Musgrave and Craig Among Winners at California ProKart Challenge
New and familiar faces stand atop the podium in Rosamond, California
Billy Musgrave backed up his S1 victory last month with his second straight
The California ProKart Challenge followed up its opening event in February with another solid turnout for round two of the six race championship, held at the Willow Springs International Raceway on March 1-2. Roughly 140 drivers visited the Rosamond, California facility from throughout the state – in addition to a number of other states – including as far away as Missouri and Texas. The Superkarts! USA regional program welcomed four first time series winners in addition to four drivers gaining their second straight victories of the season.
A total of 26 drivers filled out the combined shifterkart grid made up of the Extreme Karting/Vemme S1 Pro Stock Moto and Buddy Rice Karting S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto categories. Billy Musgrave earned his second straight S1 feature win to kick off the 2013 season, while Texan Connor Wagner scored his first California PKC S2 victory. The field’s strength stepped up a level with the inclusion of SKUSA Pro Tour S1 champion Fritz Leesmann making his season debut. The NorCal driver started the day on top in qualifying (42.285) over defending series champ Jimmy McNeil and Musgrave. Leesmann went wire-to-wire in heat one, with McNeil and Musgrave trailing. Leesmann led the first 10 laps of heat two before engine trouble took him out of the race. That moved Musgrave to the lead and the win, with McNeil second and Cody Hodgson third. The 20-lap final was all Musgrave and McNeil as they ran close the entire race, with Musgrave at the point every lap to secure his second victory of the season. Hodgson ran a comfortable third as Leesmann fought his way forward through the S1/S2 field to end up fourth in class, edging out Matias Podboj on the final lap.
Wagner was a contender for the S2 victory in Buttonwillow until a mechanical issue put him on the sidelines. This time out, Wagner was on his game and swept the day for a perfect score. He qualified fourth overall (42.455), besting the S2 field for the 10 bonus points. He ran to both heat race wins by eight seconds and six seconds, trailing the top S1 drivers on track. The final saw Wagner on cruise control, pulling out to a nine-second advantage after 20 laps. The fight all day was for second place, including round one winner Robert Marks, Augie Lerch and S4 transfer Trevor McAlister. Marks got a bad opening lap and fell out of contention for the podium, leaving Lerch and McAlister to fight for the positions. McAlister secured the runner-up spot in the end, putting Lerch to third until he was removed from the results for unsportsmanlike actions. That moved SKUSA national #3 plate holder Cody Diede to third, Marks to fourth and Troy Diede to fifth.
The Pure Karting TaG Senior class hosted an astonishing 32 talented drivers, witnessing another battle of the young guns at the front. Round one winner Alex Keyes led the way in qualifying (43.552) over fellow NorCal driver Grayson Browne and 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Junior champ Jake Craig, as the top three were separated by just under a tenth of a second. Craig got the jump on Keyes in heat one, as Browne fell out of the top five. With Craig at the point, Missouri driver Mason Daughters joined him as they ran 1-2 ahead of Keyes. Craig stayed out front in heat two with Keyes able to work past Daughters for second. The final was all Craig, leading from the green flag to the checkered flag, recording the fast lap of the race in the process for his first California PKC victory in the category. Keyes ran second, about one second behind after 20 laps. Daughters was shuffled back and outside the top 10 at the start but fought his way back to fourth, coming inches short of the podium as Austin Elliott ended the race in third.
Billy Cleavelin was one of four drivers to earn a perfect score on the weekend, leading the way from qualifying to the main event, including the fast lap bonus. Cleavelin scored his second feature win of the season in the Mike Manning Karting TaG Master category. He put down a very quick lap in qualifying (44.115), besting the rest of the 14-driver field by a half second. Cleavelin drove to wins in the heat races by five seconds and two seconds, leading all 20 laps of the final for a five-second advantage. Vatche Tatikian drove solid all day, and was the only driver to lead aside from Cleavelin on the day for a few laps in heat two. He ended up second in the main event for his first podium finish of the season, with Kevin Manning in third for his second straight trip to the steps.
Willy Musgrave was another perfect score on the weekend, as he dominated the Leading Edge Motorsports S4 Master Stock Moto class. The father of S1 driver Billy Musgrave, Willy led every lap of the day in his season debut. Musgrave drove away in the final to a 10-second margin of victory over Brad Dhesi and round one winner Mike Mantel. Luke Bianco bested the Leading Edge Motorsports S4 Magnum Stock Moto division for his second victory of the season, outrunning Rick McAllister, Jeff Krogstad and Ken Manning. The 2 Wild Karting S3 Novice Stock Moto class welcomed another first time winner with Gianfranco Casadei scoring the victory over Jim Baltutis and round one winner Will Vogel.
The SwedeTech Racing Engines S5 Junior Stock Moto category saw another great battle between the same two drivers from round one, with Jarred Campbell once again taking the honors in the final. Defending champ Carter Williams was out front for much of the day, as he posted fast lap in qualifying (43.700) and won both heat races. Campbell was right there the entire time, waiting for his opportunity. It came in the main event on lap five, taking over the lead. Williams kept the pressure on the remainder of the race, but was unable to demote Campbell from the top spot. At the line, Campbell scored the victory by just a tenth of a second over Williams. S5 newcomer Garrett Dixon took home his second straight podium finish in third, beating out SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jim McKinney and Taylor Jacobs.
Carter Williams was able to secure his first victory of the season in the Phil Giebler Racing TaG Junior class that saw 20 drivers on hand. He started out the day at the top of the time sheet in qualifying, posting a 44.358-second lap time, quicker than Phillipe Denes and Noah Grey. Round one winner Brendan Baker qualified fourth, but crashed out in the opening lap of heat one, where it was Grey at the front. He led the opening 10-lap run and backed it up in heat two, as Williams ran second in both outings. While it had been a two-driver battle, others joined the fight in the main event. Chase McDaniel and Baker stepped up to the challenge, and ran 1-2 early on. Each took a turn at the point until contact put Grey and McDaniel on the sidelines. This left Baker and Williams alone at the front for a solid duel. The race came down to a run to the checkered flag, with Williams edging out Baker for the victory. Royal McKee fought up to the third position for podium finish number one of the season over Denes and Hannah Grisham.
The Sunshine Daydream Creations TaG Cadet class welcomed another large field in Willow Springs, as 24 drivers put on another great show. Jagger Jones was the top driver in qualifying as he bested the lap times of Ryan Schartau and round one winner Jonathan Shone. Jones and Schartau made it a two-driver battle for the win in heat one, as Schartau crossed the line first. Oliver Calvo put his name in the mix in heat two, making it a three driver fight and taking the win on the final lap over Schartau and Jackson Logsdon. Schartau would take on a challenge from Myles Farhan in the main event, with Schartau able to secure the victory on the final lap for his first trip to the top step of the podium. Farhan settled for second as Hayden Wagner completed the top three. Anthony Willis was fourth and Logsdon ended up fifth. Superkarts! USA officials made the decision to create a TaG Rookie class within the TaG Cadet division to help guide – and recognize – some of the younger and newer racers joining the California ProKart Challenge. The class saw 10 drivers compete, with Jace Jones earning the victory over Anthony Freese and Colin Queen.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the podium ceremonies, where SKUSA’s Tom Kutscher handed out a number of raffle prizes for the large gathering of competitors. The series is scheduled to award well over $70,000 in prizes on the year – with nearly $2,000 given away on the weekend.
Below is a list of the raffle prizes and winners from Willow Springs:
3 FREE cans of MS98 Fuel (Value $71 each): Brenden Baker, Travis Lowe, Carter Williams
3 FREE Race Entries to the next California PKC race at Adams (Value $115 each): Jack Freese, Ryon Beachner, Mia Butts
1 FREE Honda Top End Kit (Value $150): Jarred Campbell
3 FREE sets of MG-HZ Tires (Value $219 each): Jackson Logsdon, Jace Denmark-Gessel, Anthony Willis
1 FREE set of MG-SK Tires (Value $229 each): Jessica Sollberger
1 FREE entry to the SKUSA Pro Tour SpringNats (Value $350): Steve Brackett
The California ProKart Challenge will take the month of April off, as Superkarts! USA will host the opening round of the 2013 SKUSA Pro Tour – the SpringNationals – at Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, AZ set for April 12-14. The regional series will continue on May 3-4 as the program visits the historic Adams Motorsports Park in Riverside, California. Superkarts! USA would like to thank the following companies, in addition to the support of the class sponsors, for their aid toward the 2013 season: MG Tires, Mothers Polish, Honda/HPD, VP Racing Fuels, Motul, MIR, and AiM. Stayed tuned to http://www.superkartsusa.com for more information on round three, as well as updates on Twitter at @SuperKartsUSA and at Facebook.com/SKUSA.