2021 California ProKart Challenge Battles Continued at Willow Springs
Superkarts! USA regional program rolls through Rosamond for penultimate round of 2021 program
The California ProKart Challenge hosted the penultimate round of the 2021 season on the September 11-12 weekend at the Willow Springs International Raceway. The Rosamond, California facility has been the site of many Superkarts! USA regional program events in the past, including both the famed Streets of Willow course and the karting circuit. The two-day event for Round Five of the 2021 championship program was held on the nine-turn, 6/10-mile kart track in the counter-clockwise direction.
Blake Nash put himself back into the championship chase with his first victory in the Nash Motorsportz KA100 Senior class since the season opener. His performance on the weekend was a near perfect two days that began with a blitzing fast lap in qualifying. Nash laid down a 45.855-second lap to clear the 28-driver field by three tenths of a second. The following day, Nash led all 14 laps in the Prefinal to a 1.5-second advantage. The 24-lap Final began with Oliver Calvo getting the jump on Nash, leading the opening eight laps. Nash took over the position on lap nine and showed the way the remainder of the race for the victory. Calvo finished second, helping his efforts toward the series championship. Aiden Kempf joined them on the podium in third with Colby Dubato and Ayden Aquino completing the top-five. Championship leader Dante Yu was seventh, setting up for an exciting final round.
It was a perfect score in the West Coast Motorsports KA100 Junior division as Jesus Vasquez Jr. extended his 2021 winning streak to four. Vasquez did put in a perfect score, earning maximum points on the weekend. Qualifying was close, with Vasquez edging out Lydia Small by 98 thousandths with a 46.412-second lap. He jumped out to a 4-second lead in the 14-lap Prefinal before leading all 24 laps of the Final, including fast lap of the race. Small won the battle for second ahead of Valentino Garbarino, with G3 Argyros fourth and Alexander Gonzalez in fifth.
The MDG Karting KA100 Master class welcomed its second two-time winner on the season. Two-time winner KC Cook set fast time in qualifying with a 47.183-second lap time to edge out Round Four winner Brian Phillipsen by 12 thousandths. Cook led the opening 10 laps of the 14-lap Prefinal before Phillipsen took control and went on to win. The Final was a two-driver breakaway with Brett Harrelson jumping up into the lead and Phillipsen trailing. They ran that way until the 24th and final circuit with Phillipsen able to make a last lap pass for the lead and the victory, his second on the season. Harrelson settled for second, with Jake Nielson earning hard charger — going from 11th to third ahead of Cook. David Pankratz completed the top-five.
A fourth different winner on the season was welcomed in the Mike Manning Karting X30 Master category. Travis Irving, making his 2021 debut in the class, set fast time in qualifying. He was unable to complete a lap in the Prefinal, allowing Round Four winner and point leader Terry Giffen the path to the race win. Giffen was shuffled down the order in the Final, with Chris Carel taking over the top spot. That was until Irving came charging forward and grabbed the lead by lap nine. Irving led the remainder of the 24-lap main event, driving to a 14-second advantage over Carel for his first victory of the season. Robert Switzler was third with Jeff Rice fourth and Giffen down to fifth.
The top two drivers in the Formula Works Mini Swift championship standings were both looking to add a third victory to their total on the 2021 season. Two-time winner Charlie Smith edged out fellow two-time winner William Rasmussen by just 11 thousandths with a 48.872-second qualifying time. Rasmussen fell to fourth in the Prefinal while Smith held off Keagan Kaminski for the win. In the Final, the first half of the race was led by both Smith and Kaminski, each taking turns at the point. That was until lap 15 when a charging Jackson Glendenning continued his advance from fifth to first. Glendenning showed the way until the checkered flag for his first victory of the season. Smith settled for second with Johnie Stamps in third. Rasmussen was fourth with Cypress Andruss up four spots to fifth.
Tristan Murphy added a fourth straight victory to his 2021 season in the P1 Racing Engines Micro Swift category. Ashton Woon was the driver to beat early in the weekend, setting fast time in qualifying and going wire-to-wire in the Prefinal, edging out Troy Ferguson for the win by 23 thousandths. Murphy was third in the race, and was into second after the drop of the green behind Woon. For the first 14 laps, Woon was at the point with Murphy posting fast laps of the race in his draft. Lap 15 is when Murphy pulled the trigger, taking over the lead and going on to the checkered flag for the victory. Ferguson was able to work past Woon for the runner-up spot, as Betty Schmidt and Matthew Cagle rounded out the top-five.
A fourth victory on the season for multi-time series champion Billy Musgrave in the Positive Beverage Pro Shifter division. Jacob Yesnick took top honors in the timed session with 42.445-second lap. Musgrave was unable to complete a circuit, and started the Prefinal in P6. It took Musgrave two laps to claim the top spot and drove off to the race win. Musgrave fell to fourth at the start of the Final, but muscled his way back up to the lead by lap five. From there, it was all Musgrave as he established a 10-second advantage by the checkered flag. Yesnick was runner-up with Anthony Freese in third. Mathias Coito and William Ferguson were fourth and fifth.
Alex Mercado went unchallenged on the weekend in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior class as did Logan Chambers in the Doran Motorsports Group S5 Junior Stock Moto division.
The California ProKart Challenge will host the sixth and final round of the 2021 program on the October 2-3 weekend, returning for a second time this season to the CalSpeed Karting facility in Fontana, California. Pre-registration is currently open at the SKUSA MotorsportsReg site.