EKN Trackside: 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix – Sunday Report
Campbell scores big victory, Cricca defends at TaG winner during an amazing day of racing
S2 driver Jarred Campbell scored the overall win in the headling Stock Moto main event (Photo: dromophotos.com)
It was an amazing day in the city of Lancaster on Sunday, as the California ProKart Challenge wrapped up the 2014 season at the sixth annual Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. The southern California city welcomed over 100 racers for what is a three-day festival on the Boulevard. The Superkarts! USA racers on hand put on a show for the hundreds of spectators, making the main events Sunday afternoon a memorable one for those on and off the track.
S1 Pro/S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto
The grid of the second heat race changed with defending race winner Fritz Leesmann (CRG) moving back 10 positions for an engine change. Out front, Billy Musgrave (Tony Kart) put the pressure on Ron White (CRG) the entire 10 laps. White finally fell victim on the final circuit, as Musgrave took over the top spot and scored the win, earning the pole position for the main event. White settled for second, with S2 driver Jarred Campbell (Intrepid) in third. Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) was just behind in second with S1 driver Ryon Beachner (Tony Kart) in fifth.
Musgrave once again had the holeshot over White to begin the 20-lap main event, while Campbell bogged at the start and fell back to the 11th position. Griffin, Alec Gumpfer (CRG) and Jimmy McNeil (CRG) joined the top drivers at the front of the field, and the fight for third began near the halfway point. Gumpfer was looking to move inside of McNeil on lap 10, when contact was made at turn five. The two saw their race end premature. That gave Griffin the third spot, but allowed a charging Campbell to close in. Lap 15, Campbell – the quickest kart on the track – moved into the third spot. The next lap, he was by the veteran White. Then on lap 17, into the overall lead as he worked past Musgrave. Going from zero to hero, Campbell held on to score the victory over the S1 drivers. White was able to move past Musgrave for the S1 victory, as Griffin ran fourth overall and second in S2. Beachner completed the S1 podium with Leesmann fourth and Matias Podboj (ART GP) fifth in class. Blake Murdock (FA Kart) landed on the S2 podium in third, with 2014 Streets of Lancaster Driver Scholarship pilot Carter Williams (FA Kart) fourth, and Alan Michel (Tony Kart) fifth.
Hometown driver Brendan Baker (Tony Kart) set the tone in the final heat race, leading all 10 laps to score the pole position for the main event. Four drivers made up the lead group, with Andrick Zeen (Praga), Nathan Seegrist (Tony Kart) and Chris Cricca (ART GP). The fight was for second, with Cricca holding the spot and then Zeen, but it was Seegrist scoring the position. Zeen ended up third with Cricca back to fourth. Kyle Hayner (Birel) won the fifth spot over Austin Elliott (Kosmic).
It was three early on in the 20-lap main event, with Baker, Zeen, and Seegrist as Cricca fell back. The defending race winner closed back in as the trio shuffled for the top spot. Cricca began moving forward with Zeen helping, mixing up the group to take a turn at the point. By lap seven, Cricca was into the lead. After the halfway point, the shuffling continued with Baker and Seegrist getting a taste of the lead. Cricca eventually took over the position, and gapped the group. The fight for second heated up, as they did not stay in line to reel in Cricca. That allowed Stepanova Nekeel (Vemme) to close in and join the fight. Nekeel had worked his way into third, and tried for the second spot on lap 19, but slid too far at turn five, going off into the barriers and out of the race. Baker retired just before that, losing the brakes on his machine and went into the barriers as well. Out front Cricca drove away to his second straight Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix victory by four-seconds. Zeen secured the second spot over Seegrist with Elliott fourth and Josh Sarchet (ART GP) fifth.
Elliott, recovering from a major crash in Modesto, was honored after the podium ceremonies by the city of Lancaster. The NorCal pilot was name the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Driver Scholarship winner, earning a $12,000 program to promote the event as a competitor at the California ProKart Challenge and SKUSA Pro Tour in 2015.
S4 Master Stock Moto
The second heat race for the S4 division was stopped after just two laps completed. A hard wreck on the long straight involving PP Mastro (Aluminos) and Ken Schilling (Vemme) blocked the track. Schilling needed medical attention, but was able to sit up. The medical staff transported him to do a full examination at the emergency room, with Schilling on social media just a few hours later. The race resumed with Rob Logan (CRG) still out front, pressured by Darren Elliott (CRG). They ran 1-2 for 10 laps and the front row of the main event. Mike Mantel (Tony Kart) drove to third, with Justin Bennett (Aluminos) and defending race winner Willy Musgrave (CRG) making up the top-five.
The 20-lap main event was a display of racecraft and respect. Elliott and Logan, friends off the track, are strong competitors when the helmet goes on. Elliott grabbed the holeshot from the outside of row one, but Logan was quick to retake the lead. The two went back and forth a number of times over the course of the race, Logan held the position as they took the white flag. Swapping the lead on the final circuit, Logan beat Elliott to the apex at turn four, and then again at turn five after going side-by-side. At the stripe, it was Logan taking his first SOLGP victory over Elliott. Behind them was a great drive from Robert Marks (CRG). Contact with the barriers in Heat #2, Marks fought his way from 15th on the grid to the third position, working past fast time driver Bennett with Mantel, who suffered brake issues at the end of the race.
The heat race for the TaG Master group went down to the wire. Kevin Manning (MMK) led the way with Ethan Wilson (FA Kart) and Billy Cleavelin (CRG) right there. Wilson put on the pressure, and on lap nine Manning fell victim, getting involved in a wreck and collecting Cleavelin in the process. That allowed Wilson to drive away to the win. Derek Burris (Praga) advanced to second, but was penalized back to ninth. That promoted Robert Switzler (ART GP) to second with Manning able to continue in third. Steve Brackett (MMK) and Federico Aquini (Italcorse) made up the top-five as Cleavelin was classified eighth.
Wilson and Manning set the pace for the 20-lap main event, and put on a show for the fans. For nearly the entire race, Wilson was at the point with Manning hounding the California PKC point leader. Manning took over the lead briefly early on, but lost the spot the following lap. Every time they made their way down the 1000 foot straight, Manning looked to the inside, but could not pull the trigger and complete the pass. It came down to the final lap as they went hard into the hairpin. Some contact was made, and Manning came out with the lead. He held the spot through the final corner and won his first California ProKart Challenge race of the season. Wilson had to settle for second, with Cleavelin advancing up to third to land on the podium. Switzler was fourth with Burris recovering to fifth.
S3 Novice/S5 Junior Stock Moto
The top three in the S3 division set the pace in the combined group heat race. Travis Nicklas (AMV) started on pole, but found himself back in third behind Kalvin Chen (Tony Kart) and Steve Wetterau (ART GP). Chen led the first four laps, before Wetterau took over and scored the win. Nicklas moved up to second to earn a front row start for the main event, dropping Chen to third. Behind them was Dekota Fripp (CRG) and Cris Araujo (CRG). Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) drove to the win in the S5 category with Callum Smith (Intrepid) placing second. Anthony Sawyer (Tony Kart) was third with Nicky Hays (FA Kart) and Cruz Fiore (CRG) fifth.
The same top three broke away in the 20-lap main event, this time with Nicklas at the front. The AMV kart driver kept the pace going the entire time, and led wire-to-wire for his fourth win of the season. Chen kept the pressure on Wetterau until lap 11 when Chen suffered some engine issues and pulled off. That moved Araujo into the third spot, beating out Mark Juncosa (Tony Kart) for the final spot on the podium, while Robert Heck Jr. (CRG) was fifth. Brooks and Callum fought early, until Callum was caught up in a spin. He could not refire and was forced to the sidelines. Brooks drove to the checkered flag first, but was removed in the tech barn for missing the restrictor. That gave Hays the victory, as he edge out Sawyer at the strip by just seven hundredths of a second. Fiore was third with Smith classified fourth and Henry Morse (GP) fifth.
Contact early on reduced the TaG Junior field in Heat #2 from the mid-pack back. Out front, Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) led the way with Justice Lepe (Tony Kart) right there. Brooks led five laps, until Lepe took over. On the final lap, Brooks was able to steal the top spot, and scored the race win. Anthony Sawyer (Tony Kart) beat Royal McKee (Tony Kart) for third, with Colby DuBato (Top Kart) in fifth.
Lepe took control to begin the 20-lap main event, until Brooks took a turn at lap five. They along with McKee broke away from the field, and the trio would decide the victor. McKee fought his way to the point for a lap, but Brooks quickly retook the position. Lepe kept the pressure and was in the driver’s seat with the white flag waving. Brooks tried for the lead in turn four, and Lepe was into the wall. McKee slid past both, taking over the top spot and holding on to the checkered flag for his first victory at the Streets of Lancaster GP. Brooks continued on to second with Lepe not making it around for the checkered flag. Ethan Barrett (Kosmic) improved throughout the day, beating out Juan Gonzalez (Praga) for the final podium position. Returning driver Jake Drew (Tony Kart) drove to fifth in his first race back to the California ProKart Challenge.
Jagger Jones (Tony Kart) made it look easy in the second heat race of the weekend, the opening session of the day. Jones drove to a two-second advantage in the 10-lap event, leaving the rest to fight for second. Toma Mejia (Benik) came away with the position, just ahead of Trey Brown (Tony Kart), Oliver Calvo (Top Kart) and Joseph Daniele (Tony Kart).
The main event was not easy sailing, as the outside line got the jump to begin the 16-lap race. Mejia led the way with Brown and Calvo moving past Jones as well. Jones eventually worked his way back into the lead by lap six, but the race changed on lap eight. An incident occurred, involving Jones, Brown and Calvo, which allowed Mejia to get away with Daniele into second and Ryan Shartau (Top Kart) in third. Jones fell back to ninth, but began fighting his way forward. Into fourth by lap 14, Jagger was on the bumper of his brother Jace Jones (Tony Kart) and the rest of the leaders. On the final lap, Jagger was able to move himself into the second spot, as Mejia crossed the line first. Officials however penalized Mejia for jumping the start, dropping him one position and giving the win to Jones. Jace completed the podium with Daniele fourth and Dante Yu (Tony Kart) in fifth. Winning the TaG Rookie division was Cole Cotham (Tony Kart), over Stephen Brucker (Tony Kart) and Shea Weston (Tony Kart).