EKN Trackside: 2014 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals – Sunday Report
Craig doubles in TaG Senior as four others earn second victory of weekend at Dallas Karting Complex
Jake Craig scored the win on Sunday to take home the $1,000 TaG Senior check and Pro Tour point lead (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
The 2014 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals will go down as an historic, memorable and distinct event in North American karting history. Dallas Karting Complex hosted the final day of action with the record number of drivers taking to the Caddo Mills, Texas facility for Round Two of the weekend on a bright and warm Sunday.
Despite the eight drivers earning victories on course, and the $6,500 in prize money awarded, the day was marked with the loss of the CRG West trailer due to fire. An electrical fire sparked within the hauler, as the efforts of many throughout the paddock with fire extinguishers could not douse the flames and over 75% of the stacker trailer was lost. Thankfully, the quick actions of those surrounding that area of the paddock, and low wind speeds compared to that of previous days, the fire did not spread to any other tent or trailer. The Superkarts! USA and Dallas Karting Complex staff came together during a time of danger, the pits were evacuated to help eliminate the chance of danger, and no person was hurt. The Kacic family will rebound and recover from their lose, and the karting family is behind them 100%.
The delay in the day’s activities did not hamper the action on track, with the SKUSA staff and racers pushing through to get all the scheduled laps completed and nearly back on schedule with the final checkered flag. Eight drivers claimed victory to complete the weekend, with a number of repeat winners returning to the top of the podium.
Leading Edge Motorsports TaG Senior
The goal of every TaG Senior driver was to find the speed in qualifying to start up front and avoid the carnage that typically happens in large fields. DKC/SodiKart USA made sure of that as he laid down the quickest lap of the qualifying session. A 52.362-second lap was the best of the session, clearing the field by over two tenths of a second. Veteran David Jurca put his Italian Motors USA/Italkart onto the front row, with Saturday winner Jake Craig (Tony Kart) third. Matt Johnson (Tony Kart) and Franklin Motorsports/Merlin driver Kyle Kalish completed the fast five.
The start to heat one was one of the cleaner beginnings to a TaG Senior race on the weekend, returning to action right after the pit evacuation for the CRG West trailer fire. Pagano retained the lead from the pole position with the top-four in the mix after Kalish was shuffled back. Pagano pulled away in what was an uneventful eight-lap race. Jurca crossed the line in second, but was penalized three positions for jumping the start. That promoted Craig to second and third to Johnson. Kalish recovered take the checkered flag fifth, but moved to outside row to of the heat race after the Jurca penalty.
Heat two was possible the worst start for the TaG Senior drivers, including Pagano. The field stormed into the opening corner with Pagano getting spun around at the apex, and collecting a number of drivers. This allowed Craig to inherit the lead with Kalish avoiding the carnage and up to second. Roger Ralston Jr. (FA Kart), Andrick Zeen (Margay) and Travis Lowe (Kosmic) made up the top-five following the opening circuit, with Lowe on the move early. Ralston and Zeen fought for position, and a little contact benefitted Lowe as he slipped by for the spot. As they fought behind them, Craig and Kalish drove to a 1-2 finish and set up the front row for the main event. Lowe was able to escape with third as his KartSport North America rookie Gresham Wagner (Arrow) fought up to fifth over Zeen and Jurca.
Pagano’s DNF in heat two set the stage for a come-back drive in the 15-lap main event to remember. The race began with the inside line taking advantage, with Craig, Lowe and Wagner assuming the top-three positions with Kalish back to fifth behind Ralston on the opening circuit. Thanks to drivers wrecking in the opening corner, Pagano was up to the 13th position after the first lap with plenty of time to move forward. Into the 10th spot by lap two, Pagano gained a position every lap with a similar turn one pass that he set up through the turn 14-15-16 complex. By the time the race reached the seventh lap, the SodiKart driver was into the fifth position. Wagner and Ralston went back and forth for the third position, and that allowed Pagano to close in and pick them off in consecutive laps despite a valiant effort put in by Ralston to keep the charging SKUSA #2 plate-holder at bay. The front two were nearly in a dead heat, as they matched their fast lap of the race with Craig leading every circuit for his second victory and $1,000 check. Lowe was runner-up on his second podium finish of the weekend while Pagano ended up third in a stellar drive from the back. Ralston finished fourth with fellow Florida driver Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) earning a fifth as a privateer effort. Zeen would end up sixth with Kalish, Wagner, Austin Elliott (Kosmic) and Austin Osborne (Tony Kart) completing the top-10.
Pure Karting S1 Pro Stock Moto
It was not a shock to see Jordon Lennox-Lamb at the top of the order following the qualifying session. Late into the 10-minute run, the PSL Karting/CRG driver laid down another monster lap to eclipse his track record set yesterday. A 50.600-second is the new mark at the DKC facility, bettering the time he set on Saturday by roughly two tenths. Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart duo of Oliver Askew and Nick Neri were second and third, as Euro drivers Anthony Abbasse (Sodi Kart) and Davide Forѐ (CRG) rounding out the fast five.
Lennox only struggle throughout his weekend, has been getting off the line. It was evident once again as the lights went out for the beginning of heat one. The OGP duo of Askew and Neri drove around CRG factory pilot into the opening corner, with Abbasse moving past as well. Abbasse went to work early, and was into the lead by the beginning of lap three. Lennox followed him through, dropping the American back with Neri falling down to seventh at one point. The Frenchman would show the way for the remainder of the eight-lap event, scoring the win with Lennox attached to his rear bumper. Askew kept the Euros in sight, with Forѐ fourth and Fritz Leesmann (Aluminos) fifth. Neri fought back to sixth after S1 rookie Ryan Kinnear (Intrepid) held the position briefly.
Abbasse grabbed the holeshot in heat two, and set his sites on earning the pole position for the main event. Askew slotted into second with Fore also able to work around Lennox at the launch. OGP’s Askew had other ideas, working into the lead on lap three, passing the two-time SuperNationals KZ2 winner with confidence. Abbasse went on defense mode as Lennox was on the attack after passing Forѐ for third. Lap five, Saturday winner was around the Sodi Kart driver, and began reeling in Askew. By lap seven, Lennox was into the lead and secured another heat win. Askew settled for second with Abbasse, Forѐ behind and Neri up to fifth.
Lennox stamped his Pro Tour debut weekend with another dazzling performance in the final main event of the weekend to secure his second win, and the $1,000 payday. The holeshot however was the only weakness in Lennox armor, however, performed his best start of the weekend to slot in behind outside row one starter Askew. The S1 rookie was stalked by the CRG factory driver, running for PSL Karting on the weekend, until lap four when he drafted past Askew. Abbasse was in the cat-bird seat, watching it unfold in front of him and demoted Askew back to the third position. Lennox however was already holding a comfortable lead, and fast laps of the race just two tenths of a second off his pole position time locked up the victory by over three seconds. Abbasse held the second position comfortably, until a charging Neri came calling. Up to fourth after the second lap, he was around his teammate Askew with five laps remaining to set his sights on the Frenchman. On his bumper, he was looking for a way by, but the Sodi Kart driver fought strong. This allowed Forѐ a chance to take a stab at the Florida OGP driver, which put him in defense mode on the final circuit. Abbasse crossed the line second, with Neri coming across third for another podium trip. The five-time world champion Forѐ ended his weekend with CRG-USA holding another fourth place finish. Askew ended his rookie weekend with a fifth place finish.
Billet Performance Karting S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto
Jarred Campbell was the among the quickest drivers all day Saturday, until contact for position took him out of contention. The Champion Racing/Intrepid driver jumped back on the horse after repairs, and put his machine on the pole position after qualifying. A 51.181-lap was best, as he edged out five drivers within a tenth of a second. Ryan Rudolph found speed overnight in his Billet Performance/CRG-USA entry to end up second with Jonathan Kotyk (Tony Kart), Loris Ronzano (GP) and Saturday winner Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) all right there.
The drama unfolded in the final circuits of the opening heat race as we saw the front two drivers fall down the order, each with their own mechanical issue. Campbell grabbed the holeshot and jumped out to a solid lead over Rudolph. The Colorado driver however began falling down the order, not showing the same pace he had in the timed session. That allowed Austin Garrison (Tony Kart) to move up into the second spot, and began running down the leader. That was until he completed lap six coasting, with the chain coming off. That moved Griffin up to the second spot, hounding Campbell until he slowed coming out of turn 13. A shift lever issue dropped him back to 23rd as he was able to take the checkered flag. The victory went to Griffin with a charging Kyle Kirkwood (Tony Kart) in second from eighth. Kotyk made it two OGP drivers in the top three with Ronzano and Nathan Adds (Sodi Kart) completing the top-five.
Heat two was uneventful at the front following the start as Griffin drove away with the win. Kirkwood was slow off the line, and fell down the order, allowing Griffin to pull away and Kotyk into second. Griffin scored the win by over a second, as Miguel Lopez (GP) was up to fourth behind Adds after starting seventh, and took over the third position on lap two, where he would stay. Adds and Finley drove fourth and fifth, putting three Texas drivers in the top-five.
Starting on the pole position, Griffin appeared to be on his way for a repeat of his Saturday main event victory. He and Kotyk launched away from the field and shuffled for the lead early on. By the halfway mark, the top two were run down by OGP driver Kirkwood. Starting eighth, the Florida driver was into the third spot and posting fast laps while catching the leaders. Once by Kotyk, Kirkwood moved into the lead and dropped Griffin back to second. From there, Kirkwood drove off to victory in his first S2 weekend. Griffin piloted his Pure Karting Tony Kart to the runner-up spot, and first in the weekend points to earn $500. Kotyk ended up with another third, giving OGP a fourth podium finish in the two S2 main event. The show of the race was watching rookie Campbell come through the field. The NorCal driver started 17th, and nearly gained a position every lap – including four consecutive passes in turn one. With each pass came an increase in difficulty. The toughest was the last for the fifth position, working by Luke Shanahan (Tony Kart). The Texan made Campbell work for the spot, and the Intrepid driver responded in turn 10 with a nice move for the position. He ended up fifth, just missing a chance to steal fourth away from Lopez. Tartaglia was sixth, scoring the third most points on the weekend for a solid start to a championship chase, with Shanahan, Adds, Finley and Jesse Woodyard (Intrepid) moving from S5 to S2 for Sunday.
CRG-USA S4 Master Stock Moto
The SKUSA #1 plate does not come easy, and Jordon Musser earned that title in 2013. His title defense began strong with a good day, coming up just short in the feature. The 3G Kart Racing/Birel pilot gained 10 critical points with the fast lap on Sunday’s qualifying session. A 51.783-time on his second lap was the best of the 37-driver field. Saturday winner Matthew Hamilton (Aluminos) was second, with Texas native Trevor McAlister (Praga) third. CRG drivers Darren Elliott and Rob Logan made up the fast five.
Hamilton grabbed the holeshot to begin heat one, driving away to the race win. The fight was for second and their battle allowed Hamilton to cruise to a 1.135-second advantage. Musser held the spot until Elliott took over on lap two. Musser would get shuffled back to fifth, fighting his way back to the bumper of Elliott and McAlister. The top-five shuffled around with contact involving Saturday third place finisher Chris Jennings (DR Kart) and Logan, both ending their race early. Later on that lap, McAlister went inside of Elliott at turn 10, but the returning veteran pinched the LEM pilot at the apex. That resulted in a spin for the McAlister, climbing back to 18th at the line. That left Elliott and Musser to fight for the second spot, with the defending champion earning the position at the checkered flag. Italian Gian Cavaciuti (GP) drove a close fourth while Fernando Diaz (Aluminos) worked around Brian Fisher (DR Kart) on the final lap, but penalized one spot for a jump start.
The lights went out to begin heat two for the S4 field, with Hamilton slow off the line to allow Musser, Elliott and Cavaciuti through for position into the opening corner. Fisher was fourth as the exited the first turn but Hamilton was into the position before the lap was completed. From there, the Kiwi driver was on rails, taking third away from the Italian, and doing work with Elliott on lap four. Just one circuit later, Hamilton was around Musser for the lead and went on to score another heat win. Musser ended up second with Elliott third. Cavaciuti retired on lap seven with a mechanical issue, moving Fisher into fourth. ‘T-Mac’ started the race 18th after his spin in the opening heat race. The eight-lap event was a way to ensure a better starting position for the main event, and the native Texan was fifth when the checkered flag waved, around Willy Musgrave (CRG) on the final lap.
Hamilton sat on the pole position, and the main event was his for the taking. Slow off the line once again, he fell all the way to fifth with Musser grabbing the holeshot over Elliott, Musgrave and McAlister. Hamilton recovered to be trailing the top four, but on lap two, he exited turn 11-12 complex slow and contact was made by Fisher on his bumper. It sent him into the barriers, and the Kiwi driver was unable to re-fire, ending his chance for a second victory. Out front, Musser and Elliott were able to pull away despite some exchanges for the top position in consecutive laps. That was due to McAlister working past Musgrave for the third position. The top two were able to gap the LEM/Praga driver, setting up for a duel to the checkered flag.
As the two continued the torid pace, they began reaching the back markers quickly in the large field. Lap 14 was the turn point for Musser, as one lap kart failed to pull off. He made it a challenge to get around as they made their way into the tight turn 14 section. With little room given to Musser, his exit speed was much slower than normal. This allowed Elliott to close right in on the his bumper and have the speed at the end of the straight to dive inside for the lead. Musser fought back at turn three, but Elliott shut the door and the Birel driver lost ground to the leader. Elliott was able to hold on to the checkered flag, earning his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory since the latter days of the original ProMoto Tour back in 2000. Musser settled for runner-up, but left the weekend as the championship leader and $500 richer. McAlister earned the third step on the podium, ending his return to his home state with some hardware. Cavaciuti made a remarkable recovery from his DNF in heat two, coming from 29th on the grid to end up fourth in the final order while also earning fast lap honors. Jennings had another great drive as well, crossing the line fifth after starting 14th, but an off-track excursion on the final lap knocked off his sidepod and he was unable to make weight. The promoted Logan to fifth with Musgrave six.
PSL Karting TaG Master
For the second straight day, Billy Cleavelin showed himself to be the driver to beat in terms of outright speed. While Brian McHattie (Kosmic) was able to run away to the race win on Saturday, he was could not match the qualifying speed of Cleavelin, who laid down a 53.557-second lap during the timed session to secure the pole, over four tenths quicker than his nearest challenger. Reigning TaG Master champion Scott Falcone (Arrow) was again in the hunt to start the day, sitting third in the qualifying order as the Saturday podium filled the top-three from the 10-minutes session. Hector Alvarez (Intrepid) and Anthony Honeywell (Tony Kart) rounded out the top-five.
In the opening heat race, Cleavelin again set the pace ahead of McHattie, Falcone and Alvarez, who joined the front-running quartet. The race looked to be a standard, run-of-the-mill Heat #1, void of too much action, that is, until Cleavelin slowed coming out of turn one of the final lap, throwing his hand in the air with a mechanical issue. McHattie was once again the benefactor, moving from second to the lead, and the pole for the second heat, despite the fact that his lap times were increasing drastically over the final circuits. Cleavelin’s sudden loss of power caught Falcone and Alvarez off guard as well, and in the confusion, Alvarez was able to slip past for third. Falcone hung on for fourth, while Anthony Honeywell improved on a tough qualifying performance to finish fifth.
With Cleavelin starting at the tail of the field, McHattie and Falcone used Heat #2 to secure their front row starting positions for the final. They swapped the lead at the midway point of the race, but McHattie stole the position back before the checkered flag flew to maintain his pole position. Alvarez was the quiet player in the game, sitting in third for the entire run, less than a tenth off the lead battle. Cleavelin’s run was eventful, as he worked steadily through the field of fifth behind Honeywell, but the Race Director did not like his over-aggressive move on Ron Hyde (Italkart) in turn one for fifth.
In the final, McHattie again cashed in on his pole starting spot and left the rest of the TaG Master field to fight it out amongst themselves. Falcone would assume second early, but neither he nor Alvarez could hold back Cleavelin. Cleavelin’s attack on the lead began just past the halfway point, as his CRG came alive, running consecutive 55.0 lap times. He was quickly cutting into McHattie’s two-second lead
SwedeTech Racing Engines S5 Junior Stock Moto
Victory brings a extra dose of confidence to a driver, and Trenton Estep is riding high. Earning his first Pro Tour win with a last lap pass, the Intrepid driver secured the pole position in qualifying with a monster lap of 51.850 seconds to clear the field by four tenths of a second. Rolison Performance Group pilot Austin Versteeg (Kosmic) on his second weekend in a S5 machine gained more speed from yesterday to earn a front row starting spot to the opening heat race. Saturday top qualifier Raul Guzman (GP) was third with Luis Forteza (CRG) and Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) completing the fast five.
Estep was able to walk away with the opening heat race win, driving his Texas Karts/Champion Racing entry to a 2.5-second advantage. The fight was for second, with Guzman into the spot after the lights went out to begin the eight lap event, with Versteeg racing him in third. Behind them was a race for fourth, as Brooks bested Mathias Ramirez (Tony Kart) for the position.
The second heat was a duplicate for Estep, as this time the Intrepid was even faster, pulling out to a near four-second win. Guzman drove to second, pressured by a charging Brooks after Versteeg slipped up with two laps to go, losing the third position. Ramirez was fifth until a mistake of his own dropped him back to sixth behind Max Hewitt (Tony Kart).
The holeshot decided the victor of the main event, as Esetp once was clean from the standing start after the lights went out. Very fast on cold MG Tires, the Texas driver stretched his lead quickly and established a five-second advantage after 16 laps to secure win and the championship lead leaving the SpringNationals. Guzman slotted into second, but Estep was nearly four tenths a lap quicker to cruise to the victory. Behind them was the fight for third, which would be decided in the final few circuits. Jacob Loomis (CRG) got a great jump and was third after the first lap until both Brooks and Versteeg demoted him. Versteeg stayed locked onto Brooks’ bumper, making his move on lap 14 with a surprising dive to the inside at turn seven. The Utah driver caught the double-duty driver sleeping, and controlled the third position. He held on to the checkered flag however officials penalized Versteeg one position for jumping the start. That landed Brooks on the third step of the podium and dropped Versteeg to fourth with Forteza around Loomis for fifth.
Rolison Performance Group TaG Junior
Familiar names returned to the top of the order in the Sunday qualifying session for the TaG Junior division. Italian Motors USA/Italkart driver Luis Branquinho posted a 53.277-second lap to secure the top spot. He was challenged late in the session, with Top Kart USA’s Zach Holden finding clear track to move into the second position, just 54 thousandths of the fast time. David Malukas (Top Kart) and Neil Verhagen (Arrow) were within a tenth of Branquinho’s time, as Canadian Roman DeAngelis (Tony Kart) completed the fast five. Saturday winner Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) was sixth in the order.
Holden emerged from the opening corners of heat one as the leader, while Branquinho and Malukas dropped outside the top-five. Brooks was on the charge early, up to third on the opening lap and into the lead by lap three. Malukas charged back into the top-five, and locked up with Holden. The two went by the California driver in consecutive corners, dropping Brooks to third. Holden and Malukas crossed the line first, making it a Top Kart front row for heat two. Brooks dropped to fifth following some racing contact between he and DeAngelis, with Max Hewitt (Tony Kart) sliding through for the fourth position.
Polesitter Holden got shuffled as they began heat two, allowing Malukas to jump out to the lead. He stretched out a solid advantage early and held it to the stripe for a 1.3-second win. The fight was for second with DeAngelis holding the position until contact between he, Lepe and Ravailov shuffled up the order. Lepe continued but the Canadian and Ravilov did not. That moved Brooks into the second spot, where he inched closer to Malukas but not anywhere close to challenge. Branquinho recovered for a third place finish thanks to contact involving Lepe and Verhagen. That moved Kyle Wick (Kosmic) to fourth and Petr Ptacek Jr. (Praga) fifth.
The true mark of a champion is coming through when all the chips are on the table. A two-win weekend solidified Brooks chances at the TaG Junior title, but it did not come easy. The field shuffled through the opening corner with Malukas holding the lead. The racing was heated, with position change nearly every lap, including Holden into the lead by lap two. After leading four circuits, he was shuffled back to fourth with Malukas and Branquinho going back and forth. Lap nine changed the complexion of the order, with Holden spinning and collecting Branquinho. Brooks jumped to the lead, and that was all he neeed, going on to a two-second win. Second was held by Texan Nick Brueckner (Birel), who was up and down the order all weekend. That was until a charging Sting Ray Robb (Tony Kart) took over the position on the final lap, and held on for the runner-up position. It was a solid end to a difficult weekend, bouncing back from a flip in Saturday’s main event, and watching the trailer he was pitted under CRG West for the weekend burn down. A total of six rookies finished behind Brooks in the final classifications, including Robb and Brueckner each earning their first TaG Junior podium. Verhagen came from 21st on the grid to put his KartSport North America entry fourth in the order with Malukas ending up fifth. Ptacek was sixth with Hewitt seventh.
Black Flag Racing Products TaG Cadet
Familiar names showed up Sunday morning for the qualifying session to begin Round Two. Saturday winner Michael d’Orlando put his Tony Kart into the pole position with a 57.858-second lap, better by over a tenth ahead of Myles Farhan (Tony Kart). Jagger Jones made it a 1-2-3 Tony Kart result in the timed session, with American/Canadian Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) and Riley Dickinson (Tony Kart) making up the fast five.
The start of the opening heat race was plagued with incident, before the red flag even waved. d’Orlando was slow out of the grid during the warm-up lap, and while navigating a turn, another driver clipped him and that triggered a gaggle of karts collected in the wreck. David Morales was among the drivers involved, taking a tumble and needed medical attention for an arm injury. The race resumed with just four laps into the event before another wreck stopped the action. Jones declared the winner with Farhan, Mathias Soler (OTK), Nicholas d’Orlando (Tony Kart) and Lance Fenderson (Benik) making up the top five.
With d’Orlando starting from the tail of the field for Heat #2, Jagger Jones needed to stay focused on maintaining his pole position to increased his chances of victory in the main. Jones had a fight on his hand from Nicholas d’Orlando and Farhan. At the checkered, Jones held on for the win with Farhan up to second over d’Orlando. Fenderson moved up one position to fourth with Kaylen Frederick (Tony Kart) in fifth. Michael d’Orlando started came up to 19th in the seven laps.
Jones and Farhan paced the field in the main event, with Jones at the point for the first half of the race. Lap eight, Farhan took over the point and led until another red flag came out for an incident. Thankfully, all drivers walked away however the race was declared finished as that move gained Farhan the victory. Jones settled for second in what could have been his first Pro Tour victory, instead it was a celebration for Farhan. A d’Orlando landed on the podium once again, as Nicholas edged out Dickinson for the third step while Fenderson held off a charging Michael d’Orlando for fifth. Farhan gained the most points on the weekend, earning a $500 payday for his efforts and the championship lead in which five drivers will enter the SummerNationals within 100 points of each other.