Tomorrow will mark the end of what has arguably been the best IronMan Series season in CalSpeed history. While it was clinched one round early just as it was last year, the fields were bigger, the competition tougher, and the number of drivers running the whole season has increased. It certainly was a good year for all who participated in the endurance arm of sport karting here at CalSpeed.
And while the overall championship is already in the hands of Patrick Britain, the excitement is far from over; numerous drivers will line up for not only a shot at the race win, but for a chance at either an overall podium or the Summer Shootout sub-championship. This likely will be the most exciting event since the Sport Kart Grands for anyone watching along the sidelines, and won’t be one to miss!
RD’s Spotlight: What a difference a year makes…
The 2013 season was one that never left the control of the top three in the standings, with veteran Bill Myers clinching one round early over Steve Spring and Bruce Allen. This year is a different story; although the overall title has indeed been wrapped up, it hasn’t been as cut and dried this season for Patrick Britain as it was for the prior champ. We now have sub-championships up for grabs this year, and while it was just a two horse race for the winter title between Britain and Sergio Bravo, the Summer Title has seven different drivers with a real shot at it! Seven! This season has had excitement in spades…
This is just a nod to the depth in this year’s drivers, marked by first time winners and new faces at the sharp end, an added element to an already stout talent pool. This weekends contest will have more of the same on offer, as most of the series’ best will be in attendance, including a few possible wildcards in the mix.
Once the green flag flies, all eyes will certainly be on the overall podium fight, as Jose da Silva and Jon Kimbrell battle for 2nd and 3rd on the podium, but there will also be the fight for the Summer sub-championship to keep an eye on. Along with Jose, Jon, and the aforementioned Britain, are David Kelmenson, Dennis Kimbrell, Aaron Downs and Steve Spring who will all be in the spotlight for the summer championship.
Besides this group are several more drivers entered solely to get the win, and we could see yet another first time winner tomorrow, or a repeat from someone outside the top group. With two wins already this season, Mark Connell is certainly someone to watch outside of the title hunts, while someone like Justin Tolman could turn his flashes of brilliance into a breakout win. Then you have a large group that are really on an upswing right now; drivers like Riley Dugan, Kevin Taylor, Sean Fite, and Alyssa Yauney to name a few. Could we see a podium run from one of these 2014 rookies?
Any way you look at it, the 2014 IronMan Series Finale has a lot of questions, and just as many storylines heading in; and as far as season finale’s go, this one looks to be a barn burner…
The Summer Shootout: Seven enter, but only One will leave the champ…
Seven drivers, One championship.
Heading into this thing the advantage is with Jon Kimbrell, as he enters with a 10-point lead, and a lot of momentum with his wins in both the most recent Super Series and IronMan events. A third or better will see him clinch the title, unless one particular driver scores the win…
And that is his closest challenger in the standings, and his primary rival from the Super Series: Patrick Britain. Britain leads the charge towards stealing away the top spot in this fight, and owns the tiebreaker that would come if he wins, and Jon finishes third.
But speaking of ties, Britain enters the event tied with both David Kelmenson and Dennis Kimbrell for the second spot, making the top four drivers all within 10 points. Dennis picked up his first ever CalSpeed win on this same track layout (Grande CCW) back in August, and Kelmenson has scored 3 podium finishes in the last couple of months, including finishing second to Jon in the most recent Super Series. These three guys definitely will be putting the pressure on from the word go, but are joined by three more that have a real shot of winning too…
Jose da Silva sees himself battling Jon on two fronts, as he will need to finish ahead of him for the Overall podium, never mind the sub-championship. This added motivation could be all that is needed for the native Brazilian to pick up his second career win in the division. 15 points to the lead, and needing to beat the three drivers directly in front of him by more than 5 points makes things a bit tough, but not out of the question for Jose.
Next is National Champion Aaron Downs, who is only contesting the Summer Series, but has also found himself challenging for an overall top ten. 20 points is a challenge, but Downs can never be counted out, and will again be right in the thick of things tomorrow, coming off a second place last round.
The 2013 IronMan runner-up and Super Series Rookie of the Year sits 7th in the Summer standings, and with an outside shot at stealing away the championship. Steve Spring is 30 points astern from the lead, and with five other drivers to beat is a lot of math and circumstance to go his way, but anything is possible
The winter championship was a mano-e-mano fight. The Summer Championship is a cage match. Be sure to bring some popcorn.
Top 10 after Round #3
|5.||Jose da Silva||180||(257)|
The Overall Championship: Top step decided; but the rest of the podium?
Aside from Bruce Allen, the rest of the top 9 in the overall standings are confirmed on the entry list, which means anything gained this weekend will whole heartedly earned. The overall title is in the books, so our focus turns to the da Silva vs Kimbrell battle for the final two podium spots, in which the latter has clinched a berth. No matter what happens, Jon will finish either 2nd or 3rd given the strength of his throw out, while da Silva could actually fall out of the top three with a uncharacteristically poor showing. With only 1 point between the two, it is literally mane-e-mano here, as whoever finishes ahead of the other takes the spoils; provided the battle stays inside the top 8 (per Jons throw-out).
For David Kelmenson, Bruce Allen (if he shows), Steve Spring, Dennis Kimbrell, and Mark Connell, they will be hoping math is on their side. Needing something bad to happen to da Silva, all five of these guys have a mathematical shot at stealing away the final podium spot with a strong performance. Kelmenson is the closest of the bunch, with a 37-point deficit to Jose, and is the only real probable change we could see.
Behind them however, the group from 4th to 9th could see a shake up, with pride and bragging rights up for grabs. With 64 points separating this group, where someone is in the final standings, especially whether they are inside the top 5 or not could be a big motivator for a good finish. Especially since the gap from 5th to 8th is only 17 points…
The Battle for a top ten: Will it be Burke or Downs to do it?
The other point standing marker drivers shoot for here is a top 10, and with early season front runner and 10th place holder Sergio Bravo out for the finale, a pair of guys have a chance to steal it away.
At only 19 points back, a 17th place or better run for Vince Burke will get him the coveted spot, which is something that seems more than doable, especially with his recent pace. The kicker here is that the other driver in the running for the tenth spot is none other than Aaron Downs. With a string of strong runs here in the Summer part of the season, Downs has crept up into an outside shot at the top ten, currently sitting 80 points short of the mark. An 80+ point day for the National Champ is not out of the question however, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the Burke and Downs gaps all day long as well.
Top 10 after Round #7 (total points)
|2.||Jose da Silva||511||(511)|