Tomorrow will see 30 + drivers take to the Classico course for round #6 of the 2014 IronMan Series, which doubles as the second round of the Sumer Shootout sub-championship. With only three races remaining in this year’s contest, the point battles have taken shape, and the true contenders realized. Patrick Britain leads the way in the overall championship, with Jose da Silva and Mark Connell next in line, albeit in nwed of some help to take the fight to the leader. For the Summer Series, Dennis Kimbrell leads the way after taking the win in the opening round, with David Kelmenson and Jose da Silva right on his heels.
While it is still all to play for with three rounds remaining, this round will set the stage for any challenge to be made at the overall title, and could be the most important round of the year…
RD’s Spotlight: A look at this round and beyond; tracks, contenders, & more…
This past week CalSpeed announced the final track configurations of the year, filling out the calendar from September on through December. With the IronMan Series ending in October, the full schedule will see a repeat of many corners, as 3 of the final 4 races of the year are in the reverse direction. Last round was on the Grande Counter Clockwise layout, and while this weekend’s race is on Classico (clockwise), we will head the other direction for round #7 on Classico reverse, and then again for the finale on Grande CCW once again. With passing opportunities in ample supply when running in the reverse direction, the unpredictability for how this season will end is through the roof.
Adding to the unpredictability is the number of contenders still in the game for hardware this season, with 8 of the top 10 within striking distance of the podium in the overall championship. Mathematically there are several drivers who still have a shot at the title, but this round will need to be a rough one for Britain if a challenge is to be mounted. Currently it seems like da Silva has a strong chance over the next three rounds to challenge for the championship, but aside from him, fortune will need to smile heavily on someone to get in the mix.
The fight for the podium however is a fantastic one. There are five total drivers within 35 points of the third, and final podium spot, and each and everyone has put together strong performances at some point this season. With so many drivers still in the game, and the depth of the field being what it is, this is the most exciting IronMan championship to date. On top of that, many of these aforementioned podium contenders are actually Summer Shootout title contenders, so there is plenty of incentive for them to push hard, even if they are further down the overall standings.
The Summer Shootout: One down, three to go: It’s just getting started…
With his maiden CalSpeed win in round #1 of the Summer Series, Dennis Kimbrell leads the summer sub-championship standings heading into tomorrows race. This was by far his best round of the year, and some may argue that he’ll have a tough time staying at the point. They may be right, except for the fact that Dennis has mentioned how much he likes the reverse direction, and the fact he backed up his pace at the last Super Series, which was on the same layout. Further, aside from this weekend’s Classico race, we are heading the other direction for the last two rounds. 3 out of 4 in reverse, and one throw out at your disposal? Sounds pretty good if you’re Dennis Kimbrell.
He of course has a long list of challengers, as with the throw out I just spoke of, everyone has a shot at the title, regardless of how they did at the opener. Leading that charge is David Kelmenson, last round’s runner up, who is also sitting 7th in the overall standings. Next in line, arguably the strongest of the three in the IronMan Series is Jose da Silva, who also sits second in the overall championship. If that doesn’t illustrate how tough the summer title already is, how about he next few in line: Britain (overall point leader), Spring (2013 overall runner-up), Aaron Downs (2014 National Champion), and Jon Kimbrell (overall Super Series leader).
Top 5 after Round #1
|3.||Jose da Silva||90|
The Overall Championship: Britain leads; da Silva new #1 contender…
Right now this thing looks like it is Patrick Britain’s to lose, as he heads into the final three rounds with a 31-point advantage, and a worst finish of 5th so far. With such a strong throw out to fall back on, he’ll have to not only have one bad round, but perhaps two to bring his challengers back in the fold. As it stands, another strong runs tomorrow will mean a possible clinch scenario heading into the penultimate round.
For his closest challenger Jose da Silva, it will just be more of the same: consistently strong finishes, but now he’ll need to make sure he in front of Britain by the time the checkers fall. Jose’s worst finish is a 7th, but after missing round #3, he has nothing to fall back on in the final stages of the championship. He has to finish ahead of his rival, and by a good margin tomorrow to give him the best chance heading into September.
From third on back it is really about who is going to come home third, and there are about six drivers who have a realistic shot at it. And although Mark Connell is only twenty points back from da Silva, one has to wonder if the focus has turned to maintaining, instead of climbing up another spot or two. Certainly for those behind him it is the latter mentality, and the pressure will certainly be on right out of the gate. Everyone in the top ten has a shot at this thing, and how they do tomorrow could change the entire complexion of this podium fight…
Top 10 after Round #5 (total points)
|2.||Jose da Silva||344||(344)|