Team News: Griffin Kunz Puts Kartwerks/Praga on the Podium at USPKS Debut
The newly formed United States Pro Kart Series held their inaugural event at the Mooresville Motorplex and Kartwerks was on the grid with two karts – Yamaha Rookie pilot Griffin Kunz and Leopard Pro racer Andy Schlosser.
Excitement was palpable for this new series at the world class facility and the Series delivered in every aspect – ample track time, well organized schedule, excellent officiating and great racing.
Both drivers had some testing time in at the facility so the team felt good about the prospects of a successful weekend from the outset. Griffin hit the track and instantly was at the top of the speed charts in his Praga Piccolo with Adkins Speed Center power establishing himself as one of the drivers to beat in his class.
Unfortunately an uncharacteristically mid-pack qualifying effort on Saturday had Griffin working his way to the front in each Heat race as he was able to find passing zones all the way around the tricky circuit. At the end of the day on Saturday Griffin had moved from 11th to 6th in the Final but just ran out of time to run down the lead pack for a shot at the Podium.
The rain set in late Saturday and continued throughout the race day on Sunday making for trying conditions on track. Griffin started karting on the ultra slick indoor circuit at Allsports Grand Prix so he was unfazed by the wet and slippery track despite having just a handful of previous laps in the rain.
The Leesburg, Virginia based racer qualified outside Pole and finished near the front of both Heat races, setting himself up for a potentially successful run in the Final. As the rain came down harder, Griffin delivered on track winning several tight battles with his competitors and coming out with a second place finish and the third fastest lap of the race!
In this short season to date Griffin has scored Podium finishes in four out of five race weekends on board his Kartwerks Praga Piccolo including WKA Manufacturer’s Cup (4th), Mooresville Motorplex Series (1st), Pitt Race Karting Series (2nd twice) and now USPKS (2nd).
Andy Schlosser returned to the TAG ranks racing a Praga Dragon with Cook Racing Engines power in the Leopard Pro class. The combination proved to be very quick in pre-season testing at Mooresville so the team entered the race with optimism.
Unfortunately fate intervened and the team was forced to chase a stubborn electrical issue costing them most of the Friday practice. Despite the setback Andy soldiered forward and made steady progress on the ever changing track conditions, advancing forward in both Heat races from his Qualifying position.
The deluge began in earnest though just before Saturday’s Final as everyone threw their notes out the window and changed over to a full wet setup. The race was a crazy, unpredictable mess with karts off track everywhere as drivers searched for grip and racing lines. Andy was comfortable in the rain however and steadily moved forward. With just a few laps to go though, an off track excursion left him stuck in the grass with a 25th place finish.
Sunday’s continuous rain made setting up the kart an easier task for everyone but the racing was still wild with 38 karts heading in to the first turn of Heat 1 at the start in a blind mist. Karts were spinning off track as Andy picked his way through the carnage until his luck ended in Turn 3 where Praga teammate and Pole Sitter Cal Stewart’s kart was stopped facing the wrong way. The resulting impact put both out of the race.
The Kartwerks crew was able to straighten the frame, replace the steering column, spindle, tie rod ends, wheel, nerf bar and king pin in time for Heat 2. The kart was still not quite right but final tweaking before the Final let Andy take another two seconds off his laptimes and charge from the tail of the field to 18th position – a nice recovery to a rough day.
Dan Schlosser, Team Manager: “I was very proud of the team both in terms of Griffin’s fantastic results and the perseverance on Andy’s part. Griffin continues to learn & improve and has established himself as one of the favorites in any race he enters. Andy had high expectations but circumstances played against him. He never gave up though, worked through everything thrown at him and ended the weekend on a high note.”
Next on the schedule is the third round of the Pitt Race Karting Series on May 5th followed by Great Lakes Sprint Series and WKA Manufacturers Cup weekends at New Castle Motorsports Park.
Transportation, Tent and Support Services are still available for the events at New Castle in May. Please contact Dan Schlosser for details – firstname.lastname@example.org