|SERGIO BRAVO’S MASTER-FUL PERFORMANCE IN SUPER SERIES ROUND 4 EARNS HIM HIS FIRST TOP STEP APPEARANCE TO DATE|
CalSpeed Super Series Round 4 saw some of the closest action in series history, but the major storyline as we head into the summer months is the dominant performance as of late by the Masters Class drivers as Sergio Bravo topped the massive 104 driver turnout this past weekend, following Jay Schreiber’s win last month at Round 3. The duo have decidedly taken their Masters Championship rivalry directly into the Overall category as we approach the ‘dog days’ stretch of the 2013 season.
Following the conclusion of the obligatory morning warmup sessions, drivers would transition their focus to the ever-challenging green-white-checkered qualifying sessions that would determine grid positions for the first round of heat racing. Also up for grabs would be the immensely valuable championship bonus points to be doled out to the top three overall. With the first three run groups having laid down their times, it would be up to the final group [usually comprised of the quickest drivers from the morning warmup] to duke it out for the front row. Defending series champ, Logan Calvin, would show his experience as he would abort his first flying lap to put all his marbles on a final lap flier in the draft of one Taylor Hays. Hays would cross the stripe as provisional polesitter, only to be bumped to a P2 a tenth later as Calvin executed the strategy brilliantly en route to the pole position. Also putting in a strong run to claim P3 would be KC Cook, who showed his skills on the same Grande configuration back in January’s PreSeason Exhibition where he claimed victory.
With qualifying in the books, Heat Round 1 would be next to the grid as finishing position, not laptime, now become the focus. L.Calvin would prove once again that he could handle both as he converted his pole position start in Group A to a narrow win over rival Darren Mercer. Group B would be led in much the same fashion by Taylor Hays, who having missed out on the overall day’s pole position honor, would lead flag to flag in his first heat race of the day while Dave Messimer edged David Kelmenson for the second spot. KC Cook would keep the streak alive as he would be stalked by Sergio Bravo for much of the session, but would not drop the position as he claimed victory in a tough Group C. The final group of Heat Round 1 would feature another tight battle for the win as Mike Kai and Kirk Feldkamp created a slight gap from the field. Kai would hold on late in the session to take checkers by just over a tenth, as the paddock shifted its attention to Heat Round 2.
Group A would see the earlier roles reversed as this time around it would be Mercer putting the move on L.Calvin to take the point. Calvin would not go away easily, hounding Mercer until the end, but time would run out before he could make the re-pass, giving Mercer his first win on the day. In the next group, former series champion Jon Kimbrell would show just what earned him that title as he made a strong charge to the front to take the Group B win over Dave Messimer and Ben Blank. In Group C, yet another Calvin would find checkers as the elder Miles Calvin would put in a nice drive to get around both Feldkamp and Cook for the win. In the final heat race of the day, it would be Bravo that would not be denied this time around as both he and Jay Schreiber battled at the front. With 8 heat race groups complete, and 8 different winners, the makings of an epic Round 4 A-Main were now set.
Before the A-Main grid rolled off, it would first be D-Main action to take the track as polesitter Aric Rogokos aimed to convert his starting position into a race win, and ultimately the transfer spot into the C-Main. His plan would get off to a hot start as he immediately pulled a gap as P2 thru P5 immediately began to battle. Mired in that battle would be fan favorite Ashley Arnott, getting her first dose of Super Series action as a competitor. After dropping several positions in the opening laps, she began making forward progress, ultimately working her way up to P2 and reeling Rogokos in. Time would not prove to be on her side however and the checkers would come out before she could challenge for the lead. What appeared to be a comfortable win for Rogokos however, would turn into anything but as he made his way into the post race scale area. A miscalculation would find him below the 200lb competition mark, resulting in a disappointing disqualification from the session’s results. That would mean, in a shocking turn of events, that Arnott would be promoted to the win, and would claim the transfer spot to join the C-Main.
With the Mains already off to a more than dramatic start, the C-Main would at least contain their fireworks to the track-side of the fence. A three kart battle at the sharp end would quickly break out as Steve Spring and Andrew Lemons were able to reel in Chris Carter during the early going. Spring and Carter would dice heavily, as Lemons waited patiently for the two to create an opening. Patience would ultimately wear thin as he made a bold move to outbreak the duo into the downhill turn 7 complex. The move would prove too bold as the tire smoke from the lockup enveloped the trio, with Spring being the only one to escape unscathed. Lemons’ spin would partially collect Carter, effectively ending either of their chances at the transfer spot as Spring was now well in the distance. He would bring it home without further incident and take his spot on the B-Main grid.
With so much action thru the first two Mains of the day, Chris Huerta would apparently decided that the fenceline needed a rest, and would blitz the rest of the B-Main field in dominant fashion. He would quickly amass nearly a five-second gap on the rest of the field behind, a gap in ‘CalSpeed time’ that is equivalent to a lengthy coma. Ian Enz, Brian Warden, and Brian Starr would be left to duke it out for the scraps of P2, with Enz besting Warden by just two tenths at the stripe. While Huerta would not post fast time of the session, an honor earned by Jose da Silva in P5, he would prove that consistency and a lack of side by side action trumps a quicker laptime anyday at CalSpeed. He would claim another A-Main appearance with his victory in the session.
The final session of the day, the Round 4 A-Main, featured a 27 kart field prepared to take on the only rolling two-by-two start of the day. Lead to the green by a front row of Logan Calvin and KC Cook, the field would make it nearly a half lap before disaster would strike as an overly optimistic move by young Henry Morse would earn him a fairing full of tire barriers while sending the rear third of the field scrambling to avoid the melee. All would rejoin after the shakeup at the rear of the field, but it would be a raging battle at the sharp end that dominated the remainder of the 15-lap session. Multiple drivers would spend time at the point, including both Calvin brothers, Masters rivals Jay Schreiber and Sergio Bravo, past champion Jon Kimbrell, and even Patrick Britain making his first appearance this season. Late in the session it would be Bravo and Kimbrell linking up to make some breathing room as Schreiber pressured M.Calvin for P3. It looked as though Kimbrell sat poised to make the all-too-familiar last lap ‘Long Beach’ pass for the win on Bravo as the white flag came out. Bravo however, not short on experience, would play the last few corners to perfection, and would deny Kimbrell the opportunity to make his move. Bravo would cross the stripe, with arms raised in triumph, as he claimed a hard fought and well deserved win in a Super Series A-Main… the first of his career.
With the win, Bravo now moves into possession of not only the Master’s Championship lead, but also the Overall Series Championship as he relegates defending champ Logan Calvin to second on that list. This marks the first time in series history that a Masters driver has lead the Overall Championship, a noteworthy feat in and of itself. The next round is slated for Saturday, June 1st, and is sure to provide yet another shakeup as drivers will contest the rare and challenging ‘Classico’ course configuration, a layout which has historically been very kind to championship hopeful Taylor Hays as he looks to get back into the title picture. Also worth noting is the strong crop of Rookie talent this season producing one of the tightest points battles to date in that championship chase. Ian Enz moves into the lead spot as he overtakes Steve Spring, followed by Michael Wodjat, Jeremy Aldridge and Justin Tolman, with C.Calvin, Tarroja, Rebeil, Rose and Collins not long in the distance as all sit in the Top 50 of the Overall points.