Race Report: 2020 Spud Cup
The inaugural Spud Cup was held at the new Kart Idaho facility in Eagle, ID, outside the metro Boise area. The circuit measures at just over 6/10-mile featuring 11 turns, focused on providing a place for young and old, experienced and inexperienced can all come together to enjoy the sport of karting at its purest. The Spud Cup was established as a non-points, big money event focused around the Briggs & Stratton 206 engine platform, welcoming some of the best drivers from the Northwest over the October 2-4 weekend.
A total of 66 drivers took part in three categories that made up the 2020 Spud Cup, featuring a Senior 206, JR2 206 and JR1 206 class structure. Competitors took to the track for Qualifying on Saturday with three rounds of heat races following. Semifinals and the main events were held on Sunday.
JR1 – Ben Corkery qualified on pole with a 52.765 with over a half second gap to second place qualifier Max Herberholz.
JR2 – Trey Arnzen qualifies on pole with a 52.108 just .05 seconds ahead of second place qualifier Riley Miller.
Senior – Jacob Smith qualifies first in round 1 with a time of 52.691. Smith had to leave afterwards to race his pro truck at Meridian Speedway so he missed round 2. Round two which consisted of the top ten from round 1 minus Jacob was won by Andrew Zimmer with a time of 52.346 beating out Daytona Arnzen on the last lap of the round by .113 seconds. The top 6 in qualifying all ran their fastest laps of the session on the final lap.
Heat Races –
JR1 – Ben Corkery swept all three heat races and the top three stayed consistent as well with Max Herberholz and Greyson Shobert finishing second and third in all three heats. Devin Walz (5th place qualifier) had an engine stall in heat 1 and could never recover missing the top 8 dash qualifiers.
JR2 – Trey Arnzen and Zak Meyer both won their respective heats in the first two rounds of group heats before facing off in the third round of heats. Trey Arnzen would come out victorious and Cory Rau the Kart Idaho Championship race winner would split the two favorites to finish second with Meyer finishing third. Jacob Sessler would go on to win Heat number 3 on the other side of the group heat format which would catapult him into the top 8 fast dash after qualifying 15th earlier in the day and finishing no better than 5th in either of his previous heats.
Seniors – Andrew Zimmer would continue to show his speed in the heats taking all three heat wins on his way to first place in points. His four main rivals would also have impressive showings with Alan Cathey, Gabe Sessler, and Myles Perderson all taking heat wins as well. Daytona Arnzen the second place qualifier would finish second twice and third once.
JR1 – Arguably the best race of the entire weekend was won by Ben Corkery but this race head had a challenge from the whole field. Corkery and Herberholz swapped the lead three times throughout the race and on the last lap went side by side through the esses which allowed Shobert to sneak by Herberholz for second. The rest of the 8 kart field was in line and battling the whole race as well with the top seven being separated at the line by just 1.4 seconds.
JR2 – The race quickly became a two-horse race as on lap two Cory Rau made a mistake falling off track and to the rear and a couple laps later was followed by Sessler allowing the top two to run away. Arnzen had a sizable lead but Meyer was able to close the gap but not quite close enough to make a move as Arnzen took the win by 2 tenths of a second over Meyer.
Senior – Finally Zimmer received a challenger and it came from Senior 206 Kart Idaho track Champion Alan Cathey. It took until lap seven but Cathey was able to make the pass on the SKUSA Pro Tour Champion and hold him off by just over a half a tenth at the line to win the dash and the first place starting position in Sundays A main.
JR1 – Devin Walz would recover from his rough Saturday to take the semifinal win by a comfortable near 6 second margin over the rest of the field putting him in the ninth starting position for the main. With only 14 in the class remaining all drivers transferred to the A main.
JR2 – Payton Jackson would lead all but the final lap of the Semifinal as William Ginn who qualified last in the 19 kart field would continue his ascent to the front passing Jackson on the last lap and taking the win. Jackson would finish second and the top two would fill in positions 9 and 10 in the main while the rest of the field would have to run in the B main.
Senior – In the first Semi Final first year driver Nathan Stansberry would lead flag to flag to take the semifinal win and the 9th starting spot in the main but not without a challenge from Monroe Jordan who would just narrowly miss out on the transfer position finishing just .017 behind Stansberry at the line. Semifinal two was not as quiet as the first one. Terry Lawrence who had to endure a chassis swap after Friday practice crossed the line in first but due to a two place penalty for bumping fell back to third handing the win over to Stafford Smith who would take the final transfer spot of tenth and avoid having to go to the B main.
Seniors – 8 karts started the C main with the top five transferring to the B main. Jacob Smith would start on the outside pole, take the lead into turn one, and never look back winning by nearly ten seconds. Smith was followed by Roger Cathey, Hunter Hesseltine, Jacob Merry, and Keith Land who was able to hold off Geoff Clark for the final transfer position.
B main (No JR1 B main needed)
JR2 – Jack Grote started on pole in the B but quickly lost the lead to Blake Feely who would take over for the next three laps. Grote would be able to take back the lead from Feely on lap 4 and maintain the lead to the finish. Just behind the top two playing the long game was Thomas Olsen who knew that a top 5 position would transfer to the A main so he maintained and cruised to the finish. Wyatt Knopp and Rondell Brewer took the final two transfer positions, being able to hold off Lorelei Owen who just missed the final transfer spot.
Senior – The senior B main saw the ascent and return of Jacob Smith back to the A main and he created what the format had set out to accomplish. Coming from the C main Smith started 11th on the grid and drove his way up to fourth in the 10 lap B main passing some heavy hitters on his way to doing so. The surprise finisher of the race though was Eric Molinatti. The CKR factory driver who was one of the favorites going into the event and had qualified 5th on Saturday finished sixth and missed the show. As did Italkart drive Gabe Tesch who got knocked out of the race early in the B main after qualifying 9th on Saturday. The top five had cleared the rest of the field by a wide margin and were set to cruise to the finish but then got racey halfway through allowing Smith to close in and take advantage. Molinatti was leading at the conclusion of lap 5 but got shuffled back in the draft and on the final lap got drafted by on the main straight by Smith and Monroe Jordan and was unable to mount a charge to take the spot back. Terry Lawrence would end up making the race winning pass with two to go and was followed by Tyler Besuyen, Conner Wick, Jacob Smith, and Monroe Jordan.
JR1 – If you were to look at the race strictly from timing and scoring it would look like Ben Corkery yet again dominated the JR1 class in the main but that was far from the truth. This was a two horse as Max Herberholz numerous times throughout the event challenged and passed Corkery. Corkery would always be able to get Herberholz back though before that particular lap would conclude. While the battle raged up front the midfield had an even wilder race. Third through Ninth swapped positions throughout the event with Devin Walz being the aggressor going from his ninth starting spot to fourth. Greyson Shobert who ended up third on the day fell down as far as sixth only to claw his way back up to his eventual podium finish. At the end of the day though it was Corkery who would come out on top beating Herberholz to the line by just under four tenths of a second.
JR2 – The man that had dominated the field all weekend did so again in the main event. Trey Arnzen got a gap to the field early and never looked back as the rest of the class battled for second allowing the pole sitter to create an insurmountable gap of more than 8 seconds to take the win. The race as stated earlier was for second though as second place starter and favorite Zak Meyer had a rough jump on the green flag and found himself sitting fifth at the conclusion of lap one. Italkart driver Kieran Rogers took advantage of Meyers poor start and took over second and began to follow Arnzen and put a gap on the rest of the field. This was not to be though as Meyer mounted a charge back up through the top five and on lap seven was able to get by Rogers and take over the second position though too late to do anything about the disappearing Arnzen. Rogers had plummeted once being passed for second down to the sixth position and while during all the racing had his rear bumper come dislodged which resulted in a mechanical black flag ending what had been a very impressive performance. The battle for the podium was not done yet though as Payton Cook began to turn up the heat on Meyer for second with Riley Miller and Ian Wood in tow. On lap ten Miller was able to get by Cook and this allowed Meyer to create just a big enough gap to hold off Miller for second. Cory Rau would be able to mount a charge in the final three laps going from seventh to fourth and would bring Wood with him past Cook on the final lap for fifth and sixth.
Senior – After an entire weekend of racing, the original 31 senior karters had been whittled down to fifteen. Alan Cathey started on pole due to his dash victory the night before took the early lead with Myles Pederson and Gabe Sessler following behind and Pole Qualifier winner Andrew Zimmer falling back to fourth. C main winner and B main transfer Jacob Smith had his front bumper fall off in turn three and was forced to exit the event. Lap two and three turned out to be the most action-packed laps of the race. Tyler Besuyen and Elizabeth Hunter on lap two made contact entering a very narrow turn four which sent them both flying into the barriers and out of the race and Pederson got shuffled down the order from the podium to seventh. The following lap going into the final corner Pederson, Stafford Smith, and Terry Lawrence went three-wide going into the final corner which resulted in Smith and Pederson spinning off the track and out of the race. That same lap Monroe Jordan also exited the track with a mechanical problem. All this carnage thinned the original 15 kart field to nine and separated the top four from the rest of the competitors. On lap four Zimmer was able to get by both Sessler and Cathey and take over the top spot. One lap later Daytona Arnzen would also get by Cathey and begin to put the heat on Zimmer. The top four would stay the same while Italkart driver Stepanova Nekeel continued his climb forward getting by CKR backed Tyler Coffman for fifth. Rather than attempt a pass Arnzen stayed behind Zimmer allowing the top two to create a gap to Cathey taking the 22-time Duffy winner out of contention for the win. This resulted in a last lap showdown between the two drivers and Zimmer driving a flawless last lap to hold off Arnzen by just, .082 seconds at the line. They would be followed by Cathey, Sessler, Nekeel, Coffman, Conner Wick, Nathan Stansberry, and Terry Lawrence. Zimmer would finish up the weekend taking home a total of $1100 dollars in winnings and the SPUD CUP Crown for himself and his Italkart team.