EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XIX – Preview Series – TaG Senior
Heated championship battle mixes with full field of drivers vying for SuperNationals crown
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.
The odds are in, and it is a wide open gamble on a number of TaG Senior drivers at SuperNationals XIX. Drama unfolds with every session for the 80+ drivers in Las Vegas, vying for every inch, every position possible to have a chance to claim the lead on SuperSunday and leave as a SuperNationals winner. This year’s field is unlike any other, with not as many high profile names as we are used to seeing.
Inside the Numbers:
15 – Number of drivers returning who made the main event in 2014
19 – Number of drivers ranked inside the top-50 by eKartingNews.com
24 – Number of drivers age 16-years or younger
The general conclusion is that the majority of the field is young and inexperienced when compared to previous fields and main event grids on SuperSunday. About 25% of the drivers set to take part in the 19th running of the SuperNationals have a legitimate shot at victory, leaving a number of drivers to become the dark horse emerging into the spot light.
There is no questions eyes are on the defending champion Marco Maestranzi. The Italian Top Kart driver was quick throughout the week, suffering a hard wreck in his opening moto which caused him to replace the entire frame. He bounced back to salvage a 24th starting position in the main event. He was a bullet on SuperSunday, climbing quickly into the top-five, taking over the lead and pulling away to victory by over three seconds.
Including Maestranzi, four of the podium finishers are set to repeat a similar performance from a year ago with Canadian Jordon Redlin the only driver not returning. No one has seen the podium more than Aussie driver David Sera. ‘Deadly’ is right on, finishing on the podium in three of the last five years. Piloting his own brand of chassis, Sera finished third a year ago, just one spot behind top American Austin McCusker. It was a stellar drive by the New York driver, beating out the czar of the Deadly Kart empire. With two good days in the four rounds thus far, McCusker has on outside shot in the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour title chase this year. Ben Stewart put two Aussie drivers on the podium last year, making it a 2-3-4 finish for Australian-based DPE Kart Technology manufacturer. Stewart put his Arrow on the front row, slipping down to fourth. Sera and Stewart will rejoin the KartSport North America operation for another attack to the podium.
Championship Chase: At Least Five Drivers with Chance at Title
The 2015 Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship chase has become the most intriguing in the six year history of the program. Most, if not all of the previous five champions gained the provisional championship prior to SuperSunday. This year’s chase could go down to the final lap or the final corner with five drivers sitting within 85 points of each other. Leading the charge is eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings #1 pilot Brandon Jarsocrak. The season began on the iKart at the SpringNationals, coming away with solid points. Jumping back to the familiar Tony Kart, with just him and his regular crew, Brandon drove to two runner-up results at the New Castle facility. Landing himself at the top of the point standings, Jarsocrak has qualified for his first SuperSunday, after failing to transfer through in two previous attempts.
SpringNationals winner Oliver Askew is second, just 10 points out of first. The new Birel ART driver with PSL Karting was able to bounce back from a DNF on day one at the SummerNationals to land on the podium, helping to salvage his championship chase. The electrical issue that sidelined him however cost the Florida native a guaranteed position on the SuperSunday grid, which means Askew will have to race his way in to be in the main event. Louie Pagano and Jake Craig are the other two drivers with guaranteed grid positions on SuperSunday.
Pagano (2Wild Karting / Tony Kart) finally got the monkey off his back at the SpringNationals, winning his first major Senior event since 2011. Leaving Phoenix as the point leader, the 2014 vice-champion had a difficult SummerNationals and finds himself third in the points, back by 14 markers.
Defending champion Craig (RaceLab / Formula K) had a win taken away at the SpringNationals after contact with Pagano on a false start. That penalty cost him 110 points, and Craig enters Vegas back of Jarsocrak by 23 points. Last year’s main event went south in turn two for Craig. He qualified first and started third in the feature, only to be turned around and out of the race. The Californian will need something better this time around for a shot at defending the crown.
The fifth wheel in the championship chase is double SummerNationals winner Jesus Rios Jr. Missing the SpringNationals, Rios joined the American-made iKart operation at its home track, dominating the weekend at New Castle to come away with two major victories for the chassis and Rios himself. With the calamity among the other championship contenders, his high score from the SummerNationals puts him only 85 points out of first. A top-three performance all week in Las Vegas can propel him up to the top as they enter SuperSunday.
Along with McCusker, Christian Brooks has an outside chance at the title. The now 15-year-old has been solid as a rookie, bouncing back from a tough SpringNationals to finish top-five at the SummerNationals. It was a challenging Rotax Grand Finals for the Nash Motorsporz / Tony Kart driver, looking to redeem himself back on US soil.
Who to Watch: Opening for New Names to Rise Up the Ranks
The youth and inexperience of the field could allow for those with previous success at the SuperNationals a clear path toward the front this year. Andre Nicastro won the most dramatic finishes of the SuperNationals in 2010, beating out Aussie David Sera for the victory. The Brazilian continues to pilot the Italkart with Italian Motors USA, and is among the top drivers every session year in, year out. Last year was a battle, finishing 17th after a rough start to the heat races.
2014 TaG Junior winner Logan Sargeant is making his first start on US soil since last year’s event, and since becoming the 2015 CIK-FIA KFJ World Champion. The Florida native has spent the last three years racing in Europe against the top talent from all over the world, and conquered in Italy this September to claim the first world title for a United States of America driver since Lake Speed in 1978. Sargeant (Tony Kart), the youngest driver in the field, is sure to be among the top contenders. His brother Dalton Sargeant is no pushover. Working his way up the NASCAR ranks, Sargeant is a former US Rotax champion and started last year’s main event on the pole position. Contact on the final lap took him off the podium. The two Tony Kart brothers could become the first brother tandem to stand on the steps after SuperSunday.
Experience is key at a prestige event such as the SuperNationals. Andrick Zeen is among the more experience pilots, looking for redemption after last year’s event. Zeen entered with a shot at finishing on the championship podium, only to have a spark plug issue keep him from leaving the grid. The Praga North America driver is coming into the event with momentum, finishing the USPKS program with two victories, and now holding the confidence to make a run for his first SuperNationals podium. Matt Johnson (Tony Kart) has the age and experience on nearly the entire field. The 35-year-old Vegas native is a front runner at the California ProKart Challenge, just unable to translate that on the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour this year. 2010 US Rotax champion Stepanova Nekeel is coming directly from Portugal, wrenching for DD2 Masters top qualifier Derek Wang, and joining Ryan Perry Motorsport to pilot a Tony Kart in TaG Senior. Nekeel is sneaky fast, and could be a player throughout the week.
Other notables to watch include KartSport North America / Arrow driver Roger Ralston Jr., Nash Motorsportz / Tony Kart drivers Austin Osborne and Brenden Baker, along with 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Scholarship winner Austin Elliott (Speedsense Motorsports / Tony Kart). Thomas Preining is among the notable international drivers, as the 2013 Rotax Junior SuperNationals winner is returning to Vegas aboard a TB Kart, making his TaG Senior debut.
Rob Howden – EKN Editor-in-Chief
1. David Sera
2. Oliver Askew
3. Marco Maestranzi
4. Austin McCusker
5. Jesus Rios Jr.
As I stare at the stacked field of TaG Senior drivers, I’m really not sure where to start. All I have is questions. Can Maestranzi come back and do it again in the Top Kart? Will Deadly David Sera finally break through with his first SuperNationals win? Can Jesus Rios Jr. and iKart draw from their SummerNationals sweep to win in Las Vegas? Fikse Wheels Pro Tour point leader Brandon Jarsocrak’s nickname is ‘Money’ and he’d be rolling it in if he were to win on SuperSunday, putting $16k in his pocket. What about Askew, Sargeant, Nicastro, McCusker, Baker, Brooks and Pagano? I’m dizzy trying to decide on a prediction. OK…Cole says I need to come up with something, so here it is. I’m going to say that this is David Sera’s year. The Deadly and Arrow karts have shown well on the Las Vegas parking lot pavement, and the Aussie is finally going to win on SuperSunday and then tear up the Las Vegas Strip. Askew is inarguably one of the top TaG drivers in the country and I expect him to fight for the win, and Maestranzi will again be there in the long run. I liked what McCusker showed last year in Vegas and he’s been in the fight on the Pro Tour as well, so I’ll give him a top-five nod. I’ll do the same for Rios and the US-made iKart. The manufacturer has been hard at work developing their chassis and this could be yet another breakout race for them.
David Cole – EKN Managing Editor
1. David Sera
2. Oliver Askew
3. Jesus Rios Jr.
4. Brenden Baker
5. Andre Nicastro
You can’t deny that while the field is full, and the talent pool is not as stout as before, the fight at the front will be heated. Those handful of drivers that you expect to see at the front are among the best, and it will a fight to the end between them. When you finish three times on the SuperNationals podium, and not claimed a victory yet, you have to expect one to come eventually. Australian champion David Sera has been looking toward this race since missing out on the victory a year ago. After surgery for a wrist injury, a victory on SuperSunday makes all the time and effort worth it. Oliver Askew has stepped up on the big stage a number of times. 2013 at the Rotax Grand Finals, last year in the S1 division, and now in his first TaG Senior start. The runner-up gives the Florida driver another title, the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship. Rios has the experience as well, and will take the iKart brand to its first SuperNationals victory. Brenden Baker has another year of racing under his belt, and is always quick on a temp circuit. The 2015 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix winner got his rookie SuperNats event under him, and will avoid the sophomore slump. Former winner Andre Nicastro has to come from behind to put the Italkart on the podium, beating out a number of top drivers.
TaG Senior Provisional Entry List
|777k||Gino Alfonso-Macauley||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|38f||Oliver Askew||PSL Karting||BirelART||X30||FL||USA|
|388c||Jin Bai||Kyle Gash Racing (KGR)||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||CHN|
|316c||Brenden Baker||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|037a||Mike Bartels||Team PDB Kart||Gillard||X30||NED|
|21t||Mike Bartholomew||Champion Racing||Intrepid||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||TX||USA|
|23r||Alessandro Bizzotto||PSL Karting||BirelART||X30||QC||CAN|
|555a||Luiz Branquinho||NFSports||Italkart||IM Tuning||X30||BRA|
|025a||Kevin Breysse||Evo Kart srl||EVO Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||FRA|
|344c||Christian Brooks||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|018a||Alfie Brown||Motorsports Driver Development (MDD)||Kosmic||Ogden Motorsport||X30||GBR|
|7a||Pedro Calbimonte||FA Kart||X30||BOL|
|4n||Andre Castro||Chi Chi Racing||FA Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||NY||USA|
|39q||Junrong Chen||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CT||CHN|
|304r||Bryce Choquer||BBR Karting||Tony Kart||BBR Karting||X30||BC||CAN|
|113r||Zachary Claman-DeMelo||Goodwood Kartways||Intrepid||HRS Racing Engines||Leopard||QC||CAN|
|1||Jake Craig||Team Formula K / RaceLab||Formula K||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|90a||Gabriel Delgado||Team PDB Kart||Gillard||X30||PER|
|98y||Phillippe Denes||PSL Karting||BirelART||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|52a||Marcu Dionisios||Pserra Racing||Tony Kart||Bordogna Racing Engines||X30||ROM|
|78y||Austin Elliott||Speedsense Motorsports||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|44x||Matt England||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||AZ||USA|
|41j||Braden Eves||Motorsports Driver Development (MDD)||Kosmic||Allison Racing Engines||X30||OH||USA|
|99d||Scott Falcone||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Kartsport North America||X30||CO||USA|
|59j||Elliot Finlayson||Team Koene USA||Tony Kart||Comet Racing Engines||X30||IL||USA|
|725a||Alfred Gagliardi||PSL Karting||BirelART||X30||ITA|
|89m||Taylor Greenfield||Team PDB Kart||Gillard||X30||MEX|
|808c||Hannah Grisham||Mack Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||CA||USA|
|46a||Philip Hanson||Motorsports Driver Development (MDD)||Kosmic||Ogden Motorsport||X30||GBR|
|222a||Pedro Hiltbrand||Factory CRG||CRG||X30||ESP|
|13b||Dallas Hollins||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|10h||Emily Hurlbert||Motorsports Driver Development (MDD)||Ricciardo Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||MN||USA|
|32t||David Ilavia||J3 Competition||CompKart||J3 Competition||X30||TX||USA|
|108n||Brandon Jarsocrak||Mike Doty Racing||Tony Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||PA||USA|
|17x||Matt Johnson||Smokin' Fast Motorsports||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|125n||Garrett Johnston||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Adkins Speed Center||X30||NJ||USA|
|99h||Alexander Kardashian||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||X30||MN||USA|
|34t||Austin Kaszuba||Team Formula K / RaceLab||Formula K||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||TX||USA|
|45f||Darren Keane||Orsolon Racing||Tony Kart||X30||FL||USA|
|49y||Cody Kelleher||Smokin' Fast Motorsports||Tony Kart||Sanner Racing Engines||X30||NV||USA|
|8j||Scott Kopp||Innovative Performance||Tony Kart||Innovative Performance||X30||WI||USA|
|97a||Niklas Kry||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||X30||DEU|
|5j||Billy Lewis||Team iKart||iKart||Comet Racing Engines||X30||IN||USA|
|55x||Morghan Loganathan||Aluminos||Aluminos||P1 Racing Engines||X30||AZ||SGP|
|20a||Marco Maestranzi||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||ITA|
|410a||Jordi Marcon||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Kartsport North America||X30||AUS|
|117a||Luiz Matheus||Rolison Performance Group (RPG)||Kosmic||X30||BRA|
|73x||Ty Matta||OTK||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||PHL|
|28r||Ben Maxfield||PSL West / Team Fikse||CRG||IM Tuning||X30||BC||CAN|
|011j||Mike McAndrews||Fullerton America||Fullerton||Adkins Speed Center||X30||WI||USA|
|86n||Austin McCusker||Mike Doty Racing||Deadly||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||NY||USA|
|256j||Abby McLaughlin||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||X30||IN||USA|
|112a||Matt McLean||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Comet Racing Engines||X30||AUS|
|213y||Blake Milton||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|305f||Calvin Ming||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Comet Racing Engines||X30||FL||GUY|
|008a||Alexander Muller||Energy Corse America||Energy||X30||DNK|
|22z||Stepanova Nekeel||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||X30||WA||USA|
|92a||Andre Nicastro||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||IM Tuning||X30||BRA|
|121t||Austin Osborne||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||TX||USA|
|2||Louie Pagano||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|831y||Joey Paonessa||Team iKart||iKart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||X30||NV||USA|
|815a||Kyung-Ho Park||Team Dream Racer||CRG||X30||KOR|
|255y||Jess Peterson||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||High-Rev Engineering||X30||NV||USA|
|370y||Zach Pettinicchi||VRP Racing||Kosmic||SwedeTech||X30||CA||USA|
|199a||Thomas Preining||TB Kart USA||TB Kart||SwedeTech||X30||AUT|
|31a||Louis Prette||Evo Kart srl||EVO Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||FRA|
|325y||Enzo Prevost||D Power Racing||Mad – Croc||D Power Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|155n||Ryan Raffa||Full Tilt Racing||Top Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||PA||USA|
|301f||Roger Ralston Jr.||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Comet Racing Engines||X30||FL||USA|
|83c||Nick Ramirez||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|127f||Jesus Rios Jr.||Team iKart||iKart||X30||FL||USA|
|14t||Jesus Robles-Torrado||Alpha Kart USA||Alpha Kart||D Power Racing Engines||X30||MEX|
|262y||Shelby Sander||Italcorse America||Italcorse||Pinzini Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|54f||Dalton Sargeant||Sargeant Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||FL||USA|
|524f||Logan Sargeant||Sargeant Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||FL||USA|
|9s||Scott Saunders||Mach 1 USA||Mach 1||X30||CA||AUS|
|046f||Luis Schiavo||Goodwood Kartways||Intrepid||X30||FL||VEN|
|96a||David Sera||Kartsport North America||Deadly||Comet Racing Engines||X30||AUS|
|326z||Adam Smalley||Smak Racing||Kosmic||P1 Racing Engines||X30||WA||USA|
|48a||Ben Stewart||KartSport North America||Arrow||X30||AUS|
|29a||Felice Tiene||Factory CRG||CRG||X30||ITA|
|07q||Tazio Torregiani||Mike Doty Racing||Tony Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||X30||CT||USA|
|038a||Luke van Herwaarde||Mach 1 USA||Mach 1||X30||AUS|
|04a||Bruno Vermeeren||Russell Karting Specialties||Parolin||Russell Karting Specialties||X30||BEL|
|16c||Chris Wehrhiem||Evo Kart srl||EVO Kart||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|044x||Andrick Zeen||Praga North America||Praga||P1 Racing Engines||X30||CA||USA|
|130j||Haopeng Zhang||Tony Kart||X30||MI||CHN|