CRG Impresses at Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 5
The CRG Nordam / LSR Motorsports team came in force this year for the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 5, held on the October 1-3 weekend at the New Castle Motorsports Park. The event is the largest in karting for North America, along with the biggest gather of competitors utilizing the Briggs & Stratton 206 powerplant with nearly 400 entries in eight classes. LSR fielded seven drivers aboard the CRG FS4 chassis in three different divisions.
LSR was loaded in the Masters division for drivers 35-years old and above with six piloting a CRG chassis. Grand Nationals 4 third-place finisher Joe DeBoever was joined by returning JD Gunn, Stacey Gunn, and eKartingNews.com Managing Editor David Cole with Ryan Spierowski and Carlos de Moraes making their first starts with LSR at the Grand Nationals. A full day of unofficial practice on Thursday provided the drivers to get up to speed in their CRG karts with Kart City Performance power. Friday featured three more sessions before qualifying began the competition. Spierowski led the way for the team, nearly securing the fast time in the session and missing by five hundredths to end up second. Moraes was 15th with DeBoever 19th, JD 21st, Cole 22nd and Gunn 33rd.
The Saturday morning warm up would be the last session for the weekend that would provide a clear choice of tire as changing weather conditions kept everyone guessing on tires and chassis set up for the heats and final races. Things looked promising when four of the drivers were in the top-12, however, the weather conditions changed with rain moving into the area before the Masters opening heat race. Spierowski drove to 5th in the wet as DeBoever improved to 12th as Moraes was 15th. Spierowski fell to 8th in Heat #2 with DeBoever placing 14th while Moraes was 16th. Both JD and Cole had mechanical issues that put them on the sidelines early on in the race.
Sunday was main event time, and with changing weather conditions all day, the Masters had to make the difficult decision on tires and during driver introductions, half the field made the change from wets to drys, which turned out to be the right choice. Starting positions for the Masters Final put Spierowski seventh, DeBoever 12th, Moraes 14th, Stacey Gunn 39th, JD Gunn 43rd with his two DNFs in the heats following leaky tire in Heat #1 and a clutch issue in Heat #2 while Cole started at the tail of the 47-driver field with an engine change.
In the Final, Spierowski and JD Gunn elected to go to dry tires and for the first few laps were on the edge, but then as the dry lines started to appear they started their runs. Spierowski held his position to land on the podium in fifth – a second straight year for LSR / CRG driver on the podium. JD Gunn drove an amazing race, improving 33 spots to 10th with the second quickest lap of the race. Moraes also held his ground to finish the event in 14th. Cole remained on rain tires, moving from 47th into the top-30 in two laps before the track began drying, which left him there for the rest of the race finishing in 30th. DeBoever and Stacey Gunn had issues to end their races early.
DeBoever was running double duty with two separate LSR / CRG machines, also completing in the new Legends class for drivers 50-years-old and above. From the beginning, DeBoever was among those in contention for the inaugural win. Joe qualified third overall in the 38-driver field. He drove to finishes of fifth and seventh in the two heat races, lining up inside row three for the Final. While there was no rain for the main event, the track was still wet enough to utilize rain tires. A miss on gearing for the 15-lap race put Joe ninth at the checkered flag in the class debut.
Representing LSR / CRG in the Senior Heavy division was Justin McCarthy. After qualifying 29th, he worked his way up to the 24th starting spot for the main event after the two heat races, one dry, one in the wet. Their main event saw a handful of drivers take the gamble with dry tires, and it paid off. For McCarthy, he elected to stay on wet tires and made solid progress in the opening few laps until the track began showing a dry line. By the end of the race, it was a 2.5-second difference in lap times between the two tire selections. In the end, McCarthy held on to finish 23rd.
With the season now over, the LSR / CRG team will prepare for a run at the SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA at the NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. The team kicks off the 2022 season with a return trip to the Cup Karts North America Spring Nationals at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. LSR / CRG is set to follow the entire CKNA North Division program to prepare for another attack at the CKNA Grand Nationals 6 in October 2022.