Round #3 of the 2016 CalSpeed IronMan Championship continues this month on the Grande Counter Clockwise layout, hosting the second round in a row on a reverse direction configuration. Round #2 saw Adam Nagao finally secure his elusive victory on the Tecnico layout, besting Jon Kimbrell in a mano-e-mano duel with Marcin Balazy rounding out the top three with his first ever podium result.
This month sees the ‘backwards mentality’ continue as the field of 30 IronMan drivers will take to what is another driver favorite in Grande CCW, and with it, another guaranteed new winner from last year’s result. Jose da Silva was able to bring things home at this race in 2015, but with him absent from the series here in 2016, the door is open for another new winner to step through. That said, Adam Nagao won the fall race here, and he is fresh off a win in round #2…
As of this writing, 9 of the top 15 in the standings will be in attendance, meaning the chances for this race to have strong implications in the points is very high, especially with half of the first sub-championship season in the books. Who will come out on top? Read on to find out more on what to watch this weekend!
Round #3; Grande CCW…
Grande CCW echoes many aspects that Tecnico brings out, including decreasing radius corners, a great sense of speed, and plenty of areas to get your passes done. What adds a bit of difficulty to this race is the fact that grip can sometimes be a bit tough to find when the race follows the local NASCAR race, as the parking lot nature of CalSpeed becomes a reality for the weekend. Things shouldn’t be too bad however, as a lot of testing as well as a private league race will be in attendance on Friday, which helps ‘clean’ off the track…
New corners this weekend include Short Beach, the Horseshoe, Silk, and the Hairpin, while Contino will get a bit of a different look as well. Short Beach is essentially the same as Long Beach that drivers run in the clockwise direction, but with a much later apex to it, and a lot less grip. Entering in the same place as the esses from Tecnico, drivers will now do a 180 degree turn before continuing flat-out through Horseshoe and down towards Contino. Contino accepts several different line choices on entry, but everything tends to form the same ending, as getting out of the corner with maximum speed onto the back straight is paramount. Next is one of my favorite complex’s at CalSpeed, and that is the high speed run through the fast left hander Silk which dumps you into the slowest part of the course, the sharp right-hand Hairpin. This is a great passing zone for drivers, and while it has become more difficult to do, is still a place where a lot of action takes place.
We’ll have action aplenty too, as the starting grid has some big names spread throughout the field, starting with Sergio Bravo starting all the way up in the 6th position after a mechanical failure in round #2. While not really in the hunt for the points right now, Bravo is always a threat for the top step, and will be leading the charge to be sure. In the exact middle of the field we have the podium runners form last round as well as the reigning champ, all of whom should be making their way to the front in quick succession. Then a bit further back we have Alyssa Yauney and David Kelmenson starting in the 20’s, both having been absent form the last round, and therefore not eligible for the invert. Both of these drivers have been able to work their way through the field in the past, and it will be interesting to see just how far up they can make it.
Turning our attention to the points as they run so far, and there are a handful of drivers that look to have the advantage as we go into the third round, and what truly is the final set up before we crown our first champ in 2016. With the best 3 of 4 rounds counting towards the Winter sub-championship, tomorrow could be the most import round for the title contenders, as it will define where they need to be, and what they need to do if they are going to come out on top in April.
And right now there are three drivers that look like they have the best shot at this thing: Adam Nagao, Taylor Hays, and Marcin Balazy. When we look at the overall points, these three have the best pairings in results, and therefore have the most points in their total column. Diego Morales may be leading the standings after the drop, but as he is not on the entry list, he’ll need to make another miraculous “from waitlist to winner” move to really keep things alive. Jon Kimbrell is 4th in the points after the toss, and just 2 back from Balazy in the total column, but 20 back from Nagao and needs a bit of love this round.
These guys are also the primary contenders for the overall championship, but that is a list that can grow, especially with ¾ of the season yet to play…
Current Standings Top 10
Round #3 Provisional Starting Grid
|Don Diego Veloria