EKN Trackside: 2021 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals – Saturday Report
Norberg and Myers cruise to victories to for opening day of racing in Utah
The Superkarts! USA Pro Tour has invaded the Utah Motorsports Campus for the weekend, and the 0.9-mile, 18-turn Alan Wilson designed track provided the stage for some tremendous racing during the opening day of competition on Saturday. The 11th running of the organization’s SpringNationals began in extremely cool temperatures, but as the day heated up, so did the action. With the temps rising to the mid-60s by the early afternoon, the main events featured some tremendously close racing and tons of wheel-to-wheel dicing – with non of the nine categories seeing one driver sweep the action on the day. Four-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg dominated the X30 Senior main event for Rolison Performance, leading an impressive 1-2 finish with teammate Branyon Tiner, while AJ Myers scored his third straight Pro Shifter win of the 2021 season to put Magik Kart USA back on top of the podium. With nine classes running in eight race groups, the action did not stop all day.
The Ryan Norberg was a similar ‘Ryan Norberg’ to who we saw in 2019 here in Utah for the SpringNationals. A dominating performance in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Senior class, but not a complete perfect day. Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic teammate Hannah Greenemeier edge Norberg for fast time in qualifying by 15 thousandths of a second with a 57.663-lap. Contact in the opening lap with Greenemeier and Cole Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) sent them to the back of the field. That allowed Norberg to lead all 12 laps of the Prefinal unchallenged with Branyon Tiner (RPG / Kosmic) driving to second. That was how they would start the Final, and finish the main event with Norberg leading all 20 laps, recording the fast lap of race, winning by over four seconds. Tiner was able to get away in second, giving RPG a 1-2 finish. The fight was for third with Dante Yu (PGR / Ricciardo) moving up two spots to the third step on the podium. Greenemeier put in a great drive in both the Prefinal and Final. Moving up to 16th in the Prefinal, she powered her way to fourth by the end of the Final, but a pushback bumper penalty dropped her to sixth. That moved Canadian Thomas Nepveu (PSL / Birel ART) to fourth and Thomas Annunziata (MDR / Tony Kart) to fifth.
It was a similar performance in the PSL Karting Pro Shifter for defending champion AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA). Myers came up just 35 thousandths short in qualifying for fast time with Jacob Gulick (GFC) setting fast time of 55.111 in his SKUSA Pro Tour debut. Myers was able to grab the holeshot and lead all 12 laps of the Prefinal with Jake French (PSL / Birel ART) on his bumper the entire distance. In the Final, Myers picked up the pace a bit more with fast laps of the race, and was able to lead all 20 laps for his third straight victory in 2021. French drove to second with Billy Musgrave (Factory Kart) bouncing back from a stuck engine in the Prefinal to end up third after starting 13th. Vincenzo Sarracino (LEM / Formula K) was fourth after holding off Gulick, who eventually pulled off with a mechanical issue. That promoted Josh Campbell (GFC) to fifth.
The Leading Edge Motorsports KA100 Senior race went down to the wire with the largest class of the weekend at 47 drivers. Trinity Karting Group’s Gavin Bayliff (Kart Republic) was able to lay down a quick lap with teammate Jace Park (Kart Republic) in second to fill the front row for the Prefinal. They both were shuffled back in the 12-lap race as Cole Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) came away with the win ahead of Blake Nash (Nash / EOS). From the pole position, Morgan was able to get away early until he was run down by Nash. They began shuffling for position with about three laps to go, allowing Caleb Shrader (RPG / Kosmic) to close in. On the final circuit, the top two exchanged the lead at turn one, turn four and again at turn 10 with a little bit of contact involved. As they reached the end of the esses and turn 15, more contact with Nash getting into the back of Morgan pushed Cole wide. Nash went through and was able to cross the line for the provisional win. A pushback bumper penalty with Morgan took the win away from Nash, dropping him down to seventh in the final classifications. That moved Shrader up to the top step of the podium for his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Morgan ended up second with Park able to rebound to end up on the podium in third. Austin Osborne (IRM / Tony Kart) was fourth with Connor Ferris (TFR / Kart Republic) in fifth.
Three-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) was able to add a second victory on the season with a dominant win in the PSL Karting Master Shifter. It was not a perfect performance as Vincent Cossard (SRR / CRG) stealing the fast time in qualifying by 86 thousandths. Musser fell to third at the start of the Prefinal with Cossard out front and defending champion Skitchy Barnes (HMG / CompKart) in second. Musser eventually worked past both to claim the Prefinal win. A better start off the line in the Final put Musser ahead by a good margin, pulling out to a 3.8-second advantage after 20 laps. Cossard was a solid runner-up, posting the quickest lap in the Final. Ben Schermerhorn (PSL / Birel ART) beat out Barnes for the third step on the podium with Anthony Stiffler (HMG / CompKart) completing the top-five.
The Comet Kart Sales X30 Master class was a good fight all day long. Veteran Billy Cleavelin (RPG / Kosmic) set fast time in qualifying, edging out teammate Mario Barrios by 37 thousandths. They along with Jess Peterson (PGR / Ricciardo) and Matt Johnson (Nash / EOS) battled for the Prefinal win. Cleavelin was able to come away with the win after contact between Johnson and Barrios occurred on the final circuit. Johnson crossed the line second but was penalized for the contact, dropping him to sixth with Barrios coming across in seventh. That allowed Peterson to finish second and moved Ian Koentges (FDM / CompKart) to third. Koentges had a great start to begin the Final, pressuring Cleavelin for the lead on the opening circuit. Peterson, however, was able to work past both by lap five, and drove away with consistent laps to his second victory of the season. Johnson posted fast laps of the race to climb back up to second in his 2021 debut. Cleavelin was able to fight off Barrios for the third spot with Koentges in fifth.
The Parolin USA X30 Junior class was hard fought all day, until the main event. Defending champion Carson Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) came out of qualifying with fast time, edging Max Garcia (AKT / WPK) by 17 thousandths. Jack Jeffers (SCR / Redspeed) escaped a hard-fought battle in the Prefinal to cross the line first, but dropped to third after a pushback bumper penalty. That promoted Garcia to the pole position. After he and Caleb Gafrarar (PSL / Birel ART) exchanged the lead a few times, Garcia was able to pull away to grab his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory in the category. Morgan, who started the Final in sixth, drove forward to cross the line in second, but a five-second penalty for contact dropped him to fifth. That promoted Noah Baker (Supertune / Tony Kart) to second, who made a great last lap pass inside of Jeffers and Chase Hand (RPG / Kosmic) to earn the position. Jeffers was behind him at the line, but a pushback bumper penalty placed him in sixth. That promoted Hand to the third step and Gafrarar to fourth.
Defending KA100 Junior champion Carson Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) was able to earn his first win of the 2021 season on Saturday. After qualifying third behind Chase Hand (RPG / Kosmic) and Parker DeLong (RPM / Tony Kart), Morgan jumped out to the lead in the Prefinal, showing the way for all 12 laps. It was another wire-to-wire performance in the Final, this time with some late pressure. He and Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) were able to get away late, with Meza pulling the trigger on the final circuit. A great over under between the two put Morgan out front, as he stalled Meza’s pace in the closing corners to secure the victory. For Meza, its his first SKUSA Pro Tour podium in the runner-up spot with Jack Jeffers (SCR / Redspeed) joining them in third. Hand ended up fourth with Cole Kleck (Arcane / Tony Kart) rounding out the top-five.
The Team Benik Mini Swift class went down the wire, welcoming a first-time winner. Canadian Jensen Burnett (Parolin USA) came away with fast time in qualifying and edged out the field in the Prefinal for the win. He was joined at the front of the Final with championship leader Enzo Vidmontiene (Benik) and 2020 Micro Swift champ Jack Iliffe (IRM / Tony Kart). Both worked past Burnett for position, as he would lose the draft with the top two. On the final circuit, Iliffe and Vidmontiene would exchange the lead at turn one and turn two, with Iliffe holding the spot. He held on through the final corners and won the drag race to the checkered flag by nine thousandths of a second for his first victory in class. Burnett came across the line in third, but was handed a three-second penalty for a jump start. That promoted Diego Ardiles (Supertune / Tony Kart) to third with Oscar Iliffe (IRM / Tony Kart) to fourth, dropping Burnett to fifth.
The DNJ Intermodal Services Micro Swift class also welcomed a new winner. Augustus Toniolo (RPG / Kosmic) could have been that driver after going P1 in qualifying and winning the Prefinal. The Brazilian was leading in the closing laps, trailed by Tristan Murphy (Nitro Kart) with the two breaking away from the field. Murphy was able to complete a last lap pass to secure the position and his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Toniolo was slowed in the shuffle for the lead, allowing Lucas Palacio (FDM / CompKart) to grab second with Alessandro Truchot (Parolin USA) in third. Sebastian Cortes (Benik) completed the top-five.
With the third round of the SKUSA Pro Tour now in the books, the drivers and teams will return to the Grantville, Utah facility on Sunday for the fourth event on the six-race schedule and the championship battles will certainly heat up. Catch all the action through the EKN Live stream on www.ekartingnews.com/live beginning at 9:00 am MT. Make sure to follow EKN’s social media channels for immediate post-session results as well as insider images and videos from the paddock and the track.