After the opening round of the inaugural season of the Sprint Series, we learned a couple of things. Arguably, the most important thing we learned is that there are handful of drivers who are full time Sprint Series competitors that can take it to the part time drivers.
In Round 3 that stayed true, and in fact, a full time driver was able to grab the win in the A Main.
The day started with qualifying, and it was full time Sprint Series driver Vince Burke taking P1. Burke came into the year expecting to run for the championship, but did not have the Round 1 that he was hoping for. Luckily for him, Round 3 was off to a much better start.
Up next was the heat races and it would be Ariel Rubio striking first, grabbing the win in Heat 1. Rubio had a strong opening round and backed it up in strong form at Round 3. Behind him, however, there would be controversy coming out of the final corner. Chris Huerta and Steve Jasinski were battling hard in the top 5, when contact sent Huerta into the barrier, unable to finish. Jasinski would be handed a post race penalty, relegating both drivers to the B Main. Behind Rubio in the results was Vince Burke and then a great battle between Jake Hood and Ashley Arnott for 3rd and 4th. Joe Sabella rounded out the top 5.
Heat 2 took to the track next, and this time it was the two race drivers taking charge. At the end of 8 laps, the top 5 drivers would be separated by just 8 tenths of a second. Patrick O’Keefe was the leader as the field came to the white flag, but would be forced to serve a drive through penalty for contact on the prior lap. This would leave Dennis Kimbrell as the driver to take the win, followed closely by Bruce Allen and top full time driver in this heat, Luis Calderon. Sean Fite and Hasller Ortega finished 4th and 5th respectively. O’Keefe would come home in 6th.
The B Main was up next, and all eyes were on Huerta and Jasinski to see if they could make it through the field. Further complicating matters was the fact that there is only one transfer spot for two drivers who are normally in the A Main.
A few laps in, Steve Frame had gotten out to an early lead, but it was clear that Huerta and Jasinski were coming. Huerta had managed to get through traffic just a bit better than Jasinski, and was the first to catch Frame, with just 3 laps to go. Huerta was able to make his move quickly and went on to comfortably take the win. Frame managed to hold on for 2nd, while Jasinski made his way all the way up to 3rd. Chris Doyle and Tony Wika completed the top 5.
Rounding out the day was the A Main, the most important run of the day. Ariel Rubio and Dennis Kimbrell would be on the front row after each took the win in their respective heat race. But, there was a hungry pack of drivers behind them, ready to take any opportunity to strike. What followed was one of the closest battles we have seen in recent memory at CalSpeed as Rubio, Bruce Allen, Kimbrell, Vince Burke, Jake Hood and others battled at the front. Behind them, Alyssa Yauney had worked her way from near last on the grid up into the top 5, and Vladimir Orlov had came from 17th at the start to battling for the lead with just 3 laps to go.
As the race began to wind down, it was Rubio and Allen battling it out for the win. Heading into turn 4, the pair went side by side and Orlov dove to the inside in an aggressive three wide move for the lead. All three slid out and it would be 4th place Vince Burke taking the lead briefly. However, it was short lived as Orlov took the lead back for the final time heading down the back straight. Orlov managed to hold off the field and grab his first CalSpeed win with Bruce Allen in 2nd and Ariel Rubio in 3rd. Alyssa Yauney capped off a great A Main drive with a 4th, and Burke brought it home in 5th.
Full results: http://www.mylaps.com/en/events/1114132
The next Sprint Series race takes place on April 18th. Registration is now open: http://calspeed.mycustomevent.com/ShoppingCart.aspx?com=detailview&iid=119&&returncom=productlist&source=search