California ProKart Challenge Champions Decided for 2020
Series finale at Buttonwillow crowns champions to close out the 16th season
The ProKart Challenge closed out its 16th season with the sixth and final round of 2020. Competitors filled the paddock of the Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California for Round Six of the championship chase on September 26-27. The two days of competition around the 3/4-mile circuit gave title contenders the final chance to claim one of the 12 championships on the line.
The largest category of the weekend was the KA100 Senior division, welcoming 33 drivers. All were chasing Nick Ramirez as the 2019 SKUSA Pro Tour vice-champion swept the round. The top-five in qualifying were separated by just under one tenth, as Ramirez came away with quick time. Ramirez went on to lead all 12 laps of the Prefinal to a two-second advantage before he was challenged in the main event. Jake Drew finished second, and jumped out to the lead in the Final. The two went back and forth in the final few laps of the 22-lap feature, with Ramirez winning the race to the checkered flag. Michael Michoff completed the podium while Joey Brienza finished fourth and Kyle Hayner fifth. Championship leader Trey Brown recorded a difficult 20th place finish, but in the end recorded enough points to secure the title over Michoff and Jacob Yesnick.
Chase Hand added his name to the list of first time winners in 2020, coming away with the KA100 Junior victory. Hand edged out the 12-driver field in qualifying to secure the pole position in the Prefinal. Championship contender Logan Toke, coming from third on the grid, managed to edge out Hand for the race win. Toke led the first half of the main event before Hand took the position back. They ran 1-2 for the remainder of the race, and had the victory decided in a final drag race to the line. At the checkered, Hand won by 23 thousandths of a second, with Toke settling for second place and fast lap of the race. Jacob Hoover completed the podium in third, with Stephen Eisert fourth and point leader Ethan Lampe in fifth. That was Lampe’s drop race after six rounds, and put him and Toke in a tie for the top of the standings. Lampe, winning Round Four and Round Five, earned the tie-breaker with more wins, thus giving him the championship. Two-time winner Kyriakos Sioukas finished third in the standings.
Earning his fifth victory on the season, Nick de Graaf celebrated the KA100 Master championship on top of the podium in Round Six. The point leader found himself in fourth after qualifying, with Carlos Calderon posting fast time. It took seven laps for de Graaf to take over the top spot, going on to win the Prefinal. From there, de Graaf led all 22 laps of the Final to earn his fifth victory of the season and clinch the championship. Veteran Billy Cleavelin was second on-track, with Calderon joining them on the podium. Travis Irving and Phil Pignataro completed the top-five. Steven Jasinski and Terry Giffen finished second and third in the championship point standings for 2020.
Two drivers stood on top of the podium in Mini Swift all season, including John Antonino and SKUSA Pro Tour champion Parker DeLong. With wins in Round One and Round Four, Antonino swept the sixth round at Buttonwillow in an attempt to claim the championship. Antonino was P1 in all three sessions, which included leading all 12 laps of the Prefinal. It was a battle between the two championship contenders in the Final as they swapped the lead numerous times over the 20-lap race. Antonino secured the top spot on lap 15, leading the final five circuits to claim his third victory of the season. Christian Cameron, making his first start in 2020, came on late to steal the second spot from DeLong. Logan Chambers scored the bonus points for fast lap of the race, crossing the line just behind DeLong with G3 Argyros in fifth. When the final tally in the points chase was calculated, DeLong secured the championship by 26 points over Antonino, with Chambers in third.
The Micro Swift category welcomed a third different winner on the 2020 season with Sebastian Hauser scoring the sweep on the weekend. Hauser, making his first start of the year, never relinquished the top spot over the event, capping it off with a nine-second margin of victory in the Final. Tristan Murphy won the battle for second ahead of Ashton Woon, with Shea Aldrich and Jackson Gibson completing the top-five. Murphy went six for six in finishing on the 2020 podium to secure the season championship. Aldrich ended up second, with Charlie Smith third in points.
Billy Musgrave made ProKart Challenge history, securing his seventh title in eight years in the headline shifterkart category. Musgrave swept the final round in Pro Shifter at Buttonwillow to earn his fourth victory of the year, and clinch the championship. Musgrave led all 22 laps in the Final to a 10-second advantage at the line, earning maximum points for the round. Hunter Kelly was second, with Micah Hendricks joining him on the podium. Robert Heck Jr. finished fourth on-track, and second in the standings – while Kelly placed third in the overall points chase.
Vicente Salas duplicated what Musgrave pulled off, winning for a fourth time on the year to claim the title in Pro Shifter 2. Salas was unable to make the qualifying session with a scheduling conflict and thus did not record a lap. Anthony Freese came out of the time session at the top of the order and went on to win the Prefinal. Salas worked his way up to fourth in the Prefinal and after two laps in the main event, was at the point. Salas went on to win by 12 seconds with Justin Taylor in second and Jacopo Pizzinato in third, dropping Freese to fourth. Freese finished the year second in the point standings, while Nathan Haney completed 2020 in third.
Charlotte Cheung put in a perfect performance in the S5 Junior Stock Moto division in Buttonwillow to earn her first career victory. Cheung led the entire Round Six, capped off by a 17-second advantage in the main event and earning maximum points on the weekend. Henry Barton finished second with Cooper Hunt taking third. The perfect score by Cheung was not enough in the championship chase, however, as Kailey Meris secured the title. Ansel Baldovin finished the season in the third position.
Adding to his long list of karting achievements is Billy Cleavelin in X30 Master. Cleavelin earned his fifth straight victory and fourth perfect score of the season to secure the series championship. Cleavelin drove to a 15-second victory in the main event over Ricardo Arruda, with Steve Ryckebosch in third. Jeff Rice and Jure Gaspar finished in the overall point standings second and third.
Robert Switzler put in his own perfect score in X30 Super Master, making his 2020 debut. Switzler won the main event by eight seconds ahead of Steve Wiener and Denny Hannel. Steve Martin secured the series championship, with Wiener in second and Bob Bigiogni finishing the standings in third. Ryan Norberg ran Round Six unchallenged in the X30 Senior class, earning a third victory on the year and second place in the championship. Two-time winner Joey Brienza ended the year as the series champion.
The X30 Junior championship went down to the wire between Jesus Vasquez Jr. and Logan Toke. Vasquez came out of qualifying with the fast time to earn the 10 bonus points. Toke, however, jumped up to the lead in the Prefinal and scored the win. In the Final, Toke led all 22 laps to secure his second victory of the season, along with fast lap of the race ahead of Frankie Mossman and Vasquez. Those results allowed Toke to claim the series championship ahead of Vasquez by 32 points, with Mossman ending the season in third.
Information regarding an awards banquet to celebrate those earning hardware for their 2020 ProKart Challenge effort, as well as details for the 2021 PKC season, will be forthcoming. 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.