EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – Mid-Summer Classic – Sunday Report
Dismore triumphs in Pro as McAndrews, Jump, Holden, and Mayer double up in Dousman
It was another hot and sunny day in Dousman, Wisconsin for the final day of the United States Pro Kart Series Mid-Summer Classic – presented by Bridgestone, FranklinKart.com, and L&T Manufacturing. The sixth round of the series was contested at the Briggs & Stratton Raceway Park on Sunday, following an exciting full day on Saturday for round five. Today was just as intense, as the fields tightened up and the fight for the main event victory was even tougher. The day’s events also played a major role in the title chases, heading to the series finale in September.
Familiar names moved up to the top of the time charts in Leopard Pro qualifying, with the same front row from round five. Today, Saturday winner Kyle Kalish (Merlin) edged out Saturday fast driver TJ Koyen (Exprit) for the pole position. The top four were all within a tenth of a second, with Colton Ramsey (Tony Kart) and Mark Dismore Jr. (FA Kart) looking for redemption after Saturday’s two mechanical failures. Completing the fast five is Friday’s Happy Hour top driver Tommy Andersen (Praga).
Kalish led the field to the green flag for heat one as Koyen slotted into the second spot from outside row one. The second circuit of the race, Koyen took the lead from Kalish and put down a killer pace to pull away. Similar to what he did on Saturday, Koyen drove his DB Motorsport/KartLift entry to the heat win by over two seconds. The driver on the move was Dismore. After falling out of the top five, he methodically worked his way up the order, moving from fourth to second in just three laps. Kalish however fought back, taking the spot back on lap eight. Dismore put down his fast time on lap 10, setting up for a great move to retake the second spot in turn four. He would go on to cross the line second, with Kalish in third. Andersen drove to fourth with Ramsey back to fifth.
The start for heat two witnessed shuffling through the opening corners as Ramsey was able to slide through from third to first, dropping Kalish back to second while Koyen fell behind Dismore. The driver on the move again became Dismore, as he quickly picked off the top two, each in turn four, to take over the lead on lap three. Koyen was able to follow through, first working past Kalish on lap five and then pressure Ramsey for a number of laps until squeezing past on lap nine for second. Dismore was able to record the fast lap of the race and score the win by seven tenths. Koyen ran second with Ramsey and Kalish trailing as Jens was able to fight his way up to fifth.
With a win and runner-up finish each, Koyen and Dismore filled the front row with TJ awarded the pole position for the main event thanks to a better qualifying effort. The two broke away early as the second row was shuffled up with some contact on the exit of turn three. Jens, Kalish and Ramsey filled out the front five as they trailed the top two. Derek Dignan (FA Kart) stood on the podium on Saturday, and was unable to find speed until the main event. Starting 11th, Dignan crept up the order and found himself fourth by the end of lap four. Out front, Koyen and Dismore ran nose to tail with TJ making a move on lap 13 in turn three, taking the lead for the first time in the race. Dismore felt comfortable riding second, setting up for what was going to be a great dual in the closing laps. It all went south for Koyen on lap 22 as he lost power to his engine when a coil wire broke, ending his feature race in heartbreak once again.
This gave Dismore a clean run out front and moved Kalish into the second spot. Behind them, Franklin Motorsports owner Jamie Sieracki (Merlin) used the many, many laps around the Dousman circuit to move up from his 15th position. By lap 15, he had advanced into the top-six, and by lap 20 was into the fourth position. When Koyen retired, that moved Dignan to third, but only for a short time as Sieracki worked past for the position. The remainder of the race was uneventful upfront as Dismore and Kalish ran similar laps, with the Comet Kart Sales piloting his FA Kart to the victory and the $750 payday. Kalish, half the age of Dismore, ran second and missed out on the $1,000 bonus money from USPKS and HYTOC. Big picture, Kalish earned near maximum points on the weekend toward the championship with just two final rounds remaining. Sieracki, running similar lap times to that of the top two, ran to third to put a positive on what was a struggling weekend behind the seat. Dignan earned his second trophy of the weekend with a fourth place run with Ramsey crossing fifth. He however would be penalized for cutting the track in the opening lap of the race, thus moving another local – Scott Kopp (Tony Kart) to fifth for his best finish of the season.
Leopard Masters / Semi-Pro
With the small number of drivers in both classes, the two categories were combined for round six action. Chuck Gafrarar (Parolin) set the fast time in qualifying, posting the only lap in the 37-second mark. Brian McHattie (Exprit) was second behind the championship leader, with Saturday winner Laurentiu Mardan (Kosmic) in third. Brian McEvoy (Merlin) and Lamar Humphries (Margay) completed the fast five. Mike McAndrews (Birel) was top driver in Semi-Pro, with Grant Sandberg (Merlin) and Killian Keaveny (Top Kart) rounding out the field.
Gafrarar led the field to the green flag for heat one but it was McHattie stealing the lead away quickly. The top four ran nose to tail for the first half of the race with Gafrarar taking back the lead in turn three on lap eight. That triggered some exciting racing with McHattie continually trying to work past for the lead, but Gafrarar fought strong and held on for the win. Mardan was able to slip past McEvoy for third with Humprhies in the fifth spot. McAndrews led all 12 laps in Semi-Pro, with Sandberg and Keaveny getting together early on. Sandberg would cross the line second but officials moved him back to third and Keaveny into second.
The Masters drivers gave each other room to begin the second heat race, with Gafrarar and McHattie going side by side a number of times during the opening lap. Gafrarar secured the lead after the first circuit with McHattie slotting in behind as did the rest of the field. The first few laps was the only action on track as they ran static the rest of the way. Gafrarar took the win with McHattie in second, Mardan in third, McEvoy fourth and Humphries in fifth. McAndrews ran wire-to-wire in Semi-Pro with Keaveny not too far off McAndrews pace in second. Sandberg ran third but retired early.
The final battle of the weekend for the Masters group set up for a 25-lap event. Gafrarar and McHattie ran side-by-side once again through the opening corners with McHattie coming away with the lead out of turn four. The top four ran nose to tail again with McEvoy running third ahead of Mardan. Lap 11, Gafrarar finally pulled the trigger going into turn one, putting his nose inside and drag-raced him to turn three. Mardan would then move around McEvoy to hold the third spot once again as they reached the 10 laps to go mark in the race. McHattie had to fight off Mardan on lap 18, allowing Gafrarar to pull out a one second advantage. At the line, it was Gafrarar earning his second victory of the season and extending his point lead. Mardan was able to push past McHattie on the final circuit to take second away, with McEvoy going through as well. That put McHattie to fourth on the podium and Humphries capping off the top-five. McAndrews made it a perfect weekend in Semi-Pro, leading the entire 25 laps for his third win of the season and a solid grasp on the championship. Keaveny ran nearly a similar fast lap, but could not keep the consistent pace of McAndrews while Sandberg finished third.
Tony Jump left off where he ended Saturday’s events, at the top of the order. The lone Margay driver in the category dominated round five, and began round six with the fast lap in qualifying. His time of 40.205 seconds was quicker by nearly two tenths, as Colton Ramsey (Tony Kart) was second. Collin Griffin (Tony Kart) improved on his time from yesterday to slot third for the heat races, with Andrew Burton (Arrow) and Camden Speth (Arrow) rounding out the top-five. Point leader Joel Jens (Tony Kart) was not able to find speed for qualifying, ending up eighth in the session.
Ramsey got the better of Jump at the start of the opening heat race to lead the opening lap. Jump fought back the following lap, stealing the position away the next circuit, and then Ramsey pulled off to the scales with a broken seat. This gave Jump a good lead over Darin Marcus (Merlin), who fought up to second from sixth on the grid, with a long line of karts behind him. Marcus continued to close inch by inch to Jump but he responded with his quick laps of the race to secure the win. Burton was able to steal third from Jens in the closing laps with Camden Speth (Arrow) up to fifth.
Jump got the launch as the green flag waved to begin heat two with Ramsey getting shuffled back from the outside front row starting position, dropping to fifth. Jump was not able to break away however as Griffin, Speth and Nick Stagl (Tony Kart) locked onto his rear bumper. Jump continued to lead with Griffin the only driver able to stay in contention, with the rest of the top five falling off the pace some. Griffin kept up the pressure, but Jump took the win once again. Speth ran to third with Ramsey recovering to fourth and Jens placing fifth.
With the pole position, Jump was able to breakaway on the opening lap, especially with the contact in turn four in the pack involving Ramsey, Burton and others. Speth took advantage to move up to second with Griffin back to third. Jens moved to fourth from fifth with Sam Cate (Tony Kart) up to fifth with all the contact in front of him. Jump continued to stretch his lead while Griffin was able to move into second by lap seven. At the same time, Cate retired with a mechanical issue to end what was a challenging weekend. Griffin continued to pull away from Speth as he fell back into the grasp of Marcus and Jens. Lap 22, both drafted past for position to set up for a fight to the checkered. Jump stayed on cruise control to the checkered flag for the clean sweep on the weekend. Griffin scored his first podium in the series, placing second. Marcus won the fight for third with Jens and Speth completing the top five.
Sunday’s qualifying session was very similar to that of the action on Saturday. Zach Holden was dominant throughout the day, and he started the sixth round of action with a blistering lap in qualifying. A 39.644-second lap put the Top Kart USA driver on the pole position by a good margin, but David Malukas (Birel) broke into the 39-bracket. It was still just over three-tenths off Holden’s time. Brandon Lemke (Merlin) was third with Emerson Reed (Top Kart) fourth and Emily Hurlbert (Merlin) fifth.
From the pole position, Holden drove away to the win in heat one as he went untouched in the 12-lap run. The Saturday winner stretched out to a five-second advantage over the fight for second. After several exchanges for position, Malukas was able to secure the position over Reed with Lemke and Hurlbert trailing.
Holden found himself in a position he had not seen all weekend, karts in front of him. Holden was shuffled back to third on the opening lap with Lemke and Malukas sliding past. Malukas took over the lead from Lemke before the got to the stripe and the shuffling continued, with Holden going from third to first in the second lap. From there, Holden ran fast lap after fast lap to the checkered flag, holding a near three-second advantage over Malukas. Reed won the fight for third with Lemke and Sheldon Mills (Top Kart) showing some speed to move into the fifth spot for his best result of the day so far.
With an impressive performance on the weekend, Holden completed the weekend sweep by securing the main event victory. Once he got away early, it was clear sailing as the Indiana driver drove to an 11-second gap after 25 laps. The battle was for second and fourth with Reed and Lemke fighting it out while Hurlbert and Mills fought a few seconds behind them. Malukas was a no start, suffering engine issues before the green flag waved. With some great racing on the final circuit, Lemke made a move in turn five to take the position and the runner-up spot on the podium. Reed settled for third with Hurlbert able to slide past Mills for fourth. Lemke however was removed from the results following tech, thus moving everyone up one position with Ryan Weyer (Merlin) moving into the top-five.
The consistent status of the day was Saturday’s winners taking the top spot in qualifying. That happened in the Cadet division as well with local star Sam Mayer (Merlin) riding off his first series victory, and turning it into the pole position on Sunday. The Franklin Motorsports driver was the only one into the 41-second bracket, but just edged out the competition by 25 thousandths. Luke Fineis (Birel) was second with Ian Nelson (Tony Kart) finding speed over the night, clocking in just one thousandths off Fineis’ time. Another four thousandths back was Greg Della (Merlin) with Samuel Paley rounding out the fast five.
Mayer led the field to the green flag with the field shuffling in behind him nicely with no issues. A four kart lead group formed as the race wore on with Fineis, Nelson and Austin Schaff (Merlin) trailing Mayer for must of the race. At the halfway point, the drivers began to shuffle for position, with Nelson taking away the second spot from Fineis and then lap nine drafted past Mayer for the lead into turn one. Mayer was shuffled out and dropped back to fourth with Schaff and Fineis working past. Schaff took the lead on lap 10 in turn three, with Fineis trying to find a way past for the second spot. He got it done the following lap in turn three, putting Nelson back to third as the top four continued to run nose to tail to the white flag. Shuffling to the checkered, Schaff held on for the win over Mayer with Nelson and Fineis trailing. Simon Sikes (Arrow) drove a great race to fifth after starting ninth.
Mayer and Fineis were able to break away from the pack after the green flag waved to kick off the second heat race. Nelson held third, running a few kart lengths behind the top two after the first three laps of the 12-lap event. Lap five, Nelson had caught the leaders and was able to slip past Fineis for the second spot. The Verde Speed Resource driver kept the momentum through turn three to take the lead away from Mayer, who fell back to third. Lap nine, Mayer dove inside of Fineis in turn one, and drifted wide which put Fineis into the dirt on the exit. This cost him a number of kart lengths from the top two as Mayer locked in on Nelson’s bumper. Nelson was able to hold back Mayer to the checkered flag for the heat win, with Fineis holding the third spot. Drew Lindley (Birel) drove a phenonimal race, advancing all the way from 16th on the grid to fourth with Schaff up to fifth.
The main event began with a red flag for Schaff and Fineis into the crash pillows in turn one. Schaff was able to continue but Fineis did not return to action. Mayer led the way with Sikes up into second. Nelson ran third after one lap with Giovanni Bromante (Top Kart) into fourth after two laps from the eighth spot on the grid. Up front, the top three put some distance on the fight for fourth with Sikes leading for the first time on the day. More shuffling continued and the lead group became eight drivers at one time with Sikes still leading the long train. Lap 16 got a little crazy with Bertagnoli going off track and cutting the course, but not allowing the field to pass by. He did however on lap 18, rejoining the fight. More shuffling took place with Mayer leading with five laps remaining over Lindley with Zellner trailing. At the checkered, Mayer would hold on to win his second of the weekend, adding to the championship chase and a KartLift Pit Cart Stand in his trailer, thanks to KartLift and the USPKS. Lindley ran second with Nelson coming away with third in his best finish of the series. Zellner ran fourth as Sikes placed fifth.
The opening qualifying session of the day belonged to the Yamaha Rookie division and Kyle West (Merlin). A challenger in yesterday’s action, West swapped the top spot with Aiden Lindley (Birel) throughout the five minute run. West’s time of 42.537 seconds put him at the top. Lindley settled for second with Saturday winner and new point leader Griffin Kunz (Praga) in third. Mark Fineis (Birel) and Talan Drake (Birel) rounded out the fast five.
The field filed in nicely to begin the opening heat race with West and Lindley leading the way. Lap two, West lost the airbox on his Yamaha powerplant and was black-flagged off the track from the lead. This gave the top spot to Lindley with Fineis, Aidan Harrington (Birel) up from sixth and Nic Sheppard (PCR) advancing to fourth after starting eighth. Harrington appeared to have the better racing ride under him, working his way up to second and then drafting past for the lead on lap 10. As they took the two laps to go signal, Fineis led a train of karts past Harrington, bringing Sheppard up to second. Fineis held on to edge out the Sheppard at the line for the win. Harrington held on to third with Lindley back to fourth. Carter Cass (Merlin) moved up from ninth to end up fifth.
West was shuffled back to fourth during the opening lap of the second heat race, allowing Lindley to the point with Fineis and Sheppard passing through for position. A group of three formed on the second lap with West and Harrington trailing. The trailing two caught the top three to make it a five driver battle. Starting lap six, Fineis and Sheppard were able to draft past Lindley for the top two positions. A fight for third allowed the top two to pull out about a five kart gap with West back up to the third position. They worked together to pull away from the rest of the field, setting up for a dual to the checkered flag. It was Fineis taking the win over Sheppard. Contact on the final lap sent Lindley and Drake to the back, giving Harrington a run to third over West with Kunz back to fifth.
Fineis led the field to the green flag, earning the pole position after his two heat wins. Sheppard lined up outside row one and slotted in behind Fineis with Harrington, West and Cass the early top five. Fineis and Sheppard were able to pull away as they ran nose to tail with Harrington gapping the fight for fourth. By the halfway mark, the group for fourth caught Harrington and it became a four driver battle for the third spot. Lap 15, Cass brought a train with him past Harrington and at the same time, Sheppard had lost ground on Fineis, with the group for third catching him. Lap 17, Cass moved into the second spot with a move around Sheppard in turn three, with Lindley around before they completed the lap. Sheppard dropped to fifth the next circuit as Drake was able to move into fourth position. Out front, Fineis enjoyed a three-second advantage with seven laps to go. Fineis would not lose any ground, driving away and becoming the first driver to earn his second win of the season. Cass held off Lindley for the second position with Harrington and Sheppard completing the top-five.
The USPKS celebrated another solid weekend of racing as the drivers, parents, teams and staff all left Dousman Sunday evening following the podium ceremonies. The Badger Kart Club members were gracious hosts, and the USPKS staff did a great job keeping the show moving throughout the weekend. Many things are in the works for the series finale, set for the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, PA on September 6-8. The seventh and eighth rounds of the season will decide the seven inaugural champions.