EKN Trackside: 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour – SummerNationals Preview – Part 3
Dreezen looks to continue S1 streak into New Castle as heated TaG Senior fight amps up
The popular 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour resumes this weekend, as the program heads to the New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana for the first time. A successful SpringNationals in Arizona back in May launched the sixth season of the organization’s championship series, which is helping to take the sport to the next level here in the United States. Adding a new mainstream title sponsor Fikse Wheels, television coverage thanks to the partnership with CBS Sports Network and Torque.TV, and another stellar prize package for the year that reaches over $150,000, the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour is unmatched. The SummerNationals moves east of the Mississippi for the first time since the inaugural SummerNationals in Shawano, Wisconsin, and has racers in the four Stock Moto and four TaG divisions on the docket, with roughly 230 pre-entries signed up for the weekend.
New Castle Motorsports Park will host the SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour for the first time. Indiana was the organization’s home for many years, before it moved out to California under the direction of the Kutscher family. Regional SKUSA racing took part at the New Castle, Indiana facility in previous years after the track’s construction in 2004. The 1-mile course was designed and built by IndyCar driver Mark Dismore, a legendary name in the sport of karting. The Dismore family continues to improve the amenities surrounding the course, making it one of the popular destinations for the sport of karting here in North America.
eKartingNews.com, the official media partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the sixth straight year of Trackside Live coverage of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Those unable to attend can enjoy live audio and live timing at the EKN Live page – ekartingnews.com/live. Daily race reports can be seen each day, along with updates and results posted to the Official Discussion Thread, in addition to the EKN social media feeds – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Tuesday, EKN began the preview series by looking at the younger categories – TaG Junior, S5 Junior Stock Moto and TaG Cadet. Wednesday covered the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto, TaG Master and S4 Master Stock Moto. Today is the headline categories TaG Senior and S1 Pro Stock Moto. Catch all the coverage in the EKN Event Page.
You wanted the best, well, you’re getting the best. Sixty drivers will take on this year’s SummerNationals in the TaG Senior category after Superkarts! USA opened up the entry cap from the regular 44 entries. Because of the larger field, the class will run heat flights after getting split up into three groups following qualifying. Each driver will run two heat races, with the best 34 going directly into the main event. Ten more drivers transfer over from a Last Chance Qualifier to make the 44-driver Final. The format is in place for each day, making it a very crucial weekend for the championship contenders to stay away from any errors, mistakes or incidents.
Leading the title chase is two-time vice-champion Louie Pagano. Securing his first-ever Senior victory after numerous attempts and close calls, the Tony Kart driver landed a sweep of the opening round in Phoenix. The SoCal native was on his way to another triumph until contact in a false start to the Sunday main dislodged his exhaust. After receiving the green flag, Pagano made several attempts to reconnect the blisteringly-hot pipe back to the manifold. He was finally able to re-position the pipe, and then tried to claw his way back forward but ended up 12th in the order. As a result, he holds just a slim lead in the standings.
On the flip side is the defending champion Jake Craig (Formula K). Running second to Pagano on the opening day, he was in the same position and was the driver who mistakenly drove over the rear bumper of Pagano’s machine to assist in knocking the exhaust out of alignment. Craig took advantage of this and led all but the opening lap of the feature to cross the line first, only to receive a 12-position penalty for the contact, dropping him in the final classification behind Pagano. The final results helped keep Pagano at the top of the championship list leaving Phoenix, ahead of Craig by 91 points.
BirelART driver Oliver Askew was the benefactor in Sunday’s dramatic race. A front-runner in the S1 division last year, Askew moved back to the familiar TaG powerplant and left Phoenix as the Round Two winner. This performances puts him third in the championship standings, 101 points out of first. While Pagano and Craig won’t be working together, Askew has a new teammate to help his cause. Mason Marotta is moving over to the BirelART chassis for the SummerNationals, coming in as the fourth driver in the championship standings. Marotta, always fast in Phoenix, ran to third in the Sunday Final after placing inside the top-10 Saturday.
Rounding out the podium on Saturday was Florida driver Roger Ralston. The KartSport North America piloted his Arrow to third on Saturday. Contact took him out of contention on Sunday, which places him fifth in the title chase thus far. eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings #1 driver in the latest release is Pennsylvania’s Brandon Jarsocrak. The rising young star is the championship leader in the USPKS program, and was among the quick drivers in Phoenix aboard the iKart. Moving back to the Tony Kart chassis for the remainder of the season, Jarsocrak is looking to move up the point standings from the sixth spot.
NorCal driver Phillippe Denes was the top rookie in Phoenix. Running aboard a PCR machine, Denes drove to fourth and seventh in the two main events, making him the best average finisher of the championship contenders. Staying out of trouble will be key once again against the large field in New Castle. Elliot Finlayson had his breakthrough victory last year at the New Castle circuit during a USPKS event. He backed it up with his first Fikse Wheels Pro Tour podium in the Sunday feature in Phoenix. Finlayson enters the SummerNationals eighth in points, moving over from the Tony Kart chassis to the growing CompKart brand.
A number of drivers who missed out on the podium in Phoenix are gunning for their chance at New Castle, with nearly the entire field from the SpringNationals returning. A large number of racers are making their 2015 Fikse Wheels Pro Tour debut, as well. Number three in the EKN TaG Driver Rankings is Florida driver Dustin Stross. The privateer is among the best along the East Coast, finishing 10th in last year’s SKUSA championship chase. Back aboard the Tony Kart after a brief stint with Top Kart, Stross has the speed to win at New Castle. In fact, eight of the top-10 in the EKN TaG Driver Rankings are competing in the SummerNationals, including #2 AJ Myers. The Florida driver has been spending the last few months in Europe, racing with Scuderia PCR in Italy. Myers is racing for the first time in SKUSA competition after his fifth-place performance in the KZ2 category at the SuperNationals.
Eyes will be on the return of former frontrunner TJ Koyen. A rib injury plagued his 2014 season, and after some healing and running Yamaha for the first half of the year, Koyen is jumping back behind the wheel of a Tony Kart TaG machine with Innovative Performance. Age is just a number for veteran racer Jim Russell Jr.. The 2013 TaG Master SuperNationals winner will take a shot at the younger crowd in the TaG Senior category aboard his Russell Karting Specialties / Parolin machine.
The list of possible winners and podium finishers is a long one considering the field for this year’s SummerNationals. Austin McCusker (Deadly Kart) and Austin Osborne (Tony Kart) each recorded top-five finishes in Phoenix at the SpringNationals, and will be looking to better those results at the familiar New Castle facility. Aussie driver Ben Stewart was the top international pilot of the SpringNationals, placing eighth in Sunday’s feature. The international list has grown for the SummerNationals thanks to Italian driver Marco Maestranzi (Top Kart). The 2014 SuperNationals winner is back in the United States for his 2015 debut. French driver Kevin Breysse (EVO Kart) and Kingsley So (Kosmic) round out the international roster.
The final question is this: can one of the local drivers come away with the victory on the weekend? Just in TaG Senior alone, there are seven who call New Castle their home track. Will this make a difference?
Provisional TaG Senior Entry List
38f,Oliver Askew,PSL Karting,BirelART,X30,PSL Karting,FL
316c,Brenden Baker,Nash Motorsportz,Tony Kart,X30,J Power Racing Engines,CA
21t,Mike Bartholomew,Champion Racing,Intrepid,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,TX
66t,Logan Bearden,Champion Racing,Intrepid,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,TX
151n,Julia Boos,Kaos Karting,Tony Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,PA
025a,Kevin Breysse,,EVO Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,FRA
344c,Christian Brooks,Nash Motorsportz,Tony Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
81j,Joseph Budzinski,,Praga,X30,Ogden Motorsport,MI
4n,Andre Castro,Chi Chi Racing,FA Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,NY
088j,Sam Cate,,Tony Kart,Leopard,BBS Racing Engines,IN
1,Jake Craig,Team Formula K / RaceLab,Formula K,X30,Tru Tech Racing Engines,CA
98y,Phillippe Denes,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,Leopard,SwedeTech,CA
42j,Derek Dignan,Kartsport North America,FA Kart,X30,Comet Racing Engines,MI
78y,Austin Elliott,Rolison Performance Group (RPG),Kosmic,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
44x,Matt England,Phil Giebler Racing (PGR),FA Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,AZ
241j,Braden Eves,J3 Competition,CompKart,X30,Comet Racing Engines,OH
59j,Elliot Finlayson,Team Koene USA,Tony Kart,X30,Comet Racing Engines,IL
23j,Mick Gabriel,Team iKart,iKart,X30,,IN
03j,Michael Geringer,Franklin Motorsports,Tony Kart,X30,Franklin Motorsports,IL
10h,Emily Hurlbert,Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Tony Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,MN
12h,Kindra Hurlbert,Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Tony Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,MN
32t,David Ilavia,J3 Competition,CompKart,X30,J3 Competition,TX
403t,Michael Ilavia,J3 Competition,CompKart,X30,J3 Competition,TX
108n,Brandon Jarsocrak,Mike Doty Racing,Tony Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,PA
17x,Matt Johnson,Smokin’ Fast Motorsports,Tony Kart,X30,Tru Tech Racing Engines,CA
99h,Alexander Kardashian,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,MN
30j,Jacob Knueven,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,Leopard,BBS Racing Engines,IN
8j,Scott Kopp,Innovative Performance,Tony Kart,X30,Innovative Performance,WI
68j,TJ Koyen,Innovative Performance,Tony Kart,X30,Innovative Performance,WI
26n,Nick Landi,Chi Chi Racing,Tony Kart,Leopard,Comet Racing Engines,NJ
380c,Nikita Lastochkin,CRG SoCal,CRG,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
20a,Marco Maestranzi,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,FL
300c,Mason Marotta,PSL Karting,BirelART,X30,High-Rev Engineering,CA
011j,Michael McAndrews,Trackside Karting Services,BirelART,X30,,WI
86n,Austin McCusker,Mike Doty Racing,Deadly,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,NY
256j,Abby McLaughlin,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,IN
56j,Bill McLaughlin Jr.,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,IN
28f,AJ Myers,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,Leopard,BBS Racing Engines,FL
22z,Stepanova Nekeel,Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM),Tony Kart,X30,,WA
75s,Justin Neu,Kartsport North America,Praga,X30,Kartsport North America,NC
121t,Austin Osborne,Nash Motorsportz,Tony Kart,X30,J Power Racing Engines,TX
2,Louie Pagano,2Wild Karting,Tony Kart,X30,Tru Tech Racing Engines,CA
831y,Joey Paonessa,Team iKart,iKart,X30,,NV
255y,Jess Peterson,Leading Edge Motorsports,Praga,X30,High-Rev Engineering,NV
301f,Roger Ralston Jr.,Kartsport North America,Arrow,X30,Comet Racing Engines,FL
83c,Nick Ramirez,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
88j,Colton Ramsey,Franklin Motorsports,Tony Kart,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,IL
90r,Jordan Redlin,PSL West / Team Fikse,BirelART,X30,,BC
888j,Emerson Reed,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,X30,Woltjer Racing Engines,OH
127f,Jesus Rios Jr.,Team iKart,iKart,X30,,FL
21e,Jim Russell Jr.,Russell Karting Specialties,Parolin,X30,Russell Karting Specialties,MO
02j,Eli Salamie,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,X30,BBS Racing Engines,IN
63j,Robby Seward,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,Leopard,BBS Racing Engines,IN
58a,Kingsley So,Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM),Kosmic,X30,P1 Racing Engines,HKG
48a,Ben Stewart,KartSport North America,Arrow,X30,,AUS
71f,Dustin Stross,Team Felon,Tony Kart,Leopard,Comet Racing Engines,FL
55j,Lane Vacala,MRP Motorsports,BirelART,Leopard,Comet Racing Engines,IL
16c,Chris Wehrhiem,,EVO Kart,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
044x,Andrick Zeen,Praga North America,Praga,X30,P1 Racing Engines,CA
S1 Pro Stock Moto
2014 was dominated by UK driver Jordon Lennox, sweeping all five main events on the season to earn the SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour title. With Lennox absent from the grid this year, Belgian driver Rick Dreezen has picked up the slack, sweeping the events at the SpringNationals to open up the 2015 season on top of the title charge. Dreezen piloted his BirelART to the front in all on-track sessions in Phoenix. For New Castle, the championship leader is moving over to the familiar Ricciardo Kart that he pilots in the European events.
Keeping Dreezen honest all weekend in Phoenix were Americans Fritz Leesmann and Billy Musgrave. Leesmann, the 2010 and 2012 S1 SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champion, drove to runner-up finishes in the main events to Dreezen. Back aboard the familiar CRG chassis, Leesmann is back to championship-like form. In Arizona, Musgrave (Praga) had his best performance on the Pro Tour in his three years in the S1 category. The two-time California ProKart Challenge champion drove to his second-ever podium on Saturday, just missing out on a return on Sunday when he recorded a fourth place result. Both drivers were able to score more points then Czech Republic’s Patrik Hajek. Making his SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour debut in the S1 category, Hajek managed his first podium with a third on Sunday to end up fourth in the championship chase. Hajek will remain aboard the Praga machine this weekend despite signing to drive the Formula K chassis in Europe, which is manufactured by the same IPKarting in Italy.
Freshman Jarred Campbell has been fast throughout his rookie S1 season, winning on the West Coast in California ProKart Challenge competition. The Praga North America driver struggled with setup issues in Phoenix, resulting in a best finish of seventh in the two main events. Campbell is sure to bounce back with his best results of the season at New Castle, where horsepower is a major factor around the 1-mile course.
Notable first starts on the season include the ‘Wild Thing’ Josh Lane. The Illinois-native has been keeping in shape by hitting the track non-stop in the northeast region of the country, and he is ready to hit the familiar New Castle circuit with 100% focus on earning podium finishes. 2013 S2 SuperNationals winner Connor Wagner (FA Kart) is returning to competition after some time off, while former S2 standout Augie Lerch (Tony Kart) is back behind the wheel of a kart after spending the first half of the season in the USF2000 Championship program.
Provisional S1 Entry List
103y,Jarred Campbell,Praga North America,Praga,SwedeTech,CA
441y,Troy Diede,Diede Racing / PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,CA
6a,Rick Dreezen,PSL Karting,Ricciardo Kart,SwedeTech,BEL
23k,Kolton Griffin,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,AZ
044a,Patrik Hajek,Praga North America,Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CZE
22y,Brian Keck,Keck Racing,CRG,SwedeTech,CA
4f,Jonathan Kotyk,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,SwedeTech,FL
44j,Josh Lane,DRT Racing,DR,Lane Racing Engines,IL
161y,Fritz Leesmann,Diede Racing / PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,CA
12k,Augie Lerch,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,AZ
322c,Billy Musgrave,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA
15f,Connor Wagner,Phil Giebler Racing (PGR),FA Kart,SwedeTech,FL
71y,Ron White,Ron White Racing,CRG,Joe White Racing Engines,CA