We enter the Final Four.
There are no gimmicks in the Super Series; we don’t reset the points; we don’t offer double points in the final race; every race is equally important, with titles won and lost over the course of a full season. Now however is certainly when the final chase for the championship cup begins. These last few races are our playoffs. The stage has been set for the climactic battle that will take place over these final four races; the protagonists chosen, and their paths laid before them; all that is left is to seize the final outcome.
To kick off this playoff for the championship, we have a track that has only seen the schedule twice before; like it’s similarly named counterpart, Classico Counter Clockwise runs but once a year. But unlike the infamous esses of the forward direction, everything about this reverse layout has been seen before in either the Tecnico or Grande CCW rounds. The familiar technicality of this track will be equally a blessing and a challenge; with ample passing opportunities, but equal chances to lose ground to the goal at hand.
A strong run tomorrow will solidify ones chance at moving up the ranks; but falter, and it could bring on thoughts of what might have been…
Classico CCW: A look back at the 2014 edition…
Round ten of the 2014 season hosted the reverse direction of the storied Classico track, and things started just like they did the year before, with Jerott King walking away with Pole Position. Aaron Downs would clock the second fastest time, while Wes Dent strengthened his affinity for the reverse layouts with a third overall qualifying effort.
The heat races would see some that season’s best at the front, with David Kelmenson and Jon Kimbrell going two for two in their heats, as well as Patrick Britain coming from nearly dead last in his first heat race after scoring no time in qualy, to work his way up and take the win in his second heat. Other regular front runners like Sergio Bravo and Darren Mercer were joined by veteran sport karter David Arnold in the heat win category.
The A-Main would be a battle between both Kelmenson and Kimbrell, with the former leading everyone to the line at the start. Kimbrell would make his way by early, and would hold to the end to win, with Kelmenson 2nd and Aaron Scott coming up from 10th to bring home the final step of the podium. Taylor Hays and the aforementioned Britain rounded out the top five.
It was the second win in a row for Jon Kimbrell, and with the points he gained over his closest rivals, would be a turning point in that championship, one which he would go on to win…
Top 5 Classico CCW Drivers
Sergio Bravo: 1 Win, 1 podium, 2 Heat Wins, 4 T 3’s
Jon Kimbrell: 1 Win, 1 podium, 2 Heat Wins, 3 T 3’s, 2 F.L.
Darren Mercer: 1 podium, 2 Heat Wins, 3 T 3’s
David Kelmenson: 1 podium, 2 Heat Wins, 2 T 3’s, 2 F.L.
Logan Calvin: 1 podium, 2 Heat Wins, 2 T 3’s
Smitty’s Spotlight: The playoffs begin with plenty of wildcards…
Perhaps the biggest storyline heading into tomorrow is the numerous big names in the game with anything but championship on their minds; drivers like Alex Herndon, Michael Shawhan, Steve Lattanzi, Ryan Curtin, and Jordan Wallace who are all big names in the sport, and could do plenty to disrupt the status quo. Whether going for heat wins, or even the overall, their presence this weekend will surely be felt. Of the group, Herndon has had the most time at CalSpeed this year, but the entire lot are no strangers to the So-Cal facility, having run in both the Sport Kart Grands and Machismo 12 Hour events in years past.
These aren’t the only wildcards in the game however, as several season-long drivers have already turned their attention to what 2016 could bring, and are looking to lay that ground work now. The improvement over the course of the season is coming to a head for several competitors, and with that we see them start to push the envelope of where they are in the pecking order. The faces at the sharp end may get a little less familiar, and with that, a change in how people will race one another, especially in the heats. Everyone has an agenda when the green flag flies, and the closer the end of the season gets the further apart some of these agendas become, making for some really exciting and interesting racing on track.
The Overall Championship: Now just a 4 horse race?
Strong runs at the Classico Grand Prix is exactly what both Sergio Bravo and Taylor Hays needed, the duo walking away with 395 points each, closing in on both Logan Calvin and new leader Jon Kimbrell in the standings. The quartet are now separated by just 67 points with four rounds to go, with each of the four carrying a different strength into the waning rounds of the championship. While Hays is the furthest back of the probable contenders and still winless here in 2015, he carries the best pair of throw outs and so far is living up to his confidence in the final few track layouts. Bravo is fresh off his first Classico GP win, and also won the first race held on Classico CCW, so he is carrying the most momentum right now. He too has a decent throw out in the bank, albeit just one. Next is Logan Calvin who is making his first start since his run to a top 10 in the Kart World Championship, and is the reigning Sport Kart Grands champion, so he carries so momentum of his own. A three time winner this season thus far, Calvin will be looking to rebound from the goose egg he picked up with his absence.
They are all chasing new point leader Jon Kimbrell, who although is winless thus far, has 4 podiums to his credit, and only has two rounds worse than the 7th he earned last month. The reigning Super Series Champ is also the defending winner of this event, and showed he hadn’t lost a step at the most recent IronMan event which he won on this same layout.
Four races to go and four contenders. Pick your poison, this one’s gonna be good.
Top 10 Overall Standings
- Jon Kimbrell 2292 (268/219)
- Logan Calvin 2286 (323/0)
- Sergio Bravo [M] 2261 (322/274)
- Taylor Hays 2225 (325/320)
- Adam Nagao 2178 (313/257)
- Miles Calvin 2163 (255/0)
- Wes Dent 2161 (308/0)
- Darren Mercer 2152 (0/0)
- Bill Kreig 2055 (292/0)
- Bruce Allen 1975 (241/241)
The Masters Championship: Podium fight intensifies…
While Sergio is embroiled in the overall title fight, he has also distanced himself from any challenger in the Masters Class, and is closing in on being able to clinch this thing really early.
Behind him however the fight for the final two awarded spots has gotten really good, with 2nd-5th separated by just 62 points. Unfortunately David Kelmenson will be missing this round, and will be forced to take a throw out that will more than likely see him lose a lot of ground, and possibly a shot at hardware this year. In the fourth spot right now is Ben Blank, last year’s #3 and a driver that has shown a lot of strength here in late summer. Now within striking distance of not only a podium but the #2 spot, Blank may also be able to lean on the strongest throw out of his closest rivals.
The primary contenders in this fight though are Jose da Silva and Diego Morales, the two going back and forth over the last several rounds, now separated by just 5 points. Da Silva has been very consistent this year, regularly finding the mid 300 point range, which is why he has been in the number two slot more often than not. In Morales we have a guy who started late, but then won on his season debut, and has the ability to take the fight to the very top. Not having any throw outs is his weakness, but being able to put up 400 point days almost balances that out.
Top 5 Masters Standings
- Sergio Bravo 2261 (322/274)
- Diego Morales 1967 (0/0)
- Jose da Silva 1962 (268/244)
- Ben Blank 1909 (272/242)
- David Kelmenson 1905 (216/114)
The Grand Masters Championship: Late season surges bring more to the fight for 3rd…
Dave Messimer will be missing this round, but with a lead of more than 230 points, he’ll easily maintain the top spot given his throw out use will be a 263. Like Messimer, second place Kimbrell is comfortable in his position, and his only real goal is to try and chip away as much as possible at the gap to first.
No, the real story in Gran Masters is the huge fight for the final podium spot, currently held by last year’s #3 Jeff Latimer. Like some of the drivers mentioned earlier, Latimer enjoys the strongest throw out of the group, but has also really turned up the wick over the summer stretch. He’s needed to, because right on his heels and matching him nearly blow for blow is the 2014 #2 pilot in this class, Brian Starr. Starr has missed two races this year, and although start out a little slow, much like Latimer has turned things up the past several rounds. These two lead in experience over their challengers, and will need to draw upon that experience to keep the wolves at bay. Ed Lewis and Duane Lawson are next in line, 30 and 57 points astern respectively, but both have been in the third spot at some point this year. Each has shown moments of brilliance in 2015, but haven’t had the consistency of their more experience rivals. The final podium spot will most likely come from one of these four drivers; with each one on the cusp of a breakout performance…
Top 10 Grand Masters Standings
- Dave Messimer 1769 (263/220)
- Dennis Kimbrell 1533 (192/166)
- Jeff Latimer 1077 (148/115)
- Brian Starr 1072 (0/0)
- Ed Lewis 1047 (136/116)
- Duane Lawson 1020 (132/120)
- Joe Sabella 996 (96/83)
- Steve Frame 954 (134/108)
- Greg Reinhardt 727 (102/92)
- Doug Lewen 684 (69/68)
The Rookie Championship: Serrano VS Spicer
Round 1, FIGHT!
In the tale of the tape, Kyle Spicer looked to have the initial advantage; a little more experience, a little more pace, a little more consistency. It wasn’t even clear that Sergio Serrano would be the primary challenger when the match was made up; but what the kid lacked he made up for in tenacity, finding the speed and the consistency needed to take the fight to the leader.
Now Serrano holds the advantage as we enter the final dual for the 2015 Rookie Championship, but it is only a slim 22 points over Spicer, who can match him punch for punch. Spicer has no throw out to fall back on, but Serrano’s toss is nothing to write home about either. No, this fight will go the full distance, with the only question being, “Who wants it more?”
Over shadowed by the big price, but still a great fight of its own is the battle for the third spot in the rookie standings, with Drew Zeller currently holding on, and Brent Curran looking to take it away. Curran showed he had the chops for the podium a third of the way through the season, while Zeller has shown increased drive of late, probably from the success he’s found in his competition kart. Lingering just behind them is Luis Calderon, fresh off a career best day at the Classico GP, where he picked up a 300+ point haul. There is virtually nothing between these three, and it will be interesting to see who digs deeper to snag that last piece of hardware.
Top 5 Rookie Standings
- Sergio Serrano 1566 (163/144)
- Kyle Spicer 1544 (0/0)
- Drew Zeller 1337 (187/179)
- Brent Curran 1278 (147/0)
- Luis Calderon 1231 (132/122)
The Heavy Class: Podium all but decided, but in what order?
As the season come closer and closer to its end, the fight for the final two spots on the podium gets equally as tight; now with just 4 points between Doug Lewen and Mike Collins. While Rodney Bryant has sailed off into the distance, these two have matched each other nearly round for round, and many times do it wheel to wheel. It will be interesting to see how this thing ends up, especially with Collins void of any throw outs to use in the remaining four races.
Top 3 Heavy Class Standings
- Rodney Bryant 949 (133/125)
- Doug Lewen 684 (69/68)
- Mike Collins 680 (0/0)
The Team Championship: Focus may turn from title, to bragging rights…
Now with a 300+ point advantage over their closest rival, team RNA – Imola is the clear favorite as we head into the final four events of the year, bolstered by the fact all three of their members are fighting for a title in one series or another. While not insurmountable yet, the odds are stacked against the other lineups, and we could see a shift towards 2016 out of the various organizations over the next couple months. Bragging rights amongst these different teams will certainly be in effect, and while only the top team is awarded, there is certainly something to be said for being in the top 3 or 5 teams in the Super Series.
Top 5 Team Standings
- RNA – Imola 5672 (1365)
- IKM – GranStand 5363 (873)
- Calvin Racing Development 5167 (689)
- CRD – Gold 5079 (850)
- IKM – S3 4984 (1024)