EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – New Castle – Preview
Second stop of new program visits popular Indiana circuit
After making its debut last month in North Carolina, the new United States Pro Kart Series – presented by Bridgestone, FranklinKart.com, and L&T Manufacturing – will now travel to the world capital of motorsports – Indiana – and the New Castle Motorsports Park. The New Castle, IN facility, nearly 10 years old now, is among the favorite circuits for many within the sport and the USPKS will continue its inaugural season there this weekend, sponsored by DRT Racing and Ribtect3. Seven categories of featuring the Yamaha and Parilla Leopard powerplants will do battle as the four weekend series contests rounds three and four on June 8-9.
The format for the weekend provides ample amount of practice Friday for all competitors, setting up for the two-day battle ahead. Each day will see a 10 minute qualifying session followed by two eight-lap heat races. The feature events will be 15 laps for all classes, with Leopard Pro going a full 20 circuits on the 1-mile course.
USPKS, along with its many supporters and sponsors, are putting up a large amount of cash up for grabs this weekend. The Leopard Pro category will race for $3,100 in prize money, with each main event winner taking home $750. Should a driver win both feature races on the weekend, that lucky person will win a bonus check of $1,000 along with an extra $500 from HYTORC. New Castle Motorsports Park and Comet Kart Sales are putting up $2,100 for the Yamaha Senior class on Saturday. The first place driver will receive $600, with the rest of the top-five also earning cash while $100 of it will be set aside for the fast lap driver in the main event. Just added was another $500 for the top qualifier in the Yamaha Cadet category, presented by Lonici Rental Group.
eKartingNews.com will be onsite for the inaugural USPKS event weekend – providing the ‘EKN Trackside Live’ broadcast presented by DRT Racing athttp://www.ekartingnews.com/live . Live audio play-by-play action, live timing and forum discussion is available all on the one page, in addition to a mobile audio link for those on the go. Follow updates at the Official Discussion Thread, Facebook, Twitter and now on Instagram.
Mike Giessen and Austin Wayne Self are at the top of the championship standings after the Mooresville event. Each took home a first and third place finish. Giessen is set to return to battle in his iKart chassis while Self will continue working on his stock car schedule. Former EKN #1 TaG driver Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) is the top challenger in the championship, performing well in the wet conditions in North Carolina. With a field of over 30 drivers, it will be hard to predict just who will come away with the best results on the weekend. Jacob Donald (Arrow), Kyle Kalish (Merlin), Ashley Rogero (Tony Kart) and Joel Jens (Tony Kart) all have victories at the New Castle facility.
Never count out those who experienced some bad luck at Mooresville. Mark Dismore Jr. (FA Kart), Billy Lewis (Ultimate Kart USA) and Jacob Knueven (DR Kart) have more laps then anyone at the New Castle facility. Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart) is always among the contenders. Drivers joining the series for the first time and can be among those challenging for the win on the weekend include CRG drivers Jimmy Clark and Nicky DeFronzo, who both have shown well at other events at New Castle.
The championship fight in the Leopard Masters, featuring a trip to the Championkart International Final in France later this year, has three drivers within 25 points of each other. North Carolina driver Chuck Gafrarar (Parolin) used the home track advantage to creep ahead in the standings, winning round one in the dry weather. Brian McHattie (Exprit) came through with the victory in the wet conditions on Sunday to close up the gap leaving MMX. Brian McEvoy (Merlin) was right there both days, and could make it three different winners in the series to keep things tight after the New Castle weekend. Mixing up things up front in the class will be Canadian Don McGregor, as the Italkart pilot will make the long journey from the Pacific Northwest.
In the Leopard Semi-Pro division, co-point leader Austin McCusker will be unable to attend due to a schedule conflict, leaving Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) with the outright lead. The Florida driver will enter the New Castle weekend with a 65 point advantage over Mike McAndrews (Birel) with Gresham Wagner (Arrow) in third. All three are schedule to compete on the weekend, along with Minnesota driver Killian Keaveny (Top Kart) making his first start.
Joel Jens (Tony Kart) was a double winner in the opening weekend of the USPKS in the Yamaha Senior division. He enters New Castle with a solid 85 point advantage over Indiana driver Sam Cate (Tony Kart) will have home track on his side entering the weekend as he looks to cut into Jens lead. Patrick Olsen (Top Kart) and Tony Jump (Margay) had up and down weekends in Mooresville, and look to get back on the right track and chase down Jens in the title chase along with New Castle regular Billy Lewis (Eagle). A number of regular KRA racers from New Castle will be in attendance to contend for podium positions. The weekend will also mark the USPKS debut for veteran Brandon Adkins, as he is set to compete with the Indy-based iKart operation.
Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) leads the Yamaha Junior standings with two runner-up finishes at MMX, but will miss New Castle due to school commitments. This puts Zach Holden (Top Kart) at the top of the championship chase with Gresham Wagner (Arrow) in the hunt. Mike McAndrews (Birel) will focus on his Leopard program, and sit out the Yamaha class. A number of drivers were fast in North Carolina, but were unable to come through with two strong finishes. David Malukas (Birel) was third on Sunday, but a DNF Saturday has him trailing in the title chase. Becker Reardon (Birel) had a number of fast laps, both in the dry and the wet, but a few mistakes kept him away from the podium. Emerson Reed (Top Kart) was fourth Saturday, and should have the speed to contend at New Castle for a victory.
The top of the championship chase in the Yamaha Cadet division is a battle of Merlin vs. Arrow. Austin Schaff (Merlin) and Neil Verhagen (Arrow) split the wins at MMX and are locked up in the point standings heading to New Castle. Sam Mayer (Merlin) and Alex Verhagen (Arrow) trail the top two, with Alex earning a runner-up finish on Sunday. Luke Fineis (Birel) sits just 75 points out of first, with a solid chance of getting himself into the title chase along with many others.
Yamaha Rookie racing at the Mooresville event was phenomenal, as it kept everyone on the fence line to see just who would came away with the victory every session. Mark Fineis (Birel) was the top driver of the weekend, earning a second and first to lead the initial championship chase. Saturday winner Nic Sheppard (PCR) is currently second with Griffin Kunz (Praga), Kyle West (Merlin) and Carter Cass (Merlin) completing the top-five. Another action packed weekend is expected in the category.