With only three races remaining in the 2015 Super Series season, we enter what could be the most important round of in the playoffs: the stage setter. With two throw outs over the course of the 12 round championship, this will be the final round before the number crunchers and statisticians will begin to truly start eliminating drivers from contention. Now is the final chance to lay the ground work for the final push to achieve one’s 2015 goals. Those goals range from championships to personal bests; to race wins or side bets; it may even include a certain “Chase”…
And it will all take place on Tecnico; the newest of the CalSpeed layouts, and the one that has yet to see a B or A-Main take the green flag. There is still plenty to race for in the Super Series, and tomorrow’s stage could be one of the most exciting of the year…
Tecnico: A look back at the rain-shortened second round…
The debut for the Tecnico layout in the Super Series came this past February under darkening skies that threatened rain all day, eventually delivering on that threat at the tail end of the C-Main, cutting it short by two laps. The final two mains would be decided by start position, awarding the overall win to Wes Dent via his pair of heat wins earlier in the day.
Dent was actually the only driver to win both his heat races, with several different drivers finding the front, including a few new faces to the sharp end. Familiar names like event pole sitter Logan Calvin and the aforementioned Dent, were joined in the heat win column by Nagao, Blank, Kennedy, Rubio, and Messimer, proving the unpredictability of this new layout.
And while we didn’t get to see how the final two mains would shake out, it was evident that there were a few drivers that had an immediate affinity for this place, and that anything could happen when we returned to Tecnico…
Smitty’s Spotlight: Round 10 could be full of surprises…
As I mentioned before when referring to the event in February, there were a few drivers that looked to have an affinity to Tecnico, and along with a few drivers carrying some momentum right now, I think we could see a new winner this weekend. Leading this charge is Adam Nagao, winner of a heat race in the debut event, as well as second place in the Sprint Series opener on the same layout, he gave an impressive follow up performance this past weekend. Starting last, Nagao worked his way up through the field to cross the line first against some of the best in the business during the IronMan, and although was light at the scales (by just .4lbs), I don’t think anybody takes anything away from his drive. He then backed that up with a heat race and overall A-Main win in the Sprint Series the same afternoon, proving he has this track down pat. Heading into tomorrow I think he will be the one to watch; not only is he bloody good here, but he has a little chip on his shoulder after getting collected in an incident last round. Expect Nagao to be on a mission.
One thing to add is the unpredictability this track had to offer in the winter event too, as the number of different heat winners showed that it wasn’t just the status quo that had a shot at a big day here. Now add to this that the entry list for tomorrow’s race is a bit light, and we have a recipe for one of the best points scoring days possible for some of the drivers a little further back. As 18 of the top 20 are scheduled to be in attendance, it will still be just as tough to score the big points, but if you are in the C-Main or D-Main territory, your points chances may have just gotten a big boost…
The Overall Championship: Title chase sees a new leader, closer gaps amongst contenders
We have seen a bit of back and forth between Logan Calvin and Jon Kimbrell these past few months, the top spot traded between them with nearly every round since summer started. It once again swapped after last month, with a 29 point gain by Calvin seeing him take over the top spot with a 23 point advantage. He also pulled out another 5 points on third place Bravo, but lost 10 to Hays, making the gap from 1st to 4th now just 51 points.
Both Hays and Calvin had good runs at Tecnico at Round #2, while the other two contenders currently count Tecnico as a throw out, however both Kimbrell and Bravo had no issues at the IronMan. Expect this lead quartet to once again all be at the sharp end, but given how strong the rest of the field has been, don’t be surprised if it isn’t one of these four on the top step at the end.
Case in point: Wes Dent. By all intents and purposes, everyone outside the top four was declared out of this title hunt heading into September, but when you gain nearly 50 points on the leader, and are now nearly within 100 points of first, you can’t help but do a double-take. No slouch on Tecnico, the win last round may have kept Dent’s title hopes on life support, and a win this weekend could wake it from a coma…
Top 5 Overall Standings
- Logan Calvin 2661 (323/0)
- Jon Kimbrell 2638 (268/219)
- Sergio Bravo [M] 2631 (322/274)
- Taylor Hays 2610 (325/320)
- Wes Dent 2556 (308/0)
The Top 5 Battle: Who is the best of the rest?
Dent and Mercer put up good numbers and each picked up two spots in the standings after last round, with Wes taking over the final top 5 podium spot. This was of course helped by the disastrous round by Nagao, who was forced to use his final decent throw away. As we saw a month ago, the 74 points that separate this bunch can evaporate in a single moment, and barring Dent’s 308 toss, if something else happens to one of these drivers, they don’t really have a leg to stand on. Nagao and Calvin need big point days to enter the final two races on a strong note, but I actually wouldn’t be surprised if all four of these drivers were vying for the win in the A-Main…
Top 5 Battle
- Wes Dent 2556 (308/0)
- Darren Mercer 2517 (0/0)
- Adam Nagao 2491 (257/123)
- Miles Calvin 2482 (255/0)
The Masters Championship: Advantage Morales in the Podium fight
What once was a very tight fight amongst four drivers for second place, has now split up a bit after varying runs last round. Diego Morales now holds a 59 point advantage of Jose da Silva, who has a 60 point gap back to Ben Blank in fourth. Now none of this is insurmountable, but that latter two can’t afford to be outside the 300’s anymore if they want to be on the podium, especially if they want second. The good news is that both drivers found solid 300+ point days in February, and they’ll need to see a repeat of that tomorrow.
Top 5 Masters Standings
- Sergio Bravo 2631 (322/274)
- Diego Morales 2305 (0/0)
- Jose da Silva 2246 (268/244)
- Ben Blank 2186 (272/242)
- David Kelmenson 2121 (114/0)
The Grand Masters Championship: Fight for final podium spot now down to three challengers
This fight for the final podium spot is downright epic! Three drivers separated by just 11 points, and each one of them regularly battling with each other on track, makes for one of the most fun things to watch on race day. Locked in a fight for the title last year, Latimer and Starr once again battle each other, and head into tomorrow’s event tied. Starr has nothing to fall back on, and while Latimer’s throw away’s aren’t great either, the biggest threat may be form Duane Lawson in 5th. Outscoring the duo by 40+ points, Lawson put in a career day, and finally looked like a true challenger for this podium. With a little lighter field this weekend, some of the biggest gains could be found in this group…
Top 5 Grand Masters Standings
- Dave Messimer 2032 (263/220)
- Dennis Kimbrell 1743 (192/166)
- Jeff Latimer 1239 (148/115)
- Brian Starr 1239 (0/0)
- Duane Lawson 1228 (136/116)
The Rookie Championship: Serrano with career best; Can Spicer strike back?
Hello Sergio Serrano! Raising eyebrows all year, Serrano moved on to dropping jaws this past round, nearly finding himself on the podium on Classico CCW. His fourth place run and 370 point day not only earned him some respect amongst the top runners in the Super Series, but it also lengthened his advantage in the Rookie Championship to 149 points over Kyle Spicer.
So what about Spicer? The de-fact #1 through the first five races of the season, he has only been able to match Serrano once since his return to the series after missing rounds 6 and 7. That said, this is also the same Kyle Spicer that 4 top 5’s at the Grands, two of which were wins, so we know the kid has what it takes. It is time to put up or shut up for him here at round 10, or he may see this rookie title firmly out of his grasp…
Meanwhile behind these two, Brent Curran has reeled Drew Zeller back in for the final podium spot, putting together two strong rounds in a row. While not for the title, these two guys are pretty evenly matched, and it is going to be fun to see how it shakes out.
Top 5 Rookie Standings
- Sergio Serrano 1936 (163/144)
- Kyle Spicer 1787 (0/0)
- Drew Zeller 1524 (187/179)
- Brent Curran 1517 (147/0)
- Luis Calderon 1406 (132/122)
The Heavy Class: Collins takes over second in the standings
Mike Collins made the most out of Doug Lewen’s absence last round, backing up his strong round 8 with another good round, one that saw him as the top Heavy Class driver that day. With Lewen again not on the entry list, he could possible put it out of reach for a counter attack, especially with the expected lighter turn out.
Top 3 Heavy Class Standings
- Rodney Bryant 1082 (125/124)
- Mike Collins 829 (0/0)
- Doug Lewen 753 (68/0)
The Team Championship: No change at the top; possible changes throughout the top 5
Things are looking pretty good for the RNA – Imola squad, currently enjoying a near 500 point lead over second, and with drops that put them awfully close to clinch range if they can keep it up over the next two rounds. And while it does look like the title may be a forgone conclusion, the order for the rest of the top five, and the bragging rights that go with it are all but decided.
There isn’t much between 2nd and 3rd, nor 4th and 5th, and we could see some place swapped when the checkers finally fall on Tecnico. This possibility is helped by the fact that IKM – GranStand currently lacks Scott Kennedy from the entry list, a driver who was on the podium the last time we were at Tecnico; while CRD – Gold will have no Joe Sabella this round, who is fresh off a very solid run at the most recent Sprint Series.
Top 5 Team Standings
- RNA – Imola 6559 (1166)
- IKM – GranStand 6067 (729)
- Calvin Racing Development 5972 (689)
- CRD – Gold 5787 (754)
- IKM – S3 5786 (1024)