Team News: Griffin Kunz Sweeps USPKS and Earns Championship
Michael Burton Podiums Twice in TAG Masters
Kartwerks / Praga pilot Griffin Kunz entered the final round of the USPKS season seventy points behind the Championship leader in the Yamaha Rookie class. The Leesburg, Virginia based driver had one goal though – sweep the weekend and let the Championship take care of itself.
Griffin qualified outside Pole on the first day and proceeded to win the first heat race and finish second in the following heat race to Championship rival Mark Fineis. The two were quickly establishing themselves as the front runners in this event along with Nick Sheppard. Griffin led every lap of the final at the line but the position changed multiple times per lap on several occasions. Nick managed to finish in second ahead of Fineis which proved to be the cushion Griffin needed heading in to Sunday’s final.
With just 25 points separating the two Championship contenders a win by either driver would secure the title. Kunz started off on the right foot, out-qualifying the field by .245 seconds, but it was Fineis who pulled off the pre-final win setting the stage for a final showdown for the Championship.
The 22-lap Final started out with Fineis, Sheppard and Kunz at the point but by half way the two title contenders had separated themselves from the second pack setting up a dash to the end. Kunz assumed the point by lap 12 but Fineis made several passes for the lead only to be immediately overtaken again by Kunz. As the two drivers were coming to the white flag Kunz made a surprise pass on the inside of the chicanes then drove a perfect final lap to secure the win and a tie in the Championship points!
While the points ended in a tie Griffin earned the Championship on the strength of three wins, all in the last four races – a tremendous effort!
Kartwerks was well represented in the Rookie class as Luca Mars and Elliott Budzinski each scored their first National podiums on their Praga Piccolos with fifth place finishes Saturday and Sunday respectively. WKA winner Robert Noaker had a strong sixth place finish on Saturday and Owen Mahle had a best of ninth on Sunday.
Michael Burton made his first USPKS start, running his Praga Dragon in the TAG Masters class. Early on it was a bit of a challenge adapting to the additional thirty pounds of weight but after a few changes things started moving in the right direction. The first round resulted in a third place finish but Sunday saw Burton qualify on the front row and lead the first ten laps of the Pre-final before finishing runner-up to Jim Russell. In the final Burton picked up another third place finish making two Podium finishes on the weekend.
Madison Campeau joined the Kartwerks/Praga crew for the weekend in the Yamaha Cadet class. Friday started off with a bang as she was second quickest in Happy Hour practice. While Maddie put in a fantastic effort after sitting in the kart for the first time on Friday morning, the race results unfortunately didn’t quite live up to the excitement of Friday. She still finished eleventh and twelfth in the two races and showed speed capable of running with the lead pack. We are looking forward to working with Maddie again at some time in the future.
Joe Budzinski also made his Praga debut at USPKS on his new Dragon chassis in the Yamaha Junior class. Joe came home with two 11th place finishes while shaving 1.2 seconds off the clock from Saturday qualifying to Sunday’s races.
Dan Schlosser: “This was exciting for us obviously, winning a USPKS Championship with Griffin – he saved the best for last and really opened some eyes this weekend. No side deals, no teammates in the middle and no officials calls deciding anything – Griffin just went out and executed perfectly all weekend long and earned these victories as well as the Championship! It was also a great thrill to see Luca, Elliott and Michael on the podium.
This season has been absolutely amazing – starting with just that one kart of Griffin’s at Daytona to being where we are now as a race and championship winning team with families from six different states just nine months later is beyond our wildest expectations. We are looking forward to what the future may bring!”
Kartwerks will be in action September 22nd for Pitt Race Karting Series event followed by the WKA Manufacturers Cup race at Mooresville Motorsports Complex. The team will then be closing out the year with final PRK Series race and the RoboPong Endurance race at New Castle Motorsports Park in October.
For those interested in tent/travel, coaching, tuning and arrive & drive opportunities for upcoming events please inquire soon as karts and space are limited!
For inquiries regarding the Championship winning Praga Piccolo chassis as well as the Praga Dragon & Tacho karts please contact us:
For more information please visit www.kartwerksusa.com or contact Dan Schlosser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.849.5218.