EKN Trackside: MG Tires Superkarts! USA SuperNationals XVIII – SuperSunday Report
Lennox becomes next $16,000 winner with S1 victory, as de Conto and Maestranzi triumph in headline categories
Jordon Lennox was there for SuperSunday, securing the S1 Pro victory and sweeping all five Pro Tour main events (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
The final SuperSunday to be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was completed under beautiful clear Las Vegas skies and a brisk wind as the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals XVIII wrapped up its weeklong adventure. The seven-year run at the popular destination in the city of lights ended with the final day of this year’s Pro Tour series finale, crowning eight series champions and nine class race winners. Over 500 drivers took part in the world’s largest karting event, welcoming people from all corners of the globe, each looking to be part of the nine main events that ran today. There were over 500 different stories unfolding over the week as well, but only nine drivers could leave Las Vegas with the SuperNationals trophy in hand.
TaG Junior – presented by Rolison Performance Group
As he has done all week, Logan Sargeant (Tony Kart) settled into the lead at the start of the final, from the pole position, with the Top Kart drivers David Malukas and Zach Holden following him through, dropping outside polesitter Julien Andlauer (Praga) back to 11th. Luiz Branquinho (Italkart) was included in the front four, as he and Holden moved past Malukas at lap three. On lap five, Holden’s chance at victory came to an end with engine issue as he exited the Mothers Hairpin. That moved Branquinho to second and Malukas to third, as they trailed Sargeant by two seconds. Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) led a group of drivers who began closing in on the duo racing for second. Running times similar to Sargeant, Gangi and Justic Lepe (Tony Kart) inched their way closer to make it a four-driver fight for second. On lap 11, Branquinho suffered the same defeat that Holden did, coming out of turn four with no power, ending his chance at a podium. This departure promoted Gangi to third behind Malukas with Lepe, making it a trio in the P2 fight. On lap 14, Gangi was finally able to make a move on Malukas with a turn six pass, only to lose the spot in turn one beginning lap 15. With five laps to go, Sargeant held a five-second advantage, well out front and looking to complete five consistent laps to take the win. Malukas was finally able to get away from Gangi and Lepe on lap 18, putting about five kart lengths on the duo. The closing laps were uneventful for Sargeant, as he secured his second SuperNationals win to go along with the 2011 TaG Cadet triumph. He also became the first American to win the TaG Junior final in seven years. Malukas held on for second, clinching the Pro Tour championship and an entry into the 2015 SKUSA Circle of Champions program. Gangi was third with Lepe in fourth. The fight for fifth ended with Darren Keane (Tony Kart) – the fast lap award winner – advancing to the podium over 2013 Rotax Grand Finals champion Juan Manuel Correa. Rasmus Lindh was among that battle, as were Christian Brooks (Tony Kart), Andlauer, and Colton Herta (FA Kart). The unofficial Hard Charger honors went to Nick Brueckner (Tony Kart) as the Pro Tour contender used a provisional to start 41st. In 20 laps, the Texan drove to 12th.
S2 Semi-Pro – presented by Honda Racing/HPD
Kyle Kirkwood (Tony Kart) and Fernando Casillas Jr. (DR Kart) filled up the front row for the 41 drivers on the S2 grid, and when the lights went out, Kirkwood grabbed the Honda Holeshot and the $500 prize, while Jarred Campbell (Intrepid) followed him through to second, as Casillas was out in the opening lap. After lap three, a hard wreck involving Hunter Pickett (Aluminos) brought out a red flag in turn one. Pickett was able to walk away, but needed to be checked out for any serious injuries. Once restarted, Campbell went on the attack, taking over the lead on lap four from Kirkwood, with Austin Schimmel (CRG), Austin Garrison (Tony Kart) and Will Preston (Aluminos) making up the top-five. Garrison eventually dropped them to secure the third spot all by himself, as the top-three were spaced out well, although Schimmel was under attack from Aussie Jason Faint (Energy). The podium positions seemed to be locked as the race progressed, that is until lap 16 when Schimmel came out of turn four with no power, out of the race following a head gasket failure. This advanced Faint to fourth and three-time Texas ProKart Challenge S4 champion Chris Jennings (DR Kart) to fifth, after starting tenth. Campbell would not be denied, coming off an impressive win in September at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix, and he held off Kirkwood to the checkered flag for his first SuperNationals victory. In the aftermath, Kirkwood was penalized for blocking, moving Garrison to second. In the final tally, Faint finished fourth and Jennings completed a stellar run to the podium in fifth, cashing in on all the extra effort that the DRT Racing driver put in over the last few months. Will Preston (Aluminos) was in the hunt all week, and came one spot short of the podium in sixth over Jack Freese. Championship contender Jonathan Kotyk (Tony Kart) stalled on the grid at the start of the race, but took advantage of the red flag restart to gain back a number of positions. He continued fighting through the 20-lap event, climbing back to eighth. That helped the Ocala Gran Prix team sweep the championship podium as Garrison locked up the title, with Kotyk in second and Kirkwood into the third position after a disappointing SuperNationals for Kolton Griffin. Andrew Bujdoso (PCR) and Josh De Losier (CRG) rounded out the top-10.
TaG Senior – presented by Praga
One race that Dalton Sargeant has not yet secured in his years of racing karts was a SuperNationals win. With his younger brother Logan having already scored his second SuperNats triumph earlier in the day, Dalton began his attempt at win number one on the pole position alongside Ben Stewart (Arrow). Sargeant got a great jump to lead coming out of turn one, while David Sera (Deadly) was up to second quickly after starting fifth. Bobby Kelley (FA Kart) started 11th and masterfully carved his way to third while Austin McCusker (Deadly) and Santiago Porteiro (Kosmic) completed the early top-five. Sera was quick enough to take the lead, but Sargeant fought back, bringing Kelley in to make it a three-driver fight with 21 laps remaining. All this battling lap after lap early on helped to extend the lead pack eight karts for a brief time. On lap six, Sera was back at the point, looking to stretch away. Kelley was shuffled back as McCusker’s advancement put two Deadly karts inside the top-three. Marco Maestranzi (Top Kart) was charging as well, into the fourth spot by lap nine after starting 24th. With the Italian now in contention, it was four drivers away in the lead group with the rest of the field dropping off, out of contention. McCusker put his Mike Doty Racing entry into second by the halfway point, but Maestranzi was truly the man on the move. On the 16th circuit, Maestranzi took over second, easily the quickest kart on the track, and he began closing up on the multi-time Aussie champion. It wasn’t long before the Italian was into the lead, moving to the point with a turn one pass on lap 18. Maestranzi pulled about a tenth of a second with each lap, and even more when McCusker worked past Sera for the second on lap 21. Like Sargeant, Sera’s bid for his first SuperNats would be unsuccessful. The lead for Maestranzi was 1.3 seconds, and he only needed to hit his marks over the final four circuits, doing just that as the Italian Top Kart factory driver won by over three seconds. McCusker held off the late attempts by Sera, putting Deadly karts in second and third. On the final lap, contact between Sargeant and Stewart sent the Florida driver into the barriers. Stewart continued on to finish fourth, while Canadian Jordan Redlin (CRG) advanced to the fifth to complete a stellar drive. His PSL West entry was the fastest kart on the track, and was able to nip Garrett Johnston (Top Kart) at the stripe. Blaine Rocha (Kosmic) finished seventh after competing at the Las Vegas Bullring in his Late Model stock car on Saturday night. having improved his pace throughout the week. Texan Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) ended up eighth in his first race since last year’s SuperNationals, while Brazilians Joao Vieira (Tony Kart) and Yurik Carvalho (Italkart) completed the top-10. Pro Tour point leader Jake Craig (Tony Kart) locked up the championship prior to the final thanks to scoring enough points in the heat races, and he was ready to contend for the win as he did all week. That was, however, until contact in the second corner on the opening lap sent him backwards, and out of the race. Louie Pagano (Sodi Kart) retained the #2 plate for 2015, while Andrick Zeen (Praga) lost the third spot after a broken spark plug on the grid removed him from competition as he was not able to take the track with the field. As a result, the #3 plate for third in the TaG Senior Pro Tour points went to last year’s TaG Junior champion Carvalho.
S5 Junior Stock Moto – presented by SKUSA
Grabbing the Honda Holeshot was polesitter Raul Guzman (GP), pulling out a sizable over Mathias Ramirez (Tony Kart) with Callum Smith (Intrepid) back to third. Pro Tour point leader Trenton Estep (Sodi Kart) ran fourth with Nicky Hays (FA Kart) making up the early top-five. Guzman continued to put down fast lap after fast lap, securing a four second lead after just 10 laps, with the rest of the top-five running nose to tail. Championship contenders Estep and Brooks continued their movement, as Estep moved to second and Brooks to fourth with five laps remaining. In the end, the margin of victory for Guzman was a full six-seconds, with the Mexican driver earning his first ever SuperNationals win. Estep crossed the line second, but a one position penalty for a start infraction dropped him to third, moving Ramirez to second. The penalty did not affect the outcome of the championship chase, with Estep earning the Pro Tour championship. Brooks and Smith rounded out the podium for the race, with Guzman second in the standings just ahead of Brooks. Patricio O’Ward (Praga), Hays, Andretta Young (Praga), Anthony Sawyer (Tony Kart) and Jacob Loomis (Intrepid) made up the top-10.
S4 Master Stock Moto – presented by Los Angeles Karting Championship
Former S4 Pro Tour champion Jimmy McNeil (CRG) and current Pro Tour standings leader Gian Cavaciuti (GP) brought the 41-kart field to the grid for this year’s main event. The lights went out and it was Trevor McAlister (Praga) from third that grabbed the Honda Holeshot – just edging out Cavaciuti for the $500 prize and the lead. McNeil was back to third with Chris Jennings (DR Kart) and Mike Beeny (Tony Kart) making up the top-five. Last year’s winner Matt Hamilton (Aluminos) started 17th and was into the sixth position after two circuits, posting the fast laps of the race. Trying for another position, Hamilton drilled the outside barrier at turn four, taking the Kiwi out of the race and out of the championship. Meanwhile, Cavaciuti took over the lead and began stretching out a lead. Five drivers made up the fight for second with McAlister and McNeil joined by Jennings, Beeny and Roberto Toninelli (Vemme). It was Toninelli that became the fast driver on the track, starting 23rd and up into fourth by lap eight. It was another spot the following lap, moving around McNeil and setting his sights on McAlister. McNeil lost another position with Jennings into fourth at the 10-lap mark. The Vemme driver from Italy locked up the second spot, looking at a two-second deficit to his fellow countryman. Jennings also looked strong, pushing past McAlister for the third spot on lap 13. Toninelli could not cut into the lead Cavaciuti established, as the GP patriarch secured the Pro Tour championship with his first SuperNationals victory. Toninelli made it a 1-2 finish for Italy, and also giving Vemme its first podium result in S4. Jennings completed the double duty effort with a second podium result, giving the father/son pairing a memorable sendoff to the Rio. Beeny finished fourth in his first S4 effort, with McAlister on the podium once again in fifth. 2012 Pro Tour champion Eddie Olpin (Kosmic) was sixth in his first start of 2014 while Mike Mantel (Tony Kart) climbed his way from 16th on the grid after a motor change to place seventh. Mirko Mizzoni (Italcorse), Richard Heistand (Tony Kart) and Rob Logan (CRG) completed the top-10. Defending Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser (Birel) was involved in an opening corner wreck, taking him out of the title chase but he secured the #2 plate for 2015 with Kiwi Hamilton third.
KZ2 – presented by IAME USA
BirelART driver Paolo de Conto grabbed the holeshot from the pole position with Jonathan Thonon (Praga) slotting in behind. Thonon struck first, making a move in turn six on lap two, taking the lead with multi-time world champion Davide Fore (CRG) right there in third. Missing was American Gary Carlton (TB Kart), who was spun around on the opening lap and dropped to the tail of the field. The top three continued to extend their lead, with Bas Lammers (Formula K) leading the train in the fourth position. Lap seven, de Conto struck back for the leading with a very deep move in turn six, bringing Fore with him. It was the CRG factory driver looking racy, diving for the lead at turn four on lap nine, leading for the first time. Lammers was now into the mix with Alessandro Bressan aboard the new CompKart trailing in fifth. The three behind Fore continued to be the driver at the front of the group, exchanging the spot a number of times as the laps clicked off. This allowed Bressan to close up event more while Patrik Hajek (Praga) and American AJ Myers (PCR) – who started 18th – inched their way. Lap 14, de Conto retook the lead from Fore with another deep move into turn one. The show the leaders put on was amazing, and well worth the $10,000 prize for the victory. Three wide at one time, de Conto and Thonon were able to break away. Thonon took over the lead on lap 17, as the top six were all now within two seconds of each other as Myers continued to drop qualifying lap after qualifying lap to chase the dicing top-five. With five to go, de Conto reassumed the lead from Thonon as the top two still had a solid gap over the fight for third. Myers finally completed the chase, working around Bressan at turn six, and set his sights on Fore. Out front, de Conto retook the lead on lap , and maintained the position for his first SuperNationals victory and a very rewarding sendoff with the BirelART operation. Thonon and Lammers joined him on the podium with Fore and Myers alongside. Bressan finished sixth in the CompKart debut while Lorenzo Camplese (Maranello), Canadian Phillip Orcic (Tony Kart), Aussie Kel Treseder (Energy) and American Fritz Leesman (CRG) rounded the top-10. American Gary Carlton was spun around in turn two, something that has plagued the very successful shifterkart driver. Restarting well behind the pack, Carlton fought his way back to an impressive 11th result.
TaG Master – presented by Peterson Wealth Management
While the TaG Master drivers showed maturity throughout the week, SuperSunday was the complete opposite. A number of incidents over the opening lap took drivers back in the field, or out of the race. One of them included Pro Tour point leader Billy Cleavelin (CRG). The SoCal karting veteran started 18th and found himself getting drove over by German Christian Dischner (Top Kart). The wreck ended his hopes for the Pro Tour title, handing the trophy to 2010 Pro Tour title winner Ethan Wilson if he could survive the battle. Three-time winner Leonardo Nienkotter (CompKart) was the lead challenger early to polesitter Will Power (Arrow) until the loss of brakes over the opening lap put him on the sidelines. This gave the reigning IndyCar Series champion smooth sailing through the first half of the race. That was until a charging Aussie by the name of Kip Foster came hunting. Starting back in 13th after contact in one of the heat races, the Arrow driver laid down fast laps to climb his way into the top-five, and eventually into second. With just two laps remaining, Power was under attack, and there was nothing left in his machine. Foster moved to the lead in turn two of lap 19, and pulled away to the victory. Power made it a 1-2 for KartSport North America and Arrow. Eduardo Dieter gave Techspeed – a new Brazilian homologated chassis – its first podium at the SuperNationals with a thid place result. Russell Francis (Tony Kart) drove to fourth with former IndyCar driver Richie Hearn (MMK) placing fifth in his return to the karting seat. Belgian Pierra Yves Corthals put his Merlin sixth in the order over Diego Pelosi (Tony Kart). Wilson was among the top-five early on until he began to fall off pace due to a stuck brake pad. Crossing the line eighth, Wilson last the 20 laps to become the first two-time Pro Tour champion of the category. Scott Simpson (Arrow) finished ninth with Mario Barrios (Gillard) in 10th.
TaG Cadet – presented by PSL Karting
After the opening corners, its was Guiseppe Fusco (Lenzo) coming away with the lead from the third grid position. Polesitter Michael d’Orlando (Tony Kart) dropped back to fourth behind Pro Tour point leader Jagger Jones (Tony Kart) and Jack Doohan (Tony Kart). The top three were well out in front after three laps, with a number of drivers in line to take over the fourth spot. Doohan helped to push Jones into the lead on lap five, dropping Fusco to third. The following lap, Jones was the one getting dropped to third. Lap 10, the fight for fourth suffered a casualty as d’Orlando was pushed into the barriers on the outside of turn two, ending his chance at the podium and the championship title. Fusco and Doohan exchanged the lead a few more times until Fusco locked up the position on the final lap for the victory. Doohan crossed the line second, but was moved back to third for an on-track penalty. That promoted Jones to second, giving him even more points to clinch the Pro Tour championship and ticket to the 2015 Rok Cup International Final in Italy. Jak Crawford (Benik) earned his first SuperNationals podium by placing fourth over Benik teammate Jonny Edgar. Top qualifier Trey Brown (Tony Kart) finished the event in the sixth position, keeping the charging Alex Verhagen (FA Kart) back. The KartSport North America driver came from 19th on the grid to edge out fellow east coast racers Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart) and Sam Mayer (Merlin). The hard charger however came from Aussie Lochie Hughes, advancing from 33rd to 10th aboard his Praga kart.
S1 Pro Stock Moto – presented by SwedeTech Racing Engines
It was a picture perfect end to the season for UK driver Jordon Lennox. Never one to show his hand early, the PSL Karting / CRG pilot secured his fifth win of the Pro Tour season, earning a $10,000 payday for winning the SuperNationals, $3,000 for the championship, and another $3,000 to be part of the 2015 Circle of Champions program. The SuperSunday main event began with fellow CRG driver Davide Fore on the pole position, and scored the final Honda Holeshot for a $500 check. Lennox was quick to attack, moving into the lead by turn four. DRT Racing’s Danny Formal (DR Kart) was shuffled out of the top-five with Fritz Leesmann (CRG), Gary Carlton (TB Kart) and Milan Dontje (CRG) filling the spots. Lennox and Fore broke away, with Leesmann and Carlton having their own battle. Fore, looking for his first SuperNats win, battled the younger Lennox lap after lap. The two each had their at the point until Lennox secured the position on lap nine, extending his lead lap after lap. When the checkered flag waved, it was a four tenths of a second gap over Fore to complete a CRG 1-2 finish in both the race and in the Pro Tour standings. As Carlton and Leesmann fought, Formal rejoined the top-five and began running down the two former national champions. Pounding the curbs and showing the depth of talent he retains, Formal worked past both drivers to earn the third place finish in his S1 debut. Carlton was poised to finish fourth when he lost power to his engine, pulling off the course. That promoted Nick Neri (Tony Kart) to fourth, as he was among the many drivers that joined the fight for third late in the race. The finish helped him to end the season third in the Pro Tour standings. Leesmann completed the podium with Oliver Askew (Tony Kart) in sixth. Last year’s big winner and Pro Tour champion Joey Wimsett (CRG) did not have the week he had hoped for, but ended on a solid note by placing seventh after starting 14th. Ron White (CRG) held fifth at one time, but finished eighth ahead of Dontje while Cody Hodgson (Tony Kart) was 10th.