Number of Repeat Winners Highlight Round Three of California ProKart Challenge
Big numbers take on challenging Adams Motorsports Park facility as series reaches halfway point
S2 rookie Jarred Campbell scored his second victory of the season, earning the overall win in the combined S1/S2 group (Photo: dromophotos.com)
The California ProKart Challenge is garnering record numbers in their first three events of the 2014 season. The Superkarts! USA regional program welcomed its largest event ever at the historic AdamsMotorsportsPark in its third trip to the Riverside, California facility with 133 racers. The filled paddock welcomed the typical beautiful California weather expected on race day, following a rain-soaked Round Two at Willow Springs. A number of drivers put themselves in a strong position for a run at the championship, with the second half of the season looming, earning another victory to their credit while a select few scored their first win of the year.
A myth surrounding the Adams facility is that passing is too tough to accomplish. The combined group of racers in Vemme Kart/Extreme Karting S1 Pro Stock Moto and Phil Giebler Racing S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto disproved that opinion, led by Billy Musgrave and Jarred Campbell, as both fought their way forward on the day to score the respective class victories. Ryon Beachner was quickest out of the gate in S1, laying down a fast lap four tenths quicker than former champs Jimmy McNeil and Musgrave. Jake Craig, making his S2 debut in 2014, started the season off with two podium finishes. The Adams event began with his first pole position of the year, quicker by three tenths over fellow rookie Campbell, with point leader Kolton Griffin third. Campbell came from fourth on the grid to earn the overall win in the opening heat race. Beachner was second overall and the first S1 driver, with Craig and Griffin leading the rest of the pack. Musgrave did all his passing on the opening lap of the second moto, coming from P5 grid position to the lead. He would go on to show the way in all 10 laps for the win over Campbell, with Beachner in third.
The top two from each class showed the way the entire main event, with Musgrave earning the holeshot. Campbell settled in, making his move on the defending S1 champion on lap seven. From there, the young S2 rookie pulled away for the impressive overall victory and second triumph on the season in class. Musgrave crossed the line as the S1 winner, just a few kart lengths ahead of Beachner. Griffin drove to second in class, fourth overall, while Texan Connor Wagner and Craig completed the top-six along with the respective S1/S2 podiums.
Racing has been tight and action-packed so far in the Mike Manning Karting TaG Senior class this year, and the theme continued at Round Three in Adams. When it came down to cash in, the 2012 series champion Matt Johnson scored his first feature win of the 2014 season. Andrick Zeen began the day on top, scoring his second straight pole position, edging out point leader Jake Craig by five hundredths of a second for the pole position. Zeen was perfect in the first heat race as he led all 10 laps and scored the win, duplicating the feat in heat two with another solid performance. Zeen led the first half of the 20-lap main event, but by the midway point, Johnson had worked his way up from fourth to take over the lead. Johnson stayed out front as the veteran scored his first win of the season. Zeen’s near perfect day ended with a respectable second place finish, while Bobby Kelley completed the podium in his 2014 series debut. Nathan Seegrist and Nick Ramirez rounded out the top-five of the 26-driver field.
Trey Brown stretched out his point lead in the Pure Karting TaG Cadet class, thanks to his third straight win on the season. The day looked to belong to Dante Yu. From qualifying through both heat races, Yu was the driver to beat as he led the field through the first three on-track sessions. He would edge out Jagger Jones by six hundredths of a second for the pole position in qualifying, and went on to lead a combined 20 laps toward the win in each of the heat races. Yu continued to show the way in the main event, until two laps remaining. Contact between he and Myles Farhan resulted in Yu unable to continue, while Farhan assumed the lead and drove to the checkered flag first. Officials, however, penalized Farhan for avoidable contact, dropping him down to finish behind Yu in the final classification. That awarded Brown the victory after he crossed the line in second. Anthony Willis was moved up to the runner-up position on podium, while defending champion Ryan Schartau gave a good boost to his championship effort, thanks to a strong third place finish. Jullian Busick scored the victory in TaG Cadet Rookie, leading by three and a half seconds after 16 laps ahead of Jared Korth and Noah Warren.
Christian Brooks was able to come through with the feature victories in the opening two rounds of the Buddy Rice Karting TaG Junior class, but this time found himself edged out by Justice Lepe at the final checkered flag. Phillippe Denes began the day by earning the pole position, two tenths of a second quicker than Lepe. Denes and Lepe battled in the first heat race for the win, with Denes eventually scoring the top spot. Brooks stepped up in heat two, taking over the lead on lap three en route to the win. The main event looked to belong to Brooks as well, leading nearly the entire race. With four laps remaining, Lepe snuck up and stole the top spot away from the two-time race winner. Lepe paced the field for the remaining circuits to score his first main event win of the season. Brooks was a close second, with Michael Avansino completing the podium. Point leader Royal McKee was fourth in the order, as Denes finished the day fifth.
Third time is a charm for North Carolina driver Chuck Gafrarar, making his third straight trip from the east coast to compete in the Leading Edge Motorsports TaG Master category and flying back home this time with his first California ProKart Challenge win. Defending champion and point leader Billy Cleavelin opened the day as the top driver in qualifying, edging out Round Two winner Ethan Wilson by less than a tenth of a second, with Kevin Manning not far behind in third place. Cleavelin led all 10 laps of the first heat race, scoring the win ahead of Manning and Wilson. Manning made his presence known in the second heat race, stealing the lead from Cleavelin at the start and then leading all 10 laps to the win. Both Cleavelin and Gafrarar were found to be too wide in tech and were moved to the tail of the 10-driver field for the start of the main event. Drama unfolded before the green flag waved, as Cleavelin was unable to reach the grid in time for the race. Manning and Wilson kicked off the Final starting on the front row, but the pole sitter slowed after the race began and would pull off course with a mechanical issue. A group of drivers were collected in an opening corner wreck, and all this allowing Gafrarar an easy path back toward the front. By the completion of lap one, ‘Chuck G’ was leading the way. Gafrarar went on to pace the group the entire 20-lap event to his first California PKC victory. Wilson fell to fourth on the opening circuit and fought back to the runner-up spot, with Steve Brackett earning his first podium finish of the season.
Darren Elliott has been solid in his comeback to the driver’s seat after the first three California PKC rounds in the 2 Wild Karting S4 Master Stock Moto class, earning another sweep. Elliott was at the front of the field the entire day at Adams, from qualifying to the final lap of the main event. He was chased throughout the day by Rob Logan and Robert Marks, but contact at the start of the Final took them out of contention, allowing Elliott to pull away to a two-second victory. Former series race winner Mike Mantel and Jason Chott, both making their 2014 debuts, slid through to claim the second and third positions on the podium, with Nick Firestone and Sean Bond rounding out the top-five. Logan did stop Elliott from earning a perfect score, recording the fastest lap of the Final. Luke Bianco jumped back to his winning ways in the Mother’s Polish S4 Magnum Stock Moto division. Jeff Krogstad led the way for much of the day until Bianco turned up the wick to lead all 20 laps of the main event. Krogstad settled for second, with Steve Wiener in third.
Growth in numbers continued for the Nash Motorsportz S3 Novice Stock Moto and the Sunshine Daydream Creations S5 Junior Stock Moto classes at Adams, both reaching the double-digit mark for drivers. Travis Nicklas and Christian Brooks came away with the victories in their respective categories, but not without a fight.
Nicklas found himself chasing the fast time in S3 qualifying, set by Round Two winner Steve Wetterau, and came up four-tenths short. Wetterau was slow off the line to begin heat one, allowing Nicklas the opportunity to take the lead and the win. Nicklas was the first to cross the finish line in heat two, but a one-position penalty for a jump start dropped him to second, awarding the win to Wetterau. As the main event began, Wetterau’s kart failed on the warm-up lap, thus ending his chances for a second feature win of the season. This allowed Nicklas to cruise toward his second victory. Cris Araujo finished a third-straight runner-up finish to keep herself in the championship chase, with Mark Juncosa in third.
Brooks set the pace in S5 qualifying, although Anthony Sawyer and Nicky Hays were close to knocking the former winner off the quick time. Flag to flag, Brooks won the first heat as Hays kept him locked in his sights the entire distance. Nicky struck at the drop of the green in heat two, grabbing the holeshot to lead all 10 laps, as Brooks settled for second. The point leader returned the favor in the main event, taking the lead from outside of row one and setting the pace the entire 20 laps. Hays remained close but was unable to advance from the runner-up position, earning his first podium of the season. Round Two winner Garrett Dixon advanced up to third for his third straight trip to the prestigious California PKC steps of 2014.
The podium ceremony was doubled up, as the awards from the Willow Springs event were handed out prior to recognizing the top-three from Round Three action. Superkarts! USA’s Tom Kutscher doubled up on the raffle prizes as well, shelling out three FREE entries to the next California PKC event, two FREE cans of MS98 fuel, four FREE sets of MG Tires, and 2 FREE entries to the SKUSA SpringNationals – handed to Gino Alfonso-Macauley and Lloyd Mack.
The California ProKart Challenge will go on a ‘Spring Break’ for the next two months, allowing competitors time to prepare and compete at the opening round of the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour – the 2014 SpringNationals to be held at the Dallas Karting Complex on May 2-4. The series returns to action on June 6-7 with a revisit to northern California and the popular SimracewayPerformanceKartingCenter in Sonoma.
For more info on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.