EKN Trackside: 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix – Saturday Report
First day of street race in the books with great qualifying and heat race action
Opening day of 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix was picture perfect. Clear skies, a big crowd and a hungry group of over 100 racers setting up for what was to be an exciting two days of racing in the downtown district of the Southern California city. Practice, qualifying and the first round of heat racing was completed Saturday, along with a number of VIP races under the lights for the city of Lancaster, and all of the Grand Prix supporters.
S1 Pro/S2 Semi-Pro
As we have seen all season long, the S2 Semi-Pro drivers have shown the speed to compete with the S1 Pro drivers in qualifying. Today was no different, as S2 point leader Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) recorded the fast time in qualifying by over a tenth with a 40.498-second lap. The top S1 Pro was defending race winner Fritz Leesmann (CRG). Veteran Ron White (CRG) was third overall, with S2 rookie Jarred Campbell (Intrepid) in fourth. Ryon Beachner (Tony Kart) and Billy Musgrave (Tony Kart) completed the top six overall, with S2 drivers Carter Williams (FA Kart) in seventh.
The last race of the day was the S1/S2 heat race, with Leesmann and White putting on a show at the final corner. Nearly every lap, the two exchanged the lead. White eventually prevailed with the position and scored the race win. Leesmann had to settle for second, but recorded the fast lap of the race. Musgrave drove to third overall, with Griffin and Campbell the top S2 drivers. Beachner, Matias Podboj (ART GP) completed the S1 top-five with Blake Murdock (FA Kart), Williams and Alan Michel (Tony Kart) rounding out the S2 top-five.
Lancaster’s own Brenden Baker was able to score the pole position in his TaG Senior debut at his hometown grand prix. He was able to post a 43.835-second lap aboard his Tony Kart, edging out defending race winner Chris Cricca (ART GP) by 15 thousandths. Andrick Zeen (Praga) was third with Nathan Seegrist (Tony Kart) and Matt England (Top Kart) making up the fast five.
Early on in the 10-lap heat race, the lead position was like a game of hot potato as the top drivers exchanged the top spot a number of times. Zeen and Baker were 1-2 early on, going back and forth for the position until Cricca was able to secure the lead. Zeen challenged but, Cricca fought back and scored the race win. Zeen finished second with Baker in third. Behind them, waiting in the wing were Seegrist and Stepanova Nekeel (Vemme).
S3 Novice/S5 Junior Stock Moto
Travis Nicklas (AMV) was able to steal the fast time in the opening qualifying session of the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. On his 12th circuit, Nicklas posted a 41.917-lap to secure the pole position for the opening heat race. No other driver was able to dip into the 41-second bracket, with Kalvin Chen (Tony Kart) off by two tenths of a second. Cris Araujo (CRG) was third with Mark Juncosa (Tony Kart) and Steve Wetterau (ART GP) making up the fast five.
Newer S5 driver Callum Smith, coming over from the TaG Junior category, was set the pace in their qualifying session. A 42.598-lap aboard his Intrepid was nearly a half-second quicker than Anthony Sawyer (Tony Kart). California PKC Round Five winner Nicky Hays (FA Kart) was third with point leader Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) fourth. Cruz Fiore (CRG) completed the fast-five.
Nicklas led wire-to-wire in the opening heat race of the event. Challenged in the late going by Chen, Nicklas scored the race win by just under four tenths of a second. Wetterau advanced from fifth to third with Araujo and Juncosa having trouble. Dakota Fripp (CRG) was fourth with Robert Heck Jr. (CRG) up to fifth. Smith did the same in the S5 division, scoring the win by 1.2 seconds over Brooks. Sawyer was third with Fiore and Henry Morse (GP) rounding out the top-five.
S4 Master Stock Moto
Current California ProKart Challenge championship leader Darren Elliott (CRG) continued his quest for the crown. The fast time in qualifying earned another 10 bonus points, laying down a 41.235-second lap. His top rival and CRG teammate Rob Logan (CRG) clocked in second with Robert Marks (CRG) in third. Justin Bennett (Aluminos) was fourth with Mike Mantel (Tony Kart) fifth.
The front row pulled away early, with Logan applying heavy pressure on Elliott. Logan took the lead a few times, but Elliott prevailed. Their fighting allowed Marks to close in late in the race, as the three CRG karts crossed the line 1-2-3. Elliott however would have the win taken away, pulling out of the starting box too early. Officials moved him back two positions, giving Logan the win and moving Marks to the front row for Heat #2. Mantel moved up to fourth with defending winner Willy Musgrave (CRG) up to fifth over Bennett.
2012 SOLGP winner Ethan Wilson set the pace in the TaG Master qualifying session. The NorCal driver laid down a 44.631-second lap aboard his FA Kart, edging out Kevin Manning (MMK) by just 79 thousandths of a second. Last year’s winner Billy Cleavelin (CRG) was third with Derek Burris (Praga) and Steve Brackett (MMK) in the fourth and fifth positions.
Manning was able to prevail in the opening heat race, helping his championship chase hopes. Wilson, Manning and Cleavelin drove away from the rest of the field, with Manning and Wilson going back and forth. Manning eventually secured the top spot, scoring the race win with Wilson and Cleavelin on his bumper. The Brackett brothers rounded out the top-five, with Steve in fourth and Rob (CRG) in fifth.
The fast time in the TaG Junior session was decided late in the going with Anthony Sawyer (Tony Kart) able to secure the top spot. A 44.864-second time on his 11th circuit, scored him the pole position for heat one. The top four were separated by less than a tenth of a second, with Ethan Barrett (Kosmic) second, point leader Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) third, and Justice Lepe (Tony Kart) fourth. Hannah Grisham (FA Kart) moved into the fifth spot late in the going as well.
At first, it was a three driver fight at the front between Sawyer, Brookas and Lepe. Royal McKee (Tony Kart) started sixth and was able to close up on the top three late in the 10-lap race, after watching the trio exchange the lead a number of times. Lap seven, McKee took over the lead and, with some defensive driving, held Brook back to cross the line first. Officials laid down a one position penalty for blocking, giving the win to Brooks. Lepe and Sawyer were third and fourth, with Grisham holding fifth.
It was just 47 thousandths of a second separating the top two in the TaG Cadet qualifying session. The Tony Kart of Jagger Jones was the quickest, laying down a 40.687-lap to secure the pole position over Tomas Mejia (Benik). Point leader Trey Brown (Tony Kart) was third with Oliver Calvo (Top Kart) and Joseph Daniele (Tony Kart) making up the fast five.
Jones went on to score a wire-to-wire win in the opening heat race. The championship contender pulled out to a 1.711-second margin after 10 laps. Mejia held off Brown for the second posiiton with Calvo and Daniele holding their ground through the heat race.