EKN Trackside: 2016 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals Preview – Part 4

Sold-out X30 Senior looking to knock Pagano off the mountain, growing S1 field begins championship chase

(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

SKUSA Pro Tour 2016-logoThe seventh season of the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is set to get underway this weekend at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association in Glendale, Arizona. The 2016 season is projected to be another exciting and record breaking year. Full television coverage is returning thanks to the partnership with CBS Sports Network and MotorTrendOnDemand for another season, and another large prize package well worth over $150,000. A total of nine categories in eight race groups are set to compete over the Pro Tour journey, traveling to Phoenix before a return to Indiana for the SummerNationals with the celebration of the 20th SuperNationals set for November in Las Vegas.

The PKRA ‘Formula K Raceway’ circuit is among the most challenging layouts in North America with Superkarts! USA history with the facility dating back to the first ever national event held in 1999. Its fast, tight, and for the first time in SKUSA Pro Tour history, the track will be contested in the counter-clockwise direction. The ‘full course’ measures out to 7/10 of a mile at 12 turns with the popular banked ‘Daytona’ corner.

eKartingNews.com, the official media partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the seventh straight year of Trackside Live coverage of the SKUSA 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.

The headline divisions of S1 and X30 Senior feature some of the top drivers in North America, and welcoming a select few from around the world.


PSL Karting S1 Pro Stock Moto

Danny Formal led throughout the SuperNationals to victory, and looks to continue the streak at the SpringNationals in S1 (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

Danny Formal led throughout the SuperNationals to victory, and looks to continue the streak at the SpringNationals in S1 (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

Names like Leesmann, Lennox and Dreezen have dominated the S1 division over the past few years. Those familiar faces will be missing in Phoenix when the SKUSA Pro Tour opens up for the S1 division, the headline shifterkart category. Belgian driver Rick Dreezen will not defend his 2015 crown, opening up the door for some new faces and returning challengers for a chance to compete for the crown through PKRA, New Castle and the SuperNationals. It is a diverse field featuring 12 different chassis brands of the 17 drivers entered.

One driver who continues to help his cause on becoming a longtime star of SKUSA competition is Billy Musgrave. The 2015 vice-champion finished the season as the top driver in the EKN Stock Moto Driver Rankings with his best year of results since moving to S1 in 2013. Two podiums and one victory highlighted the five-race top-five streak for the Musgrave Racing Company / Praga driver. Musgrave currently leads the California ProKart Challenge standings with one win and two runner-up finishes.

A trio of drivers from Florida are making a push toward the S1 championship this season. Danny Formal stole the show at the SuperNationals, earning a perfect score aboard his DRT Racing / DR Kart for his first victory at Vegas. The now Costa Rican resident is returning back to the United States, looking to keep that winning streak going in Phoenix. Familiar foes of his – Oliver Askew and Nick Neri – are making the return to S1 category after a year away. The two were teammates under the Ocala Gran Prix banner in 2013, with Neri finishing third and Askew fourth in their first full season in S1. Neri is now part of the famous Champion Racing operation, piloting the Intrepid brand, and coming off victory last weekend in his debut at the US Open. Askew moved to PSL Karting last season, finishing third in the TaG Senior SKUSA Pro Tour standings. Back into S1, all three are contenders off the trailer.

Two former SKUSA Pro Tour champions are in the field at Phoenix. 2011 title winner Daniel Bray has continued to call the United States his second home, competing in the SKUSA events since the inaugural event in Sonoma. Bray is returning from New Zealand with the GP VCI Mexico operation. 2013 champ Joey Wimsett was the first driver to earn the $10,000 bonus for a SKUSA Pro Tour racer winning the SuperNationals. Lennox was the other S1 driver to win the $10k in 2014. Wimsett joined the Phil Giebler Racing operation at the SuperNationals last November, set to make his SpringNationals debut aboard the Ricciardo chassis.

The only driver carrying the #1 plate in S1 is the 2015 S2 champion Carter Williams. The Phil Giebler Racing pilot secured the series championship, and is making the jump up the SKUSA Stock Moto ladder. The Ricciardo driver is also jumping into open wheel racing this season, making 2016 a very busy schedule for the California driver.

International drivers have dominated the championship the past two seasons. In Phoenix, two notable drivers from Italy will contest the S1 category for the first time. Riccardo Negro is a former WSK Euro Champion, joining the VemmeKart team at PKRA for his S1 debut. Luca Tilloca finished fifth in the KZ2 main event at the SuperNationals last year, rejoining GP VCI Mexico for his first ever S1 race.

Jake French and Kolton Griffin will continue their fight from this winter at the inaugural Challenge of the Americas Shifterkart category debut. French won the battle, winning four of the six races to earn his first championship with SodiKart USA. Griffin, who finished sixth in last year’s S1 title chase in his rookie campaign, will be right there this weekend. The Pure Karting / Tony Kart driver calls PKRA home and should be a podium contender.

Provisional S1 Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Engine State Country
38f Oliver Askew PSL Karting BirelART SwedeTech FL USA
62nz Daniel Bray GP VCI Mexico GP Fisher Racing Engines NZL
32j Robert Bujdoso Checkered Motorsports PCR BBS Racing Engines OH USA
218z Marco Eakins Black Flag Racing Products Formula K SwedeTech OR USA
37a Danny Formal DRT Racing DR SRS Racing Engines CRI
16t Jake French Dallas Karting Complex / SodiKart USA SodiKart SwedeTech TX USA
4k Kolton Griffin Pure Karting Tony Kart SwedeTech AZ USA
21y Nic LeDuc Cambrian Go-Karts BirelART Cambrian Go-Karts CA USA
2 Billy Musgrave Musgrave Racing Company Praga Musgrave Racing Company CA USA
33k Jacob Neal VRP Racing Tony Kart SwedeTech CA USA
023a Riccardo Negro Team VemmeKart / Extreme Karting Vemme SwedeTech ITA
217f Nick Neri Champion Racing Intrepid SwedeTech FL USA
88c Matias Podboj Mad Old Nut Racing Mad Croc Darcy DeCoste Racing Engines CA ARG
11t Luke Shanahan MSquared Karting Tony Kart SwedeTech TX USA
011a Luca Tilloca GP VCI Mexico GP Fisher Racing Engines ITA
1 Carter Williams Phil Giebler Racing Ricciardo Musgrave Racing Company CA USA
27z Joey Wimsett Phil Giebler Racing Ricciardo SwedeTech OR USA

Nash Motorsportz / CRG Nordam X30 Senior

All X30 Senior drivers are going for what Louie Pagano earned last November, the SKUSA #1 Plate (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

All X30 Senior drivers are going for what Louie Pagano earned last November, the SKUSA #1 Plate (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

This season in the X30 Senior division is going to be one of survival, consistency and the right strategy to come away from the 20th annual SuperNationals as the SKUSA Pro Tour champion. The entry list for this weekend’s SpringNationals has surpassed the 40-driver mark, with the same expected for the SummerNationals at New Castle, and the always sold-out 88 drivers for the SuperNationals field in Las Vegas. Talent is scattered throughout the entry list, that includes 18 of the Top-50 pilots in the EKN TaG Driver Rankings. Four former SKUSA champions, including the last two in the category, and three former SuperNationals winners – not to mention the many series champions and winners from other programs throughout North America.

The driver everyone is measuring up to is defending champion Louie Pagano. For two straight years, Pagano earned the vice-champion position on the SKUSA Pro Tour. Last year, he put himself in contention with the opening round win in his debut with 2Wild Karting / Tony Kart. Five drivers had a shot at the title entering the SuperNationals, and Pagano did what he needed to do, scoring an emotional victory to claim the $10,000 Pro Tour bonus and his first series championship. Now among the elder drivers of the category, Pagano will shake off the rust having not competed since that November SuperSunday for his first weekend of defending the crown and carrying the SKUSA #1 plate.

In 2014, Jake Craig shined throughout the season as the top driver in nearly every program across North America. He would come up just short in 2015 of defending his title, placing runner-up in the standings. Now, he takes the SKUSA #2 plate over to Praga North America to compete with his third different team in three years. Craig has been successful in the previous two stops, and hoping for the same with his Praga team.

Pitted alongside him is the current EKN TaG Driver Rankings #1 driver Brandon Jarsocrak. The 2015 USPKS vice-champion entered the SuperNationals as the point leader this past November, but came up short during the Las Vegas week. He has since gone from privateer to one of the lead drivers at KartSport North America. The Pennsylvania driver won in his Praga debut at WKA Daytona KartWeek, and continues to have his dad Eddie turning the wrenches like they have throughout his career.

The driver with momentum going into the event is Challenge of the Americas champion Christian Brooks. The 15-year-old is entering his second season in the Senior ranks, finishing fifth in the Pro Tour standings with two fifth-place finishes as his best, including one at the SuperNationals. Brooks remains with the Nash Motorsportz operation, but has been piloting a CRG all winter, earning four victories at the COTA program and one at the California ProKart Challenge – where he earned the series championship a year ago.

On the East coast, Ryan Norberg has been racking up the wins and podium finishes over the last four months. The Orlando Kart Center / Tony Kart driver was vice-champion at the Florida Winter Tour Rok program, and is coming off two wins at the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at GoPro Motorplex against many of the same competitors who will be in Phoenix.

One of them was United States Pro Kart Series champion Elliot Finlayson. The Koene USA / Tony Kart driver is set to defend his crown in that series, and repeat a podium finish he earned a year ago in Phoenix at the SpringNats. The Illinois driver is #3 in the EKN TaG Driver Rankings, looking to improve his position after this weekend.

Kyle Kirkwood and Andre Nicastro are two former SuperNationals winners entered in the field. Kirkwood earned his SuperNats victory in S5 Junior (2013), and since moving to the Senior ranks, continued to rack up more wins and championships. He is the two-time defending champion at the Florida Winter Tour in both Rok and Rotax competition, and the 2015 US Rotax Grand Nationals winner. All of that was done with the Ocala Gran Prix operation, as the Florida driver now moves over to the PSL Karting tent aboard a Birel ART machine for the first time this weekend. Nicastro won the 2010 SuperNationals in a photo finish ahead of multi-time Aussie champion David Sera. The Brazilian – driving a NF Sports / Italkart entry – is always among the quickest and most aggressive drivers in the field, and holds the honor of being the second oldest in the category next to Matt Johnson.

Luke Selliken won the SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Junior championship in 2012, bolting him onto the national scene among the top young talents. He was unable to defend the crown the following year, and focused on stock car racing the last two years. Reunited with the Rolison Performance Group stable, Selliken could navigate his Kosmic machine toward the front. The Oregon driver already has numerous wins at the PKRA facility in the past.

A good roster of rookies have graduated to the Senior ranks this season, none more watched and decorated than Brandon Lemke. The 2015 SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Junior champion will carry the blue SKUSA #1 plate, recognizing him as the top rookie contender. The Franklin Motorsports / Merlin driver has already started his Senior season off on the positive side, earning the WKA Winter Cup championship. Other top young drivers include his longtime rival Zach Holden (Koene USA / Tony Kart), 2015 California ProKart Challenge TaG Junior champion Nicky Hays (Phil Giebler Racing / Ricciardo Kart), and Canadian Kellen Ritter (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) – who showed well this winter at the Challenge of the Americas.

Provisional X30 Senior Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Engine State Country
69t Nathan Adds Dallas Karting Complex / SodiKart USA SodiKart Tru Tech Racing Engines TX USA
316t Brenden Baker Nash Motorsportz CRG Tru Tech Racing Engines TX USA
344c Christian Brooks Nash Motorsportz CRG Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
2 Jake Craig Praga North America Praga Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
87c Antonio de Lis 2Wild Karting Tony Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
98y Phillippe Denes Cambrian Go-Karts BirelART Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
115y Colby DuBato PKS Kart Supplies Tony Kart P1 Racing Engines CA USA
310z Kyle Dupell Phil Giebler Racing Ricciardo OR USA
41j Braden Eves Motorsports Driver Development Kosmic Allison Racing Engines OH USA
59j Elliot Finlayson Team Koene USA Tony Kart Allison Racing Engines IL USA
77a Alfred Gagliardi PSL Karting BirelART Woltjer Racing Engines ITA
03j Michael Geringer Franklin Motorsports Merlin Woltjer Racing Engines IL USA
119a Pedro Goulart NF Sports Italkart DTR Karting BRA
151c Nicky Hays Phil Giebler Racing Ricciardo Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
222j Zach Holden Team Koene USA Tony Kart Comet Racing Engines IN USA
32t David Ilavia J3 Competition CompKart Woltjer Racing Engines TX USA
099x Charlie Jafari Phil Giebler Racing Ricciardo Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
108n Brandon Jarsocrak KartSport North America Praga Woltjer Racing Engines PA USA
3x Matt Johnson Nash Motorsportz CRG Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
055h Alexander Kardashian Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Allison Racing Engines MN USA
49y Cody Kelleher 2Wild Karting Tony Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines NV USA
09f Kyle Kirkwood PSL Karting BirelART Woltjer Racing Engines FL USA
14y Worawong Komarakul CRG-SoCal / Empire Karts CRG P1 Racing Engines CA THA
68j TJ Koyen Innovative Performance Exprit Innovative Performance WI USA
1 Brandon Lemke Franklin Motorsports Merlin Woltjer Racing Engines WI USA
22z Stepanova Nekeel Ryan Perry Motorsport Tony Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines WA USA
92a Andre Nicastro NF Sports Italkart DTR Karting BRA
348f Ryan Norberg Orlando Kart Center Tony Kart Allison Racing Engines FL USA
1 Louie Pagano 2Wild Karting Tony Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines CA USA
370y Zach Pettinicchi VRP Racing Kosmic SwedeTech CA USA
301f Roger Ralston Jr. Kartsport North America Arrow FL USA
83c Nick Ramirez Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart P1 Racing Engines CA USA
204t Nathan Ratton Team Koene USA Tony Kart Team Koene USA TX USA
399r Kellen Ritter Rolison Performance Group Kosmic P1 Racing Engines BC CAN
51x Josh Sarchet Mach 5 Motorsports FA Kart Tru Tech Racing Engines AZ USA
106c Anthony Sawyer Nash Motorsportz Tony Kart Precision Works Racing CA USA
19s Austin Schulz Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart Woltjer Racing Engines GA USA
103z Luke Selliken Rolison Performance Group Kosmic P1 Racing Engines OR USA
63j Robby Seward Checkered Motorsports BirelART BBS Racing Engines IN USA
55j Lane Vacala Trackside Karting Services CompKart Woltjer Racing Engines IL USA
038a Luke van Herwaarde Mach 1 USA Mach 1 Tru Tech Racing Engines AUS
74a Matteo Vigano Top Kart USA / Grand Products Top Kart P1 Racing Engines ITA
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