Sprint Series 2016 Championship Preview

Sean Fite - Sprint Series 2016 Champion

2015 saw the debut of a new step ladder championship for CalSpeed arrive and drive racing, merging the close competition of the Super Series, while giving drivers a chance to hone their skills before heading to the big show. In the end, we saw excellent title fights for not only the overall, but also the two sub-championships; with three different drivers walking away with series titles at the end of the eight round season. Now with its own identity and place in the CalSpeed family, the Sprint Series looks to continue where it left off, with another group of contenders looking to take the top prize.

Tomorrow brings the start to a new season, and with it a clean slate for everyone to work from. The trials and tribulations from last year are gone for the drivers returning, and with several competitors moving on from full time competition in this championship, we are guaranteed to see some new faces at the sharp end. The question is, will they be familiar faces, or could someone brand new to the series steal away the limelight?

Sprint Series 101…
Like the other CalSpeed championships on offer, very little is different in terms of the rules and formats for the Sprint Series, with only the way the practice/qualifying groups are decided being slightly modified. This consistency in the rule package should also help returning drivers focus on their own goals, instead of learning how the series will work, as it was last year.

Drivers will still have a 10-minute practice/qualy session that will determine the group, and starting grid for the 8 lap heat race, with the heat race results determining the entrants into each of the two 10 lap mains. The top three overall walk away with hardware.

There are still three championships up for grabs as well, with the overall title decided via a drivers best 7 out of 8 events, while each of the two sub-championships (Winter and Summer) won by a drivers best 3 out of 4 events in either half of the season.

And one of the key points that helps this series develop talent is the experience cap in place: Using the CalSpeed driver value system, only competitors with a value of 275 or less (including rookies) are eligible for the full season, while drivers 276 to 325 are allowed to do only two races (shown by a [2R] moniker) in the season, and anyone over 325 not eligible to enter. This experience cap allows drivers who are not typically used to running in the top five a chance to improve their skills, and learn what it is like to fight for race wins.

Smitty’s Spotlight: Sprint Series 2.0
Last year Sean Fite set the bar for what a championship season in the Sprint Series looks like, while Ariel Rubio and Matt Hart brought home the titles in the Winter and Summer respectively. Fite and Rubio are [2R] drivers for this season, while Hart is ineligible, along with a host of other front running drivers from the 2015 season. This makes the highest eligible returning driver from 2015 Steve Jasinski, who placed 5th in the championship, and actually was a title contender at one point during the season. The next two are Ashley Arnott and Luis Calderon, each of whom finished inside the top 10 overall, while relative newcomer to CalSpeed racing Alex Bermudez finished inside the top ten for the Summer sub-championship. Other Sprint Series regulars from last year are on the entry list as well, including Diego Alvarado, Eric Monteith, Steve Frame, and the father-son duo of Jesse and Owen Lerman. It will be interesting to see how all of these returning drivers do in their sophomore efforts, especially with some of the other drivers who have elected to focus on the Sprint Series this season. Drivers like Patrick O’Keefe, Duane Lawson, Kelly Bastian could have serious break-out years here in 2016 with the added run here in the Sprint Series.

This series routinely put on some of the best shows all year last year, and I am really looking forward to seeing what the ‘new guard’ have in store…

2016 Sprint Series Season Opener Entry List

  1. Trevor Volin
  2. Patrick Okeefe
  3. Brandon Trostle
  4. Steve Frame
  5. Josef Busch
  6. Evan Klebanow
  7. Dustin Monroe
  8. Steve Makuch
  9. Michael Floerchinger
  10. Duane Lawson
  11. John Rice
  12. John Dugan
  13. Kevin Ferrara
  14. Alexander Bermudez
  15. John Cherniack
  16. Mark Walton
  17. Kelly Bastian
  18. Don Diego Veloria
  19. Craig Ferguson
  20. Caden Thure
  21. Thomas Blackledge
  22. Dominic Guzman
  23. Dennis Kimbrell [2R]
  24. Ashley Blaise
  25. Eric Monteith
  26. Paul Guitar
  27. Ron Ng
  28. Feras Faraj
  29. Jeff Latimer
  30. Claudio Varga
  31. David Cody
  32. Don Clarke
  33. Donnie Clarke
  34. Seth Willits
  35. Greg Willits
  36. Roger Adams
  37. John Adams
  38. Randy McKee
  39. Mike Skinner
  40. Lisa Clark
  41. Nick Marascio [2R]
  42. JD Deboer
  43. Sean Fite [2R]
  44. Luis Calderon
  45. Michael Mork
  46. Mike Gort
  47. Diego Alvarado
  48. Riley Dugan [2R]
  49. Tony Wika
  50. Ariel Rubio [2R]
  51. Jesse Lerman
  52. Owen Lerman
  53. Steve Jasinksi