As the inaugural Sprint Series season begins its second half, there are plenty of stories that we will be keeping an eye on. A three way battle for the championship, a three way battle for 5th, a battle for 10th that is still a bit up in the air, and the four final events being run on CalSpeed’s four most difficult track configurations are the major talking points, but we also have a clean slate for the Summer sub-championship.
Before we dive into all of that, let’s take a look at what to expect in this weekend’s race, and who to watch for the win.
Championship contenders Ariel Rubio, Sean Fite and Steve Jasinski are all sure to be strong on the Classico layout on Saturday, and with his recent momentum from the Grands and from the most recent Super Series, the favorite has to be Fite. Fite grabbed the final transfer spot into the Super Final at Grands and followed it up with a top 10 run in the A Main at Round 7 of the Super Series. Fite has shown consistent pace all season and will be the driver to beat when the chips are down.
There are a few spoilers signed up for this event, one of whom is Matt Hart. Hart, much like Fite, had a big weekend at the Grands and even got himself a win in his semi-final. Hart has been putting in a lot of time at CalSpeed over the past few months and the progress is beginning to show. A win on Saturday for Hart would be just the shot in the arm that he needs. The question is though, does he plan to run for the Summer championship?
Speaking of spoilers, one driver that every contender should have circled on their list is Scott Kennedy. Kennedy is a front runner in the Super Series and has already picked up a podium this year. However, his relative inexperience in Sport Karts allows him run two races in the Sprint Series this year. Kennedy will likely run up front all day, and the only thing that could stand in his way is the teamwork factor from the RNA drivers, Fite, Rubio and Ortega.
The 2015 Sprint Series season is divided into two halves, the Winter season and the Summer season. Combined, these two halves create the overall championship, but with Round 5, it marks the start of the Summer.
Ariel Rubio picked up the Winter championship at the last race, and is the overall points leader as a result. However, all of the points have been reset for this Summer season, so he is back on equal ground with all of his competitors.
Along with Rubio, we expect the Winter front runners to continue their form. Fite, Jasinski, Ortega, Vince Burke, Jake Hood and Ashley Arnott certainly all expect to run towards the front for the next four races. But, there are a few others that could shake things up.
One driver that is towards the front, and in fact has already picked up a win this year, is Vladimir Orlov. Orlov has to miss this round of the season, but could still come back for the final three. Drivers each get to drop their lowest score from the Winter championship, so Orlov could still be a threat if he is able to make the remaining races.
Alyssa Yauney is another driver to watch, as she has shown fantastic pace in the Sprint Series, Super Series, IronMan and LAKC PRD Pilot series all season long. The fact that she is racing nearly every weekend has proved to be very effective for Yauney as she continues to find more pace every weekend. She could have been a real threat for the overall title, however she was forced to miss a couple of races which has removed her from contention. If she is able to make it to each of the next four rounds in this Summer season, we could be looking at our first female champion in CalSpeed Sport Karting history.
Turning our attention back to the entire eight race season, the overall championship has really been whittled down to a three driver battle. Ariel Rubio has a narrow two point lead over Sean Fite who is just another 14 clear of Jasinski. From there it is a fairly significant gap back to Hasller Ortega. Ortega could still make a comeback, but it would really have to be an incredible effort.
Rubio enters the second half of the year with the small advantage of the points lead, but looking at recent momentum, Sean Fite is likely the driver to beat. As mentioned in the Summer preview above, Fite has continually been looking better and better throughout the last few races, and that should be hard to beat.
The third place driver in points might have just the answer for Fite’s newfound pace however. Steve Jasinski has more experience at CalSpeed than all of his rivals, as he has been competing since the start of the Sport Karting era. Jasinski is fresh off of his first Sprint Series win and is a former Heavy Class champion in the Super Series. Jasinski knows how to win championships. These top three should put on quite the show for the second half of the year.
Top 5 Battle
Hasller Ortega sits in fourth position and has a fairly comfortable gap of 30 points back to Vince Burke. Burke, however, has only a three point lead back to Jake Hood. The battle is really between those two drivers, (as well as Vlad Orlov if he contests the remaining races) but the wild card for that 5th spot is Ashley Arnott. Arnott has a lot of ground to make up, but has yet to fully make her results match her pace.
Top 10 Battle
Behind Arnott in the points is Luis Calderon who is comfortably inside the top 10 in ninth spot, but 77 points clear of Caylee Britain who will inherit 10th from Jeremy Aldridge since he will not be in attendance this weekend. Britain’s nearest competitor is Steve Frame who is 45 points behind, however points can swing in a big hurry when these drivers have such a large range of points scores. So as the season winds down, this battle for bragging rights inside the top 10 could become very interesting.