Texas ProKart Challenge Finishes 2013 Season at NOLA
Competitors battle record numbers and changing weather conditions for final two rounds of season in New Orleans
It was a record-setting weekend for the Texas ProKart Challenge season – presented by 3G Kart Racing/Burger King®/Fernelius Alvarez Attorneys/Dallas Karting Complex – at the NOLA Motorsports Park on the October 4-6 weekend. Closing out the 2013 season, the United States Rotax Max Challenge and Superkarts! USA regional program hosted rounds nine and ten of the year to settle the score in the championship chases. The event served as a tune-up event for the Rotax Pan-American Challenge event the following weekend, with many of the SKUSA drivers getting in one last event before setting up to compete at the SuperNationals XVII in Las Vegas next month.
The total of 125 entries per day fought against the stacked fields and changing weather conditions with Tropical Storm Karen in the area, thankfully being reduced from hurricane level, with just rain showers hitting the New Orleans area. Texas PKC and its series supporters shelled out another $2,500 in prizes and product during the closing ceremonies, including free entry to the 2014 season, fuel, oil, MG and Mojo tire sets, along with Ribtect vests and top end kits for Stock Moto engines courtesy of HPD Honda.
New faces began the weekend at the front of the Pole Position/DR Kart S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto field with former series regular Connor Wagner making a return, edging out Sky Finley for the pole position. Wagner’s 42.564-second was best with championship leader Ryan Kinnear third. Wagner held the top spot through the opening heat race, with Kinnear moving up to second ahead of Finley. He looked to have the win in heat two, before Kinnear stole the top spot on the final circuit. Wagner ended up second with Garrett Boone advancing up to third. The top three put on a show in the 16-lap main event, with all three taking a turn at the point under wet conditions on dry tires. Kinnear led early before Boone took the top spot for the first time on the day. They continued to battle with Wagner taking over the lead with two laps remaining, and holding to score his first series victory of the season. Boone would hold second with Kinnear in third. Miguel Lopez was fourth with Stephen Lamana fifth.
Sunday’s qualifying session was a tight battle for the top spot, as four drivers clocked fast laps within one-tenth of a second. Lopez gained speed overnight to end the session on top of the time sheets. Wagner was nine thousandths off in second, with Boone, Finely and Luke Shanahan completing the fast five. The top two went unchanged with Lopez taking the win over Wagner as Kinnear jumped from sixth on the grid to third after 10 laps. Kinnear continued his march to the front in heat two, advancing to the lead by lap four and driving to the race win over Lopez. The holeshot for the 16-lap main event went to Lopez, as he came around the opening lap as the leader. He would lead every lap en route to his fourth victory of the season. Kinnear was shuffled back to fourth at one time, but fought back to end runner-up with Wagner completing the podium. Boone finished fourth with Finely rounding out the top-five.
Coming into the NOLA event, the top two in SwedeTech S4 Master Stock Moto category were separated by just six points. Chris Jennings and Jordon Musser swapped wins all season long, and a season record-setting 14-driver field would battle the duo in New Orleans. The two were 1-2 in the opening qualifying session, with Musser gaining a seven hundredths advantage for the pole position and 10 bonus points. Jennings would come through to win both heat races with Musser in second to even the score on the weekend. Musser however battled through the wet conditions better than Jennings in the 16-lap main event to earn his fourth victory of the season. Jennings was runner-up with Jorge De La Juerta making his series debut with a podium finish.
Jennings struck back Sunday morning, nipping the pole position from Musser and the 10 bonus points. Musser retaliated in heat one, with Jennings striking back in heat two, setting up for a battle in the main event. Jennings took the holeshot and throughout the 16-lap fight, fended off multiple attempts from Musser for the lead. At the line, Jennings would record his sixth feature victory of the season. Musser recorded the fast lap of the race, but finished runner-up again with Roy Montgomery making his season debut for a third place podium finish.
Nathan Adds and Jesse Woodyard squared off for the final weekend in the J&T Racing S5 Junior Stock Moto class, separated by just 90 points. Woodyard cut that gap quickly, posting fast lap in qualifying. Adds returned the favor in heat one, racing his way to the win over Woodyard. The two would swap positions the following heat race, cancelling out the points heading into the main event. Adds would lead the 12-lap race early, but Woodyard proved too strong, taking the lead and going on to earn his fourth victory of the season. Adds settled for second with Raul Guzman third. Adds was on his game come Sunday, beginning with the fast time in qualifying. He translated that into wins in both heat races to score pole position for the main event. Pressure came from both Guzman and Woodyard in the last 12-lap fight. Guzman led the opening laps before Adds took over. They swapped the lead a few more times, with Woodyard drawing closer. On lap 11, contact between Guzman and Woodyard resulted in Guzman retiring from the event. The following and last lap of the race, Woodyard was able to work around Adds for the lead to cross the line first. Officials however placed Woodyard behind Guzman for the contact, handing the victory to Adds. Derek Scott Jr. would be placed second with Guzman and Woodyard completing the order.
TaG Cadet ended what has been a stellar season in the Texas ProKart Challenge for the young drivers, as the top two drivers in the championship chase came away with a victory each. Max Hewitt entered the weekend leading Luis Alfonso Perez Pena by just 32 points after eight rounds of racing. Both had to battle their way to the front of the field Saturday, as neither qualified in the top-five. Main event time, Hewitt fought for the top spot with Jak Crawford and Ethan Arndt. At the checkered flag, Hewitt locked up his second victory of the season. Crawford finished second with Max Waithman third. Pena was a DNF after an opening lap incident. It was a number of drivers at the front of the order throughout Sunday, but when the final checkered fell it was Pena securing his first victory of the year, and seventh podium finish in the series. Riley Dickinson was second with Waithman earning another third place finish. Hewitt ended up fifth behind Arndt.
The Rotax categories welcomed a number of drivers new to the series, preparing for the upcoming Pan-American Challenge event. The DD2 class welcomed one of them as northeast driver Gavin Reichelt battled the Texas PKC regulars, stealing the pole position for Saturday’s round. Michael Ilavia fought back to win heat one with Nathan Mauel scoring the win in heat two. Mauel proved to be the quickest on the day, leading all 16-laps for the victory. Reichelt ran second but came into the scale house two pounds underweight, moving Alex Tartaglia to second and Ilavia third. Reichelt came back Sunday as the top driver in qualifying once again, using it to score the win in heat one. Mauel fought back in heat two, taking the top spot after the 10-lap battle. The continued on into the main event, exchanging the lead numerous times until Reichelt secured the position and the victory. Mauel settled for second with Tartaglia finishing on the podium once again.
Dallas Karting Complex DD2 Masters championship leader Lance Lehrman stamped his point title with a victory Saturday. The top spot was a revolving door with a number of drivers holding the spot throughout the day, with Lehrman victorious over series newcomer Philip Stoelman and DJ Ortiz. On Sunday, current Team USA member Mike Jones joined the fight and dominated the main event, outrunning Stoelman and Mike Wherley.
Rotax Senior also bolstered a large entry total with 14 drivers competing on the weekend, featuring a number of drivers registered for the Pan-Am event. Saturday was won by rising star Jack Weprin, as he bested 2008 United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals winner Arie Ouimet in wet conditions. Top qualifier Dan Roeper was third with Chase Hadean and Joseph Zahavi completing the top-five. Weprin backed it up again on Sunday, scoring the main event win with Ouimet placing runner-up for a second time, with Roger Ralston beating eKartingNews.com #1 TaG driver Louie Pagano for third and Chase Hadean in fifth.
Total drivers nearly reached 20 in the Champion Racing/Intrepid Rotax Junior class, with a number of young rising stars from around the country joined the regular Texas PKC drivers. Saturday’s event was won by Utah driver Austin Versteeg, as he edged out provisional Texas PKC champion Jesse Woodyard. Californian Blaine Rocha ran to the podium in third, beating out series regulars Nathan Adds and Trenton Estep. The following day saw Rocha land atop of the podium with Woodyard earning another runner-up finish on the weekend. Mitch Goldfarb ran to third on the podium with Trenton Estep and David Ilavia completing the top-five.
The Enertech/Chase Racing Mini Max category was a mix of series regulars and big name guests competing for the victory. Saturday was dominated early Canadian Roman DeAngelis, holding the top position through qualifying and the heat one. Heat two saw 2013 US Rotax Grand Nationals champion Michael d’Orlando come through for the win. Half the field however would be caught up in a lap two wreck, putting d’Orlando, Parker Chase, Luis Pena and others on the sidelines. That paved the way for championship contender Max Hewitt to take over the lead and drove to his second victory of the season. Former race winner Nicholas Brueckner was second with DeAngelis third. Sunday began similar to the previous day, with one driver out front through the first half of the action. Parker Chase set the pace through qualifying and heat one, before Illinois driver David Malukas stepped up to steal the top spot in heat two. Once out front, Malukas did not relinquish the spot and drove to the victory. Chase ended up second with Brueckner on the podium again, this time in third.
Another Rotax national champion contested the Micro Max division, with Dylan Tavella rejoining the Texas PKC series after earning wins previously this summer. Tavella set the tone through qualifying and the two heat races. In the feature, the field caught up to the pace, especially Maxwell Waithman as he advanced to the lead early in the 12-lap main event and pulled away to earn the victory. New York driver Nicholas d’Orlando was second with Jak Crawford in third, dropping Tavella to fourth in the final order. Tavella moved back to the top of the order on Sunday, earning first place in qualifying and both heat races. Tavella was challenged for the win in the main event, but retired on lap seven with a mechanical issue. This left d’Orlando and Ethan Arndt to battle for the top spot. Arndt took the lead on lap eight, and held on to his first victory of the season. It was another runner-up finish for d’Orlando on the weekend, just 66 thousandths back at the checkered flag, with Saturday winner Waithman to third.
A record total of eight Rotax Masters drivers contested at the same time with the Rotax and TaG Senior drivers. The victories were split between Zachary Rouse and Chris Bogart. Rouse outlasted the field in the rain, with Armando Watson second and Bogart third. Bogart had the speed in the dry on Sunday, as Rouse slipped to second and Watson to third in the final main event order.
TaG Senior was a square off against the top two drivers in the points standings – Michael Bartholomew and Wyatt Maness. The two would trade main event victories on the weekend, with Maness scoring the win on Saturday. He out-ran Laura Sutton with Bartholomew placing third. Sunday was dry weather, with Bartholomew taking his third victory of the season. Richy Yates drove to second with Maness capping off the podium.
Blane Toce Jr. ran uncontested in the Blancken Insurance Group S3 Novice Stock Moto with Sting Ray Robb making his debut in the Champion Racing/Intrepid TaG Junior division, also running unopposed.
The final championship points are being calculated, with a complete recap of all the title chases to be released in the coming week. To find out more about the Texas ProKart Challenge program and to watch for the final point release, be sure to visit www.texasprokartchallenge.com and ‘Like’ them on Facebook.