Thieman makes it 3 out of 4 for first time winners at Sprint #4

Round #4 of the CalSpeed Sprint Series took to the Classico Counter-Clockwise circuit for the first of two times here in 2022, greeted with cool temps and overcast skies for much of the day. It was the second reverse direction in a row on the calendar, the slightly more technical direction already shaking up the status quo from the opening pair of rounds going the other way. In the end we would see a good mixture of new and expected faces at the front, but it ended with our third first-time winner over the past four rounds…

Qualifying and Heat Races…

The 8 minute practice/qualifying session kicked things off with a nail-biter to the end, as 2021 SE class winner Frank Chen claimed his first career pole position, followed by up and coming talent Emerson Thieman with a career best effort, and round #3 podium finisher Chris Fox. Of the three, only ‘Emmo’ was able to back it up with a heat race win, as the other two were forced to battle it out to eventual runner-up spots. The drivers coming out on top of the duels were a pair of drivers that seem to click on the layout, former podium finisher on Classico CCW James Lieser, and Vince Azua, claiming his second career heat win.


Newcomer David Schaefer would lead the field away for the start of the first main of the day, but would immediately come under fire from Shelby Blecker, looking to bounce back from a penalty in his heat. Blecker got the job done on lap one, but would not be able to shake the rookie, who kept the pressure on for the opening circuits, but there was a third driver that would enter the mix by half-way. After getting spun in his heat race, Nathaniel Small started fifth, but after 5 laps would make the move on Schaefer for 2nd, dispatching Blecker three laps later, but not on the first try. The battling trio would lose some time in the process, bringing Frank Hsu and Roddy Balanga in the mix by the end. Once Small was out front however, the infighting turned to his advantage, and he was able to grow the gap to a solid 1 second lead and the C-Main win…


David Thibodeau just missed out on his first A-Main berth and would start from pole in the B-Main, joined by fellow SE contender Nick Descamps on the front row, and a little more experience just astern. Descamps would take the lead duties from the start however, with the aforementioned experience coming from Kyle Odermatt -making his first start of the year- and slotting into second, followed by top 10 overall contender Jacob Reis. The front trio would stay in a line for the opening laps, but that would all change at the halfway point, the new addition to the field – Ken Hackman. Fresh off his first career podium last month, Hackman was on the move, working his way up from outside the top 5 to join the fray with fast lap honors in the second half of the race. His arrival sparked something in Reis as well, with the duo first getting by Odermatt on lap 6, and then Descamps on lap 8, making it a two-horse race in the end. Hackman would look, but would not be able to seal the deal, and it would Be Reis bringing home B-Main honors and an A-Main transfer at the checkers…


After backing up a P2 in qualy with his first career heat race win, Emerson Thieman lined up in the pole spot for the start of the A-Main with veteran James Lieser along side, followed by fellow heat winner Vince Azua and overall pole sitter in qual Frank Chen on row two. From the drop of the green it was Thieman out to the lead, and benefiting from a little sorting out behind him on the opening lap, would enjoy an .8 second lead heading into lap 2. To his benefit, the negotiations for position behind him would not stop for the next couple of laps, allowing him to lengthen his advantage at the front. Part of the reason for the constant shuffling was the driver on the move and current point leader, Ivan Martinez. Already a double podium finisher and winner this season, Martinez was looking to bounce back from a mistake in round #3, and he did exactly that. Cutting his way up from 7th and into 2nd by lap 4, he set his sights on the stealing away the win from Emmo, clocking fast lap after fast lap, eventually going purple on the penultimate circuit. The gap would be cut by more than half by the time they rounded the Kimbrell corner for the final time, but it would be Emerson Thieman with career win #1, Martinez with podium #3 on the year, and for another first – Vince Azua claiming the final podium spot.

Sprint Series Round #4 A-Main Top 10

  1. Emerson Thieman
  2. Ivan Martinez
  3. Vince Azua
  4. James Lieser
  5. Chris Fox
  6. Brett Lopinsky
  7. Jeremy Aldridge
  8. Frank Chen
  9. Denis Shakhovskii
  10. Joey Andrews

Overall Point Standings Top 10 (2 drops)

  1. Ivan Martinez              585
  2. Emerson Thieman       585
  3. Joey Andrews              580     
  4. Jeremy Aldridge          575
  5. Brett Lopinsky             570
  6. Chris Fox                     565
  7. Vince Azua                  559
  8. Jack McNeel                532
  9. Ken Hackman              528
  10. Denis Shakhovskii       523

Winter Series Sub-Championship Point Standings Top 5

  1. Ivan Martinez              870
  2. Jeremy Aldridge          837
  3. Brett Lopinsky             835     
  4. Joey Andrews              828
  5. Vince Azua                  793

SE Sub-Championship Standings Top 5

  1. Lee Povey                    463
  2. Luca Zambello             442
  3. Nick Rajewski              441
  4. Camila Rubio               397
  5. Brian Vidales               390