EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – New Castle – Saturday Report

Myers triumphs in challenging Leopard main event while Jones fights forward for Yamaha win

USPKS-NewCastle-Sat

USPKS logoThe 2014 United States Pro Kart Series finale completed the opening day of competition on Saturday at the New Castle Motorsports Park. The central Indiana facility challenged the near 140 entries on the day in the eight categories, as on and off rain kept driver and mechanics on their toes. Changing conditions providing some excitement in the main events, including the Leopard Pro division with point leader AJ Myers clawing his way to the lead and driving away for his second victory of the weekend. Veteran Eric Jones got off to a slow start, but put himself in the right positions all day to hold on for the victory in Yamaha Pro.

Franklin Motorsports Leopard Pro
Championship leader AJ Myers (PCR) extended his lead from 50 to 60 by securing the pole position for Round Five. The Checkered Motorsports driver suffered a broken coil wire during warm-up, but bounced back in qualifying with a 1:04.772-lap on the final circuit, clearing the field by a good four tenths of a second. Fast Friday driver Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) was second in the order, with double Pittsburgh winner Mike Giessen (Deadly) in third. Derek Dignan (FA Kart) was fourth while California driver Andrick Zeen (Praga) was fifth.

AJ Myers drove to his second victory of the year, extending his point lead in Leopard Pro (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

AJ Myers drove to his second victory of the year, extending his point lead in Leopard Pro (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Myers was only able to make the first corner of Heat #1, losing a chain right away. That gave him a last place result, but he would hold the pole position for Heat #2. As the field made their way around for the first lap, Stross was into the lead with Brandon Jarsocrak (Tony Kart) up into second after starting eighth. Kyle Kalish (Merlin), second in points, was third in the order. He began charging his way forward and was into the lead by the end of lap three. He held the spot until the final lap when Stross was able to get back around for the lead and the win. Kalish settled for second, missing out on five points. Jarsocrak was third with Giessen in fourth and Cal Stewart (Top Kart) in fifth after starting 10th.

Point leader Myers was able to escape the opening corners this time, securing the lead on the opening circuit with Giessen into second. Zeen was third and put himself into the lead after just the second lap. Zeen led the way until Myers moved back into the top spot, and held it for the rest of the eight laps for the win. Zeen had to fight for second with Dignan, and at the line Dignan held the position. Elliott Finlayson (Tony Kart) was the hard charger, coming from 13th to fourth with Jarsocrak into fifth.

With the track drying out, the gamble was on to put rain tires or remain on slick MG Tires. Only TJ Koyen (ART GP) and James Russell (Parolin) went all in with rain tires, and for the first four laps, it was worth it. Drivers were sliding around the course through the first few laps, with Stross and Jarsocrak on the front row. They dropped back with Praga North America drivers Michael Geringer and Zeen up into the top two positions. Koyen, who started 22nd, was into 10th after the opening lap with a handfull of drivers involved in an opening lap wreck, including Russell. Koyen continued moving forward, working into the fourth position, but by lap four, the dry line was formed already and Koyen began falling, and eventually was lapped by the 11th circuit. Out front, the Praga drivers continued to lead the way with Jarsocrak right there. Myers and Stross however hooked up and were able to run them down, thanks to the shuffling by Geringer and Zeen. Myers knifed his way up into the lead by lap 11, while Stross retired the following lap with a broken coil wire. The Checkered Motorsports driver was able to pull away with consistent laps and hard racing for the second position. Meanwhile, defending champion Kalish was battling at the just inside the top-10, off the pace early on the wet track but began laying down fast lap after fast lap in the second half of the race.

Up front, Myers just drove away from the field, taking his second victory of the season by seven seconds. The Praga drivers battled for the second spot, all the way to the final corner when the two made contact and went off into the wet grass. Both made hard contact with the barriers but were unhurt. That opened the door up for the wiley veteran Jim Russell Jr. (Parolin). In his first USPKS start of the season, Russell had a poor qualifying effort but worked his way into a 14th starting spot in the main. Fast in the sloppy conditions, he was just outside the top-five early and hung with the young guns to take advantage of their mistakes. Russell crossed the line in the runner-up spot, just ahead of Dignan, Jarocrak, and Phil DeLaO (Top Kart). Giessen was sixth after he was shuffled back, as he and Kalish – who ended up seventh – swapped the fast lap of the race. Michael Ilavia (Kosmic) started 26th and ended up eighth, earning the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger award, while Alex Nowysz (Margay) and Finlayson completed the top-10.

Eric Jones outsmarted the Yamaha Pro field for the win in his season debut (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Eric Jones outsmarted the Yamaha Pro field for the win in his season debut (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Pro
Championship leader Brandon Jarsocrak (Haase) opened up the series finale weekend with his third pole position of the season. A 1:12.571-lap was his best circuit after just two laps, with the Mike Doty Racing driver pulling off early and holding the top spot to the end. Collin Griffin (Tony Kart) came within 25 thousandths of a second from his time, with hometown driver Camden Speth (FA Kart) and Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) all within a tenth of a second. Veteran Kevin Nelson (Tony Kart) ended the session fifth in his second weekend of the season.

The opening heat race went down to the wire after a gaggle of karts filled up the lead group. Jarsocrak secured the lead at the drop of the green and was followed by a large pack. Pesek was running fourth early on, but fought his way up into the lead by lap five. The group was shuffled up on lap seven with contact involving Derek Dignan (FA Kart) and Tony Jump (Arrow). Out front, the leaders went into the final corner with Pesek and Jarsocrak fighting to the finish line. At the stripe, it was Pesek by eight hundredths of a second with Griffin sliding into the second spot over Jarsocrak. Nelson held on to fourth with Killian Keaveny (Top Kart) in fifth.

The win for the second heat race went to the wire once again, this time with Jarsocrak coming away with the win. Pesek and Jarsocrak led the field early on, but Speth was the early charger, and into the lead by lap three. The top-10 were well out front, with the front five in one pack and the rest in another. Dignan was the late charger, and was able to move from third to first on the sixth lap. He held the spot until the final straight, running the inside line. Jarsocrak got a great run on the outside, and held his position through the final corner to reach the checkered flag first. Dignan settled for second with Speth in third. Griffin and Pesel completed the top-five.

Jarsocrak was slotted into the pole position once again for the main event, but was shuffled back at the start with Speth up to the point from fifth. KartSport North America’s Eric Jones (Arrow) started fourth and was into third with Griffin and Dignan making up the top-five. Jarsocrak returned to the point briefly with Jones following through and into the top spot on lap six. Dignan came with him, but drifted back and then was out of the race on lap 15 with a dragging rear bumper. That left Jones and Jarsocrak alone out front. They stayed locked together till the final corner. Jones took the inside line down the long straight, with Jarsocrak on the outside. Both gave each other room, and Jones won the race to the checkered flag for his first victory in his first start of the year. Jarsocrak unofficially locked up the championship with runner-up result. Speth won the battle for third with Jump coming from 17th on the grid to fifth – earning the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger award, edging out Keaveny.

Cristian Vomir won the shortened Parilla Challenge main event (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Cristian Vomir won the shortened Parilla Challenge main event (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

J3 Competition Parilla Challenge
Cristian Vomir was able to do what he had not done all season long…win. Placing runner up three times in six races, the day was Vomir’s to lose. He started out as the top qualifier, and drove to the win in heat one. Contact in the second heat dropped him to third, as Laurentiu Mardan (Praga) advanced to the lead while point leader Francois Brun-Wibaux (PCR) ran second in both races. With the line-up for the main event going to a tie-breaker, Vomir was back on the pole position. At the start of the feature race, Mardan and Wibaux made contact on the opening corner, resulting in the point leader unable to continue. Vomir had a solid lead over Mardan thanks to the contact, but heavy rain began to fall around lap four. Both drivers spun out, and were able to continue on but race officials stopped the race. They allowed the drivers time to change over to rain tires, however they did not return to the grid at the time to restart, and thus the race was called early. That gave the win to Vomir with Mardan second.

Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha Junior
Using the home track knowledge to his credit, championship leader Zach Holden posted the fast lap of the qualifying session, earning 10 crucial points toward the point standings. The Top Kart USA pilot posted a 1:10.822-lap for his second pole position of the year. Mike McAndrews (Birel) was only 79 thousandths off the time, with Junior rookie JP Southern Jr. (PCR) and David Malukas (Top Kart) also within a tenth of a second. Brandon Lemke (Merlin) completed the fast five.

McAndrews was able to get the jump on Holden as the field took the green flag for Heat #1. Holden was able to move back into the lead before they completed the opening lap, with Malukas right there in third, as the top three broke away from the field. McAndrews lost the draft, letting the Top Kart drivers to battle for the win. After eight laps, it was Holden scoring the win over Malukas. Southern was able to work past McAndrews for third with Lemke right there in fifth.

Brandon Lemke held on for the win in Yamaha Junior (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Brandon Lemke held on for the win in Yamaha Junior (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

The second heat race was another great battle for the win. Holden held the point early but was forced to pull off with a dragging rear bumper. That left Lemke and Malukas at the point, but they were reeled in by Southern and Ben Varner (Birel). The top four shuffled for a number of laps, with different drivers into the lead on a number of occasions. Coming to the checkered flag, they went three wide with Southern able to escape and earn his first win as a Junior driver. Malukas finished second with McAndrews in third. Lemke and Simon Sikes (Merlin) completed the top five with the top seven finishing all within one second.

Rain hit the New Castle area just before the start of the Yamaha Junior main event. With all the drivers on rain MG Tires, they took the green flag for the start of the 15-lap feature race. Only a few drivers spun at the back of the field, with Southern holding the lead from the pole position. Lemke and Malukas slotted in behind with Holden and McAndrews making up the top-five. Malukas spun on lap three, dropping him down the order with Nick Luedeke (PCR) moving back to fifth. McAndrews charged early, and worked his way into the lead by lap six. They ran unchanged until lap 13 when Lemke put the pressure on for the lead. The two swapped the top spot a number of times until Lemke secured the position. The top three ran nose to tail on the final lap, with Southern trying a move past McAndrews on the final corner. They both locked up the brakes and spun, sliding off into the grass. That allowed Luedeke to slide through for the second spot, with Lemke scoring his second victory of the season. Southern and McAndrews were able to return to the track, and finish third and fourth. Holden drove alone in fifth, with Malukas getting back into seventh at the checkered flag behind the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger Dario Cangialosi (Haase). The two Top Kart USA drivers enter Sunday’s final round separated by just 70 points, with Holden still the point leader.

David Malukas added to his championship lead in Leopard Junior with a win on Saturday (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

David Malukas added to his championship lead in Leopard Junior with a win on Saturday (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

GT7 Motorsports Leopard Junior
Championship leader David Malukas (Top Kart) set the pace in the qualifying session, laying down a 1:05.603-lap to earn 10 points toward the championship. Braden Eves (FA Kart) was second in the order with Mike McAndrews (Birel) third. David Ilavia (Kosmic) was fourth in his first USPKS start while Brandon Lemke (Merlin) was fifth.

The front group of Malukas, Lemke and McAndrews broke away from the field in Heat #1. That was until contact dropped Malukas and McAndrews down the order. Lemke took over the lead, and was joined by a group of drivers, but eventually worked away for the win. Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) moved up to second, with Eves in third. Ilavia and Zach Holden (Top Kart) – who started shotgun – completed the top-five. Malukas finished 17th with McAndrews fighting back to sixth.

The second heat was a three driver battle at the end, after Malukas led early with McAndrews and Eves slotting in behind. They pulled away from the field, and at the end of the eight lap battle, Eves scored the win over Malukas and McAndrews. Lemke won the battle for fourth with Gangi placing fifth.

Eves was awarded the pole position for the main event and held the top spot through the opening corners with Gangi sliding up to second ahead of Lemke, who retired before reaching the start/finish line. McAndrews was third until he spun off and retired after one lap, moving Malukas up to third and Norberg into the top five. Holden was in the mix, but he fell off the pace and dropped out after his front hub bolts snapped off. The top four pulled away with Gangi and Malukas appearing to have the better pace. They continued to go back and forth through the 15 laps until the final lap. Both Malukas and Gangi hit a water patch, which sent them sideways into a corner. They held on, but Malukas was able to get away first with Gangi now too far back to make a challenge for the lead on the final circuit. Malukas scored his second win of the season, helping to extend his point lead. Gangi settled for second, with Norberg into third over Eves. Ilavia ran fifth the remainder of the race after Holden retired, while Neil Verhagen (Arrow) won the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger award for advancing nine spots from 15th to sixth.

Austin Schaff led a Merlin 1-2-3 finish in Yamaha Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Austin Schaff led a Merlin 1-2-3 finish in Yamaha Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

QPS Employment Group Yamaha Cadet
Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) secured his second pole position of the day, posting the fast lap in the Yamaha division as well. The championship leader posted a 1:16.480-lap to secure the top spot by a solid seven tenths of a second. Lance Fenderson (Benik) moved up late in the session to sit second, dropping Sam Mayer (Merlin) to the third spot. Devin Boutot (Tony Kart) and Pauly Massimino (Top Kart) were fourth and fifth.

The opening heat race saw some hard racing throughout the field. A pack of four formed late in the going, but the race went to the wire with Tavella edging out Mayer by just eight hundredths of a second. Fenderson was third with Giovanni Bromante (Top Kart) charging into fourth after starting 13th. Boutot completed the top-five.

Rain hit the facility just before the Cadet race was about to hit the track. The drivers were given 15 minutes to change over to rain tires, with all going from dry tires, to rains and then back to slick MG Tires during the change over time. The track was a big damp, slowing them about 10 seconds a lap. Out front, Tavella drove away with the race win. Mayer was second, edging out Boutot for the spot. Austin Schaff (Merlin) drove up to fourth from 10th, with his Merlin teammate Alex Bertagnoli into fifth. Connor Cass (Merlin) was the only driver on wet tires, and worked up from 12th and into the top-five, but a bent tie-rod after hitting someone during the pace lap slowed his pace. He ended up finishing sixth.

Racing in wet conditions, the Cadet field took to the New Castle circuit with the Tavella on the pole position and Mayer on the front row. They along with Fenderson made the early lead group before Fenderson fell off the pace while Schaff and Bertagnoli eventually worked their way forward. The three Merlin drivers locked up and pulled away, leaving Tavella back in fourth. On the final lap in the last corner, Schaff was able to secure the lead and score the victory for his second of the season. Mayer settled for second with Bertagnoli in third. Bromante, who started 12th, ended up advancing to the fifth position to land on the podium. Schaff won the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger award, coming from 11th to first.

Neil Verhagen scored his second straight win in Mini Rok Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Neil Verhagen scored his second straight win in Mini Rok Cadet (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Orlando Kart Center Mini Rok Cadet
Fast Friday top driver Alex Bertagnoli (Merlin) backed up his performance yesterday, scoring the pole position for Round Five. A 1:13.443-lap was his best, edging out point leader Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart). The top two were driving solo around the track, while the rest of the field was running in a pack. Jason Welage (Tony Kart) was third best with Alex Verhagen (FA Kart) and Robert Noaker III (Praga) completing the fast five.

Tavella was able to get the jump on pole sitter Bertagnoli to begin the opening heat race. The top qualifier dropped to fourth with Verhagen jumping up to second. The top two were away but were quickly chased down by Bertagnoli to make it a three driver break away. On lap four, Verhagen moved to the lead and stayed there until the final lap. Tavella took over the lead at the inner hairpin, but Verhagen came back on the exit of I-70 corner. Three wide down the final straight, Verhagen secured the lead and the win. Bertagnoli used the inside to move into second with Tavella falling to third. Giovanni Bromante (Top Kart) advanced to fourth with Devin Boutot (Tony Kart) in fifth.

The top two of Bertagnoli and Tavella broke away from the field on the opening lap of the second heat race. The trio of Verhagen, Lance Fenderson (Benik), and Welage closed up on the top two after three laps, but Bertagnoli held a solid gap. Tavella and Verhagen locked up and were able to run down the pole sitter. On the final lap coming to the final corner, Bertagnoli went low with Tavella getting a good push from Verhagen on the outside. They drafted past Bertagnoli to finish 1-2. Fenderson finished fourth with Welage in the fifth spot.

Verhagen was able to secure the pole position through the two heat races, and set the pace early on in the 15-lap event. Bromante was into second early from fourth with Bertagnoli and Tavella right there. After five laps, Fenderson was able to run down the front four, making it five drivers at the point. At that time, Bromante was up into the lead but that was for a short time as Bertagnoli put himself into the top spot for the first time. Lap seven, both Bromante and Tavella lost the draft in the back section of the track, leaving Verhagen and Fenderson to trail the leader. Fenderson lost the draft as well, with Verhagen able to help push Bertagnoli away. It came down to the final corner, with Bertagnoli holding the inside and Verhagen on the outside. In typical ‘Days of Thunder’ style, Verhagen made the outside line hold all the way to the checkered flag, and scored his second straight feature victory. Bertagnoli settled for second with Fenderson in third. Tavella won fourth at the line over Mayer, Welage and Bromante. Mayer earned the eKartingNews.com Hard Charger award, coming from 10th to fifth.

Luca Mars locked up the provisional Yamaha Rookie title with his sixth win of the season (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Luca Mars locked up the provisional Yamaha Rookie title with his sixth win of the season (Photo: DavidLeePhoto.com)

Switch Racing Engines Yamaha Rookie
Five-time race winner Luca Mars (Praga) did it once again, earning just his second top qualifier award of the season. His 1:19.187-lap was just enough to get the position, as Round One winner Tyler Maxson (Tony Kart) was just 96 thousandths off his time. Gunnar Bischoff (Haase) was third with Owen Mahle (Top Kart) and Aidan Hinds (Birel) completing the fast five.

It was a three-driver battle in the opening heat race, with the top three qualifiers above and beyond the rest of the class. After eight laps, Bischoff was the driver taking the checkered flag for his first heat race win of the season. Point leader Mars settled for second with Maxson in third. Caleb Bacon and Donald Whorton II were fourth and fifth.

The same three went at it in Heat #2, this time with Maxson coming out on top. It went down to the wire with the Georgia driver scoring the win over Bischoff while Mars finished third. Bacon and Whorton rounded out the top-five.

Under wet conditions, the Rookie class held their 12-lap main event. Bischoff went off course on the opening lap, leaving Mars to walk away with his fifth victory in a row. Maxson and Hinds fought for second, with Hinds spinning on the final lap to allow Maxson to clean shot at the checkered flag as the runner-up. Mahle ende dup third with Whorton and Bacon in fourth and fifth.

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