Superkarts! USA Recognizes 2013 Pro Tour Champions
Eight drivers earn honor of carrying SKUSA #1 plate in 2014 following Pro Tour finale in Las Vegas
The 2013 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour came to a close following the action at this year’s record-breaking SuperNationals XVII. It was a historic year for the fourth season of the Pro Tour, seeing an increase in numbers across the board for both the SpringNationals in Tucson and the SummerNationals in Colorado. Each of the eight categories in this year’s championship chases saw new drivers claim the SKUSA #1 plate for the 2014 season, following a dramatic three weekend series.
Over $45,000 in cash and prizes were handed out following the activities in Las Vegas, with the podium ceremonies held inside the Rio Sunday evening. The headline S1 and TaG Senior divisions split a $12,000 cash purse, while Honda Racing/HPD provided over $6,000 in contingency awards to the Stock Moto drivers. Vortex once again awarded the TaG Cadet champion with an entry to the Rok Cup International Final in Italy, while all 2013 title winners will be included in the 2014 SKUSA Circle of Champions, receiving free entry into the entire SKUSA Pro Tour next season. Nearly all eight of the championships came down to the wire, some even on the final lap of the feature races at the SuperNationals.
That was not more evident than with the opening race of SuperSunday: the headline S1 Pro Stock Moto class, presented by SwedeTech Racing Engines. Two-time Pro Tour champion Fritz Leesmann entered the SuperNationals leading the championship by what was considered to be a comfortable margin. Last year’s runner-up Joey Wimsett, however, had other ideas as the Oregon driver scored the fast time in qualifying then earned top five finishes in the three heat races. Leesmann struggled and went scoreless, closing the gap heading into the main event on SuperSunday. Wimsett went green-to-checkered for the victory, and would earn enough points to surpass Leesmann for the title. 2011 champion Daniel Bray would come just 19 points away from the top spot, ending up second with Leesmann back to third.
The TaG Senior championship – presented by Italian Motors USA/IAME – was a dramatic finish to the 2013 season. Andrew Zimmer and Louie Pagano were the leading title contenders after the opening four rounds of the Pro Tour. Zimmer experienced a difficult SuperNationals, needing his top-three Pro Tour provisional to start on SuperSunday. Pagano, however, made up points in his 110 deficit to Zimmer through the heat races to close up the gap. Zimmer retired with engine failure early in the main event, scoring zero points toward the championship. This left the title up for grabs for Pagano. Advancing his way forward, the So-Cal driver was racing for a podium position until a broken exhaust system would put him on the sidelines into the 23rd position. The result would not be enough to overtake Zimmer, who earned the 2013 SKUSA Pro Tour title. Pagano came 18 points short of the championship, with Jonathan May earning the SKUSA #3 plate for 2014.
Three drivers entered the SKUSA Pro Tour finale with a shot at the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto title, presented by Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center. Ryan Kinnear, Christian Schureman and Garrett Boone were within 13 points of each other when factoring in the drop race after four rounds, putting even more pressure on the drivers going into the SuperNationals. Kinnear and Schureman established themselves as the title contenders through the heat races, with Schureman holding the advantage as both started the main event on SuperSunday inside the top-five. Each fought for the lead before Kinnear put himself in the top spot and looked to be able to pull away. That was until a mechanical issue slowed his pace and eventually put him on the sideline. That opened the door for Schureman, who cruised to a runner-up finish and secured the championship. Boone had a solid performance in the main event, earning fast lap honors en route to an eighth place finish, jumping up to second in the standings as Kinnear fell to third.
It was a solid 2013 season for Jordon Musser, en route to the S4 Master Stock Moto title – presented by Honda Racing/HPD. Musser led by 115 points over veteran Curtis Cooksey and Brian Fisher with the SuperNationals left to decide the final standings. Musser stepped up, placing second, first and first in his heat races to lock up the title going into SuperSunday. Then he capped off the year by earning a runner-up in the main event. Fisher would leap Cooksey for the second position, placing third in the feature while Cooksey recorded a DNF.
It was a dramatic finish to the season in TaG Master, presented by Italcorse America. Scott Falcone was able to earn the championship after dodging a few contenders in the final stages of the Pro Tour. Paul Bonilla entered the SuperNationals as the lead challenger to Falcone, but the championship leader responded under pressure. Earning the top qualifier bonus points, Falcone padded his point lead with a heat win, and two more top-10 finishes going into the main event. The TaG Master feature race saw intense racing, with Falcone falling victim to contact and retiring early in the 28th position. This opened the door for one driver – Brian McHattie – who was third in the standings and was in position to steal the championship with the win. It would not be for McHattie, who ran out of time trying to run down the leaders. Falcone would secure the championship, the first of his career, becoming the fourth different champion in the four years of the Pro Tour. Bonilla would end up second in the chase, with Chuck Gafrarar sliding up to third for a second straight year.
The S5 Junior Stock Moto division continues to grow, welcoming new drivers each year after graduating others up the SKUSA Stock Moto ladder system. This year’s championship – presented by Mothers Polish – saw Jarred Campbell emerge as the newest young star in the category to earn the SKUSA Pro Tour title. After splitting the feature wins at the SpringNationals with Carter Williams, Campbell swept the SummerNationals to propel himself to the top of the standings. In Las Vegas, Jarred drove to top-five finishes in the heat races, en route to a runner-up finish in the main event to lock up the series championship. Williams would finish out the year second in the standings, while last year’s champion Jim McKinney would end up third.
No one could have predicted the outcome in TaG Junior, presented by Russell Karting Specialties. Austin Versteeg was the championship leader with four drivers trailing, all within 131 points of the Utah driver. Throughout the Vegas heat races, Versteeg could only muster points in one, while Washington pilot Davey Manthei Jr. earned enough points in all three to climb up as the provisional leader in the standings. His final race, however, came to an end early with a mechanical issue after starting in the top-10. That moved the lead to SuperNationals top performer Yurik Carvalho. Placing in the top-two throughout his heat races, he was able to run away with the victory in the main event to secure the Pro Tour title, the first Brazilian to do so in the four-year history of the program. Blaine Rocha would move up to the second position, with Versteeg settling for third.
Chase Farley began the season as the driver to beat in the TaG Cadet championship – presented by Rolison Performance Group – and he would hold on to the end to secure his first Pro Tour title. The NorCal driver won both main events at the SpringNationals, including a sweep in round two. Following the action at the SummerNationals, Farley’s point lead was nearly 200 points. The week in Las Vegas was a formality, and while he did not produce the results he had hoped, Farley locked up the championship. Trenton Sparks moved himself into second following his results at the SuperNationals, with Sting Ray Robb ending the year in third.
The top three in each SKUSA Pro Tour category will carry their new National numbers into the 2014 season, set to begin on the May 2-4 weekend, with the location of the SpringNationals to be announced in the very near future. For more information on anything related to Superkarts! USA, including updates on the 2014 SKUSA Pro Tour, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.