EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – Pittsburgh – Sunday Report
Giessen and Jarsocrak lock up $4k in Mike Doty Racing sweep of Pro classes
The Sunday round of racing at the United States Pro Kart Series may possible be the most dramatic in the one and half years of the existence of the series. A major storm was forecasted to hit the Pittsburgh International Race Complex sometime in the late afternoon. The weather eventually came, and shook things up as the shortened event at the Wampum, PA facility closed out the sixth round of the championship series.
Weather was forecasted to hit the track around the 4pm time slot. Rather than run the standard format, official removed the second round of heat races, added two laps to the existing heat, and kept the main event laps as scheduled, gunning for a 4:30pm end to the day. The weather however had other ideas, as the rains came around 3:15pm, with lightning and thunder following. Officials had to wait until the risk of a lightning strike was gone before racing resumed, and the last two main events of the day were completed in wet weather.
The end of the day however ended with rulings from technical inspection that effected the outcome in Parilla Challenge, Leopard Junior and Leopard Pro, that split the paddock in half in regards to what is right, and what is wrong. Looking at it from a rulebook standpoint, the competitors were ‘non-compliant’. The rule in question however was for a non-performance item, leaving competitors wondering why the call was even made and the penalties enforced. In the end, series officials stood their ground, enforcing a rule that is clearly stated in the manual.
After the main event results were finalized, there was no question as to who was the dominant force in the Pro categories on the day with Mike Doty Racing drivers taking home two big wins. Mike Giessen doubled up in the Leopard division, earning another $1,000 check for his efforts and the DRT Racing bonus payment of $1,000 to bring his total on the weekend to $3k, while Yamaha driver Brandon Jarsocrak scored the victory and his third straight $1,000 check for earning the most points on the weekend.
Franklin Motorsports Leopard Pro
Saturday winner Mike Giessen continued to pace the PIRC Alan Wilson Circuit the quickest, earning the pole position after the five-minute qualifying session. The Deadly Kart driver posted a 55.405-second lap to clear the field by two tenths. Garrett Johnston (Top Kart) was the next quickest driver while Checkered Motorsports/PCR USA teammates Robert Bujdoso and AJ Myers were set to go from row two. Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) completed the fast five, but the real story was after qualifying. Point leader Kyle Kalish inflamed a pulled rib muscle, and elected to not race the remainder of the day after qualifying 15th. Thankfully Shawn Sharkey was brought in from the Yamaha category to pilot his Franklin Motorsports/Merlin machine to gain valuable points toward the standings.
Giessen made it look easy, as the veteran led all 10 laps of the heat race for the win. Johnston held onto the second spot through the opening corners of the race, but was pressured by Myers quickly. On lap three, Myers took over the position until he dropped a wheel on the exit of the last turn. That gave Johnston the opportunity to dive inside at turn one, taking back the second position. Myers fought back, and regain the position. Johnston kept the pressure on until lap eight when he spun to avoid wrecking Myers. It dropped him back to the ninth position, as Myers drove to second. Stross finished third with Andrew Bujdoso (PCR) up to fourth from seventh, and Jacob Donald (Arrow) a great drive from 12th to fifth.
With the weather still rolling in, the main event put the Pro drivers on a wet track to close out the event. Giessen led the field to the green flag, with the entire field able to get through the opening corners clean. Like he did in the wet, Giessen was untouchable in the early laps of the race. It seemed with each corner, his lead increased over Myers who held the second spot with a comfortable advantage over the fight for third. GoPro Motorplex double winner Roger Ralston Jr. (FA Kart) was on the charge in the wet, starting seventh and worked his way into the third spot by lap five, dropping the Florida driver Stross back to fourth. Five laps later, Ralston race came to an end as the engine shut off, putting another bad finish to his two races in South Bend.
At lap 12, the lightning had returned to the area, and officials threw the red and checkered flags to complete the race. Giessen scored his second win of the weekend by a margin of six seconds, taking home the $3,000. Myers finished second to help him in the championship standings while Stross drove to third and local driver Trent Walko (Kosmic) finished fourth. Michael Geringer (Praga) crossed the line in fifth, but was removed from tech for the ‘overflow container’. That moved sixth place finisher Sharkey into the fifth position. It was great drive for the New Jersey native, coming from last in the heat race to 17th in his first race laps aboard a TaG kart in two years, and performing well in the main event to salvage points for championship leader Kalish. Mark Boos (Tony Kart) was classified sixth with Elliot Finlayson (Tony Kart) up from 33rd to seventh, Jesus Rios (iKart) eighth, Adam Crepin (Merlin) ninth and Andy Schlosser (Praga) in 10th.
Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Pro
Point leader Brandon Jarsocrak redeemed himself in the qualifying session to sit first after the five-minute action. After seeing his win taken away following an on-track penalty, Jarsocrak took the pole position and the bonus points toward the championship chase with a 1:01.478-lap. Saturday winner Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) was second in the session with Tony Jump keeping his chain on today, ending up third in the order. Collin Griffin (Tony Kart) improved to fourth with Jacob McWhirter (Tony Kart) completing the fast five.
The top three of Jarsocrak, Jump and Pesek hooked up to leave the field in the heat race. The trio exchanged the lead a number of times during the 10-lap event. Jarsocrak secured the top spot before the white flag waved, and kept it to the checkered flag. Jump moved into second on the final circuit, putting Pesek fourth. Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) advanced into the fourth position after starting seventh, while Killian Keaveny (Top Kart) won the great battle that included the remainder of the field for fifth.
It was the same top three in the main event early on, as Jarsocrak, Pesek and Jump looked to add to their win total. The trio slotted in line and were able to get away from the rest of the field with Jarsocrak leading the way. Both Pesek and Jump took a turn at the point before Jarsocrak locked himself to the bumper of Jump. The two were able to pull away, setting up for a duel in the closing laps. On lap 18 however, Jump’s sidepod broke loose from his kart, and a meatball flag pulled the MRP winner onto pit lane. Jarsocrak cruised to the victory, his second on the season. It extended his point lead, and the results on the weekend gave him his third $1,000 check for the most points on the weekend. Pesek ended up second, with Derek Dignan (FA Kart) up from ninth to third, placing ahead of Sharkey and McWhirter – who had the fast lap of the race.
J3 Competition Parilla Challenge
John DaCosta (iKart) shuffled up the order early on Sunday, setting the pace in qualifying. DaCosta led early on but went off course at turn four, ending his race early. Saturday winner Francois Brun-Wibaux (PCR) took over and went on to lead the remaining circuits in the 10-lap heat race over Connor Sideri (GGR). Brun-Wibaux went on to lead all 20 laps of the main event to secure the provisional win. Another competitor questioned the ‘overflow container’ rule on the winner’s kart, and tech officials enforced it, removing Brun-Wibaux from the results. Third place finisher John Flucker (Praga) was also deemed to not meet the necessary saftey standards on his kart, and thus was removed from the results as well. The rulings handed Cristian Vomir (Kosmic) the first place trophy with Sideri second, two-time race winner Laurentiu Mardan (Kosmic) in third and DaCosta fourth.
GT7 Motorsports Leopard Junior
Staying at the front of the field was difficult in yesterday’s Leopard Junior category. Today, David Malukas (Top Kart) took his chance at trying to keep a point lead in the category when he leaves today, starting the heat race from the pole position. His 56.311-second lap was clear of the field by two tenths. Brandon Lemke (Merlin) was second with Mike McAndrews (Birel) third. Braden Eves (Tony Kart) was fourth with Zach Holden (Top Kart) rounding out the fast five, as Saturday winner Ryan Norberg (PCR) was back in seventh.
Malukas and McAndrews used the inside line to jolt away from the field to begin the 10-lap heat race. The two ran nose to tail, pulling away from the fight for third behind them. McAndrews led the duo early, before Malukas took back the lead before the halfway point. As they began the last circuit, McAndrews tried a move at turn one, but Malukas shut the door. It gave him enough gap to cruise to the win with McAndrews settling for second. Lemke won the fight for third over Eves with Norberg up to fifth.
The weather came just as the Leopard Junior category was about to hit the track for their main event. Officials gave the drivers 15 minutes to change over to their rain tires, and the race began with the track now soaked from the short rain shower. Before the race began, Saturday winner Norberg stalled on the front straight, leaving him to watch from the sidelines. When the race went green, McAndrews took advantage of the outside row one starting spot, which is typically the preferred rain line. He darted out to the lead and led until the race was red flagged for lightning in the area. After a near 15 to 30 minute delay, the race resumed with rain drops coming and going. McAndrews kept the lead and established a solid advantage until lap eight when he pulled off the track. That gave Holden, who had climbed from his seventh starting spot into the second spot, the lead. From there, his Top Kart looked like it was on rails and Holden was driving like a rain master.
At the line after 16 laps, he held a five second advantage over Solarczyk, as Verhagen – making his first start in the wet at the Junior level – fell off the pace after running second for the later half of the race. He held on to cross the line in fifth, behind Julia Boos (Tony Kart) and Eves. Following technical inspection, officials removed the entire top-five drivers as they were non compliant with the ‘overflow container’ for the radiator. That promoted Nolan Ruocco (PCR) to the top of the podium with Jarrett Belge (iKart), Emily Hurlbert (Praga), Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) and Dario Cangialosi (Haase) making up the top-five.
Woltjer Engines Yamaha Junior
Canadian Roman DeAngelis (Tony Kart) held the provisional pole in the Yamaha Junior qualifying session. That was until the checkered flag waved and Birel drivers Matt Solarczyk and Mike McAndrews hooked up, improving up to the first and second positions in the order. Solarczyk’s 1:00.041 was best, clearing McAndrews by a good tenth of a second. DeAngelis dropped the third with David Malukas (Top Kart) and Simon Sikes (FA Kart) completing the fast five. Saturday winner Zach Holden (Top Kart) was back in ninth.
The Junior field mixed it up as they took the green flag, with mid-pack spinner sending the karts scrambling. DeAngelis came away with the lead on the opening lap, with Solarczyk and Brandon Lemke (Merlin) up from eighth to third. They locked up early but began shuffling, which brought in a group of three that included Holden, Malukas and Sikes. Holden led the charge forward and was into the lead by lap six, dropping DeAngelis back to third with Malukas following through. On the final circuit, Malukas went in deep at turn two, taking over the top spot and bringing Solarczyk with him. They made it to the finish line in that order, as Malukas took the win over Solarczyk. DeAngelis moved around Holden in the final corners for third with Lemke winning the fight for fifth over Sikes.
The same top five began what would be a great battle for the next 16 laps as Malukas led the lead group early on in the feature race. Shuffling began early with Solarczyk taking over the top spot, only leading a few laps before DeAngelis took the point. Lemke made it his turn a few laps later, with Solarcyzk returning to the point once again before Malukas was back leading the group. It shrunk to four as Holden lost the draft, despite the position changes that happened nearly every lap. Solarczyk and Malukas went back and forth until the final lap as the Top Kart USA driver tried to defend the lead. It worked halfway through the last circuit as DeAngelis took over the second spot and began defending his position. That allowed Malukas enough space to cruise to his third victory of the season, putting him in good position for a run at the championship. DeAngelis held off Solarczyk and Lemke for the runner-up spot, while Nick Luedeke (PCR) powered from 18th on the grid to beat out Holden for the fifth position.
Orlando Kart Center Mini Rok Cadet
The Mini Rok Cadet drivers locked up in a long train for their five-minute qualifying session, with Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) getting a great draft from Saturday winner John Paul Southern Jr. (PCR). A 1:02.039-lap was his best as the checkered flag waved to end the session. Sam Mayer (Merlin) ended up second with Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) third. Pauly Massimino (Top Kart) posted his best qualifying effort of the season to start the heat race from fourth, with Southern in fifth.
It was a great start for both Southern and Alex Verhagen (FA Kart) as they diced through the field in the opening lap to join DeFrancesco at the front of the field. The trio were out away from the field with Southern leading the first lap. DeFrancesco moved up to the point after the fourth lap of the scheduled 10. He put some distance between he and the other two leaders. Southern and Verhagen however closed up the gap and held onto DeFrancesco’s bumper until the last lap. Southern and Verhagen worked by for position, but DeFrancesco retook the top spot in the back section of the track for the win. Southern drove to second with Verhagen third. Tavella dropped back early on but recovered to fourth with Devin Boutot (Tony Kart) up to fifth from seventh.
There was no question that the main event would come down to the final lap, if not the final corner. The young drivers continue to display talent well above their age, providing a great show for the parents and those in the paddock watching. DeFrancesco used the pole position to his advantage while Southern was shuffled back early, starting from outside row one. Tavella slotted into second and took the lead on lap two. He would see it go away as Southern climbed his way quickly to the front and began leading on lap three. He led until lap nine when his carburetor came lose, and he lost power to the engine. That put Tavella out front until Verhagen wanted his turn at the point. DeFrancesco would eventually regain the lead, and it set the stage for the final lap with Tavella and Verhagen right there. DeFrancesco continued to run a defensive line on the final circuit, with the other two fighting for the second spot. Tavella finally grabbed the position and was able to make a late charge for the win. At turn 10, both DeFrancesco and Tavella went wide, allowing Verhagen to slide right to the inside and steal the lead. At the line Verhagen scored his first USPKS Mini Rok Cadet victory by 39 thousandths of a second over DeFrancesco. Tavella settled for third with Jason Welage (Tony Kart) up from eighth to fourth with Mayer in fifth.
QPS Employment Group Yamaha Cadet
Saturday winner Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) set the pace in the qualifying session for Sunday. A 1:04.345-lap was his best, edging out Friday’s Happy Hour quick driver Lance Fenderson (Benik) by seven-hundredths of a second. John Paul Southern Jr. (PCR) was third with Madison Campeau (Praga) and Aidan Harrington (Birel) rounding out the fast five.
Tavella and Fenderson were able to get away from the field early in the 10-lap heat race, as the rest of the field battled for position behind them. Sam Mayer (Merlin), who started sixth, knifed his way forward and was into the third position, running down the top two solo by lap five. Fenderson felt the pressure and made his move on Tavella, taking over the lead in turn two. Tavella waited, as he so often does, to make his move on the final lap. Into turn two, Tavella dove into the lead with Mayer following threw. Tavella held off Mayer at the stripe for the win by 61 thousandths of a second. Fenderson settled for third with Southern and Devin Boutot (Tony Kart) locked up in fourth and fifth.
At the drop of the green to begin the 16-lap main event, Tavella jumped out to a big lead as Fenderson and Southern both worked past Mayer for position on the opening lap. Quickly, the trio ran down Tavella and by lap four, they drafted past for position. The group continued to exchange positions, with Fenderson holding the top spot for much of the laps. Soon however, the group became five as Boutot caught the back edge of the pack, and began moving up the order. Tavella eventually was leading as the leaders took the white flag, as he and Boutot went back and forth, corner after corner for the top spot. Boutot locked up the position on the exit of turn four, and the Florida driver held on to the checkered flag for his first USPKS victory. Fenderson was just 67 thousandths back at the line for the runner-up spot, as Southern and Mayer – who recorded the fast lap of the race – worked around Tavella on in the second half of the final lap.
Switch Racing Engines Yamaha Rookie
Luca Mars (Praga) saw his perfect weekend closed out, with Gunnar Bischoff (Haase) spoiling the party. Bischoff posted the fast lap of the qualifying session Sunday to secure the pole position with a 1:06.735-lap. Caleb Bacon (FA Kart) was second with Donald Whorton II (Tony Kart) also able to better Mars’ fourth place time. Nico Montileone (Birel) completed the fast five.
The heat race came down to a photo finish as Mars was able to work his way up to the lead and score the win by just 47 thousandths of a second over Bischoff with Bacon right there. The top two continued the battle into the main event, deciding the victory on the final circuit. Bischoff went into turn one, defending the inside line. He was unable to carry the same speed on the exit, as Mars crossed over to slide past on the inside to take the lead. Bischoff never gave up, and made one last run to the checkered flag, only to come up 56 thousandths of a second short. Bacon held off Whorton for the third position as Nico Montileone (Birel) drove to fifth.