Multiple Double Race Winners at Recent California ProKart Challenge Event
Rounds Four and Five contested in double-race weekend in Santa Maria
The 2020 season resumed for the California ProKart Challenge program with Rounds Four and Five contested at the Santa Maria Karting Association facility. Teams and competitors of the Superkarts! USA regional program ventured to the facility just outside the Santa Maria Airport and minutes from the Pacific coast over the July 10-12 weekend. The weather was perfect all weekend long and everyone within the paddock complied with the COVID-19 guidelines set out prior to the event. On-track, a number of drivers were able to come away with a double victory weekend as the championship chase becomes more defined heading toward the series finale.
Extending his win streak on the season to four is X30 Master driver Billy Cleavelin. The two-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner was perfect on the weekend, finishing every session in the top spot. Saturday was a wire-to-wire victory in the Final to an 11-second advantage over Jure Gaspar and Jeff Rice. Sunday was a similar performance, leading all 24 laps in the main event to a 14-second margin of victory. Alan Morte improved to second with Gaspar in third. The result is four straight perfect rounds for Cleavelin to maintain the championship lead.
Billy Musgrave is no stranger to sweeps, as the four-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner had a full season of sweeps in 2018. Musgrave added a second sweep of 2020 in the Pro Shifter category, running on a 125 IAME KZ and earning two more feature wins on the season. Issues in qualifying kept Musgrave from recording a lap to begin Round Four, allowing Hunter Kelly to control the field in his first start of 2020. Kelly went on to steal the Prefinal win after Round Two winner Robert Heck Jr. controlled the top spot. Musgrave worked his way through the combined race group to fifth with fast laps of the race. In the Final, Musgrave put himself in the class lead early, and went on to win overall for a second straight on the year. Kelly was second with Heck in third. Musgrave left nothing on the table Sunday, sweeping the action. He went wire-to-wire in both the Prefinal and Final, winning the main event by 11 seconds over Kelly and Heck.
The fight all weekend in the KA100 Junior category was exciting and ended with one driver at the top of the podium both days. Saturday began with championship leader Kyriakos Sioukas at the point. Sioukas set fast time in qualifying and led all 14 laps in the Prefinal. In the Final however it was Ethan Lampe who took over the point and scored the victory. Stephen Eisert ended up second with Kaytlyn Schwartz in third. Sunday was Juliette Jensen taking over the reigns as she posted fast time in qualifying and led wire-to-wire in the Prefinal. She fell to third early in the Final before working her way back to the lead on lap 13. The following circuit Jensen was dropped down further through the field but still recorded the fast lap of the race. Lampe took over the point from there, going on to score the victory by 1.2 seconds. Jacob Hoover ended up second with Chase Hand placing third.
Nick de Graaf added to his win total for the 2020 season in the KA100 Master division. Saturday was a sweep, his second on the year, highlighted by a wire-to-wire victory in the Final. Phil Pignataro was second with Ron Jenkins in third, recording fast lap of the race. Jenkins carried that speed over into Sunday to set fast time in qualifying. He would be shuffled back at the start of the Prefinal as Pignataro led the entire distance. After not recording a lap in qualifying, de Graaf worked his way up to third with fast laps of the race. Pignataro led the opening lap before de Graaf took over. From there, Nick drove away to a 10-second advantage over Pignataro. Jenkins fought back to finish third.
Other drivers to record two wins on the weekend include Kailey Meris in S5 Junior Stock Moto and Jacob Yesnick in Shifter Senior. Meris swept the weekend over Charlotte Cheung to extend her win streak to five on the season. Yesnick finished first in every on-track session ahead of Luca Bortone.
Joey Brienza ran uncontested in the X30 Senior division both race days. Brienza came away from the weekend with three total victories, having scored a Saturday win in his KA100 Senior debut. The largest category of the weekend was the KA100 Senior class, featuring 21 drivers battling for the steps on the podium. Brienza set fast time in qualifying and fought off Trey Brown for the win in the Prefinal. The Final was all Brienza, leading wire-to-wire with fast laps of the race to a 1.1-second victory. Brown held on to second with Round One winner Dante Yu placing third. Brienza continued his run into Sunday with fast lap in the qualifying session – that saw the top four within 99 thousandths of each other. Among them was Yu, who put himself up to the lead in the Prefinal by lap six and drove away to the race win as Brienza was shuffled back to 10th. Yu never relinquished the top spot in the Final, leading all 24 laps to pull out to a 1.6-second advantage. Brown helped to put himself into the championship lead with a third runner-up finish on the season. Jacob Yesnick had his best finish of the year in the category, rounding out the podium.
Vincente Salas added to his win total for 2020, earning a third victory on the season in Pro Shifter 2. Salas set fast time in qualifying before Justin Taylor, making his 2020 series debut, stole the win in the Prefinal. Salas set sail in the Final, driving away to an 8.8-second advantage over Taylor with Round Three winner Anthony Freese in third. Sunday appeared to be a sweep for Salas with fast time in qualifying and win in the Prefinal. He led the first 17 laps of the Final until having to retire early with a detached bumper. That gave the win to Nathan Haney.
Steve Martin had his win streak cut off in the X30 Super Master class. Martin came into the weekend with three straight victories and started off the weekend with fast time in qualifying on Saturday. Bob Bigiogni, making his first series start of 2020, took over by winning the Prefinal and driving away to a wire-to-wire victory in the Final for his first series victory. Martin was second, with Steve Wiener in third. Martin responded on Sunday, sweeping the Round Five action. Martin capped off the day with a green-to-checkered victory in the Final over Wiener, with Bigiogni retiring early.
Two drivers stood out throughout the weekend in the X30 Junior category. Logan Toke looked to be en route to his first win of 2020, setting fast time in qualifying and dominating the Prefinal. Toke led the first nine laps until getting shuffled on lap 10, retiring one lap later. Frankie Mossman took over the lead until championship leader Jesus Vasquez Jr. grabbed the point. Vasquez held off Kyriakos Sioukas at the line for the victory. Sioukas was penalized five seconds for contact, thus moving Mossman up to second with Kyriakos ending up third after the penalty. Juliette Jensen stole the qualifying session, clearing the field by two tenths Sunday morning to earn her first fast time of the season. Vasquez started fourth and worked his way up to the point in the Prefinal with Toke finishing second, posting fast lap of the race. Vasquez led the first two laps until Toke took control, and drove away to the 2.4-second advantage. Mossman had fast lap of the race, jumping ahead of Vasquez for the second step of the podium.
Two drivers each earned a sweep in the Mini Swift category. Saturday was a sweep by John Antonino, earning his second victory of the season. Antonino went wire-to-wire in both the Prefinal and Final after qualifying P1. G3 Argyros was six seconds back in second, with Nico Sarphati finishing third in his Mini debut. It was not a perfect score on Saturday for Antonino, as Parker DeLong recorded the fast lap of the race. DeLong carried that speed over into Sunday, earning his own sweep on the weekend. Just four thousandths of a second separated the fast times of DeLong and Antonino – with the edge going to Parker. DeLong led every lap of the Prefinal for the win and then the first seven laps of the Final. Antonino took over the point and led until lap 19 when he retired. DeLong took back the point, leading the remainder of the race to earn his third victory of the season. Argyros was runner-up once again, with Wyatt Vidovich in third.
Cypress Andruss earned a third straight victory in the Micro Swift class. Andruss was able to sweep the action, earning maximum points during Saturday’s Round Four action with wire-to-wire wins in the Prefinal and Final while also earning quick time in qualifying and the main event. The margin of victory was 8.2 seconds ahead of Shea Aldrich, with Tristan Murphy completing the podium. Issues in Sunday’s qualifying kept Andruss from recording a lap, as Aldrich took control of the top spot. After posting fast time in qualifying, Aldrich led all 12 laps of the Prefinal. The Final was a fight for the top spot, including Aldrich and Matthew Cagle. Contact on lap 12 put Aldrich on the sidelines. Cagle assumed the point and crossed the line first. Officials handed Cagle a five-second penalty, dropping him to third in the final order. That promoted Johnie Stamps to the top of the podium for his first victory of the season and Round One winner Murphy into second.
Round 6 of the California ProKart Challenge series is still on the calendar for late September, with more details and confirmation of the venue to be posted online soon. For more information on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com and be sure to follow the Superkarts! USA Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.