EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Preview Series – S2 Semi-Pro
Two rising stars vying for first Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship
eKartingNews.com, the Official Media Partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the Preview Series for the SKUSA SuperNationals XIX. In the coming days, EKN will preview each of the nine categories that will compete outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino from November 18-22.
Year after year, the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto category continues to produce the best racing throughout the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour season. Thanks to the Superkarts! USA ladder system, young drivers and returning drivers are able to mold themselves into the best shifterkart drivers possible, and feel what it takes to be the best before taking on the very best in the S1 category. Up from the S5 ranks, a number of young drivers are making a name for themselves with solid performances at the SpringNationals and SummerNationals. Now, as we had to the biggest event of the season, someone will enter their name into the history books as the next S2 SuperNationals winner.
Championship Chase: Young Drivers at Stepping Stone in Career
Only two drivers have won the feature races on the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour this season, and the title chase is down to a duel. Carter Williams and Miguel Lopez each doubled up in the win column at one event. Williams (Phil Giebler Racing / FA Kart) nearly swept the entire SpringNationals event, while Lopez (Team GP / VCI) missed out on the opening qualifying session to the SummerNationals before leading the rest of the weekend. The difference belongs to Williams, who clawed his way to a top-five result at New Castle at the end of the weekend to give him a 92 point advantage heading into the SuperNationals. Neither have won in Las Vegas, and neither have a Pro Tour title to their credit. It has been a four year battle for Lopez after success in S5 back in 2011, while Williams is ready to be crowned S2 champion in his sophomore season.
Outside of 200 points from the top of the standings are three drivers in the hunt for a piece of the championship podium. Mexican driver Fernando Casillas Jr. (Team GP / VCI) currently holds the third position with Bermuda driver Brandon Frank and Kyle Kalish all within 23 points of each other. Casillas was a frontrunner at last year’s SuperNationals before a first turn wreck sidelined him in the main event. Frank pulled off his first ever Fikse Wheels Pro Tour podiums in his career, one at the SpringNationals and one at SummerNationals, aboard his Leading Edge Motorsports / Praga machine. Kalish has been with Franklin Motorsports / Merlin since his Cadet days, and is now showcasing the chassis in the shifterkart ranks. His debut at the SpringNationals came with speed, but engine issues put him on the sidelines at the end. The 2013 USPKS Leopard Pro champion bounced back with two runner-up finishes at the SummerNationals, putting him in position to challenge for the championship podium.
Who to Watch: New Names to Challenge for Victory in Las Vegas
Zero. None. Zilch. The entire podium from last year is not in the S2 field for 2015, meaning new names and new faces will be under the spotlight on SuperSunday. Four drivers finishing in the top-10 came up just short, and are among the list of drivers looking to fill those positions. Will Preston finished sixth one year ago, and has continued to improve under the Aluminos banner. The Aluminos chassis has won previously at the SuperNationals, and Preston is coming off a great win at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. Jack Freese (Leading Edge Motorsports / Praga), Josh De Losier (Tony Kart) and Andrew Bujdoso (Checkered Motorsports / PCR) all finished in the top-10 a year ago. Of them, Bujosos certainly has the speed, however, needs to keep all four wheels in the correct direction to contend for the victory or a podium. His older brother Robert is in the same path, super fast and just needs to be consistent throughout the heat races to remain in the hunt.
The SuperNationals mark a one year anniversary of a scary crash involving NorCal driver Hunter Pickett. During the main event on SuperSunday, contact on the main straight sent him for a wild ride, resulting in a broken collar bone. Pickett (Muscle Milk / Aluminos) has bounced back strong, and landed on the podium at the SummerNationals. A podium at this year’s SuperNationals would mark a very impressive return. Luke Shanahan (MSquared Karting / Tony Kart) is another quick driver to watch, looking to bounce back from a tough SummerNationals.
New names to watch include TaG Senior driver Derek Dignan, moving over to S2 for the first time aboard a KartSport North America Praga. Canadian Gianfranco Mazzaferro (BirelART) has had success in Rotax competition and is also set to make his S2 debut. Kyle Wick is another new pilot to the shifterkart ranks, set to make his first SuperNationals S2 start with Rolison Performance Group aboard an FA Kart. 2013 Rotax Junior SuperNationals winner Thomas Preining is making a return to Las Vegas, this time on a S2 ride. The Austrian is joining TB Kart USA to compete in both the S2 and TaG Senior division, attempting to add to his win total.
Rob Howden – EKN Editor-in-Chief
1. Miguel Lopez
2. Carter Williams
3. Will Preston
4. Fernando Casillas Jr.
5. Brandon Frank
As always, we’ve had the unique chance to watch the next generation of S1 drivers battling it out all year in the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto class, and it’s exciting to see that there is some top talent destined to make their S1 debuts in 2017. But before that happens, they’re going to fight it out one more time for SuperNats glory in S2. Carter Williams comes into the event with a healthy lead in the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour standings, which I think will take a little pressure off him. I’m forecasting that Williams is fast from the get-go, but knowing that he needs to win to have any shot at the title will be enough motivation for Miguel Lopez to step up. Lopez has been in the fight all year, he swept the SummerNationals, he has loads of SuperNats experience and he will push Williams all the way. It’s a toss-up between the two, but I’ll go with Lopez for the win, and Williams for the championship. My sleeper pick is Will Preston for third. The Aluminos driver was strong in his limited California ProKart Challenge starts and is coming off a S2 win at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. Will was sixth in the S2 main last year, and I think a podium is in his future. I would not be surprised if he battles for the win. Fernando Casillas Jr and Brandon Frank will complete the podium. There was another handful of guys who could easily find their way into the top-five, include Andrew and Robert Bujdoso, Hunter Pickett, Sky Finley, Luke Shanahan and Harry Gottsacker.
David Cole – EKN Managing Editor
1. Will Preston
2. Andrew Bujdoso
3. Miguel Lopez
4. Kyle Kalish
5. Thomas Preining
It is always difficult to select the standout drivers for an event where anything can happen. For the S2 category, I just throw a dart to the entry list on the board, and came up with this. Rob Soares and the Aluminos crew know how to have fun, and they know how to go fast. Preston has bought into this, and is starting to become a new S2 standout. Victory will take him to the next level. Andrew Bujdoso has had enough bad luck thrown his way, this year’s SuperNationals will be kind to him. Lopez is among the more experienced drivers in the field, and was among the contenders last year until an incident in the opening lap. A podium should secure the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour title for the GP driver. Kalish has been solid into his S2 rookie year, but no stranger to the main stage as he knows what it takes to be in contention at the SuperNationals. International drivers are always the wild card, and Preining could be it for S2. Racing KZ2 in Europe, the former SuperNats winner could give TB Kart its biggest result at the SuperNationals yet.
S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto Provisional Entry Liast
5t,Graig Alvarez Jr.,Trackside Karting Services,CompKart,SwedeTech,TX,USA,,
86k,Kol Bailey,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,AZ,USA,,
222y,Cabot Bigham,Bamson Racing,CRG,,CA,NGA,,
327j,Andrew Bujdoso,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,BBS Racing Engines,OH,USA,,
32j,Robert Bujdoso,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,BBS Racing Engines,OH,USA,,
8a,Dario Capitano,Italcorse America,Italcorse,Darcy DeCoste Racing Engines (DDR),,ITA,,
303y,Pablo Carballedo,Aluminos,Aluminos,Cameron Karting,CA,USA,,
4m,Fernando Casillas Jr.,Team GP / VCI,GP,SRS Racing Engines,,MEX,,
100z,Joe Criscione,Go Kart Hero,BirelART,SwedeTech,OR,USA,,
42m,Salvador de Alba,Team GP / VCI,GP,SRS Racing Engines,,MEX,,
111y,Josh De Losier,,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,NV,USA,,
105n,Max Di Bella,Brian Fisher Racing,Praga,Fisher Racing Engines,PA,USA,,
511m,Fauzi dib Saad,,CRG,,,MEX,,
142j,Derek Dignan,Kartsport North America,Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),MI,USA,,
218z,Marco Eakins,Black Flag Racing Products,Formula K,SwedeTech,OR,USA
777x,Josh Early,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA,USA
21j,Cody Elliott,Champion Racing,Intrepid,Lane Racing Engines,WI,USA
79a,Fabrizio Famularo,AM Racing,AM,AM Racing Engines,,VEN
4t,Sky Finley,DRT Racing,DR,Fisher Racing Engines,TX,USA
187f,Brandon Frank,Leading Edge Motorsports,Praga,SwedeTech,,BMU
727y,Jack Freese,Leading Edge Motorsports,Praga,SwedeTech,CA,USA
69t,Harry Gottsacker,Champion Racing,Intrepid,SwedeTech,TX,USA
324x,Noah Grey,2Wild Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,CA,USA
51h,Jenna Grillo,Champion Racing,Intrepid,SwedeTech,MN,USA
725q,Tyler Guilbeault,DRT Racing,DR,Lane Racing Engines,NH,USA
11m,Raul Guzman,Team GP Texas,GP,SRS Racing Engines,,MEX
12x,Robert Heck Jr.,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CRG,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA,USA
112h,Kindra Hurlbert,Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Ricciardo Kart,SwedeTech,MN,USA
219j,Kyle Kalish,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,SwedeTech,IL,USA
7j,Kyle Knecht,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,BBS Racing Engines,OH,USA
356y,Matt Koerner,Nevada Kartsport,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,NV,USA,
93r,Dominic LeGrand,PSL Karting,BirelART,SwedeTech,,CAN,
13t,Miguel Lopez,Team GP / VCI,GP,SRS Racing Engines,TX,USA,
6j,Darin Marcus,Franklin Motorsports,Fullerton,SwedeTech,IL,USA,
114r,Gianfranco Mazzaferro,PSL Karting,BirelART,SwedeTech,QC,CAN,
10c,Alan Michel,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),AZ,MEX,
27a,Thomas Neubauer,PSL Karting,BirelART,SwedeTech,,FRA,
117x,Matthew O’Donnell,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA,USA,
015a,Jorge Pescador,Praga North America,Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),,ARG,
36y,Hunter Pickett,Muscle Milk / Pickett Racing,Aluminos,Joe White Racing Engines,CA,USA,
199a,Thomas Preining,TB Kart USA,TB Kart,SwedeTech,,AUT,2013 Rotax Junior SuperNats winner
77t,Casey Ross,Brian Fisher Racing,Praga,Fisher Racing Engines,TX,USA,
239c,Aaron Schmitt,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Praga,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA,DEU,
2t,Luke Shanahan,MSquared Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,TX,USA,
46n,Kyle Smith,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,Fisher Racing Engines,PA,USA
74m,Manuel Vazquez Camarasa,Team GP / VCI,GP,SRS Racing Engines,,MEX
17r,Dave Waite,Mach 1 USA,Mach 1,,ON,CAN
81z,Justin Walsh,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CRG,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),WA,USA
66f,Don Whittington,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
109z,Kyle Wick,Rolison Performance Group (RPG),FA Kart,CRE Racing Engines,WA,USA
22t,Austin Wilkins,Dallas Karting Complex (DKC) / SodiKart USA,SodiKart,,TX,USA
55c,Carter Williams,Phil Giebler Racing (PGR),FA Kart,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),CA,USA
26t,Andretta Young,Motorsports Development Group (MDG),Praga,SRS Racing Engines,TX,USA