It may be the penultimate round in the IronMan Season, but this Saturday could see the Overall Championship decided, as Patrick Britain goes in with a healthy 54-point lead. Already a two-time winner this season, including last round on Classico, Britain hasn’t had a finish worse than fifth all year, and looks to wrap things up here in round #7.
Things aren’t so cut-and-dried for the Summer sub-Championship however, as several drivers are in the hunt for the title, with Britain again leading the way, albeit tied with round #5 winner Dennis Kimbrell. With the series heading to the tricky, yet popular Classico Reverse course this weekend, it is sure to be an exciting, and drama filled race. This fact is underlined by the entry of several Super Series regulars into the 1-hour contest, many of whom could play a significant role in the already close point standings fight. In this preview we’ll focus on those point battles specifically, taking a closer look at just want to expect from our top contenders this weekend…
RD’s Spotlight: Britain eyes first CalSpeed Championship…
RD:While already the title winner in the Winter sub-Championship, this weekend could see you score your first ever Overall Title here at CalSpeed. Does the weight of this weekend effect you at all?
PB:It hasn’t yet. I imagine that sleeping on Friday night will be pretty tough though. It will be a great feeling to check this off my list of accomplishments at CalSpeed, if I am able to get the job done this Saturday. Luckily, I have been in this spot before so I know how to handle the pressure.
RD:How do you approach a race day that could see you cross the line as champion?
PB:The worst thing I can do is change my approach, in my opinion. I already am very conservative on pit road, so no need to do anything different there. The only thing that may happen is taking less chances late in the race. I normally have no problem with the last lap, last corner pass, but with so much on the line this time I might hold back. Or not, maybe I am just trying to lower the other drivers’ guard.
RD:Leading up to the race, you mentioned how much you like Classico Reverse, albeit having never run the track in competition. You have run the esses in reverse, both at Grands and Machismo however. Is this why you like the configuration?
PB:Absolutely. For the same reason I love the run from Horseshoe into Long Beach when we go clockwise. There’s time to be had by sailing the kart into the corner and finding grip where you might not expect there to be any. The difference is, the Classico esses going backwards makes you pay for any small mistake on entry by throwing you off for the second ‘s’ and Carousel. If you pack the kart down into the corner and get it the littlest bit wrong, you pay for it in a big way on the stop watch. Exactly as it should be.
RD:While the Overall title looks yours to lose, needing just a ninth or better to clinch it, the Summer Series is still way up in the air. Leading both, how do you balance the two, considering the priority and focus differences?
PB:The plan is to get the overall locked up on Saturday, which will allow me to go full bore in the finale. Even if I get a 9th on Saturday, I have a 4th and a win already in the Summer Series to fall back on. It would be a ton of fun to “go for broke” in the finale with virtually nothing to lose. The Ironman sweep is definitely the goal; right now it looks like I have a good shot at it. I’m just going to keep doing what I have been doing all season, and it should fall into place.
The Summer Shootout: Two rounds; two winners; and all to play for…
The top three in points include the past two round winners, and a repeat podium finisher, equalling a three-way tie in total points. Putting up solid points at least one of the rounds are the next several in line, with the top 8 in the standings all with a strong shot at the championship. This championship only awards the winner though, so there is no podium fight like there is in the overall standings.
David Kelmenson has been the most consistent of the group, scoring a 2nd and a 3rd the past two rounds, the only driver to go two for two on the podium. Patrick Britain and Dennis Kimbrell swapped spots from one round to the other; scoring a 4th the round they didn’t win. Completing the top five are sharp-end regulars Jon Kimbrell and Jose da Silva, who are also 3rd and 2nd in the Overall standings respectively.
That is a stout top five, but the talent doesn’t end there, as 2013 Ironman 2nd place finisher Steve Spring sits 6th, 2014 Sport Kart Grands champ Aaron Downs is 7th, and 2013 Ironman 3rd place finisher Bruce Allen in 8th. All in all, any of the top 8 could pull this off, and it will certainly be going down to the final round next month. This weekend will simply be the stage setter for what could be a massively exciting Ironman Finale.
Top 10 after Round #2
|5.||Jose da Silva||90||(167)|
The Overall Championship: Britain probable #1, but who will take #2 and #3?
At this point it nearly seems a forgone conclusion that Britain will immerge champion, as a 9th place or better finish clinches the title on Saturday, regardless of what happens around him. So instead we’ll take a look at the battle to fill the final two places on the podium, a battle that has turned into a very exciting affair…
While the top nine drivers all have a mathematical shot at the podium, it seems more likely that the podium finishers will come from inside the current top five, given how the season has run so far. Just thirty points separate 2nd place Jose da Silva and 5th place Bruce Allen, a difference that has ebbed and flowed all season long. To put that in perspective, thirty points is the difference between 1st and about 8th on track, which is where most of these guys have been all year. Because of this, the opportunity to grab a large advantage in points each round is fairly low. That being said, three out of the top six drivers have won a round this year, and nearly each one has also been outside the top five more than once. Both Kimbrells and Kelmenson have been hot here in the second half of the season, but the consistency shown by guys like da Silva, and Allen will play a large part in the final big picture scheme. Additionally, moments of brilliance have come out of Tolman and Spring this year, their podium finishes testament to their potential in the final two races, while Connell’s pair of wins earlier in the year prove he’s a threat.
The addition of Super Series regulars into the fold, as well as guys running the Summer Series only has intensified these position battles at the front too. With names like Downs, Esquibel, and other regular front-runners in the fray now, things have become much more interesting…
Top 10 after Round #6 (total points)
|2.||Jose da Silva||421||(421)|