EKN Trackside: 2014 Cold Stone US Grand Nationals – Saturday Report
Line-ups set for Championship Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park
For complete coverage of the 2014 Cold Stone US Grand Nationals, visit the EKN Event Page. Be sure to post your comments below in the EKN Global Members Discussion section – Ed.
The second day of competition at the 2014 Cold Stone US Grand Nationals provided the final two rounds of heat races on the 9/10-mile course at the Miller Motorsports Park. The weather was warm again in the Tooele, Utah area, with a much stronger wind to help keep competitors and teams cooler through the two rounds of heat races and the Last Chance Qualifiers in the Mini Max and Junior Max divisions. The heats provided the final opportunity to move up in the standings, with drivers either improving or hampering their position on the Prefinal grid for Championship Sunday.
Ocala Gran Prix Senior Max
The second heat race was very similar to that of Friday’s Heat #1, as Rolison Performance Group driver Luke Selliken scored the win. From the third position on the grid, he was into the lead by the start of lap two, dropping SuperPole winner Thomas Issa (Kosmic) back to second. Selliken used consistent laps in his Kosmic machine to establish a two-second advantage in the 10-lap event, while Issa held on for second. Ocala Gran Prix driver Kyle Kirkwood (Tony Kart) was the quickest driver on the track, advancing up from eighth to third, making it three Senior Max rookies in the top three. Jake Craig (Tony Kart) finished fourth with Mason Marotta (Tony Kart) fifth.
Selliken’s streak came to an end with Issa finally capitalizing on his pole position to win the final heat race. Issa retained the lead after the start and held it for the entire 10 laps. The man on the move was Kirkwood once again, as he laid down the fast laps of the race for the third consecutive time. Lap by lap, he moved up from his eighth starting spot and reached the second position with one lap remaining. Craig placed third with Selliken holding fourth and Marotta in the fifth position.
Dallas Karting Complex DD2/PSL Karting DD2 Masters
Alessandro Bressan (Tony Kart) kept his perfect score going from Friday, earning the second heat race win. Third place starter Jonathan Kotyk (Tony Kart) challenged early, taking the lead on the first circuit only to see Bressan come back on lap two. From there Bressan drove to a two-tenths margin of victory. Nick Neri (Tony Kart) would eventually work past for the second spot over Kotyk, with Rotax Challenge of the Americas champion Gavin Reichelt (CRG) a close fourth. Michael Ilavia (Kosmic) completed the top five. The DD2 Masters race went down to the last lap with the top three going head-to-head. Four-time US Grand National champion Jordon Musser (Birel) was leading the final lap, until Dallas Karting Complex driver Mike Jones (Sodi Kart) dove to the inside at turn 10. On the exit, the two made contact and Musser went off-road. Jones crossed the line first for the win with top qualifier and Heat #1 winner Erik Jackson (Kosmic) second.
Bressan made it look easy once again in the third heat, keeping his perfect score intact heading into Championship Sunday. Bressan led the opening lap until both Kotyk and Neri worked past for position on lap two. Just two circuits later, Bressan was in the lead and drove away to a 3.2-second win. Kotyk kept his Ocala Gran Prix teammate back for second, with Reichelt a closing fourth. Christian Bird (CRG) had his best result of the event so far, coming from eighth to fifth. The Masters trio went back and forth, with all three taking a turn at the point with Jones edging out Jackson once again, this time by 73 thousandths of a second with Musser in third.
Can-Am Karting Challenge Junior Max
Bouncing back from a flat tire in Friday’s heat race, Patricio O’Ward (FA Kart) dominated the A versus D heat race. Starting fourth, he knifed his way into the lead by the halfway point, and began to drive away. The margin of victory was over three seconds, with pole sitter Sting Ray Robb (Tony Kart) getting shuffled back, ending up fifth as Braden Eves (Tony Kart) ended up second, Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) a solid third and Trenton Estep (Tony Kart) fourth.
The action was quick and early at the front of the field in the B versus C heat race, with Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) earning his second win of the event. Top qualifier Luis Jose Forteza III (Kosmic) led the way early until Gangi took over the point on lap two. They, along with Garrison drove away, with Gangi taking the checkered flag first and Garrison moving into second late. David Malukas (Top Kart) ran alone in fourth, but the eyes were on the fight for fifth. Nick Brueckner (Birel) held the position early on and fought off a long train of drivers looking to steal the position. He broke away late, but was run down by the charging Austin Versteeg (Kosmic). The Rolison Performance Group driver started 24th after a lost tire in qualifying, and put himself into fifth on the final circuit, moving Brueckner to sixth.
Forteza logged in his second heat race win of the event, as the top qualifier drove away with the A versus B heat race. Robb held second but continued to fall backwards, as he did in his second heat race. The driver on the move was Ryan Norberg as the Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart driver came from ninth on the grid to fight his way into the second position by lap seven. Forteza held a large enough lead to keep the fast Norberg back by just over a second after 10 laps. Estep ran third with Eves fourth while Walker Hess (Tony Kart) ended up fifth. The results were adjusted with Forteza and Norberg receiving time penalties for excessive contact. That put Estep to the top of the order – Forteza ended up second with Norberg back to sixth.
O’Ward ended the day putting himself among the top contenders heading into championship Sunday as he secured a second heat race win. The C versus D heat was led early on by Gangi with O’Ward back in fourth. The top four broke away from the field, and by lap five, O’Ward was on his way forward. Some heavy racing took place over the next two laps with the Chase Racing pilot moving into the lead and holding on for the win. Gangi crossed the line second with Garrison in third and Brooks fourth. Chase Acklam (Tony Kart) put in his best result in the heat races, ending up a close fifth to the leader.
Gangi’s two heat race wins promoted him to the pole position for Sunday’s action, with Estep to fill out the front row. Brooks and Garrison start from row two and Forteza and Brooks drop to row three.
Full Throttle Karting Masters Max
Top qualifier Scott Falcone (Arrow) led the field to the green flag for the start of the second heat race for Masters Max. The race was stopped at lap two for a red flag, as DJ Ortiz (Tony Kart) rolled over in turn 10 and needed medical attention for a lower back issue. The race restarted with John Crow (Tony Kart) getting the jump, taking over the lead from Falcone. The two drivers shuffled the lead until Falcone crossed the line first. Crow settled for second while Scott Roberts (Tony Kart) and Ken Maxfield (Arrow) kept the pressure on the top two while 2009 US Grand Nationals champion Mike Daniel (FA Kart) was fifth. Falcone was penalized one position however for ignoring the checkered flag, making one extra circuit, and giving the win to Crow.
Falcone locked up his second win of the day, challenged throughout the 10-lap event by Heat #1 winner Maxfield. Starting on the outside, Maxfield was shuffled back at the start but was the quickest kart early on. He put himself into the second spot and reeled in Falcone with ease. The two went back and forth, with Falcone securing the win with a last lap pass into turn one. Maxfield had to settle for second, with Roberts holding third once again. Diego Pelosi (Tony Kart) ran lap times similar to that of the leaders, climbing his way from 16th on the grid to end up fourth, pushing Brooks back to fifth and Crow in sixth.
With the heat race win, Falcone secured the pole position for Sunday with Maxfield on the outside of row one. Roberts and Crow will go from row two with Brooks and Pelosi in row three.
Chase Racing Mini Max
Group A versus D was the opening heat for the Mni Max division with top qualifier Sebastian Alvarez (CRG) scoring the win on the last lap. 2013 Micro Max champion Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) and Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) joined him up front. The trio each took a turn at the point with DeFrancesco showing the way at the white flag. He and Tavella diced for the lead, with Alvarez sitting third and took advantage of them pushing wide at turn 11. He went from third to first, and held it to the checkered flag. DeFrancesco and Tavella crossed the line behind him, with Enzo Fittipaldi (Tony Kart) and Alex Verhagen (Arrow) completing the top-five.
Group B versus C was a wild eight-lap skirmish with the d’Orlando brothers on the front row featuring Michael on the pole position and Nicholas on the outside. The two led the way early until Riley Dickinson (Tony Kart) and David Morales (Benik) broke up the party. They continued shuffling, with Morales also taking a turn at the point, and led at the white flag. It was an exciting final circuit, with three lead changes. Dickinson drafted past Morales at turn one, but came back for the lead at the entry to the bus stop. Kaylen Frederick (Tony Kart) had caught the lead group and worked his way into a challenging position. He struck as they entered turn 10, coming away with the lead and held on to the win. Morales held on for second with Dickinson third, just ahead of Nicholas and Michael.
The third round of heats pitted the top two from qualifying against one another with Alvarez and d’Orlando on the front row, however, it was Tavella who came away with the win. Alvarez set the pace with Tavella working his way up from fourth on the first lap, onto the bumper of Alvarez. He waited until the last lap, moving inside at turn one for the lead. Alvarez sat back and settled for the second spot with Tavella earning the checkered flag. Michael d’Orlando was third with Fittipaldi and Morales completing the top-five.
The C versus D heat race was a two driver battle as Nicholas d’Orlando and DeFrancesco broke away from the field. D’Orlando led the way until lap five with DeFrancesco taking his turn. The race was decided on the final lap with DeFrancesco attempting to defend the lead position, but slid wide at turn 11, allowing d’Orlando a criss-cross move to take over the top spot and score the win. DeFrancesco settled for second while the fight for third behind them was mixed up. Dickinson was third for the entire race, until a last lap issue dropped him back to ninth in the order, moving Coulton to third, Zachary Hollingshead (Tony Kart) fourth and Frederick fifth.
Two heat wins gave the top qualifier Alvarez the pole position for the Prefinal on Saturday, with Nicholas d’Orlando on the outside of the front row. DeFrancesco and Michael d’Orlando start from row two with Morales and Fittipaldi one row back.
Nash Motorspotz/Precision Works Micro Max
Three drivers locked up at the front of the Micro Max field to begin Heat #2 with top qualifier Jak Crawford (Birel) not able get to away from Chase Heffner (Benik) and Diego LaRoque (Kosmic). Crawford led the way until Heffner, who started sixth, put himself into the lead before the halfway point. As they began the final lap, the trio went three wide with Crawford going from third to first, and held off the challenges to score the win. LaRoque was second with Heffner in third. Reece Gold (Tony Kart) won the fight for fourth with Ethan Arndt (Tony Kart) in fifth. Crawford was penalized five seconds for a technical infraction, dropping him to eighth in the order and giving LaRoque the win.
Crawford and LaRoque used the inside line to secure the top two positions early on in the final heat race. Outside pole-sitter Arndt was shuffled back, and eventually fell to the tail of the group after contact with Sebastian Montoya (Birel). Chase Heffner (Benik) led a long train in the fight for third which went down to the wire. Crawford held on for the win by two tenths over LaRoque. Heffner secured the third position with a last lap pass, as Jonathon Portz (Kosmic) was behind in fourth, and Ugo Ugochukwu (Tony Kart) drove to fifth from 12th. Crawford saw his win removed after technical inspection for an exhaust issue, moving LaRoque into the win once again and scoring the pole position for the main event.