The 2016 CalSpeed IronMan Series continues into February with the second round of the championship taking place on Tecnico Circuit, a challenging layout that is also a driver favorite. Last round saw a last minute entry from Diego Morales turn into him standing on the top step of the podium, while defending Series’ Champ Taylor Hays brought it home in second, and former National Champ Aaron Downs rounding out the podium.
Last year this track hosted the season opener, in which Steve Spring won; In the Fall it was Adam Nagao bringing things home on this track, only to come up just shy at the scales. Will we see Spring return to the top step tomorrow, or will Nagao seal the deal on the one that was lost? Either way, they will need to come out on top of the field of thirty that has entered tomorrow’s contest, and we’ll take a closer look at what to watch for in this edition of the IronMan Series Preview…
Round #2: Tecnico…
As was mentioned before, we are assured of a different winner this weekend, but not only that, much of the top 10 could look a bit different, as the 1st, 3rd, 9th, 10th, and 11th position in the standings will be absent from the second round. This includes the most recent IronMan winner Jon Kimbrell, who was the benefactor of the Nagao penalty in round #7 last year.
The track itself is my personal favorite out of the tracks on the series schedule, combining technicality with a heightened sense of speed that can be hard to feel in Sport Kart Racing. Heading into the esses backwards and the quick right-left up the hill both really push the high speed grip levels, and when you combine those with corners like the bypass onto the main straight and the hairpin after the short back straight, and Tecnico delivers a little of everything. Drafting has a much smaller effect here too, so don’t be surprised if drivers elect to go get out of the mess, and go at it alone or in a smaller group. Tecnico has plenty of places to try and make a pass, but in a lot of those places you can lose a lot of time; and when pit stops are in play, this could be a huge factor in each driver’s strategy.
The drivers to watch from deeper in the field this round are some of the usual suspects, but this is even more so on this particular track, as these drivers have had recent success here. Hays has established himself as ‘The IronMan’ in this series, with his knack for finding the podium continuing into this season; don’t think the 18th starting spot will count for much, s he is regularly coming form the back in this championship. Also don’t be surprised if he hooks up with Tecnico ace Nagao; starting right in front of Hays in 17th will most likely see these two link up and start the trek to the front right away. I’ll also have an eye on Chris Huerta starting back in the 29th position, feeling the hit with the inverted start after not attending the opening round. He was able to make it up pretty high in the fall race here after starting pretty far back, and could surprise by the time the checkers fall.
A little closer to the front we have Sergio Bravo looking to work up from the 10th spot, which for someone of his skill and experience could almost be considered the pole position. Bravo will be coming out of the gate hot here, and I think could be the biggest challenge the field has to face if they want to stand on the top step. Sean Fite is looking for a little better ride here in the round two and will be starting from the 8th spot; he was able to salvage a decent finish last round, and will be a threat to lead a few laps early if he can get to the front quickly. But leading the field away from the green will be Jason Collins; Collins, who was able to score the pole position for this race after fighting for the final transfer spot in the final lap last race. This a big opportunity for him, and it will be interesting to see what he can do in what is essentially one of his first forays into the very front of one of these races.
It is the second race of the season, but the first time going ‘backwards’, and the first time these drivers will be working with the invert. Tomorrow marks the rest of the season boys; go get it…
Current Standings Top 10
Round #2 Provisional Starting Grid
|Don Diego Veloria