EKN Trackside: 2014 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals – Preview – Part 3
Pro categories stacked once again as Lennox and Craig look to extend winning streaks
This week marks a number of firsts for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour. The inaugural Save Mart Supermarkets Modesto Grand Prix is set to host this year’s SKUSA SummerNationals over the August 1-3 weekend. A record 242 pre-registered drivers surpasses the record total of entries at the SpringNationals in May, making this year’s SummerNats the largest Pro Tour event in the five year history of the series. This weekend also marks the first street race outside the SuperNationals to be included as part of the Pro Tour. The City of Modesto has billed the event as the ‘Long Beach’ or ‘Monaco’ of karting, and the numbers going into the event are certainly measuring up.
eKartingNews.com will once again be on site – from Friday to Sunday of the race weekend – providing the ‘EKN Trackside Live’ broadcast. Live play-by-play action, live timing and all the information you need from California for the SummerNationals. Follow updates at the Official Discussion Thread, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
EKN, the official media partner of Superkarts! USA, is set to provide a three-day preview program leading up to the SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals highlighting each of the eight classes. On Monday, the preview series began with a look at TaG Junior, S5 and TaG Cadet. Yesterday, We reviewed the big fields in S2 and S4 along with the TaG Master division. Today is the Pro categories of S1 and TaG Senior.
S1 Pro Stock Moto
The SpringNationals welcomed the largest S1 field in Pro Tour history with 26 drivers. That total will be surpassed at the SummerNationals with at least 28 taking to the streets of Modesto to match the largest ever Pro Tour event aside from the SuperNationals. They all may be chasing the same driver they were in Dallas with Great Britain driver Jordon Lennox returning back to Superkarts! USA. The factory CRG driver, racing under the PSL Karting banner, swept the main events at the SpringNats in May during his S1 debut. The only blemish on Lennox weekend was his starts, as he was unable to adjust to the launch aboard a Stock Moto package compared to the KZ he races in Europe.
The highlights for the Americas were Ocala Gran Prix drivers Nick Neri and Oliver Askew. Both drove their Tony Kart packages to the podium, with Neri placing second and third while Askew place third on Saturday. Neri is riding off the momentum of his fourth US Rotax Grand Nationals title, this time in DD2, while Askew is nursing a pulled back muscle, which sidelined him at the Miller Motorsports Park event just two weeks ago. The current eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings #1 driver is ready to test his back, and the slick conditions on a green track could help him work his way back into the groove.
Along with Lennox, five-time world karting champion Davide Fore will return to the States for his second start in the S1 category. The factory CRG driver placed fourth in both main events, but came away with one of the four heat race wins aboard his CRG-USA package as the elder karting icon still has what it takes to compete at the top level in the sport. The last of the championship contenders competing in Modesto is two-time Pro Tour champion Fritz Leesmann. Returning with Aluminos for 2014, he was just off the lead group throughout the weekend in Dallas. The Northern California driver will be racing in front of family and friends, so the spotlight will be on the local hero.
Aside from Leesmann, six others from the area are taking part in the headline Stock Moto division. Among them is returning veteran Ron White (CRG). A former Pro Tour champion and SuperNationals winner was a top-10 runner at the SpringNationals, and just recently won his first S1 race at the California ProKart Challenge event in Sonoma. A number of drivers with high promise going into Dallas performed less than desired. Defending Pro Tour champion Joey Wimsett is among that list. A string of bad luck kept him off pace throughout the opening weekend. The CRG-USA driver is looking for better luck, making his first street race start in a Stock Moto ride. Jake French loves racing on the streets, from Rock Island to Lockhart at the Lone Star Grand Prix. The Texan is typically among the quickest drivers in the field. The Champion Racing/Intrepid is looking for a rebound weekend after what was a dismal SpringNationals.
Three drivers competing in the S1 category are currently over the age of 40. Fore is the younger of the trio, while returning S1 driver Jimmy McNeil (CRG-USA) is set to hit the streets of Modesto. McNeil has shown well at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix the last two years, and is sure to be fast right out of the gate. The third is three-time SuperNationals winner Bonnier Moulton. The MSquared Karting/Tony Kart driver is also making his 2014 Pro Tour start, returning to the S1 division. Moulton is a fan of street racing, having won twice at the Rock Island Grand Prix during the G1 days. He along with 2013 SummerNationals podium finisher Mike Beeny and former EKN Stock Moto Driver Rankings #1 driver Tyler Bennett make up the Utah trio in their first 2014 start.
New faces in the field this weekend include Danny Formal. Recently ending his European campaign short, the Florida driver signed with DRT Racing to pilot a DR Kart in the S1 category. Canadian Phillip Orcic (PSL Karting/CRG) is another driver who has European experience, and is making his first S1 start of 2014.
S1 Provisional Entry List
|1||Joey Wimsett||CRG-USA||CRG||Beavercreek OR||USA|
|9f||Oliver Askew||Ocala Gran Prix||Tony Kart||Ocala FL||USA|
|11u||Bonnier Moulton||MSquared Karting||Tony Kart||Sandy UT||USA|
|11y||Nic LeDuc||Nic LeDuc Throttlesports||CRG||Novato CA||USA|
|14t||Ryan Kinnear||Champion Racing||Intrepid||Richmond TX||GBR|
|15b||Alec Gumpfer||CRG-USA||CRG||Kula HI||USA|
|15t||Connor Wagner||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Flower Mound TX||USA|
|16t||Jake French||Champion Racing||Intrepid||Sachse TX||USA|
|17d||Christian Schureman||PSL Karting / Woodsource||CRG||Golden CO||USA|
|17f||Nick Neri||Ocala Gran Prix||Tony Kart||Ocala FL||USA|
|18r||Phillip Orcic||PSL Karting / Woodsource||CRG||Richmond BC||CAN|
|25u||Mike Beeny||MSquared Karting||Tony Kart||Draper UT||USA|
|37f||Danny Formal||DRT Racing||DR||Orlando FL||CRI|
|43a||Milan Dontje||PSL Karting||CRG||Schoorl Noord||NED|
|44j||Josh Lane||DRT Racing||DR||Algonquin IL||USA|
|51y||Daniel Langon||Muscle Milk / Pickett Karting||GP||Alamo CA||USA|
|56r||Matthew Di Leo||Praga North America||Praga||Hollywood FL||CAN|
|59a||Jordon Lennox||PSL Karting||CRG||Trois Rivieres QC||GBR|
|71y||Ron White||Ron White Racing||CRG||San Jose CA||USA|
|100t||Garrett Boone||3G Kart Racing / Team Burger King||Birel||Houston TX||USA|
|101x||Jimmy McNeil||CRG-USA||CRG||Visalia CA||USA|
|124u||Tyler Bennett||MSquared Karting||Tony Kart||Farmington UT||USA|
|155y||Cody Hodgson||Double Nickel Enterprises||Tony Kart||Escalon CA||USA|
|248y||Cody Diede||PSL CRG / Diede Racing||CRG||Lodi CA||USA|
|317d||Sabre' Cook||CRG-USA||CRG||Grand Junction CO||USA|
|322c||Billy Musgrave||Musgrave Racing Company||Tony Kart||Norco CA||USA|
|441y||Troy Diede||PSL CRG / Diede Racing||CRG||Lodi CA||USA|
The numbers are slightly down in the second headline category of the Pro Tour with a number of competitors from the eastern half of the United States missing this weekend. A strong group of 30 drivers however will take to the streets of Modesto, looking to become one of the possible two inaugural winners of the event. If Jake Craig has the same weekend he did at the SpringNationals, there will be only one winner. The 2Wild Karting/Tony Kart driver swept the main events in Dallas, earning his first two Pro Tour victories and assumed the lead in the championship chase. The southern California driver is riding high on momentum, winning the US Rotax Grand Nationals championship two weeks ago, and will most likely take over the #1 spot in the eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings from Oliver Askew.
The championship lead however is just 35 points as Louie Pagano is lurking. The runner-up in last year’s point standings, the 19-year old is among the veterans in the category still looking for that elusive victory and championship as a Senior driver. Since moving over to the Dallas Karting Complex/Sodi Kart USA stable last year, he has shown non-OTK karts can be competitive at the top level. Also landing on the podium both days just as Craig and Pagano did, Travis Lowe sits third in the championship chase. The Nash Motorsportz/Kosmic driver was like a silent assassin, moving his way up the order and into the runner-up spot on Saturday and third on Sunday. Lowe has been fast in the streets before, and is a regular contender at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix.
Another stellar performance came from another southern California driver – Andrick Zeen. Aboard a Margay, Zeen powered his way up the order on Saturday to finish fourth and returned the next day with another come from behind drive into the top-10. The former Sodi Kart factory driver is now working with the growing Praga North America operation. Zeen competed in the midwest with the operation and recently grabbed his first win on the chassis at last weekend’s Los Angeles Karting Championship event. A couple trips to the podium will put him into the championship chase.
Drivers to watch include the trio under the Rolison Performance Group stable. Austin Elliott made his debut aboard the Kosmic chassis at the SpringNationals, with unfavorable results. This weekend, he will be joined by Senior rookies Blaine Rocha and Luke Selliken, making their 2014 Pro Tour debut. Rocha – who resides near the Modesto area – was the top finisher at the US Rotax Grand Nationals event two weeks ago, placing fifth while battling an illness. Selliken was also among the top contenders, winning two of the three heat races. Privateer Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) was fast in his street race debut at the 2013 Rock Island Grand Prix, which will serve as a great warm-up to this weekend in Modesto.’
Another driver with street racing experience is Top Kart USA’s Bill McLaughlin. Street racing IS karting in Indiana, as he will make his Pro Tour debut in Modesto. Recent Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge winner Remo Ruscitti is returning home to the Italian Motors USA/Italkart stable this weekend. The former Pro Tour vice-champion is back behind the wheel of a kart this weekend, joining last year’s Pro Tour TaG Junior champion Yurik Carvalho – who was impressive in his Senior debut at the SpringNationals. 2013 TaG Senior champion Andrew Zimmer will also be back behind the wheel of a TaG kart this weekend after competing in S1 at the Dallas Karting Complex. He will carry the SKUSA #1 plate aboard his Black Flag Racing Products/ART GP entry.
TaG Senior Provisional Entry List
|0y||Nick Grossi||Snow Racing||Energy||Leopard||Modesto CA||USA|
|1||Andrew Zimmer||Black Flag Racing Products||ART GP||Leopard||Tigard OR||USA|
|2||Louie Pagano||Dallas Karting Complex / SodiKart USA||SodiKart||Leopard||Camarillo CA||USA|
|19x||Chris Cricca||ART GP America||ART GP||Leopard||Simi Valley CA||USA|
|21t||Michael Bartholomew||Champion Racing||Intrepid||Leopard||Fort Worth TX||USA|
|23y||Tad Funakoshi||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||X30||Galt CA||USA|
|25o||Nick Martin||Russell Karting Specialties||Parolin||Leopard||Overland Park KS||USA|
|39x||Junrong Chen||Tony Kart||X30||Chino CA||CHN|
|40b||Tyler Coffman||Ryan Perry Motorsports||Tony Kart||Leopard||Bakersfield CA||USA|
|44x||Matt England||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||Phoenix AZ||USA|
|46z||Luke Selliken||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||X30||Portland OR||USA|
|52y||David Vasquez||Tony Kart USA||Tony Kart||Leopard||Madera CA||USA|
|56j||Bill McLaughlin||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||Mooresville IN||USA|
|56x||Andrick Zeen||Praga North America||Praga||Leopard||Huntington Beach CA||USA|
|60c||Jake Craig||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||Leopard||Mission Viejo CA||USA|
|63x||Travis Lowe||Nash Motorsportz||Kosmic||Leopard||Pasadena CA||USA|
|67r||Kale Kunicki||Team VemmeKart / Extreme Karting||Vemme||Leopard||Surrey BC||CAN|
|71f||Dustin Stross||Tony Kart||Leopard||North Fort Myers FL||USA|
|78y||Austin Elliott||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Leopard||Shingle Springs CA||USA|
|83c||Nick Ramirez||Empire Karts||Top Kart||Leopard||Riverside CA||USA|
|90r||Jordan Redlin||PSL West||CRG||Leopard||Aldergrove BC||CAN|
|96r||Remo Ruscitti||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||Leopard||Burnaby BC||CAN|
|156y||Dylan Albiani||Tony Kart||Leopard||Modesto CA||USA|
|195a||Yurik Carvalho||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||Leopard||Sumas WA||BRA|
|255y||Jess Peterson||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||Leopard||Sparks NV||USA|
|262y||Shelby Sander||Italcorse America||Italcorse||Leopard||Cameron Park CA||USA|
|316c||Brenden Baker||Nash Motorsportz||ART GP||Leopard||Palmdale CA||USA|
|388c||Jin Bai||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||X30||Irvine CA||CHN|
|421y||Blaine Rocha||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||X30||Oakdale CA||USA|
|777k||Gino Alfonso-Macauley||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Leopard||Northridge CA||USA|