Wilkins, Vacala and Mitchell Among Double Winners in Katy for Texas ProKart Challenge
Another successful event for Superkarts! USA and US Rotax Max Challenge program, welcoming Briggs 206 racers for first time
Austin Wilkins put himself into the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto championship lead with two wins in Katy (Photo: DreamsCapturedPhoto.net)
It was another hot Lone Star State weekend at the Gulf Coast Kartways for the third stop of the Texas ProKart Challenge. The Katy, Texas facility welcomed a number of competitors from the region to compete in the P1 Promotions Superkarts! USA and Texas Barge & Boat Inc. Rotax Max Challenge programs over the July 8-10 weekend. It was the first event on the calendar to avoid rain conditions, with clear blue skies setting the stage for the fifth and sixth rounds of the championship chases – many preparing for the upcoming SKUSA SummerNationals and the US Rotax Grand Nationals. Officials provided another professionally-run event, including snow cone awards for the top drivers and their mechanics in Friday’s final practice session.
Austin Wilkins was nearly unstoppable the headline Stock Moto race group, presented by Champion Racing and Uncle Hal Gottspeed Racing. Wilkins swept the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto division on Saturday, keeping pace with S1 Pro Stock Moto driver Jake French. Wilkins went wire-to-wire on the day, earning a 12-second advantage after 16 laps. Championship leader Jordon Musser drove to second ahead of Vincent Cosard. Andretta Young and Taylor Ross completed the top-five. Musser was able to break up the perfect weekend, awarded the pole position in qualifying on Sunday after Wilkins was penalized for impeding another driver during the session. Wilkins was among a group of drivers that committed the penalty, and all were penalized by the Texas PKC officials. Austin fought back to win both heat races and the main event for his third victory on the season. Musser kept it close, just a few tenths behind at the checkered flag. Casey Ross improved to the third step on the podium, ahead of Young and Cosard. French ran uncontested in the S1 division, as did Tamer Hassan in the S4 Master Stock Moto class. Blair Hosie and Riley Dickinson split the wins in the S3 Novice Stock Moto. Hosie took the win on Saturday with Dickinson the main event victory on Sunday as Kyle Polack finished third behind both each day.
The largest class of the weekend was the IAME Mini Swift division, presented by Mind Shift Financial. Branyon Tiner brought his win total to three on the season after a double win weekend in Katy. Tiner and Davis Cunningham were the top drivers all weekend. Cunningham set fast time in qualifying on Saturday with the top-four, including Aden Rudolph, Tiner and Ayrton Hernandez within eight hundredths of a second. Tiner went on to win both heats and lead all 13 laps of the main event for the victory. Round Two winner Caiden Mitchell worked his way up to second after a few front-runners retired early. Destin Shields earned his first podium of the season in third ahead of Travis Wiley and Luke Lange. Cunningham returned Sunday to once again top the charts in qualifying and won the opening heat race before slipping back in Heat #2. Tiner went on to score the win to start the main event from the pole position. The Final was a battle to the end with Shields and Hernandez taking a turn at the lead. It came down to Travis Wiley putting on the pressure during the final lap. Tiner reached the line first by just 83 thousandths of a second over Wiley. Mitchell placed third with Cunningham up to fourth ahead of Alex Stanfield.
Brett Mitchell was able to land a perfect weekend for the first time in 2016 in the Rotax Senior, presented by Dallas Karting Complex. Saturday was a wire-to-wire day capped off with a nine-second victory over Round Four winner Marcellus Dukes and Thomas Beaudoin. Sunday was another perfect score toward the championship chase, including fast time in the main event, for a six-second margin of victory. Beaudoin drove to second with Moises de la Vara improving to third. Lane Vacala improved his championship lead in the X30 Senior with two victories on the season. Vacala swept the day on Saturday, driving to a seven-second advantage over two-time winner Nathan Adds and Ryan Rush. Lane attempted to secure a perfect weekend heading into Sunday, recording the fast time in qualifying and winning Heat #1. Both Max Hewitt and Adds were able to work around Vacala in Heat #2. In the Final, Vacala advanced his way back to the point and drove to a two-second margin of victory. Hewitt ended up second with Adds in third.
Cade McKee helped his cause at the Texas Barge sponsored Rotax Junior championship with two wins. McKee won Round Four in Oklahoma and nearly swept the weekend in Katy. Saturday was a sweep as McKee led all on-track sessions, driving to a five-second victory in the main event. Ethan Arndt and Tyler Orum joined him on the podium. The perfect weekend was broken up in Heat #1. McKee score fast time in qualifying but it was Cash Tiner earning the win in the opening heat. Cade bounced back to the P1 position in Heat #2 and led all 16 laps in the main event for his third victory of 2016. Arndt drove to second with Tiner placing third. X30 Junior division was split by Preston Perlmutter and Matt Stretch. Perlmutter notched his first win on the season with a sweep of Saturday’s round, while Stretch recorded his fourth victory on the year Sunday with a sweep of his own.
The Nuclear Imaging Services-sponsored IAME Micro Swift class did have a perfect score on the weekend, produced by Noah Baker. The two-time winner brought his 2016 total to four wins after a perfect weekend in Katy. Saturday was a near two-second victory over Miles Preston Hewitt and Cooper Shipman. Sunday saw Baker extend his lead to six seconds at the checkered flag with Shipman up to second and Kaden Trotter joining them on the podium in third.
Joining the program for the weekend was a Briggs 206 Senior category, with a cash purse sponsored by P1 Promotions and Nuclear Imaging. It gave local racers a chance to compete alongside the SKUSA and Rotax competitors, and enjoy what the Texas ProKart Challenge has to offer. Nine drivers took advantage of the opportunity, all chasing Steven Hefley at the final checkered flag each day. Hefley set the pace in qualifying while Shawn Ross drove to the win in both heat races. The two pulled away from the field in the main event, with Hefley taking over the lead during the second half of the race to score the victory. Ross ended up second with Barry Peel – Briggs & Stratton Weekly Racing Series point leader – in third. Peel was the top qualifier on Sunday, but Hefley took over for the remainder of the day. Steven drove to the win in both heat races, and drove to a eight-second advantage in the Final. Dale Ross and Nathan Wilkins joined him on the podium. Hefley took home over $400 for the his performance on the weekend.
The Texas PKC now is preparing for the 2016 season finale, set for August 18-20 at the Dallas Karting Complex. Night racing returns to the series, with Round Seven and Eight set to compete under the lights of the Caddo Mills, Texas facility. Registration is open at the series website texasprokartchallenge.com with exciting event details forthcoming. Be sure to find Texas ProKart Challenge on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.