EKN Trackside: 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour – SpringNationals Preview – Part 3
Large field in TaG Senior set for battle, as S1 continues to welcome international stars
The 2015 season for the Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour is set to begin at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association in Glendale, Arizona. The sixth season of the organization’s championship series is reaching new heights, welcoming new title sponsor Fikse Wheels, full television coverage thanks to a partnership with CBS Sports Network and Torque.tv, and another record breaking prize package well over $150,000 for the year. The future is bright, and the numbers showing with nearly 200 drivers set to battle in the four Stock Moto categories and the four TaG divisions.
This is the second trip for the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour to the PKRA facility in its current form, dating back to the early days of the organization with the ProMoto Tour debuting in Glendale. The 3/4-mile, 12 turn course is a mixture of technical and fast corners, including the famous ‘monza’ turn.
eKartingNews.com, the official media partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the sixth straight year of Trackside Live coverage of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Those unable to attend can enjoy live audio and live timing at the EKN Live page – ekartingnews.com/live. Daily race reports can be seen each day, along with updates and results posted to the Official Discussion Thread, in addition to the EKN social media feeds – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Tuesday, EKN began the preview series by looking at the younger categories – TaG Junior, S5 Junior Stock Moto and TaG Cadet. Wednesday covered the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto, TaG Master and S4 Master Stock Moto. Today are the headline categories of TaG Senior and S1 Pro Stock Moto.
In the five year history of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour, no TaG Senior driver has been able to defend their crown. Five different drivers have emerged as the title winner following the SuperNationals, and either moved on or was just unable to recapture the magic of a championship winning season. For 2014 champion Jake Craig, the mission is simple, defend the SKUSA #1 plate. The current eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings #1 pilot is set to begin his title defense as the series begins in Phoenix. The Californian moved over to the Race Lab and the Formula K brand for the season, and has shown the speed during the winter months. Craig won both rounds at the SpringNationals last year in Dallas, and would like nothing more then to match that same feat.
The last two seasons have been gut-wrenching for California driver Louie Pagano. In the hunt for a championship, Pagano has finished both seasons as the vice-champion, and once again carries the SKUSA #2 plate. This year, it will be on a 2Wild Karting / Tony Kart machine, as he fills the vacant seat that Craig left when he moved out. Pagano is among the most experienced in the field, still looking for that first Senior victory since he moved up in 2011. Both Craig and Pagano have spent time at the top of the EKN TaG Driver Rankings, as has Oliver Askew. Regarded as one of the top drivers in the country, Askew is making the transition from S1 to TaG Senior, joining PSL Karting / BirelART. 2014 was a solid campaign in the S1 division, finishing top-five in the first three main events in his rookie season. This weekend will be the first TaG Senior start at the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour for the Florida driver.
With the expansion of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour going to Indiana for the SummerNationals, an influx of drivers east of the Mississippi are making the trek out to Phoenix for the opening round of the series. It could end up becoming an East vs. West battle throughout the year. Representing the west are some top drivers from the last few seasons. Mason Marotta (Tony Kart) is always quick, no one has more experience than Matt Johnson (Tony Kart), and Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix scholarship driver Austin Elliott (Kosmic) is coming off a California PKC victory. From the east, Brandon Jarsocrak is debuting his new seat with the iKart factory team, coming off his first USPKS victory last weekend. Bill McLaughlin Jr. heads up the Top Kart USA squad, and is jumping back behind the wheel. KartSport North America drivers Derek Dignan (FA Kart) and Roger Ralston Jr. (Arrow) are ones to watch as well.
They will be teamed up with Aussie driver Ben Stewart, who nearly gave Arrow its second straight victory at the SuperNationals in November. Stewart is making the long journey from down under to Phoenix, set to make his SpringNats debut. Also showing well in Las Vegas was Austin McCusker, giving the Deadly Kart a runner-up finish in its SuperNationals debut. Like Stewart, McCusker is making his first start at the SpringNats. Canadian Jordan Redlin posted the fast lap of the race at SuperNats XVIII, muscling his way to the podium in fifth. The PSL West / Team Fikse driver will be aboard a BirelART.
An impressive class of rookies will make their TaG Senior debut at the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Christian Brooks (Tony Kart) has been on fire all winter long, and is the current California ProKart Challenge point leader. Phillippe Denes has joined the Checkered Motorsports operation, and will pilot a PCR kart after solid debut east at the USPKS this past weekend. Justice Lepe (Tony Kart) is another young driver to watch as the weekend progresses.
Provisional TaG Senior Entry List
|38f||Oliver Askew||PSL Karting||BirelART||X30||High-Rev Engineering||FL||USA||18|
|388c||Jin Bai||Kyle Gash Racing (KGR)||Tony Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||CHN||22|
|15t||Pierre Paul Baradat||Motorsports Development Group (MDG)||Praga||X30||TX||FRA||16|
|21t||Mike Bartholomew||Champion Racing||Intrepid||X30||D Power Racing Engines||TX||USA||18|
|66t||Logan Bearden||Champion Racing||Intrepid||X30||Woltjer Racing Engines||TX||USA||19|
|344c||Christian Brooks||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||14|
|1||Jake Craig||Team Formula K / RaceLab||Formula K||X30||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA||17|
|98y||Phillippe Denes||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||16|
|42j||Derek Dignan||Kartsport North America||FA Kart||X30||Comet Racing Engines||MI||USA||18|
|78y||Austin Elliott||Austin Elliott Racing / RPG||Kosmic||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||19|
|44x||Matt England||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||AZ||USA||17|
|241j||Braden Eves||J3 Competition||CompKart||X30||Comet Racing Engines||OH||USA||15|
|59j||Elliott Finlayson||Koene USA||Tony Kart||X30||Comet Racing Engines||IL||USA||19|
|03j||Michael Geringer||Franklin Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||Franklin Motorsports||IL||USA||18|
|13b||Dallas Hollins||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||X30||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA||18|
|10h||Emily Hurlbert||Praga||X30||Woltjer Racing Engines||MN||USA||14|
|12h||Kindra Hurlbert||Praga||X30||Woltjer Racing Engines||MN||USA||18|
|108n||Brandon Jarsocrak||Team iKart||iKart||X30||Woltjer Racing Engines||PA||USA||18|
|17x||Matt Johnson||Smokin' Fast Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA||35|
|34t||Austin Kaszuba||Core Karting||Formula K||Leopard||Woltjer Racing Engines||TX||USA||18|
|380c||Nikita Lastochkin||PSL SoCal||CRG||X30||CA||RUS||24|
|338c||Justice Lepe||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||14|
|300c||Mason Marotta||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||X30||High-Rev Engineering||CA||USA||20|
|86n||Austin McCusker||Mike Doty Racing||Deadly||X30||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA||17|
|56j||Bill McLaughlin Jr.||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||X30||Comet Racing Engines||IN||USA||23|
|213y||Blake Milton||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||14|
|121t||Austin Osborne||Iron Rock Motorsports||Tony Kart||X30||J Power Racing Engines||TX||USA||16|
|2||Louie Pagano||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||X30||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA||20|
|831y||Joey Paonessa||iKart West||iKart||X30||NV||USA||15|
|255y||Jess Peterson||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||X30||High-Rev Engineering||NV||USA||27|
|301f||Roger Ralston Jr.||Kartsport North America||Arrow||X30||Comet Racing Engines||FL||USA||18|
|83c||Nick Ramirez||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA||18|
|90r||Jordan Redlin||PSL West / Team Fikse||BirelART||X30||IM Tuning||BC||CAN||17|
|225t||Ryan Rush||JB Motorsports||Intrepid||X30||JB Motorsports||TX||USA||23|
|48a||Ben Stewart||KartSport North America||Arrow||X30||AUS||22|
|82c||Carlee Taylor||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||X30||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA||18|
|74a||Matteo Vigano||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||X30||P1 Racing Engines||ITA||22|
|67x||Andrick Zeen||Praga North America||Praga||X30||Comet Racing Engines||CA||USA||22|
S1 Pro Stock Moto
Before the SpringNationals began last season, only one driver from outside North America had competed in the category – 2011 Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champion Daniel Bray from New Zealand. When the series began the 2014 season, S1 welcomed an invasion from Europe. Among them, Jordon Lennox dominated when he needed to, scoring the victory in all five main events, including the big win at the SuperNationals to cash in nearly $20,000 for the season. Focused on his European schedule this year, Lennox will be absent from the SpringNationals.
In his place are two highly talented pilots that we have seen in Las Vegas year after year, but both are making their SpringNationals and S1 Pro debut. Praga driver Patrik Hajek has finished on the podium in KZ multiple times, and the Czech Republic driver is among the best in Europe. Rick Dreezen has been with multiple teams, and now finds himself working with 2014 championship winning team PSL Karting to pilot one of their BirelART chassis. Adding to the international flavor, Kiwi driver Matt Hamilton is making the switch from S4 to the S1 category. Hamilton won the 2013 SuperNationals in S4 – giving Aluminos its first victory in Las Vegas – and was third in the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship standings. Now he will carry the brand name in the headline Stock Moto division.
The only returning champion to the S1 division is two-time title winner Fritz Leesmann. Winning two of the first three years of the series, Fritz has been among the front runners the last few seasons, unable to find that same magic that propelled him to the top of the championship podium. He will be aboard the familiar CRG colors once again in Phoenix. At the California ProKart Challenge, Billy Musgrave (Praga) has been the driver to beat the last two seasons. Earning back-to-back championships, the regional success has only translated into one podium in 10 races at the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour.
A lethal rookie class is graduating to the S1 ranks this season, and the trio have already proven they can run with the best. 2014 S2 SuperNationals winner Jarred Campbell spent most of the season at the regional level lapping just as quick as the S1 drivers. Now moving up to the category, the new Praga North America driver has already reached the top of the podium at the California PKC program twice. Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) was right there with Campbell all last year, actually beating him in the California PKC standings, and finishing just behind him in the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour S2 standings. Jonathan Kotyk had three podium finishes to help him earn the vice-champion spot in S2 last year. Now moving up, he’s joining the Top Kart USA squad for his rookie S1 season. While not yet entered, this weekend will also mark the return of veteran racer Matt Jaskol. A longtime SuperNationals competitor and winner, it will be his first SpringNationals, joining the PSL West operation aboard a BirelART.
Provisional S1 Pro Entry List
|103y||Jarred Campbell||Praga North America||Praga||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|441y||Troy Diede||PSL CRG / Diede Racing||CRG||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|6a||Rick Dreezen||PSL Karting||BirelART||SwedeTech||BEL|
|23k||Kolton Griffin||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||SwedeTech||AZ||USA|
|14a||Patrik Hajek||Praga North America||Praga||Musgrave Racing Company (MRC)||CZE|
|22y||Brian Keck||Keck Racing||CRG||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|4f||Jonathan Kotyk||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||SwedeTech||FL||USA|
|161y||Fritz Leesmann||PSL CRG / Diede Racing||CRG||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|322c||Billy Musgrave||Musgrave Racing Company (MRC)||Praga||Musgrave Racing Company (MRC)||CA||USA|
|71y||Ron White||Ron White Racing||CRG||Joe White Racing Engines||CA||USA|