EKN Trackside – SKUSA Winter Series – Round 4 Sunday Report
Deukmedjian wins the race, while Norberg wins the war
Kartsport North America driver Arias Deukmedjian emerged as the powerhouse in the X30 Senior class on Sunday, winning the main event
(Photo: On Track Promotions)
With the championships on the line in several classes, the final round of the Superkarts! USA Winter Series was contested at AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex Presented by MG Tires on Sunday and the racing was once again intense and entertaining. While class leading drivers like Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Renato Jader David, Billy Musgrave, Justin Peck and Dan Breitenstein had already locked up their titles thanks to a trio of strong results in the first three rounds, the championships in the remaining classes were wide open. As a note, any and all championship confirmations in this report are based on EKN’s own calculations, so look for SKUSA to release the official point standings in the near future.
The Rolison Performance Group X30 Senior racing was exceptionally thrilling, both in terms of the championship fight and the race win itself. Kartsport North America’s Arias Deukmedjian (Kart Republic) emerged on Sunday as the fastest driver for a majority of the 22-lap main event, working past early leader Hannah Greenemeier (Kosmic) to drive to the victory, making it four different winners in the four rounds. Rookie Senior Branyon Tiner (Kosmic) qualified on the pole in the 40-kart field, and eventually finished second in the Prefinal as Greenemeier picked up the baton for Rolison Performance Group to take the win and the pole for the main event. Greenemeier jumped out to a quick lead while everyone else sorted themselves out, including Tiner, who was involved in an incident and dropped to the tail of the field. He would continue and fought his way back to 19th. Greenemeier had built up a sizeable lead early on, but Deukmedjian teamed up with Enrico De Lucca (Kosmic) and they were closing consistently lap after lap. Once he arrived on Greenemeier’s bumper, Deukmedjian made the pass for the lead and the win in turn one to begin lap 17, bringing De Lucca along with him. Greenemeier rose to the challenge and turned the fast lap of the race to plant herself on De Lucca’s bumper in an effort to re-take the spot. Running in third, with the fast lap 10-point bonus already locked in, Greenemeier was destined to come up just one-point short in trying to steal the championship away from Ryan Norberg, who would eventually finish ninth, which he would use as his drop. Greenemeier attempted to get past De Lucca on the final lap but just couldn’t complete the overtake, and she finished on the final step of the podium in third. Round 3 and Round 1 winners Olin Galli (CRG) and Patrick Woods-Toth (BirelART) completed the podium.
While Norberg’s Sunday result of ninth was not a standard finish for him, he did come away with yet another championship thanks to two second-place finishes and a third. This title was Norberg’s fifth straight Superkarts! USA championship, a streak that began with the 2018 SKUSA Pro Tour and then runs through the 2019 Winter Series, 2019 Pro Tour, 2019 California Pro Kart Challenge and now the 2020 Winter Series. Norberg’s extended position at the top of the sport’s headline single-speed category is truly incredible.
Kart Republic’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli completed his domination of the Junior categories of the Superkarts! USA Winter Series, winning the main events and the championships in both X30 Junior and KA100 Junior. All in all, Antonelli went eight-for-eight in his Winter Series main events to cap off his Junior career in style. The Italian is now running in the OK category in the WSK program for Kart Republic in 2020. In the Orsolon Racing X30 Junior class, Alessandro De Tullio (Exprit) qualified on the pole but Antonelli again assumed the lead in the Prefinal and built a significant cushion by the end of the 12-lap sprint. In the main, he quickly developed a one-second gap and was never challenged enroute to 4.211-second triumph that included the fast lap of the race. Behind Antonelli, PSL Karting’s Sasha Maguet (BirelART) held second for the first 16 laps, but both Brent Crews (Kart Republic) and Jace Park (Tony Kart) found a way by on lap 17 and they would hold those spots to the checkered flag to complete the podium. Maguet would eventually fall to seventh as Guilherme Figueirido (Tony Kart) and Josh Pierson (Kosmic) capped the top-five. Of note, Paul Bocuse (Tony Kart) put on an extremely impressive display, driving all the way up from 31st to finish eighth at the checkered flag.
Antonelli had an easy time of it in the AM Racing KA100 Junior main event as well. The Italian dominated the day, qualifying on the pole and winning the Prefinal before scoring a 6.701-second victory in the main, which was the last of the day. Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Tony Kart) was again in the running for a podium finish, and he matched his runner-up result from Saturday. Christian Miles (Kart Republic) delivered a strong performance to complete the podium in third. Andersen Leonard (Tony Kart) took fourth while Brent Crews (Kart Republic) got past Thomas Annunziata (Kart Republic) on the final lap to finish up second overall in the KA100 championship standings behind Antonelli.
In the IAME SSE 175cc shifter kart categories, Billy Musgrave completed the sweep of the team Montoya Pro Shifter main events on the weekend to take the Winter Series title, steering his iKart to the win over Devon Smith-Harden and Jordan Johnson (DR Kart). California’s Chente Salas (Croc Promotion) led the way in the Elf Oil Pro Shifter 2 class, finishing ahead of Baylor Griffin (Tony Kart) to secure the championship. Dillon Johnson (Compkart) completed the podium in third. In IAME USA West G1, RPG/Msquared Karting’s Justin Peck made it four-for-four with another strong performance to take the class championship. Ken Schilling (Aluminos) made a late-race pass on Anthony Stiffler (DR Kart) for second, as the two drivers ran together all race long.
Orsolon Racing’s Renato Jader David (Tony Kart) completed his sweep of the PSL Karting X30 Master class, topping all three sessions to defend his 2019 title with four wins. After qualifying on pole, Jader ran away in the Prefinal, moving the focus to the early battle between Brett Harrelson (FA Kart) and Adam Pettit (Solo Kart) for second. On lap three, Harrelson spun entering turn one and, with nowhere to go, Pettit ended up in the barriers and out of the race. This moved Crosslink Competition’s Miguel Mier (Exprit) to second ahead of Salvo Sparacio (Solo Kart). In the main, Mier grabbed lead on the opening lap but Jader quickly when back to the point and would drive away to a 4.033-second win. Pettit was the man on the move, taking second from Mier on lap eight, a spot he would hold to the checkered flag. However, early-race contact with Harrelson had pushed in Pettit’s bumper, and the subsequent five-second penalty dropped him off the podium to fourth. This moved Mier to second and Harrelson up to the final spot on the podium.
The Haase Karts KA100 Senior class certainly provided a national introduction for New York’s Nate Cicero, who arrived at Homestead in January with Rolison Performance Group. After winning the second round to grab the headlines, Cicero backed up the victory with a second win in Round 3 on Saturday, which turned him into the primary contender for the KA100 Senior championship. On Sunday, Connor Ferris (Kart Republic) was the top qualifier out of the gate, just ahead of Cicero and he would continue this impressive pace enroute to a Prefinal victory and pole for the Final. In the main event, Ferris jumped out into the lead on a six-kart lead group that included Cicero, Garrett Adams (FA), Austin Osborne (Tony Kart), Matt Duncovich (FA) and Brian Boly (Kosmic). As the race wore on, Cicero made his move on Ferris midway through the distance to take over the lead. Ferris kept up the pressure and pushed hard to steal back the point on the final lap, but Cicero held him off to take the win and the championship. Ferris completed a super strong weekend in second while Rolison Performance Group’s Boly emerged from the pack to take the final positon on the podium with an impressive third. Duncovich and Adams capped the top-five.
Speed Concepts Racing Mini Swift began the day with Oscar Iliffe (Tony Kart) topping qualifying to take the pole, following the lead of his younger brother Jack, who did the same thing in Micro Swift. PSL Karting’s Caleb Gafrarar (BirelART) found some of the speed that he was missing on Saturday as he timed in second-quick, then finished second to Kartsport North America’s Max Garcia (Kart Republic) in the Prefinal. The main event developed into a one-on-one battle between Garcia and Miguel Costa (Kart Republic), who had finished third in the Prefinal. The pairing was able to get away from Gafrarar at the start, and then Garcia showed great patience in simply pushing Costa away from the field. Gafrarar was able to build his own gap on those behind him, including Matias Orjeula (Parolin) and Parker DeLong (Nitro Kart), who finished fourth and fifth in the final results. Garcia made his move for the lead on Costa on lap 19 and the ensuing defensive positioning slowed the duo excessively and brought Gafrarar back into the mix for the drag-race to the line. All three drivers finished within a tenth of each other at the stripe, with Garcia taking the win over Costa and Gafrarar. The victory also gave Garcia the unofficial championship title.
The New Castle Motorsports Park-sponsored Micro Swift class was certainly exciting throughout the weekend. Iron Rock Motorsports’ Jack Iliffe (Tony Kart) qualified on the pole to start the day, and he quickly hooked up with Oliver Wheldon (Kosmic) and Augustus Toniolo (CRG) in the Prefinal to pull away. Wheldon took the lead early to secure the pole position for the main event. Wheldon and Toniolo pulled away quickly at the start of the Final to turn it into a two-driver dice, and Toniolo would take the lead on lap 7 to set the pace for a majority of the race. Wheldon hounded the leader from then on, setting up for the final lap attack. On the last circuit, Wheldon went to work and made a decisive move to the turn eight apex coming out of turn seven, and he then held off Toniolo through the last three corners to win by just 0.049 seconds. Iliffe completed a strong day to finish third in the race and third in the championship, coming home ahead of Kai Johnson (FA) and Salvador Della Vecchia. Wheldon’s win was his third victory of the Winter Series and delivered his first Superkarts! USA championship.
The Margay Ignite program has been a welcomed addition to the SKUSA Winter Series and an expanded grid of 35 drivers took to the track on Sunday. Zach Skolnick got off to a strong start, qualifying on the pole over point leader Jed Perkins, but Perkins had the pace to win the Prefinal only to be dropped to fifth thanks to a pushback bumper penalty. Evan Stamer was advanced to the win with the penalty. In the 20-lap main event, Stamer jumped to the early lead to pace an eight-kart lead group with Alexander Searle in second and Perkins in third. Perkins worked himself into the lead on lap six and then held the spot for the next nine laps until Skolnick and Stamer got through for first and second. Perkins stayed attached to the leaders for the final battle and then eventually retook second from Stamer, and in the late going, both Stamer and Perkins were able to work past Skolnick to move him to third. Stamer took the well-deserved victory while Perkins capped his Winter Series experience with a second-place finish and the championship title. As the dust cleared, Skolnick was hit with a 5-second pushback bumper penalty which advanced Searle to third and Charlotte Lalonde to fourth, leaving Zach in fifth.
In the Ignite Masters class, Phil Pignataro swept all three sessions, winning the Prefinal after qualifying on the pole. Pignataro jumped out to the lead in the final and was never challenged, slowly stretching away to a 6.3-second win over title contender Tim Hannen. James Newbold made his first visit to a Superkarts! USA podium with a strong run to third. Brandin Moore and Chris Rock completed the top-five. Dan Breitenstein, who led the championship chase coming into the Sunday final after three strong results including a Round 1 win, had to start at the tail of the grid after a Prefinal incident. The Florida driver drove up to third as the Hard Charger, but he also received a PBB penalty and dropped to sixth in the official results. The race would still be his drop, which gave him the Winter Series championship.
The weekend wrapped with another clean event with zero red flags, which is always a positive. SKUSA has done a tremendous job to grow roots in Florida for their Winter Series, which provides its IAME racers with the opportunity to dial things in ahead of the opening round of the Pro Tour. The 11th edition of the SKUSA Pro Tour will kick off on the March 13-15 weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans with the fourth running of the WinterNationals. EKN will be trackside all weekend. David Cole will provide the EKN Trackside Live coverage while Xander Clements will handle the play-by-play.