|2013 SUPER SERIES FINALE: PREVIEW|
The 2013 Super Series season has been the greatest season to date, hosting the deepest talent pool of 100+ drivers nearly every round this year, with some of the best racing seen in CalSpeed’s history. This Saturday will see the climax of this exciting and historic season, crowning a new Overall Series Champion, the Masters Champion, a Heavy Class Champion, as well as a Rookie-Of-The-Year after what is sure to be one of the most dramatic, and emotional filled rounds to date.
And what better stage to play on, then a configuration that has no previous history? While it is hard to say the Classico Counter-Clockwise (reverse) layout is a ‘new’ configuration, it will indeed be the first time it has ever been in place for any competitive event. Any driver that has run the Grande CCW layout will know the bulk of the track, and if that same driver ran in this year’s Machismo event, heading through the esses will not be new either, it will just be about putting it all together.
Several drivers took the special opportunity to run the circuit early this past Saturday in the Sport Kart Race Clinic, and the action on track bodes well for a season ending round. Plenty of passing, coupled with a good amount of technicality will keep drivers on their toes, shining a spotlight on those that race as smart as they do fast.
RD’s Spotlight: Who to watch for in Round #11
Ask me whom to watch for, and I’ll tell you to just check the entry list.
Saturday’s race will have a mixture of driver types in the field: those going for a championship, those preparing for next year by gaining valuable experience, some that have no points goal in mind but are looking to play spoiler, and then still others just trying to meet their own personal goals by season’s end. Regardless, every driver will head into the final round with an agenda, some more obvious then others, but all of which just as important to those they belong to.
Of course all eyes will be on the title, and podium fights throughout the field, including the drivers attached to those battles, but there are a specific couple of guys that I’ll be keeping an eye on…
Logan Calvin. Would you believe that the reigning champ is winless entering the final race of the season? Not that he is having a bad year by any stretch of the imagination. Aside from his two throw outs, he hasn’t put in a round worse than 360 points, has been in every A-Main, and has found the podium twice. Still, for the 2012 Super Series and National Champion, to have a ‘0’ in the win column for the year is uncharacteristic, and I’d expect him to really be pushing on Saturday. A quick side not on Logan too; he has continued his record streak of 2 poles per season for the third season in a row, and could set the outright record for poles in a season with another one in round #11…
Jon Kimbrell. Before there was Calvin, there was Kimbrell; three times in a row in fact. 2013 sees a sort of return to form for the three time champion, and he enters the finale 7th in points, and with an outside shot at scoring 5th overall and some hardware. Like the aforementioned Calvin, Jon is also winless in ‘13, but is still having a very strong season that sees him with the strongest throw-out total, and an average point haul higher than the guy second in points. What’s been missing is those top-step runs, and the points that come with them, and I think that he’ll be very strong on Saturday. Oh, and a side note for Jon; he leads all drivers this season in Fastest Laps, scoring 8 so far on the season, and could break the record for most in a season on Saturday…
Lets also keep in mind that we have an immense amount of non-regular talent that will be in attendance for the finale, and they will certainly have something to say about how this thing finishes up. Names like Busalacchi, Herndon, Shawhan, Morales, and Downs just to name a few will all be in the mix to steal away some very strong points, if not the overall win itself…
The Overall Championship: Is it Cook’s championship to lose?
This season will go down in history as the most exciting Super Series title fight ever, comparable to any world-class motorsport that sees a championship come down to the wire with several drivers in the hunt. There is a clear advantage here with KC Cook leading by 56 points heading in, but other than that, it is practically a dead heat in terms of who has a leg up on the rest. Five spots will be awarded for the overall podium, and right now with seven guys mathematically in it, two will be walking away empty handed. Question is, who?
#1 KC Cook: Heading into the final round, Cook not only has a strong lead on the rest of the contenders, he has a fairly strong throw (345 points) out to fall back on. This allows him to not have to take any big risks, but it doesn’t allow him to just sit back and not stay in touch with the front, especially if qualifying goes the way of his rivals. While certainly in an envious position, it isn’t over yet, and it most likely won’t be decided till the checkers fall on the season.
#2 Sergio Bravo (-56): Of all the contenders, Bravo looks to have the best shot to steal this title away, and that isn’t just because of the point gap, but because of his stats. Bravo has a way to get the most out of his karts, leading all drivers in career Fastest Laps, and also has two poles to his credit. If Bravo can pull out a pole position in qualifying, they championship will be blown wide open, as the gap would go down to 41 points, and outscoring Cook by 41 in the races is much more manageable…
#3 Taylor Hays (-65): Like Bravo, a pole position would make a shot at the title a much more probable thing, and it isn’t a stretch to think he could get it done. Carrying a lot of momentum after his emotional win last round, Hays has a very good shot to go back to back on the Classico reverse layout, as he nearly won heading reverse (Grande) in the spring, and was also very quick at Machismo. He’ll also need to outscore Bravo by a couple positions on the day, but of the two feats, that one definitely takes a back seat.
#4 Logan Calvin (-75): The last of our title contenders, the 2012 champ will need to make history if he is going to reign past Saturday, and it will all be decided in qualifying. Needing 410 points if Cook has a throw out day, Logan has to qualify on pole or second, and will need to sweep the rest of the day. Plus side for Logan is he is tied for the most points in a single round with 405. Who’s he tied with? KC Cook…
#5 Darren Mercer (-82): It is almost déjà vu for ‘D-Merc’ heading into the final race of the season, having no chance at the title, but very much in the hunt for second. 2012 saw Darren put in one of his best performances to steal away the second spot by only 4 points, and we could see it again this weekend. Only 26 points separate him and that goal, but this will be a lot tougher, since he has to be 4 or more of the best in the business to make it happen.
#6 Miles Calvin (-85): Not being in the title hunt is not how Miles wanted to see this season go, but after running 2 less rounds than possible, to only be 29 points out of second is still a helluva feat. He has a very good shot at taking the second spot too, having scored an average of 370 points over the season, second only to Cook. The ‘new’ Miles showed patience throughout the year, but I think we may see the older Calvin return to his roots on Saturday, and pull out all the stops to make sure he leaves with hardware.
#7 Jon Kimbrell (-184): Jon Kimbrell has an outside shot at 5th in this thing, and if there were ever a time to lay it all out there, this would be it. The stars (Jon’s anyway) really do need to align here for Kimby to do it, as he’ll need some severe misfortune to befall Miles to do it, but it is still mathematically possible. However, if Miles finds the A-Main, Jon will have to settle for holding on to the 7th spot.
Overall Top 10 Heading Into Round #11
1. KC Cook 3045
2. Sergio Bravo -56
3. Taylor Hays -65
4. Logan Calvin -75
5. Darren Mercer -82
6. Miles Calvin -85
7. Jon Kimbrell -184
8. Bill Kreig -206
9. Jay Schreiber -253
10.Kirk Feldkamp -360
The Masters Championship: Bravo 2013 Champ; Focus shifts to 2nd and 3rd…
To win the championship three times is impressive, but to do it three times in a row is just plain dominant. When it comes to Masters here at CalSpeed, Sergio Bravo is the man to beat; but that will have to wait for next year.
With Bravo clinching the title last round, and the Gap from 3rd to 4th nearly 300 points, the only real battle here is for third, and that is between Dave Messimer and David Kelmenson. With about 100 points between the two, the advantage is heavily in Messimer’s favor, but with no throw outs to fall back on, a bad round for him could really open the door wide for Kelmenson.
Masters Top 5
1. Sergio Bravo 2614
2. Jay Schreiber -197
3. Dave Messimer -499
4. David Kelmenson -594
5. Ben Blank -741
The Rookie Championship: All 6 contenders enter Saturday with a shot…
Next to the overall podium, this is by for the deepest and most exciting fight that will be taking place this weekend. With the possible point swings amongst the top six drivers, each one has a legitimate chance at walking away as the top rookie, in what has been undoubtedly the best rookie class in history.
#1 Steve Spring- Right from the get go, Spring established himself as the strongest contender for the Rookie title, and has held the point lead nearly all season. The only rookie to score more than one 300+ point day, the potential in spring to score big points is there, however he has slipped a little to his rivals as of late. To hold on to the top spot, he is going to need to return to the kind of form that had him in the lead by triple digits…
#2 Justin Tolman (-3): Of the six contenders, Tolman has only the 5th highest point haul in a given round, yet we still see him only 3 points astern of the title. This is because while he has made the big ‘wow’ moves, or point hauls, he has been the most consistent of the group. Rarely making the big mistake that would cost him big points, Tolman has constantly risen from his D-Main origins, to the highest scoring rookie in the second half of the season. Still, the final would be a good time for one of those ‘wow’ maneuvers…
#3 Ian Enz (-63): Enz has had an up and down season, fighting threw adversity at times, and in others, being in the middle of some bad situations. It has been your typical rookie season for the driver third in the standings, getting himself into some situations, and being on the raw end of some learning experiences. Still, his speed is undeniable, and if he can put everything together, could definitely stand on the top step of the rookie fight come Saturday.
#4 Michael Wojdat (-79): Aside from Spring, Wojdat is the only other rookie to convincingly hold the top spot of the class, but has a bit of a hole he’s trying to dig out of after missing round #8. He made significant ground this past round too, scoring his best day, and second highest scoring round of any rookie at 317 points. 79 points is a lot to eat up in one race, never mind the other two cats he needs to beat, but he has shown to be one of the strongest rookies in this group, and can’t be counted out.
#5 Charles Eichlin (-129): ‘Chuck’ came out to the track after missing the first round, won the D-Main, but you could tell he wasn’t satisfied. Since then he has steadily improved, showing strong pace, and a consistency not always shared by some of the other rookies. While not having the outright point haul of his rivals, his consistency keeps in the hunt, but he will need a breakout round this weekend to steal away the championship.
#6 Andrew Lemons (-148): Andrew Lemons is an interesting case. Showing up two rounds late, he sees him with a shot at the title after competing in two fewer events, and has proven to be the outright strongest of all the rookies at any given moment. His 340-point haul in only his third race is still the highest of any rookie (by a large margin), and he may also be the fastest of the group, leading all rookies in fastest laps. What he lacked though is consistency, which is why he is 148 points back right now, and in need of another one of those great performances.
The Heavy Class: Jasinski has taken the lead, but can he hold it?
It took nearly all season to do it, but Stave Jasinski was finally able to claw back the points needed and took the Heavy Class point lead during the penultimate round, and now holds a 96 point advantage over Mike Arnold, the class leader all season long. That said Arnold is holding nothing back heading into the finale, attending the Sport Kart Race Clinic for the first time this season last Saturday, putting in some strong practice runs. He also looked quite good on the layout during the Machismo, and I think could see a return to his early season form on Saturday. For his part, Jasinski was unable to make the last clinic, and will be heading into the final round behind the eight ball slightly, however I don’t think it will an end-all issue for him. Regardless, this mano-e-mano fight has been one of the best to follow all season, and is sure to be one of the most exciting to see come to its climax.
Position Battle Spotlight: Top 10
The fight to be inside the top 10 has basically been a Kirk FeldKamp and Jerott King affair, with the two swapping the position almost monthly most of the year. It will most likely stay that way again this weekend, as the gaps fore and aft of the duo are large enough to require some fairly heavy shenanigans to make a difference. That said, 8th-12th have no pints to fall back on if they have a ‘throw-out’ run (well Kirk has 80 points, but that may as well be a zero), so mathematically it is still open. Really though, this could be a really fun one to watch, as both Kirk and Jerott have the history to do what it takes, and it will undoubtedly be close at the finish.
8. Bill Kreig +154
9. Jay Schreiber +107
10. Kirk Feldkamp 2685
11. Jerott King -52
12. Dave Messimer -195
13. Chris Huerta -197
Spotlight: Top 15 Battle…
The fight for the top 15 has been an exciting one to watch as the end of the season approached, with a lot of shuffling taking place. Saturday will certainly see even more movement here, as a couple of drivers will be absent, namely Jonathon Vitolo and Ben Blank. This basically means that it is the other six drivers that will be fighting for the 4 mathematically available spots inside the top 15, (technically, there could be more but it is improbable). Messimer and Huerta are looking very good with the near 100-point cushion they have, and it is unlikely that they will be giving up their spots. Rene Hourian has a shot at it, but has averaged about 20 points less than the three guys in front of him, and will really need to put in a career day to get inside the top 15. For Kelmenson, Morse, and Esquibel, their average point hauls are nearly identical, and there is really nothing to choose between them. That said, David holds the slim advantage heading in, and has scored the largest single haul of the three (365), Derek has a pair of 330+ point days, but both have been a bit more up and down per round. For Henry, he could use to get back to he podium performance he put in last year, where he put in 380points, and followed it up with a couple more mid-300 runs…
12. Dave Messimer +95
13. Chris Huerta +93
14. Jonathon Vitolo +67
15. David Kelmenson 2395
16. Henry Morse -18
17. Derek Esquibel -27
18. Rene Hourian -73
19. Ben Blank -147
Spotlight: Top 20 Battle…
The way the math works out on this one, it will really be a Bruce Allen vs Jose da Silva fight here, with the points having to really be at either extreme for Spring or Tolman to beat out da Silva. The two drivers are nearly matched in their average points hauls on the season, however Allen has been stronger here in the second half of the season. Only da Silva can beat Blank, and Blank can’t fall any further back than 20th, with Nick Haye being absent and out of the fight.
19. Ben Blank +134
20. Jose da Silva 2114
21. Bruce Allen -100
22. Steve Spring -164
23. Justin Tolman -167
24. Nick Haye -218
Spotlight: The top 35 Battle…
It just goes to show how strong the talent pool has gotten, when it is an absolute fight to be in the Top 35 in points. Being in the Top 35 in the Super Series means you are more often than not in the top half of the field, and that much closer to seeing those coveted A-Mains on the regular. Entering the final race things are wide open, as the point swings are fairly big, but taking a look at the drivers within 100 points or so of 35th, all but 1 will be in attendance. With Rodney Bryant missing the final round, and not having any points to fall back on, he’ll fall out, but that will allow one more driver to get in when the checkers fall on Saturday. Included in this group is also the Heavy Class title fight between Jasinski and Arnold, making things even more interesting…
31. Jeff Latimer +107
32. Steve Jasinski +76
33. Brian Starr +25
34. Rodney Bryant +1
35. Vince Burke 1577
36. Mike Arnold -20
37. Chris Carter -33
38. Cameron Rose -114
Spotlight: 5th in Masters…
The focus in the Master’s Championship is pretty much set on the fight for 3rd, but there is also a chance that Jose d Silva could steal away the 5th spot in the standings from the absent Ben Blank. Blank sat as high as 3rd in the standings at one time, but with some tough rounds followed by absences in the penultimate, and now final round, the door is open for da Silva to go for a top 5. Now in his sophomore season, Jose has improved massively in 2013, establishing himself as one of the stronger Master’s drivers, while sitting inside the top 20 in overall standings. Having a 188 point day to fall back on, Blank will bank those points in the final round, painting an obvious picture for what Jose needs to do to take the spot: 322 points. This will be a tough task for da Silva, whose career best point haul is 327, in round 11 last year, and has only scored over 300 twice this year. Still it is certainly possible, and it would be a great way to cap off what has been a strong season for th