EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – Season Finale – Preview
2013 closer set for Pittsburgh International Race Complex this weekend
The inaugural season for the United States Pro Kart Series – presented by Bridgestone, FranklinKart.com and L&T Manufacturing – will come to a close this weekend following the two rounds contested at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex. The Wampum, PA facility, formerly known as BeaveRun, will host rounds seven and eight of the USPKS series – sponsored by freem, Steiner Electric and Checkered Flag Motorsports – with the seven championships to be decided by Sunday evening. Weather is forecasted to provide optimal racing conditions for the Eastern Pennsylvania area, setting up for what should be an exciting three days of racing.
The PIRC karting circuit is set up for multiple configurations, with the standard national layout measuring out to 0.82 miles. Over a decade of history has been made at the Pittsburgh location, with a number of national events taking part on the Alan Wilson-designed track. This weekend, more history will be made as the USPKS makes its first visit, and crown its inaugural champions.
The headline Leopard Pro division has seen five different winners in the six previous events, with Kyle Kalish (Merlin) securing the most consistent results toward the front. The Franklin Motorsports driver was victorious for the first time in 2013 at his home track, backing it up with a runner-up finish on day two. The results extended his championship lead 150 points over VSR pilot Joel Jens (Tony Kart). The last event in Dousman saw two veterans step up as contenders, looking to put the young guns back in their place. DB Motorsports/KartLift pilot TJ Koyen (Exprit) was fast all weekend at his home track, but mechanical gremlins kept him from finishing. Comet Kart Sales’ Mark Dismore Jr. (FA Kart) was able to score a victory on Sunday, his first major win in a number of years. Both will be in Pittsburgh, looking for more success. Looking for some home track advantage this time around are the Bujdoso brothers – Andrew and Robert. The Checkered Motorsports drivers had this event marked on their calendars for some time, and both are looking at the cash purse on the line. For each victory, $750 is presented to the winning driver, with another $2,000 up for grabs should one driver earn both wins on the weekend – presented by USPKS and HYTORC.
Mike McAndrews (Birel) has locked up the Leopard Semi-Pro category, following six straight podium finishes. The last three races have ended in victory, as McAndrews is looking to close the season with two more. Gresham Wagner (Arrow) and Chandler Horton (Tony Kart) giving the soon to be champ a challenge on the weekend.
The Leopard Masters title has two drivers in contention, with the absence of five-time podium finisher from the weekend Brian McEvoy (Merlin). Point leader from day one – Chuck Gafrarar (Parolin) – continues to lead the standings and enters the Pittsburgh weekend 140 points over Brian McHattie (Exprit). Both have to victories to their credit, but McHattie is hit or miss with only those two podium finishes while Gafrarar has gone five of six. McHattie calls the PIRC facility home for his DB Motorsports operation, while Gafrarar is a Pennsylvania-native, so both will be returning home. Joining them in the fight is Russell Karting Specialties’ Jim Russell Jr. The round four winner is making a return to the series, and aimed at either taking the victories for himself, or help his Parolin teammate Gafrarar score the championship. Lamar ‘Cowboy’ Humphries (Margay) will continue his drive for a top three in the points, and a top-three finish in a main event.
Joel Jens (Tony Kart) has run double-duty throughout the season, and put himself in position to challenge for both championships. The path to the Yamaha Senior title has been easier, winning the first four feature races. A rough weekend in Dousman however has allowed Tony Jump (Margay) to step up the pressure as they head into Pittsburgh. His two dominating wins at the Briggs & StrattonRacewayPark in July put him just 140 points behind Jens. Sam Cate (Tony Kart), Collin Griffin (Arrow) and Andrew Burton (Arrow) are all looking for their first wins of the season, each coming close at one point on the year.
With three victories in hand, Zach Holden (Top Kart) has control of the Yamaha Junior point standings. Since winning the opening round, he’s led the championship and increased his point lead with a double win weekend in Dousman. New Castle double winner Emerson Reed (Top Kart) now sits 125 points behind with two main events left. David Malukas is third in the standings, without a victory on the year. A recent change to the Top Kart brand could see the top three positions swept by #rollblue. Aside from Holden and Reed, Gresham Wagner (Arrow) is the only driver to score a victory, and returns for the season finale.
It took the double wins in Wisconsin for Sam Mayer (Merlin) to advance to the top of the order in the Yamaha Cadet division. Entering the Dousman event, four different drivers won the four main events, with Mayer becoming the fifth and only one to win a second. Mayer now holds a 155 point advantage over round one winner Neil Verhagen (Arrow), who drove to three victories in Pittsburgh during the WKA event last month, subbing for Brendon Lemke. Other winners Austin Schaff (Merlin), Simon Sikes (Arrow) and Drew Lindley (Birel) are sure to be factors in Pittsburgh.
As in Cadet, the Yamaha Rookie division has seen five different winners over six rounds. The lone double winner – Mark Fineis (Birel) – enters the Pittsburgh weekend as the championship leader. A slim 70 points back is round five winner Griffin Kunz (Praga), competing at his own circuit. Former winners Nic Sheppard (PCR), James Lynch (Tony Kart), and Aiden Lindley (Birel) will be in search of adding to their win total in 2013.
eKartingNews.com will have compete coverage with its Trackside Live program. Live audio with USPKS’ Randy Kugler on the mic will be available, along with live timing, at http://www.ekartingnews.com/live on Saturday and Sunday. Daily reports will be published on the home page, with updates published at the Official Discussion Thread, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram