EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XVII – Preview Program – TaG Senior

Eye on the prize for over 80 drivers in headline category

SKUSA SuperNationals XVII logo

eKartingNews.com, the official online media partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the SKUSA SuperNationals XVII Preview Program. Over the coming days leading up to the November 20-24 event, EKN will preview each of the 11 categories that will close out the 2013 SKUSA Pro Tour while competing for a share of the prize package, worth well over $100,000.

For complete coverage of the SKUSA SuperNationals XVII, visit the EKN Event Page

TaG Senior

The pinnacle of single-speed karting in North America is the TaG Senior category.  And there is no bigger stage than at the SuperNationals, where over 80 drivers will compete for a starting spot on SuperSunday, and a chance at the most coveted victories in karting today. A mixture of veterans and young aspiring drivers will face off against super stars in the motorsports world, as they collide over the next five days, all looking to add their name to Superkarts! USA history. Over the last 10 years in TaG Senior, it’s been a diverse list of winner – feature four Americans, two Canadians, one Italian, one Brazilian and, most recently, one Columbian.

The TaG Senior championship is for Andrew Zimmer to win or lose (Photo:

The TaG Senior championship is for Andrew Zimmer to win or lose (Photo:

Last year’s event was as dramatic as the first TaG Senior race in 2003 at the SuperNationals. Indy Lights driver Gabby Chaves came through the field to score the victory and the Columbian/American is set to defend his crown this year. Louie Pagano – the eKartingNews.com Driver Rankings number one driver – finished second and is set on more than just victory in Vegas. Kiel Spaulding and Frenchmen Charles Leclerc were third and fourth, but neither are returning, while Canadian Remo Ruscitti will carry the #2 plate he earned in the SKUSA Pro Tour last year.

All three SKUSA plates are up for grabs once again, with new contenders in the mix to claim #1, #2, and #3. Factoring in the drop race, double SpringNats winner Andrew Zimmer (ART GP) enters with a 110-point advantage over Pagano, who has actually recorded the most points over the course of the four rounds contest. Taking away each driver’s worse round point total, Zimmer leads the new Dallas Karting Complex/Sodi Kart USA driver. Each have raced in limited events in 2013, and are still among the top drivers in contention.

Still in the hunt as well is Senior rookie Jonathan May (FA Kart), as the young Californian put in a superb SpringNationals including two top-five finishes. Still mathematically in the hunt is his teammate and Vegas native Matt Johnson (Tony Kart). One victory eludes the shifty veteran, and Johnson is no stranger to the podium at the SuperNationals.

Pagano is hoping for the same results as last year, except in his new Sodi ride (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

Pagano is hoping for the same results as last year, except in his new Sodi ride (Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Podium Predictions: The odds makers in Vegas really have their work cut out for them in this one. With over 80 drivers, selecting the correct five to make it to the front on SuperSunday could make you a lucky gambler. To begin, it’s a look at the numbers and one of the most successful brands at the SuperNationals of the past few years – the Italkart. Last year, we saw nearly all the Italian Motors USA drivers at the front throughout the week, including defending champion Andre Nicastro. The 2010 SuperNats winner scored both wins at the SummerNationals in Colorado, and should he keep his composure and stay toward the front of the field, there may be no stopping him. He and Ruscitti will be tough to keep off the podium this year as well. Pagano has also racked up the frequent flyer miles at the SuperNationals podium, but has just never reached the ‘first class’ section. To do so, while earning his first Pro Tour championship, with his new team, would be a storybook ending to 2013. Zimmer has shown he’s capable of performing well on the big stage, although this time it’s the grandest stage of them all. The Washington driver seems to handle pressure well, and if a championship is what he wants, a podium finish will be what he needs. The silent fifth member of this party may be Florida driver Dalton Sargeant. The 2013 Tony Kart factory driver was fast all season in the KF category, and it should translate nicely into his TaG Senior debut at the SuperNats after finishing fourth in TaG Junior a year ago.

A victory last year for Gabby Chaves puts him right back on the contenders list for this year (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

A victory last year for Gabby Chaves puts him right back on the contenders list for this year (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

Wildcards: If you look at the entry list, you will see a number of drivers who certainly have the ability and equipment to reach the podium, or even the checkered flag first. It could be a battle of the East versus the West with a number of talented pilots coming from across the Mississippi for SuperNats glory. Kyle Kalish (Merlin) is among the young rising talents, coming off a USPKS championship against stout competition. The Franklin Motorsports driver is making his first SuperNats start, so getting over the glitz and glamour of Vegas will be his first hurdle. Eleven of the drivers in the field are under the Top Kart USA tent – including the Johnston brothers, Garrett and Jake. Along with Texan Mason Chelootz, Bill McLaughlin Jr. and many others, it could be a #rollblue toward the front. Florida driver Dustin Stross (Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart) and SummerNats runner-up TJ Koyen (DB Motorsports/Exprit) are also ones to watch for.

From the west, Austin Elliott represents the Top Kart brand, and has been solid in Superkarts! USA competition all year. ART GP driver Chris Cricca is coming off a big win at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix, which should translate nicely around the confines of the temp circuit at the Rio. Teammate Jake Craig is the 2013 California ProKart Challenge champion, and is looking to bounce back after a tough outing at the Rotax Grand Finals last week. A total of six Canadians will be in the field, with Alberta’s Parker Thompson (Energy) making his TaG Senior debut. The former Junior standout is set to tackle the Senior division, following a successful season racing in Europe in the KF Junior category. Former Junior winners looking to earn a second SuperNats win include Joao Vieira (OTK USA/Tony Kart) and Felipe Fraga (CRG-USA).

Karting Cameo: This year’s SuperNationals will be a reunion of sorts as former SKUSA ProMoto Tour rivals and friends are set for a return to their roots. Three-time SuperNationals winner and current Global Rallycross Series driver Scott Speed will race alongside fellow NorCal and NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger. It’s been 12 years since Speed won the SuperPro category at the X-Plex facility just down the road from the Strip, and it has been a whirlwind adventure for the Manteca, California native. Back to race his first SuperNats in over a decade, Speed will pilot an Energy chassis in Vegas. ‘Dinger’ has led a double life – racing in NASCAR and spending a lot of time at the karting track. During his off-time, he’s either at a kart race or getting seat time at the GoPro Motorplex. Working with KartSport North America, he will pilot an FA Kart outside the Rio this week.

Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Engine State Country
00t Mason Chelootz Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard TX USA
01 John McCusker Mike Doty Racing Haase Leopard NY USA
2 Remo Ruscitti Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA Italkart Leopard BC CAN
4 Bruno Vermeeren Russell Karting Specialties Parolin Leopard Flanders BEL
07 Austin Self Kartsport North America Arrow Leopard TX USA
7a Brendan Nelson Kartsport North America Arrow Leopard QLD AUS
8 Brandon Jarsocrak Mike Doty Racing Haase Leopard PA USA
08 Jake Johnston Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard NJ USA
11 Michael Schmid RL Competition CRG Leopard Bavaria DEU
13b Dallas Hollins Phil Giebler Racing FA Kart Leopard CA USA
15x Andrew Wiener ART GP America ART GP Leopard CA USA
15y Austin Dement Phil Giebler Racing FA Kart Leopard NV USA
16e Mason Daughters Phil Giebler Racing FA Kart Leopard MO USA
16s Chris Wehrheim Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard GA USA
17y Matt Johnson Smokin' Fast Motorsports Tony Kart Leopard NV USA
19x Chris Cricca ART GP America ART GP Leopard CA USA
20 Diego Duez CRG-USA CRG Motori 7 Morelos MEX
21 Andrew Bujdoso Checkered Motorsports PCR Leopard OH USA
22 Gordon Wilson CRG-USA CRG Leopard NSW AUS
25o Nick Martin Russell Karting Specialties Parolin Leopard KS USA
26 Jessica Backman Strawberry Racing Tony Kart Leopard BD SWE
26o Richy Yates Intrepid Leopard USA
29s AJ Allmendinger Kartsport North America FA Kart Leopard NC USA
30j Jacob Knueven KartSport North America Arrow Leopard IN USA
31 Zachary Claman-Demelo Praga North America Praga Rotax ON CAN
33d Brandon Southwick Unser Racing SodiKart Leopard CO USA
35 Adam Dowler Apollo Motorsports OTK Leopard AB CAN
40 Marco Maestranzi Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard PA ITA
042a Mason Barbera St. George Kart Centre CRG Rotax QLD AUS
41o Wyatt Maness Champion Racing Intrepid Leopard OK USA
42j Derek Dignan Kartsport North America FA Kart Leopard MI USA
43x John Wallace III Nash Motorsportz Tony Kart Vortex ROK TT CA USA
44x Matt England Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard AZ USA
47y Mike Herda Smokin' Fast Motorsports Tony Kart Leopard NV USA
48a Ben Stewart Kartsport North America Arrow Leopard QLD AUS
51n Jack Weprin FA Kart Leopard NY USA
55a Andres Ceballos ART GP America ART GP Leopard CA COL
60c Jake Craig ART GP America ART GP Leopard CA USA
61a James Allen Kartsport North America FA Kart Leopard VIC AUS
63x Travis Lowe Nash Motorsportz Kosmic Leopard CA USA
68j TJ Koyen DB Motorsports Exprit Leopard WI USA
72y Tazio Ottis Buddy Rice Karting Energy Leopard CA USA
73z Andrew Zimmer ART GP America ART GP Leopard OR USA
56 Billy McLaughlin Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard IN USA
66 Kris Walton Phil Giebler Racing FA Kart Leopard QLD AUS
71 Dustin Stross Ocala Grand Prix (OGP) Tony Kart Leopard FL USA
78y Austin Elliott Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard CA USA
79 Dore Chaponick Jr. AM Leopard FL USA
80 Dalton Sargeant Sargeant Motorsports Tony Kart Leopard FL USA
80r Parker Thompson Buddy Rice Karting Energy Leopard AB CAN
82c Carlee Taylor 2Wild Karting Tony Kart Leopard CA USA
85 Nicholas Rowe Arrow Leopard WA AUS
88a Juan Jimenez ART GP America ART GP Leopard CA COL
88d Jason Dempster Unser Racing SodiKart Leopard CO USA
92a Andre Nicastro Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA Italkart Leopard WA BRA
97r Jamie McAllister Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA Italkart Leopard BC CAN
98 Niklas Kyr Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard PA DEU
99d Scott Falcone Kartsport North America Arrow Rotax CO USA
101 Julien Fong Leading Edge Motorsports Tony Kart Leopard Galway SGP
111 Felipe Fraga CRG-USA CRG Leopard BRA
117 Evan Mehan SodiKart USA / Dallas Karting Complex SodiKart Rotax FL USA
119 Joao Vieira OTK USA / Orlando Kart Center (OKC) Tony Kart Leopard SP BRA
120a Kip Foster Kartsport North America Arrow Vortex ROK TT WA AUS
125 Renato David OTK USA / Orlando Kart Center (OKC) Tony Kart Vortex ROK TT FL BRA
126c Alejo Fernandez Buddy Rice Karting Energy Leopard CA COL
141y Scott Speed Energy Leopard NC USA
142 Jamie Billings Praga Rotax GBR
161f Dan Roeper Orsolon Racing Tony Kart Leopard FL USA
172 Mark Boos Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard NJ USA
191k Maya Gutierrez Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Vortex ROK TT CA USA
197x Jonathan May Smokin' Fast Motorsports FA Kart Leopard CA USA
218z Marco Eakins ART GP America ART GP Leopard OR USA
220 Marco Tulio OTK USA / Orlando Kart Center (OKC) Tony Kart Vortex ROK TT SP BRA
250 Garrett Johnston Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Leopard NJ USA
255y Jess Peterson Leading Edge Motorsports Praga Leopard NV USA
262y Shelby Sander Leading Edge Motorsports Intrepid Leopard CA USA
273j Kyle Kalish Franklin Motorsports Merlin Leopard IL USA
301f Roger Ralston Jr. Kartsport North America FA Kart Rotax FL USA
305z Parker McKean Rolison Performance Group (RPG) Kosmic Vortex ROK TT WA USA
355c Louie Pagano SodiKart USA / Dallas Karting Complex SodiKart Leopard CA USA
374 Chad Campbell GP Rotax ON CAN
582 Mariana Figueroa CRG-USA CRG Motori 7 Morelos MEX
777k Gino Alfonso-Macauley Mike Manning Karting CRG Leopard CA USA

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