EKN Trackside: 2014 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals – Saturday Report
Lennox and Zeen bag victories after grueling long day at Modesto Grand Prix
The inaugural race day of the Save Mart Supermarkets Modesto Grand Prix can be characterized as long. The racing on-track for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals was amazing, as the northern California city was turned into a Long Beach Grand Prix-type atmosphere, with hundreds of spectators all along the fences around the 8/10-mile course. The eight categories of the Pro Tour ran a typical race scheduled, that saw multiple delays due stranded kart pick-up issues throughout the day. The delays made the race day go from 11am to 3am, going past the originally schedule 11pm ending time. On-track however, the racers provided some great excitement to the end.
SwedeTech Racing Engines S1 Pro Stock Moto
The 10-minute qualifying session for the S1 category was a wild one, with the drivers all trying to find space out on the course. Once they did, the top spot in the order was a juggling act, as a number of drivers held the provisional pole position. When the checkered flag waved, just five hundredths of a second separated the top-five. Oliver Askew was the quickest, posting a 48.278-second lap. NorCal veteran Ron White (CRG) was second as Fast Friday top driver Jake French (Intrepid) in third. Canadian Phillip Orcic (CRG) was fourth with Nick Neri (Tony Kart) completing the fast five.
Askew looked to have the heat race in his hand’s but a late charge by Neri secured the win. The field was clean off the line to begin the eight-lap battle, with Askew out to a big lead over Neri and White. As the laps clicked off, Orcic was among the quickest drivers, with he and Neri hooking up to run down the leader. With the top-five together, both Neri and Orcic were able to slip around Askew on the final circuit. French drove to fourth with Davide Fore (CRG) up to fifth, dropping White to sixth.
The second heat race, Askew stepped up and showed he has the speed to contend for the victory on the night. With the holeshot, Askew led all eight laps to the win and the pole position for the main event. His OGP teammate was lined up right behind him in second, but finished 1.3 seconds back. Orcic was hot on his bumper, with the top three away from the rest of the group. The driver on the move was championship leader Jordon Lennox (CRG), starting outside the top-five. Growing accustom to the temporary circuit, the CRG factory driver pushed his PSL Karting entry to the fourth spot, dropping French to fifth and Fore to sixth.
Just two laps into the main event, a terrible incident involving Sabré Cook (CRG) and Garrett Boone (Birel) racing just inside the top-20. Boone was sent to the hospital for a broken rib, bruised lung and a laceration on his forehead, and scheduled to be released after a two day observation period. The race restarted with a single file line-up with Lennox going from fourth to first within the first few corners. Askew was dropped to seventh with Orcic, Neri, Fore and French through. The fight for second continued, and allowed Lennox to cruise to his third straight Pro Tour victory. Orcic won the battle with Neri completing the podium. Askew fought back to fourth with the fast lap of the race, pushing Fore to fifth and French to sixth.
Pure Karting TaG Senior
Momentum is key to racing, and currently it is all behind Jake Craig. The double winner at the SpringNationals, the 2Wild Karting/Tony Kart driver posted the fast lap of the 10-minute session to open up Round Three on the pole position. Praga North America driver Andrick Zeen was second, just six hundredths off Craig’s time. Senior rookie Brenden Baker (Tony Kart) was fourth while 2013 Pro Tour vice-champion Remo Ruscitti rounding out the fast five aboard his Italian Motors USA Italkart.
The TaG Senior field was too fast and out of shape for the first attempt at a start, and thus they lost one lap of racing. Once the green waved, it was a hard wreck in turn one beginning roughly in the mid-pack area. Out front, Zeen was away with the lead as Craig dropped back to second. Ruscitti was up to third and Pagano with a strong hold on fourth. They ran that way the entire distance, as Zeen scored the win. Florida driver Dustin Stross (FA Kart) was at the front of the pack in the fifth place battle, and he was shuffled back by the finish of the race, with defending Pro Tour champion Andrew Zimmer (ART GP) up to the position. Zimmer was removed from the results for a missing exhaust sensor, moving Yurik Carvalho (Italkart) into fifth.
Zeen drove away to the second heat race win after an early battle. Ruscitti led the opening laps with Zeen on his bumper. As lap three began, Ruscitti blocked to the inside but Zeen fought his way to the apex, and took the lead. From there, he pulled away to a sizable win. Ruscitti held off Craig for second, but officials penalized Ruscitti for blocking. Local driver Blaine Rocha (Kosmic) was able to climb up to fourth after starting ninth, with Carvalho – the 2013 Pro Tour TaG Junior champion – in fifth.
The main event was stopped after an opening lap red flag. Once restarted, Ruscitti was out into the lead with his Italian Motors teammate Carvalho behind him. The young driver took a turn at the point, as Ruscitti was shuffled back. This allowed Zeen to move into the lead challenger role, and put the pressure on the young rookie. Lap 11, Zeen was able to move into the lead, and pull away. Zeen scored his first Pro Tour victory in his first start with the Praga North America operation. The fight for second was won by a charging Brenden Baker (Tony Kart). The two rookies battled with Baker securing the spot as they took the white flag. Carvalho was third but was shuffled back on the final circuit, with Craig moving into the third spot of the podium. Rocha ended up fourth with Ruscitti back to fifth.
DRT Racing S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto
Round Two winner Kyle Kirkwood continued where he left off from Dallas, opening up the weekend in Modesto as the driver to beat. The Ocala Gran Prix driver was quickest in the 10-minute session, piloting his Tony Kart to a 48.388-lap. Championship leader Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) made a late charge, but came up two hundredths of a second short. Austin Garrison (Tony Kar) was third with GP driver Loris Ronzano slotting into fourth. Morgan Healey made it three Ocala Gran Prix drivers inside the fast five, including Garrison with Jonathan Kotyk making it four in the top-six.
Morgan Healey became the first female winner at the Modesto Grand Prix, as she crossed the line first in the opening heat race. Kirkwood left the grid as the polesitter, but did not make it back around to complete the opening lap making contact with the barrier in turn two. Griffin was the leader, showing the way over Garrison with Healey trailing. Garrison went to the lead on lap three, but Griffin fought back at lap six. The following lap, contact was made and the top two dropped down the order. This gave the lead and the win to Healey, who recorded the fast lap of the race. Kotyk was second with Ronzano in third. Ryan Rudolph (CRG) moved up to fourth in his Billet Performance entry, with Alan Michel (Tony Kart) in fifth.
It was an OGP 1-2-3 finish in heat two, this time with Kotyk taking the win. Healey grabbed the holeshot with Rudolph up into second on the opening lap. Kotyk was the early mover, into second on lap three, and then around his teammate for the lead. Garrison was the mover in the second half of the race, working his way into the top-five, and then was able to run down Healey for the second spot. Rudolph settled in fourth once again while Miguel Lopez (GP) finished inside the top-five for the first time on the day.
Garrison grabbed the holeshot to begin the reduced 14-lap main event. He along with Kotyk powered away early, and drove away to a 1-2 finish. Garrison was quicker and quicker as the race went on, while Kotyk kept him within his sites. On the final lap, Garrison posted his fast lap of the race to secure the victory. Kirkwood was on the charge, getting a monster start and into the top-five by lap seven. He was into the third spot by lap 11 and gave OGP a sweep of the podium. Rudolph held fourth throughout the race, with Ronzano into fifth. Griffin moved up to sixth in the race, with Healey placing seventh. On lap three, a major wreck nearly blocked the track heading to the start/finish line. About seven karts were collected but thankfully everyone walked away.
3G Karting Racing S4 Master Stock Moto
Italian driver Gian Cavacuiti (GP) set the pace in the qualifying session for S4. Making his second start in the S4 category, a contender at the SpringNationals, posted a 49.229-second lap to clear the over 40 driver field by nearly two tenths of a second. Fast driver in the final practice Friday was Trevor McAlister (Praga), who fell one spot to second in the qualifying order with Round One winner Matt Hamilton (Aluminos) in third. His Aluminos teammate Fernando Diaz was fourth with last year’s Pro Tour vice-champion Brian Fisher (DR Kart) completing the fast five. Championship leader Jordon Musser (Birel) was 10th in the order.
The S4 drivers were the first to go wheel-to-wheel at the inaugural Modesto Grand Prix. McAlister grabbed the holeshot and led the top-five, who pulled away from the field. Cavacuiti was able to work back to the lead after lap one, and held it for much of the race. On lap seven, McAlister was back into the lead, as it appeared the GP driver had an issue with his kart. McAlister took the first ever on-track win at the event, with Cavacuiti holding on to the flag for second. Diaz was third with Round Two winner Darren Elliott (CRG) up to fourth and Richard Heistand (Tony Kart) into fifth. Behind them, Musser came back from a wreck in qualifying, and fought his way into the sixth spot. Hamilton had a spun front gear and was out early, putting him at the back of the field for Heat #2.
Cavaciuti drove away with the second heat race. Following opening ceremonies, Heat #2 got underway and the GP driver led all eight laps. He stretched out to a three second advantage, leaving three drivers to fight for second. McAlister was able to hold off a charging Elliott with Diaz dropping back to fourth after holding third early on. Rob Logan (CRG) was fifth as Musser was right there in sixth.
The Italian Cavaciuti made it look like an easy driver through the streets of Modesto, scoring the victory by leading all 16 laps. With the holeshot, Gian was challenged by McAlister early on, but the Leading Edge Motorsports pilot was hounded by his former rival Elliott. Lap five, McAlister made contact with a barrier and drove straight off in turn eight, with Elliott dropping back to third behind Musser. That helped to Gian extend his lead, and with fast laps of the race the advantage grew more. Elliott put the pressure on Musser, and finally was able to work around on lap 14. At the checkered, Cavaciuti took his first Pro Tour victory with Elliott runner-up and Musser a solid third after wrecking the kart in qualifying. Logan drove solo in fourth with Heistand winning the fight for fifth. Round One winner Hamilton came from deep in the field to finish a solid 11th, unable to reel in the top-10 in the closing laps.
Italcorse America TaG Master
Speed…hot nasty speed. That kicked off the event in the TaG Master category with two long-time friends earning front row starts for the opening heat race. Fast Friday top driver Ethan Wilson (FA Kart) was the provisional polesitter early on, until John Lewis (Tony Kart) got a great draft and moved to the top spot of the session. Wilson clicked off a couple faster laps, but only closed to within six hundredths of a second. Larry Fraser (Aluminos) made it three NorCal competitors in the top three, as Ron Hyde (Italkart) was fourth and championship leader Billy Cleavelin (CRG) in fifth.
Lewis and Wilson led the field to the green flag, and they all got through the opening corner. Fraser locked up with the leaders, as they formed a three driver breakaway. On lap three, Lewis dropped back to fifth and then eventually out of the race with a broken fuel line. That gave Wilson the lead, and the win after pacing the field in the remaining laps of the eight lap event. Kevin Manning (MMK) advanced his way into second, moving past Frazer on lap seven. Cleavelin put the pressure on for third, but Fraser held on for the spot. Hyde completed the top-five.
Wilson just drove away with the race win in Heat #2. It was over three seconds after the seven lap event for the Phil Giebler Racing driver to secure the pole position for the main event. Manning was second but dropped to fourth after both Cleavelin and Fraser worked by with Hyde alone in fifth.
It looked as if Wilson lost the race at the start, but his grit and determination brought him back to the point and the victory. Cleavelin escaped the opening lap of the 16-lap event, but Fraser did not as he had an issue with the exhaust. Wilson dropped back to the fifth spot after the first circuit. The lead exchanged a number of times with Manning there as well. That allowed Wilson to move into third and the top three broke away. Wilson moved to second by lap 10, and then into the lead the following circuit. From there, he held off a couple of attempts by Cleavelin to score the victory. Manning drove to third, with the battle for fourth going down to the wire. Jim Russell Jr. (Parolin) made a run at Vatche Tatikian (FA Kart) but gave the spot back after contact. That allowed a charging Anthony Honeywell (MMK) to move up to fifth with Tatikian in fourth. Russell ended up sixth with Lewis up to seventh.
Rolison Performance Group S5 Junior Stock Moto
Point leader Trenton Estep moved over to the Dallas Karting Complex/Sodi Kart USA operation just weeks from before the SummerNationals. So far, there has been no hiccups with the transition as he ended Friday practice as the fast driver, and opened up Round Three of the Pro Tour with 10 points for fast time in qualifying. A 49.889-second lap was his best in the 10-minute session. Austin Versteeg (Kosmic) held the second spot for much of the session, until Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) moved up to the position late in the going. Mathias Ramirez (Tony Kart) is fourth with Jacob Loomis (Intrepid) in fifth.
A duel for the win in Heat #1 ended up with just one driver surviving the eight lap battle. Estep grabbed the holeshot and Versteeg followed him through, leaving Brooks to fend off the challengers for third. The top two pulled away, with Versteeg taking over the point on lap three. Estep kept on his bumper and took the lead back on lap seven. As they began lap eight, Versteeg dove deep inside at turn one and the racing continued until turn three when Austin wreck his Kosmic. Estep went on to score the win, as Ramirez advanced to second and Brooks ended up third. Raul Guzman (GP) drove to fourth with Andretta Young (Birel) in fifth.
The perfect day was broken up for Estep in the second heat race with Ramirez scoring the win. The top three, including Brooks, shot away from the field with Ramirez taking over the lead on lap three. Brooks pushed Estep back to third a lap later, as the top three remained in line. On lap six, Brooks did not come back around after making contact with the turn two barriers, leaving Ramirez to take the win over Estep. Guzman inherited the third spot with Versteeg able to climb up to fourth with Loomis in fifth.
Possibly the best finish came in the S5 feature with Ramirez and Estep going for the win. Ramirez led for most of the race, with Estep waiting in the wings. He pushed through for the lead on lap 14, putting Ramirez in the challenger role. On the final lap, they came out of the final corner and side by side through the esses. At the line, Estep scored the victory, his third straight. Versteeg completed the podium, his first in the S5 category, with Guzman and Loomis rounding out the top-five after Brooks had to pull off for a meatball flag.
Nash Motorsportz TaG Junior
Energy driver Chase Farley was able to lay down the quickest lap early and hold it to the end of the 10-minute session. Luiz Branquinho (Italkart) made a late run, but was two hundredths off the pole time. Fast Friday top driver Neil Verhagen (Arrow) was third, with Ethan Barrett (Kosmic) was fourth with Trenton Sparks (FA Kart) rounding out the fast five. Farley however had a loose exhaust header, and thus was removed from the results, moving Branquinho to the pole position and everyone else up a position.
Starting fifth, David Malukas (Top Kart) knifed his way up the order on the opening lap and was the leader after the first lap. He and Verhagen broke away from the field, with the KartSport North America driver scoring the win over the Top Kart USA pilot. Barrett was third with Petr Ptacek Jr. (Praga) in fourth. Nick Brueckner (Birel) also advanced, finishing fifth.
Malukas was able to walk away and lead all eight laps of the second heat race. Verhagen was on him bumper until he was shuffled back to sixth. That put Barrett into the runner-up spot, where he remained with Brueckner charging into the third spot. Sparks was running fourth, until he was pulled off for a broken exhaust. That move Verhagen into the position after he regained a few spots as Ptacek finished fifth.
With the pole position in hand, the main event was Malukas’ to lose. From inside row one, Malukas led the field around for the first lap with Brueckner right on his bumper. The young Junior rookies went nose to tail, and pushing away from the field. It looked like they would battle for win, but Malukas ran some fast laps of the race to pull away. At the checkered flag, the Top Kart USA pilot scored the victory by three seconds. Brueckner held on for his second podium in three races while Verhagen won the fight for third. Brooks was right there, but couldn’t get around the KartSport North America pilot. Barrett was waiting in the wings, and ended up fifth.
Leading Edge Motorsports TaG Cadet
It was a Benik Kart 1-2 in qualifying for the TaG Cadet division. Both Lance Fenderson and Lachlan DeFrancesco held the provisional pole position at one point, but it was Fenderson that earned the pole position. Friday fast driver Michael d’Orlando (Tony Kart) was at the top spot early on, but was dropped to third. Point leader Myles Farhan (Tony Kart) was fourth with Maryland driver Kaylen Frederick completing the fast five of the 39-kart field.
The opening heat race for Cadet went down to the wire with d’Orlando scoring the victory. Fenderson and Farhan were able to break away early on, but d’Orlando ran them down. Into the second spot by lap five, Michael inched his way closer to Fenderson and completed a last lap pass to secure the win. DeFrancesco was able to slide through for second, dropping Fenderson to third. Farhan ended up fourth while Jagger Jones (Tony Kart) completed the top-five.
The second heat race saw a wreck at the opening corner, including Farhan and a number of drivers. Out front, d’Orlando came away with the lead with Fenderson in the second spot. They ran 1-2 until the final lap when Fenderson lost a chain, allowing Michael to take the win out front by three seconds, as Jones held off DeFrancesco for the second spot. Trey Brown (Tony Kart) was fourth with Oliver Calvo (Top Kart) up to fifth.
Jones got a great run from the outside of row one to secure the lead on the opening lap of the 16-lap main event. Michael d’Orlando slotted in behind and moved into the lead on lap three, bringing DeFrancesco with him. The top four ran together, but the driver everyone was watching as Fenderson. Coming from the tail of the field, he was into the top-10 quickly and up to P5 by the ninth lap. Two laps later, d’Orlando did not come back around and was out of the race with a broken chain. That gave Brown the lead, with Jones in second. A red flag came out on lap 13 for Dylan Hajicek (Praga), ending the event early. Brown was declared the winner with Jones, DeFrancesco, Fenderson in fourth and Colin Queen (Tony Kart) in fifth. It was a great drive from the back by Payton Durrant (Birel) with issues in qualifying and the second heat, driving up to the ninth position.