EKN Trackside: Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 3 – Preview

Record Briggs 206 event set for this weekend at New Castle Motorsports Park

The Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 3 is set for this coming weekend (October 4-6) at the iconic New Castle Motorsports Park. The third edition of the Briggs & Stratton 206 ‘Runoffs’ style event continues to grow, with over 250 entries already confirmed to battle in eight categories. The event has grown from nearly 150 in the first year to just under 200 in 2018. This year, the race has exploded to more than 250 entries thanks to the grassroots focus of the Cup Karts North America program and the Briggs 206 engine, which has become backbone of club karting in the United States.

New Castle Motorsports Park ‘Configuration 43’

The event will crown one champion in each category, with the competition spread out over two days. The inaugural event had two separate days of racing with a champion crowned after the weekend, before making the move to one main event last year. Unofficial practice will take place on Friday, October 4 before the action begins on Saturday, October 5. Qualifying sessions will set the grid for the opening heat race. Heat #1 results set the order for Heat #2, with those results determining the grid for Heat #3. For the CIK Medium category, the class will be split into four groups after qualifying for an A, B, C, D heat race format (AvsB, CvsD, AvsC, BvsD, AvsD, Bvs.C). Heat points will be accumulated the total from all three heats to set the starting order for the Final. All of this will be done around the ‘Track 43’ configuration of the New Castle Motorsports Park. It is the same layout as the 2018 CKNA Grand Nationals, utilizing the ‘Monza’ section and ‘early cut’ corner between the two long straightaways on the national configuration.

Throughout the weekend, a number of prizes will be handed out to competitors of the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 3. Over $30,000 of product have been accumulated thanks to the many series and event sponsors. Among the unique opportunities is the kart raffle for very kart that EKN’s Rob Howden will be piloting in the CIK Masters class. PSL Karting is set to raffle his AM29 chassis with tickets on sale for $30, or 4 for $100, beginning Friday at the event.

Howden is set to be busy all weekend, especially on Friday following practice. He will host the first ever ‘Burger Smash Presented by Cooper Tires’ to raise money for the Riley Children’s Foundation. A number of companies have stepped up to help sponsor the event, including Margay Racing, Hoosier Kartsport, Trinity Karting Group, Stilo USA, Croc Promotion USA, MYLAPS, OTK USA, Streeter Super Stands, Luttrell Racing / IONIC Edge Chassis, and New Castle Motorsports Park.

eKartingNews.com will be broadcasting the entire event through the EKN Live page – www.ekartingnews.com/live – and through the Race-Monitor app. Catch the audio from qualifying, three heat races and the main event with CKNA announcer Dave MacIntyre calling the action. CKNA is working with ISC Sports Network and MTC Sports to broadcast the main events from Sunday. Live on CKNA Facebook, ISC Sports and CupKarts.com will be video feed of the action from New Castle Motorsports Park.

2018 CIK Senior winner Gary Lawson (Photo: Indy Kart Pics)

The largest category of the event is the CIK Medium class featuring a great cross-section of 69 drivers from all different corners of North America. While 2/3 of the field was not in the category one year ago, the top two favorites remain – Gary Lawson and Colin Warren. Lawson and Warren dominated the weekend last year, with the victory coming down to a photo finish. Lawson edged out Warren by 34 thousandths. Lawson is coming off a double victory weekend at USAC Karting Battle at the Brickyard and three wins at the Rock Island Grand Prix aboard his Comet Kart Sales Eagle chassis. Warren started out the season with the SKUSA Winter Series title and won the Margay Ignite Senior main event inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.

One of the longest hauls is to the event is from California. Last year, the 2018 KPX Karting Championship title winner David Vasquez finished third behind the top duo, and is back to improve. Steven Kilsdonk was runner-up to Lawson at the Brickyard in both main events, and has finished inside the top-seven the last two years of the CKNA Grand Nationals.

Before getting into the diverse list of possible contenders, we need to look at the six different winners on the CKNA Champions Cup program in 2019. Eric Fagan won four times on the year aboard a Ricciardo Kart to claim the class championship. The former Briggs & Stratton Weekly Racing Series #1 driver will be making his first start in the class at the Grand Nationals. Jordan Bernloehr, Marc Stehle, and Vince Scatena each took home a win on the season, finishing in their respective spot in the season standings. Josh Stiefel and Precision Karting Technologies’ driver Alex Watzke also grabbed a win this season, both making their first start at the Grand Nationals.

As noted, the majority of the field are making their first starts at the Grand Nationals, including some solid Briggs drivers. Florida driver Corey Towles is making the trek up to Indiana, as are Margay Racing drivers Evan Stamer and Charlotte Lalonde. Stamer won twice at the Rock Island Grand Prix and Charlotte is a former Brickyard winner. Local drivers are sure to be in the mix, including Comet Kart Sales’ Garrett Adams running alongside Lawson. Adams is a Junior graduate, along with last year’s Grand Nationals winner Alexander Searle and third-place finisher Kevin Lanyi – who won twice in the Senior Medium class in 2019.

The CKNA Grand Nationals 3 have brought in some very notable names. Fresh off competing at the FIA Karting KZ World Championship, Florida driver Austin Garrison is trading in the six gears for Briggs horsepower. The SKUSA Pro Tour race winner and former WKA champion will join CRG Nordam factory team trackside to make his first CKNA Grand Nationals 3 start. Fellow WKA champion Alexander Kardashian will drive across from Purdue University to take part in his first Grand Nationals as well. Seven drivers in the field call Canada home, and among them is veteran racer Curtis Fox making his first start in a Briggs & Stratton category.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Adams, Garrett Greenfield, IN
Amundsen, Dylan Brooksville, FL
Bachmyer, Jordon St. Louis Park, MN
Barroso, Frankie Miami Shores, FL
Bernloehr, Jordan Lakeville, MN
Birkle, Sean Miamitown, OH
Bromberek, Aaron Lemont, IL
Bromberek, Robert Lemont, IL
Clossey, Jesse Orfordville, WI
Collins, Brandon River Forest, IL
Corcoran, Dan Oak Creek, WI
Davis, Garrett Mentor, OH
De la Plante, Mike Kanata, ON
Dias, Rodrigo West Bridgewater, MA
Dietrich, Ethan Byron, IL
Domenick, Corey Lombard, IL
Eggemeyer, Trevor Troy, IL
Fagan, Eric Columbus, OH
Fogt, Kyle Fairfield, OH
Fox, Curtis Bala, ON
Fox, Hunter St. Petersburg, FL
Garrison, Austin Davie, FL
Geiser, Cody Minnetonka, MN
Gensheimer, Ryan Bowling Green, KY
Graaf, Ashley Becker, MN
Gunn, Jd South Bend, IN
Hagin, Robert Riverview, FL
Hann, Kelsey New Glasgow, NS
Heavlow, Jake Galena, MD
Kardashian, Alexander Saint Paul, MN
Kilsdonk, Steven Noblesville, IN
Kleman, Scott Novi, MI
Klimek, Randy St. Augusta, MN
Ksobiech, Nick Big Bend, WI
Lalonde, Charlotte Gloucester, ON
Lanyi, Kevin Madison, AL
Lawson, Gary Greenfield, IN
Lyda, Ben Powell, OH
McCarthy, Justin Cedar Lake, IN
Meier, Sean Jacksonville, FL
Miller, Avery Newcastle, ON
Moore, Macon Baton Rouge, LA
Nunes, Ricardo Marlborough, MA
Nyiri, Jakab Hickory Hills, IL
Pendrey, Grant Columbus, OH
Piper, Mason Beverly Shores, IN
Prior, Jordan Guelph, ON
Pyatt, Matthew High Ridge, MO
Quinn, Ian Chardon, OH
Rettig, Brian Springfield, IL
Rossiter, Chris Marseilles, IL
Ruiz, Jorge Savannah, GA
Santos, Gregory Pelham, NH
Scatena, Vince Excelsior, MN
Seaman, Daniel Big Rock, IL
Searle, Alexander Plantation, FL
Slinden, Christopher Grove City, MN
Smith, Jacob Cicero, IN
Stamer, Evan Glen Carbon, IL
Stehle, Marc Windsor, ON
Stiefel, Josh ROCHESTER, NY
Thomas, Owyn Pickering, ON
Towles, Corey Jacksonville Beach, FL
Treadwell, Jon Huntsville, ON
Vasquez, David Madera, CA
Warren, Colin Naples, FL
Watzke, Alex Wixom, MI
Westlie, Randy Oshkosh, WI

With the large numbers anticipated for the CKNA Grand Nationals 3, officials created a CIK Heavy category in an effort to prepare for the 2020 season. A total of 39 drivers are entered into the class – set to fight to become the first Grand Nationals winner – featuring a number of double dippers that are racing both Medium and Heavy along with a handful of Masters drivers racing a second class. Notables for the first year class include many of those racing in the Medium category. However, no Lawson, Warren, and Kilsdonk but the class does include Bernloehr, Lalonde, Fox, Stamer, and Towles. Others to watch include former RIGP winners Connor Lund, Morgan Schuler and series regular Jesse Clossey.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Baker, Heath Yulee, FL
Bernloehr, Jordan Lakeville, MN
Breitenstein, Dan Miami Beach, FL
Carlock, Bowen Saltillo, MS
Clossey, Jesse Orfordville, WI
De Campos, Marcelo Pelham, NH
Dias, Rodrigo West Bridgewater, MA
Dietrich, Ethan Byron, IL
Dokken, Chad Clearwater, FL
Edmonson, Elmer Lehigh Acres, FL
Eggemeyer, Trevor Troy, IL
Elwood, Alan Galloway, OH
Folino, Rich Stoney Creek, ON
Fox, Curtis Bala, ON
Heavlow, Jake Galena, MD
Kaszubski, Jacob Oak Lawn, IL
Kuret, Gabe Orlando, FL
Labhart, Nathaniel Goshen, In
Lalonde, Charlotte Gloucester, ON
Lund, Connor Tinley Park, IL
MacVoy, Steven Windsor, ON
Meier, Sean Jacksonville, FL
Miller, Jerry Blue Grass, IA
Moore, Brandin Alton, IL
Nunes, Ricardo Marlborough, MA
Otterman, Ryan Cedar Lake, IN
Prior, Jordan Guelph, ON
Queen, Austin Ashville, OH
RINKER, ZAK St. Charles, IL
Ruiz, Jorge Savannah, GA
Santos, Gregory Pelham, NH
Schuler, Morgan De Witt, IA
Stahl, Ben Fishers, IN
Stamer, Evan Glen Carbon, IL
Thomas, Owyn Pickering, ON
Towles, Corey Jacksonville Beach, FL
Treadwell, Jon Huntsville, ON
Vetter, Pete Saint Louis, MO
Williams, Ricky Saltillo, MS

2018 Masters winner Mike Welsh (Photo: Indy Kart Pics)

The 2019 season was a transition year for the Masters class at Cup Karts North America. The CIK bodywork was implemented and numbers increased. The class at the Grand Nationals 3 has also increased, featuring 39 drivers set to battle. The ‘King of the Castle’ at for CKNA has been Michael Welsh. The veteran driver from the Quad Cities area has been the driver to beat each year of the Grand Nationals. Welsh won one of the two Finals in 2017, placing runner-up in the other. Last year, the multi-time RIGP winner drove to a near three-second advantage. Welsh did not run the class at CKNA this year, but won at the Spring Nationals in CIK Senior and also placed runner-up at the Brickyard.

Fellow Iowan Jerry Miller and New Yorker Tim Stiefel make up the returning top-five from 2018. Miller finished fourth last year and has one CKNA victory on the season. Stiefel was P5 a year ago and won at the second event of the season at CKNA. Other winners from CKNA on the season racing at the Grand Nationals include series champion Tim Huss Jr., Matt Skaggs, Erick Heling, Randy Raridon, and Matt Skaggs.

Canada has represented strong at the Grand Nationals in the class over the last two years. Scott Jeffries won the opening Final in 2017 – though not listed on the pre-entry list. Carrying the Maple Leaf into Indy is Jamie McArthur, a top-six finisher of the three main events at the Grand Nationals – and 2019 Canadian Karting Championships winner Eli Yanko.

Team Margay is loaded for a chance at the Grand Nationals title with three drivers under the tent. ‘Pistol’ Pete Vetter is coming off victory at the Rock Island Grand Prix while Ken Williams and Brandin Moore just finished first and third at the KRA event at NCMP a couple weeks ago.

As mentioned earlier, EKN Publisher Rob Howden is set to compete in his first CKNA Grand Nationals this weekend, racing with Marc Stehle aboard a Ricciardo Kart that will be raffled off after the event. It will be another EKN Grudge Match with Managing Editor David Cole also making his CKNA debut. Cole will not be under the same tent this time around, joining the LSR Motorsport / CRG Nordam operation alongside Stacey Gunn and Joe DeBoever. Watch the EKN Social Media and their own accounts for updates on their battle throughout the weekend.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Baker, Heath Yulee, FL
Bradford, Jamie Mount Juliet, TN
Bratsch, Ken Bettendorf, IA
Breitenstein, Dan Miami Beach, FL
Brock, John Saltillo, MS
Carlock, Jason Saltillo, MS
Cline, Chris Brentwood, TN
Cole, David Grand Rapids, MI
De Campos, Marcelo Pelham, NH
DeBoever, Joe South Bend, IN
Denune, Jeff Indianapolis, IN
Gunn, Stacey South Bend, IN
Harleman, Tom Carmel, IN
Heling, Erick Sheboygan, WI
Howden, Rob Cambridge, ON
Huss, Tim Waukesha, WI
Kaminski, Bob Lombard, IL
MacArthur, Jamie Bowmanville, ON
MacVoy, Steven Windsor, ON
Maitlen, Chuck Richmond, IN
Miller, Jerry Blue Grass, IA
Moore, Brandin Alton, IL
Newman, Don Coal Valley, IL
Paulson, Ken Orfordville, WI
Pike, Larry Seven Mile, OH
Pyatt, Craig High Ridge, MO
Raridon, Randy Tonica, IL
Rowe, Jason Troy, MI
Skaggs, Matt Murfreesboro, TN
Skilton, Dan Trenton, ON
Stiefel, Tim ROCHESTER, NY
Taylor, Dennis La Porte, IN
Vetter, Pete Saint Louis, MO
Welsh, Michael Eldridge, IA
Whildin, Mike Hampshire, IL
Williams, Ken Saint Louis, MO
Yanko, Eli Thornhill, ON

2018 Senior Medium winner Collin Warren (Photo: Indy Kart Pics)

The ‘Gold Cup’ bodywork remains part of the Cup Karts North America program since it launched, and two categories for the Senior level drivers are part of the Grand Nationals 3. Open Senior Medium has 17 drivers competing, all chasing Colin Warren. The Florida driver has won all three main events over the past two seasons. Michigan’s Scott Kleman was runner-up a year ago, and he is back to contend. Veteran and 2019 series champion Ryan Cassity has three top-seven finishes, including fourth last year, with Justin Wishard and Trentin Frederick among those returning. Eric Fagan is back after placing fifth in one of the main events in 2017 and not racing last year. Florida driver Hunter Fox is making his Grand Nationals debut, along with Marc Stehle making his debut in the category.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Amundsen, Dylan Brooksville, FL
Anderson, Kyla Shakopee, MN
Cassity, Ryan Decatur, IL
Dykstra, Paul Rosamond, IL
Edmonson, Elmer Lehigh Acres, FL
Fagan, Eric Columbus, OH
Fox, Hunter St. Petersburg, FL
Frederick, Trentin Caledonia, NY
Kleman, Scott Novi, MI
Miller, Michael Brunswick, OH
Perocarpi, Cristian Brownsburg, IN
Piper, Mason Beverly Shores, IN
Rettig, Brian Springfield, IL
Stehle, Marc Windsor, ON
Warren, Colin Naples, FL
Wilbur, Levi Indianapolis, IN
Wishard, Justin Pecatonica, IL

2018 Senior Heavy winner Grant Zimmermann (Photo: Indy Kart Pics)

The Open Senior Heavy class is a bit less with just 10 registered heading into the weekend. The class at the Grand Nationals has been a fight between CKNA regulars Grant Zimmermann and Justin Wishard. The each took a win in 2017 before Zimmermann jumped ahead in the total with victory in 2018. Grant has four wins on the season en route to the CKNA Champions Cup title while Wishard grabbed one lone victory this season. Connor Lund earned three victories in 2019 to finish second in the standings ahead of Wishard, placing top-four in all three main events at the Grand Nationals. Behind Lund in third last year was Coyote’s Jim Lipari. Eric Maitlen and Tyler Jasperson finished top-10 last year, and make up part of the eight drivers returning from last year. Welsh is making his Heavy debut at the Grand Nationals with Logan Smith back after missing 2018, finishing sixth in 2017.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Brick, Sam Madison, Wi
Jasperson, Tyler Rosemount, MN
Lipari, Jim Spencerport, NY
Lund, Connor Tinley Park, IL
Maitlen, Eric Richmond, IN
Osgood, Chris Florence, KY
Smith, Logan St. Charles, IL
Welsh, Michael Eldridge, IA
Wishard, Justin Pecatonica, IL
Zimmermann, Grant Manitowoc, WI

Will Holtz (Photo: David Rinker)

The Junior category is another division that has increased from year to year, with 2019 featuring 39 drivers. While last year’s winner and a few others have moved up, seven of the top-15 from last year are returning. Will Holtz is the top returner, placing fifth one year ago. Holtz finished the CKNA Champions Cup second in the standings after opening up the season with two wins at the Spring Nationals. James Overbeck claimed the series championship this season with two wins and seven podium finishes in 10 races. 2017 Grand Nationals winner Elijah Skaggs won three times in 2019 and finished the season third with Camden Gruber and Cayden Fretwell also winning on the year. All five are set to battle for this year’s Grand Nationals victory.

A handful a graduates from the Sportsman division are competing in Junior this year. Among them are last year’s winner Logan Adams under the Comet Kart Sales tent and fourth-place finisher Danny Dyszelski from North Carolina.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Adams, Logan Greenfield, IN
Alexander, Ethan Grafton, WI
Antonosanti, Louie Alliance, OH
Blatt, Emerson Ashburn, VA
Bolen, Jacob Leland, IL
Camp, Ian Honeoye Falls, NY
Cline, Joey Penfield, NY
Darlison, Matthew Louisville, OH
Donkers, Ethan Elora, ON
Dyszelski, Danny Charlotte, NC
Fiene, Josh West Chicago, IL
Filz, Carson Norton Shores, MI
Fretwell, Cayden sheboygan, WI
Gilkes, Nicholas Richmond Hill, ON
Gough, Ayden New Lowell, ON
Graham, Logan Darlington, WI
Griffin, Sam Greenfield, IN
Gruber, Camden Winchester, VA
Hamelin, Hudson Baxter, ON
Holtz, Will Deerfield, IL
Kelly, Brody Arnold, MD
Kerr, Jayelynn Holland, MI
Kimbrel, Griffin Pana, IL
Matthews, Mackenzie Seagrave, ON
Miller, Collin Whiteford, MD
Overbeck, James Cincinnati , OH
Perl, Logan Kiel, WI
Polarek, Peyton Morris, IL
Pribyl, Jason Glenview, IL
Pryor, Carter Caseyville, IL
Reed, Camryn Youngsville, LA
Shaw, Bryce DeWitt, IA
Skaggs, Elijah Murfreesboro , TN
Spurr, Josh Houston, TX
Storey, Sophia Solvang, CA
Townsend, Violet Ravenna, MI
Vacek, Brian Minneapolis, MN
Whitney, Chase Washago, On
Zelenka, Bacon Lyons, IL

Aryton Grim (Photo: EKN)

Youth at the CKNA Grand Nationals 3 and in karting in general is strong. The Sportsman division is setting a new high mark, welcoming 41 drivers for the weekend. Numbers averaged roughly 15 per weekend at the CKNA Champions Cup program in 2019, with the majority of the series regulars in attendance for New Castle. Cale Zimmerman claimed five victories on the year to claim the crown for 2019. Zimmerman is among the top contenders heading into the weekend as the top returning finisher from last year with a runner-up finish. Cade Jaeger and Miles Doherty each scored a win in 2019 while Blake Boon won three times in a limited schedule.

On the podium the first two Grand Nationals was Aryton Grim. The Nitro Kart driver won the opening main event in 2017 before finishing third a year ago. Grim has SKUSA, USPKS and WKA victories to his credit in 2019. Ben Maier and Elliot Cox are also nationally-known names in the field. Maier is another Nitro Kart driver with victories and championships across the country, as is Cox who is set to run with CRG Nordam in his CKNA debut at his home track. Last year’s Kid Kart winner Jacob Schaible is the lone graduate from the class racing at the Grand Nationals.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Bartlett, Jennifer Lindsay, ON
Bolen, Joseph Leland, IL
Bolen, Joshua Leland, IL
Boon, Blake Scottsville, NY
Burnett, Jensen Toronto, ON
Campbell, Caleb Cambridge, ON
Chambers, Josey Houston, TX
Cline, Jordan Penfield, NY
Cox, Elliot Indianapolis, IN
Doherty, Miles Franklin Grove, IL
Dowless Jr., Rodney Dix Hills, NY
Fister, Cami Pekin, IL
Grim, Aryton Hilliard, OH
Hammac, Olivia Cape Canaveral, FL
Henckel, Ashton Rochester Hills, MI
Hendler, Isaac Sheboygan Falls, WI
Iannuzzi, Lawson Hampshire, IL
Jaeger, Cade Kewaskum, WI
Kiefer, Kolin Effingham, IL
Kraus, Jayden Louisville, KY
Lloyd, Collin Pembroke Pines, FL
Maier, Ben Stevensville, MD
Malcuit, Isaac STRASBURG, OH
Noe, Jason Madison, OH
Pearsall, Jackson Toronto, ON
Perl, Carter Kiel, WI
Petty, Jase Oakland, IL
Scarbrough, Emma Kate Peachtree City, GA
Schad, Brady Plymouth, WI
Schaible, Jacob Cleves, OH
Sheard, Kyle Centerville, IN
Sholtis, Sean J. Moon Township, PA
Tarter, Caleb Winchester, IN
Trudell, Porter Green Bay, WI
Tutwiler, Sam Fishers, IN
Wade, Pearce Burlington, ON
Warren, Eli Louisville, KY
Watkins, Scotty Campbellville, ON
Williams, Kasey Bettendorf, IA
Wright, JD Plainfield, IL
Zimmermann, Cale Manitowoc, WI

Audrina Rowe (photo: David Rinker)

The Kid Kart class has grown to 12 for the 2019 CKNA Grand Nationals. Summit Rossiter, Sydney Miller, and Audrina Rowe are the top returning drivers finishing third, fourth and fifth respectively. Rowe is the 2019 CKNA Champions Cup title winner, earning seven of the 10 main event victories on the season. Hudson Brown is vice-champion, winning twice on the year. The field represents 10 different states and one Canadian providence, showing the growth of the Briggs & Stratton ‘Operation Grassroots’ movement.

Provisional Entry List

Name Hometown
Boon, Jay Scottsville, NY
Brown, Hudson Richmond, IN
Chambers, Sawyer Houston, TX
Donkers, Adrian Elora, ON
Haese, Alex Manitowoc, WI
Miller, Sydney Whiteford, MD
Nunes, Luiz Marlborough, MA
Rossiter, Summit Marseilles, IL
Rowe, Audrina Scandinavia, WI
Scarbrough, Lillian Peachtree City, GA
Simone, Anthony Gilford, ON
Walcott, Grayson Barrington, IL

EKN Global Members Discussion: