EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – Pittsburgh – Saturday Report

Giessen ‘Deadly’ in Leopard Pro as Pesek awarded second win of season in Yamaha Pro

USPKS-Pitt-Sat-Giessen

USPKS logoThe 2014 United States Pro Kart Series entered the second half of the season with the opening round of racing at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, PA. The 151 entries on the day, spread over eight categories, provided some excitement as the day went on. It began with a some what damp track after small showers pass through overnight, but dry enough for slick MG Tires. The threat of rain held off until the final checkered flag was waved, and the eight winners were decided.

Some somber news spread around the paddock as karting legend Kyle Adkins was rushed to the hospital with chest and arm pains. Already suffering a heart attack a few years ago, Adkins was admitted and will remain in the hospital next few days. eKartingNews.com would like pass on our best wishes to Kyle and a speedy recovery.

Franklin Motorsports Leopard Pro
Home track knowledge came into play in qualifying as Checkered Motorsports/PCR driver Robert Bujdoso (PCR) set fast time in the five minute session. A 55.419-second lap on new MG Tires was the best of the 33 driver field. Mike Giessen, jumping aboard a Deadly Kart with Mike Doty Racing, was second in his 2014 USPKS debut. Mark Boos, switching to a Tony Kart this weekend, was third with Florida privateer Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) fourth and Koene USA’s Elliot Finlayson (Tony Kart) – the top driver in Happy Hour on Friday, in the fast five.

Giessen took over the lead on the opening lap of Heat #1, and never looked back. A fight for second formed behind him, allowing the veteran driver to get away early. Bujdoso eventually claimed the second spot, with Stross gaining third, as they both chased Giessen who drove to a comfortable win in the eight lap race. Stross however was penalized for contact, dropping him to fifth to move Finlayson to third and Garret Johnston (Top Kart) to fourth, making his first USPKS start.

Mike Giessen drove to victory in his first 2014 start in Leopard Pro (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Mike Giessen drove to victory in his first 2014 start in Leopard Pro (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Just like the first heat, Giessen jumped out front for the second eight lap battle. Bujdoso slotted into the second spot with Boos behind him. Boos took over the second spot after a few laps, but the man on the charge was Finlayson. Up to second by lap five, he put down the fast laps of the race to close up on Giessen on the final circuit. It was not enough as Giessen held on to score the win and the pole position for the main event. Finlayson made a mistake on the final lap, trying to close up in further on Giessen, allowing Bujdoso to make an attack for second. The two made contact at the far end of the circuit, sending Bujdoso off course. Finlayson continued on to finish second with Boos a close third. Johnston and Stross completed the top-five.

MB and GJ T1 wreck L1 – MG, DS, EF, AJM, RB – L3 EF P2, AJM P3 – L5 RB P4 DS P5 – top five spread out – EF Fast time – EF caught MG L10, shuffling back and forth – L19 P1 Shuffle again, 3-4 closing in – White Flag Giessen leading – AJM P2 T2 –

Finlayson lined up on the outside of row one, with Giessen setting the pace as the Leopard Pro field took the green flag. Behind them, Boos and Johnston were pushed off track at the opening corner, taking Johnston out of the race and dropping Boos to the back of the field. Giessen kept the lead with Stross moving up to second ahead of Finlayson. That was until the third lap when the Koene USA driver moved in to the lead challenger position, and set his sights on Giessen. Posting fast laps of the race, he was able to run down the Deadly Kart driver, and the two began swapping the lead at the halfway point. Giessen measured up the Senior rookie, and planned his attack for the final lap. As they shuffled, South Bend winner AJ Myers hooked up with his Checkered Motorsports/PCR teammate Bujdoso to run down the top two.

By the final lap, they were right there. Giessen made his move just before taking the white flag, moving into the lead. Myers attacked Finlayson for second in turn two, and that was all Giessen needed. The no. 86 kart crossed the line as first, becoming the fourth different winner in the five rounds of the USPKS this season. Myers held on for second with Finlayson crossing in third. Officials however penalized the Tony Kart driver for the contact in the opening corner of the race. The penalty dropped him to finish dead last, behind the karts involved in the wreck. That promoted Bujdoso to the third spot with his brother Andrew Bujdoso (PCR) up to fourth after starting sixth.

Point leader Kyle Kalish (Merlin) rebounded in the heats after qualifying outside the top-10 to end up with a fifth place result, keeping with his consistent finishes on the season. Stross was sixth after 20 laps with Brandon Jarsocrak up to seventh after starting 14th in his Tony Kart debut. Nick Landi (Tony Kart) came from 12th to eighth, with Sam Cate (Tony Kart) up one to ninth and local driver Trent Walko (Kosmic) completing the top-10.

Dakota Pesek was awarded the win in Yamaha Pro following a penalty for on-track action (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Dakota Pesek was awarded the win in Yamaha Pro following a penalty for on-track action (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Pro
Point leader Brandon Jarsocrak (Haase) clocked in the quickest time late in the five minute qualifying session. A 1:01.094-lap was his best on his third circuit, edging out Derek Dignan (FA Kart) by 85 thousandths of a second. Happy Hour fast driver Jacob McWhirter (Tony Kart) was third with Camden Speth (FA Kart) and Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) completing the fast five.

Jarsocrak was able to secure the lead to being the opening heat race until lap two when Pesek and Dignan worked past. The top two broke away with a fight for third including a number of drivers. On lap seven, the front two began fighting for the lead and after the white flag waved, it continued into turn one. On the exit, they made contact with Pesek climbing up over Dignan. The KartSport North America driver suffered the worst, and was injured which brought out a red flag. That sent the order to the last completed lap with the top two involved so they were moved to the back of the finishing order. That gave Darin Marcus (Merlin) – who started eighth – the win over Jarsocrak with Shawn Sharkey (Merlin), McWhirter, and Speth making up the top-five.

The top four, including Pesek, filled out the lead group in Heat #2. Jarsocrak paced the group from the pole position until lap five when the shuffle for the win began. Dignan and McWhirter took a turn but by lap eight, Pesek had secured the spot. The Top Kart USA driver led the way to the checkered flag for the win. McWhirter drove to second with Jarsocrak up to third on the final circuit, moving Dignan back to fourth. Fifth was Sharkey, as four others were trailing behind.

Jarsocrak and McWhirter filled out the front row for the main event, and the 20-lap race came down to the wire. The championship leader set the pace early as he pulled out to a near two-second margin aboard his Mike Doty Racing entry. Behind him, shuffling for the second spot, including contact with McWhirter and Sharkey, helped to increase his lead. Pesek and Tony Jump however hooked up and were into second and third by lap four. Jump (Arrow) started 10th after coming from the tail of the field in both heat races due to losing a chain on his out lap. The two Yamaha veterans stayed glued, and were able to reel in Jarsocrak by the halfway point. Pesek took over the lead on lap 11, as Jump lost the draft, leaving it a duel to the finish. Jarsocrak returned to the point on lap 19, and that set the stage for the final lap. Pesek dove to the inside at turn one as the 20th lap began. Jarsocrak came back at turn two, and they made contact. Pesek went off into the dirt while the point leader continued on with the lead. Jarsocrak crossed the line first, but was penalized one position for the contact. That promoted Pesek to the victory, his second of the season, and dropped Brandon down to the second step of the podium. Jump ran a solid third in a great recovery from qualifying, with Dignan and Nick Landi (FA Kart) completing the top-five.

Francois Brun-WIbaux drove to his first USPKS victory in Parilla Challenge (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Francois Brun-WIbaux drove to his first USPKS victory in Parilla Challenge (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

J3 Competition Parilla Challenge
Cristian Vomir (Kosmic) appeared to have the day in his hands during the Parilla Challenge on-track sessions. Vomir qualified on the pole position, and won both heat races to secure the inside front row spot for the main event. Francois Brun-Wibaux (PCR) started outside of the front row, and was able to take the lead at the drop of the green. The Checkered Motorsports driver found the needed speed to contend, and drove a solid 16 laps to earn his first ever USPKS victory. Vomir ran second, with championship leader Laurentiu Mardan (Praga) recovering from a tough day after missing both heat races to finish third. John DaCosta (iKart) was fourth with John Flucker (Kosmic) in fifth, recording the fast lap of the main event.

Ryan Norberg was able to escape the Leopard Junior field and earn his first series win (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Ryan Norberg was able to escape the Leopard Junior field and earn his first series win (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

GT7 Motorsports Leopard Junior
The South Bend double winner Mike McAndrews (Birel) set the pace in the Saturday qualifying session, edging out the competition in the five minute run. A 56.391-second lap was good enough to edge out Ryan Norberg (PCR) and Brandon Lemke (Merlin), who were both within a tenth of a second to McAndrews. Zach Holden (Top Kart) was fourth with point leader David Malukas (Top Kart) in the fifth slot.

After a little delay for a power outage, the Leopard Junior race got underway with Norberg getting the jump on McAndrews as the green flag waved. Malukas joined them at the front of the field, but lost the draft later in the race. The lead duo battled on the final lap, with contact entering turn three. McAndrews drove over the top of Norberg, leaving the PCR driver stranded on the track. McAndrews continued on to cross the line seventh, but was penalized for the contact. That gave the win to Malukas as he knifed his way through the contact for the win with Nolan Ruocco (PCR) up to second. Matt Solarczyk (Birel), Lemke, and Braden Eves (Tony Kart) completed the top-five.

The second heat race appeared to be a two driver battle through the opening laps. Norberg and Holden pulled away with McAndrews dropping back at the start. Lemke spun at turn two, blocking the track and collected Verhagen, McAndrews and Malukas. This left the top two a big gap from the rest of the field. The fight however lost one member when Holden’s rear bumper detached from his Top Kart and was forced to pull off. This left Norberg alone out front with Solarczyk along in second. Gangi won the fight for third with Ruocco and Julia Boos (Tony Kart) in fourth and fifth.

Solarczyk and Ruocco filled out the front row for the main event and led the field to the green flag. Ruocco was shuffled out at the opening corner from the outside lane, dropping back a number of positions. This allowed Solarczyk and Abby McLaughlin to move by with the Top Kart USA driver moving into the lead before the completion of the opening lap. Solarczyk moved past as they completed lap two, but contact entering turn one to begin lap three sent both drivers off and out of the race. That handed the lead over to Norberg, and the Checkered Motorsports driver took advantage. Consistent lap times gave the Team USA driver a large lead and maintained it throughout the 16 laps for his first USPKS victory. The fight was for second until Gangi secured that position on lap six, pulling away from the battle for third. Malukas and Eves went back and forth, and on the final lap contact was made. It sent Malukas off the track spinning, and he rejoined to finish the race. Eves crossed the line third but was penalized for the contact, dropping him to 11th on the classification. That promoted Boos to the third position over Ruocco and Lemke.

Defending class champion Zach Holden got back to his winning ways in Yamaha Junior (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Defending class champion Zach Holden got back to his winning ways in Yamaha Junior (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Woltjer Engines Yamaha Junior
Fast driver in Happy Hour on Friday Simon Sikes (FA Kart) carried the speed over to Saturday’s qualifying action as he posted the quickest lap once again. The Comet Kart Sales driver was the only one to dip into the 59-second mark. Point leader David Malukas was second with his Top Kart USA teammate Zach Holden in third. Mike McAndrews (Birel) and Canadian Roman DeAngelis (Tony Kart) rounded out the fast five.

Malukas grabbed the lead from the outside of row one, pulling out to a one-second advantage on the opening circuit. Sikes slotted into second with the rest of the field shuffling behind him, including contact with McAndrews and DeAngelis in the far section of the course. Sikes closed the gap by four tenths on the second lap, using Malukas as the rabbit. By the end of lap three, Sikes was on his bumper and took over the lead as they began lap four. The two went back and forth for the lead, all the way to the checkered flag with Sikes securing the lead in the final corners for the win. Holden ended up third with Brandon Lemke (Merlin) up to fourth from eighth while Nick Luedeke (PCR) completed the top-five.

The second heat race was a duel between Sikes and Holden. The two broke away early on and settled the race on the final circuit. Holden was able to edge out Sikes by just four hundredths of a second at the line. Malukas finished third with DeAngelis fourth and McAndrews in fifth as the race was less dramatic as the previous heat, setting the stage for an exciting main event.

Sikes and Holden filled out the front row, making it a Comet Racing Engines 1-2 starting grid. Holden got the jump on the Junior rookie as he and Malukas hooked up to pull away from the field. Their gap however was removed quickly, as four others drafted back up to the top two. They began shuffling for position when DeAngelis got sideways at turn eight, collecting Sikes, McAndrews and Malukas. This gave Holden the lead but Lemke and Luedeke were able to stay with him. They continued fighting for the lead spot into the final lap. Holden fought off a number of attempts, and crossed the line first to edge out Lemke by seven hundredths of a second for the victory. Matt Solarczyk (Birel) reeled in the leaders in the closing laps, working past Luedeke on the final lap for third while Evan Fritts (PCR) completed the top-five.

It was a come from behind type of day for John Paul Southern, earning the win in Mini Rok Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

It was a come from behind type of day for John Paul Southern, earning the win in Mini Rok Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Orlando Kart Center Mini Rok Cadet
The only driver to dip into the 1:01-laptime mark was Florida driver Devin Boutot (Tony Kart). A 1:01.992-lap was the quickest of the five minute session, edging out Alex Verhagen (FA Kart) by just 37 thousandths of a second. Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) was third with Happy Hour fast time driver Lance Fenderson (Benik) fourth. Sam Mayer (Merlin) completed the fast five while championship leader Alex Bertagnoli (Merlin) was back in 15th.

The opening heat race was the John Paul Southern show. The Checkered Motorsports/PCR driver started eighth, but was second by the completion of the second lap. Southern jumped to the lead and was able to get away with the remainder of the top-five starters behind them. Boutot led the group to reel in Southern as the white flag waved. The Florida driver moved into the lead as they entered turn one, but Southern fought back on the back section of the course to take over the lead. Southern held off a late charge by Fenderson at the checkered flag with Tavella third, Verhagen fourth, Mayer fifth and Boutot back to sixth.

Five drivers filled out the lead group, with Boutot and Tavella out front early. Lap four, Southern had worked his way into third, and completed a double pass in turn two, taking over the lead. The five ran nose to tail with Tavella right on Southern’s bumper. On the final lap, Tavella made the move at turn four, moving into the lead and holding on to the checkered flag for the win. Southern finished second with Boutot, Verhagen and Fenderson completing the top-five.

Southern, making a great recovery from qualifying, started the main event from the pole position while Tavella went for the outside of row one. They led the early going of the race and eventually hooked up to pull away from the rest of the drivers. They were set to settle it in a duel, waiting until the 16th and final lap to decide the winner. Tavella tried throughout the final lap, but Southern was too strong and held on for his first win of the season. Tavella finished second, earning a strong points day toward the championship. Verhagen won the fight for third, holding off a charging Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) who recorded the fast lap of the race, with Fenderson in fifth.

Dylan Tavella edged out Sam Mayer in a photo finish for Yamaha Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Dylan Tavella edged out Sam Mayer in a photo finish for Yamaha Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

QPS Employment Group Yamaha Cadet
Sam Mayer (Merlin) was able to take advantage of a good draft pack in front of him to lay down the fast lap in the five minute qualifying session. A 1:04.209-lap was his quickest, clearing the field by two tenths of a second. Devin Boutot (Tony Kart) was second with Jason Welage (Tony Kart), Drew Lindley (Birel) and Steven Dial (Merlin) rounding out the fast five while point leader was back in ninth.

The opening heat race in Yamaha Cadet ended with a wild finish. Polesitter Mayer was able to get away early, but by lap four were run down with Giovanni Bromante (Top Kart) leading the charge. Quickly, it changed to Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) climbing his way into the lead challenger position, pushing he and Mayer away from the battle for third that included Bromante and Boutot. On the final lap, Mayer and Tavella went side by side in the esses, making contact and flying off course. They continued on to finish 16th and 17th, allowing the fight for third to decide the winner. Boutot beat Bromante to the line for the win with John Paul Southern (PCR) coming from 18th on the grid to end up third, with Austin Schaff (Merlin) and Lindley completing the top-five.

Heat #2 was a duplicate of the first heat race, as Mayer got out to a good solid lead early on. Tavella fought his way up to the second position, and ran him down. He stayed locked on Mayer’s bumper until the final lap, reaching the esses and going side-by-side again. Mayer went off course, while Tavella held ground and took over the lead. Tavella held on for the win with Mayer jumping back on course to cross the line in second. Lindley finished third with Schaff fourth and Boutot fifth.

The main event came down to a photo finish with Tavella earning another win, edging out Mayer for the victory. Competition for the top spot began early, including Southern Lindley, Fenderson and Tavella. Mayer and Bromante eventually joined them as Boutot was shuffled back. By lap five, Southern and Tavella had hooked up, and pushed themselves away from the field. Mayer had knifed his way forward and was into the third position. In just a few laps, Mayer ran down the top two by himself, and dove inside both at turn two for the lead. The top spot changed with every lap, setting up for an exciting finish. On the final lap, Mayer was leading until Tavella got alongside going into the familiar esses. Side-by-side, Tavella escaped with the lead, but Mayer set up for a run to the checkered flag. At the line, Tavella scored the win by only five thousandths of a second ahead of Mayer. Southern was right on their bumper in third with Bromante and Lance Fenderson completing the top-five.

Luca Mars was perfect on the day in Yamaha Rookie for his fourth win of the season (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Luca Mars was perfect on the day in Yamaha Rookie for his fourth win of the season (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Switch Racing Engines Yamaha Rookie
The day belong to point leader Luca Mars, as the young driver put in a perfect day. The first half of the day seemed favor the Praga driver, posting the fast lap in qualifying and walking away to the win in the heat races. Tyler Maxson (Tony Kart) had other ideas, picking up the pace in the feature to stalk Mars. The two were the class of the field, and in the late going, Maxson took over the lead. Taking the white flag, Maxson was looking to secure his second victory of the season. Mars however was able to get by, and edge out Maxson by 76 thousandths of a second at the line. Owen Mahle (Top Kart) was third with Donald Whorton II (Tony Kart) fourth and Nico Montileone (Birel) in fifth.

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