark Connell in tow for third.

This weekend the field of 30 IronMan drivers will take to the technical, but fast Classico reverse layout, the first time the group has gone in this direction since the season opener on Tecnico. While working together is always the initial theme in this series, the counter-clockwise layouts have a tendency to bring on more racing with the multiple passing zones they have. This, combined with the fairly even dispersal of talent through the field, and we could see a lot more racing this round then we typically see in an IronMan event…



The Overall Championship: Hays is the man to beat; podium fight is deep…

Fresh off a podium last round, Taylor Hays is in a comfortable spot right now, and is flirting with round #7 clinch territory if he can expand his lead just a little bit. Three podiums in five races and only one race outside the top is the reason he’s on top, consistency not quite match by his rivals.

Closest of his challengers though is sophomore driver and former winner in the series Mark Connell, who’s pair of podiums and additional top five finish lead all other drivers. Although winless, Connell has kept himself towards the front more often than not, a feat tougher to do this year with the inverts.

Former overall podium runner Steve Spring sits just 13 points back in third, counting a win in the opener amongst his pair of podiums this year. Spring has been a bit hot/cold this year, but when he’s on he’s typically at the very front, which is why he sits in the top three now.

Behind this top trio is where we could see a lot of movement in the standings, as the next four drivers are separated by a scant 19 points; 4th through 9th only 37. With three races left to run, the fight for the top five is fierce; the question truly being if any of them will be able to find the top three, and the hardware…

Top 10 Overall Standings:

1 Taylor Hays 384 56
2 Mark Connell 345 62
3 Steve Spring 332 62
4 Charles Eichlin 315 19
5 Ariel Rubio 310 71
6 Jose da Silva 309 62
7 Sean Fite 296 47
8 Chris Huerta 283 0
9 Alyssa Yauney 278 29
10 Nathan Hood 248 33



The Summer Sub-Championships: Summer title about to heat up…

Bravo proved to be ‘The Man’ on Classico last month, bringing home not only the IronMan win, but again at the Super Series a week later. He is no slouch on the reverse config either, winning the inaugural Super Series event back in 2013. Leading all drivers heading into round #2 for the Summer Sub Championship, Bravo has the advantage by 7 points over Hays, who finished second to him last round, albeit from very deep in the field. Expect Bravo and Hays to lead the charge from mid pack tomorrow, looking to chase down the talent in front of them via the invert, as well as some stout drivers looking to come from arrears…

As only one race is in the books, it is hard to tell who all has a shot at this one, as there is still a drop in the Summer Series, but only the top spot is awarded. That said there are a few drivers that put some strong performances, especially that of Mark Connell and Chris Huerta, currently 3rd and 4th in the standings.

Connell actually came from two spots further back than Hays to score a podium, latching on to Hays after pit stops, the two working together till the final flag. For his part, Huerta had an up and down race, losing touch with Hays after the first stop, and had to battle to get back to the 4th spot, essentially the ‘best of the rest’ given the gap to third. If similar strength is shown tomorrow, these two have shown they can make the push to challenge for that top spot.

Top 10 Summer Standings:

1 Sergio Bravo 105
2 Taylor Hays 98
3 Mark Connell 93
4 Chris Huerta 85
5 Jose da Silva 83
6 Sean Fite 77
7 Alyssa Yauney 77
8 Charles Eichlin 71
9 Ariel Rubio 71
10 Jason Collins 68



Round #6 Story lines…

Arguably the biggest story line heading into tomorrow is the inclusion of a few more big names to the fray; this happens from time to time in one off appearances, but this time it sounds like they could be the start of a championship challenge. The big two are former IronMan champ and reigning Super Series titleholder Jon Kimbrell, as well as last year’s IronMan Champ, Pat Britain. Kimbrell made a single appearance earlier this year, coming from second to last to just get nipped at the line by Aaron Downs, settling for 2nd. This bodes well for Britain’s chances, who will be coming from a similar situation as he makes his first start of the 2015 season. I expect these two to work a bit together in the early laps to knife through the field, the question will be at what point they go their separate ways, and how high up the standings they can make it.

In general, this can be considered one of the strongest fields we’ve had this year, and even though the spotlight is on the numerous talented drivers deeper in the field, I think we need to keep an eye on the guy starting on pole. We have seen drivers take off from the front in races past, and after suffering a mechanical that saw him finish last one month ago, this could be redemption for the Sprint Series standout Ariel Rubio. In my opinion, this could be Rubio’s to lose, as he has shown very well so far this year, currently sitting 5th in the overall standings with a best finish of 4th in round #4.

Provisional Starting Order:

Driver Rd 5 Finish Rd 6 Start
 Tom Zevin  20 1
Michael Floerchinger  19 2
 Don Diego Veloria  18 3
 Simon Wong  17 4
 Nathan Hood  16 5
 Joe Sabella  14 6
 Chris Carter  11 7
 Steve Spring  10 8
 Ariel Rubio  8 (mech) 9
 Charles Eichlin  8 10
 Sean Fite  7 11
 Alyssa Yauney  6 12
 Jose Silva  5 13
 Christopher Huerta  4 14
 Mark Connell  3 15
 Taylor Hays  2 16
 Sergio Bravo  1 17
 Duane Lawson  N/A 18
 Ron Ng  N/A 19
 Steve Branson  N/A 20
 David Kelmenson  N/A 21
 Brian Starr  N/A 22
Matt Hart  N/A 23
 Jeff Carson  N/A 24
 Jon Kimbrell  N/A 25
 Dennis Kimbrell  N/A 26
 Ben Blank  N/A 27
 Rodney Bryant  N/A 28
 Jeff Latimer  N/A 29
 Patrick Britain  N/A 30