Race Report: 2022 Texas Sprint Racing Series – Winter Warm-Up
Record number of entries surpasses 200-mark for season opener at NOLA Motorsports Park
A record turnout kicked off the eighth season for the Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx with the ‘Winter Warm-up’ held on the March 25-27 weekend at the NOLA Motorsports Park. The Avondale, Louisiana facility saw a series high 222 entries compete in the 12 categories offered on the weekend, which also served as a prequel to the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour WinterNationals. Many of the ‘Lone Star State’ series regulars were joined by racers from across the country to complete the opening round of the 2022 championship series.
The largest division on the weekend was the KA100 Senior class sponsored by Exertech, featuring 43 drivers. The class was broken up into two groups for the qualifying session, and then four groups to contest the two different rounds of heat races. Arizona driver Josh Campbell set the overall fast time in qualifying, posting a 1:04.582-lap to claim the top spot. The opening heat race featuring AvsB was won by defending champion Peyton Phillips with fellow Texas Nick Brueckner scoring the win in CvsD. Phillips doubled up with a win in AvsD while Alex Stanfield won the other heat. The feature combined the field back together, battling for 17 laps. Stanfield was able to grab the lead on the opening circuit and lead the entire distance to earn the victory. Phillips was able to get away from the rest of the field to finish in the runner-up position. Gia Cicero won the battle for third ahead of Drew Chappell and Adrian Cruz.
One driver was able to win twice on Sunday with North Carolina pilot Caleb Gafrarar earning victory in both 2-cycle divisions for the Junior ranks. The 4T Concrete Pumping KA100 Junior class featured 28 drivers, led by Ernesto Rivera in qualifying with a 1:05.372 lap. He won the opening heat race, however, fell to fifth in Heat #2 as Helio Meza improved five spots to the win. Meza, Max Taylor and Gafrarar were the three drivers to lead during the 17-lap Final, all taking turns. In the closing laps, Gafrarar took the top spot with two laps to go. Taylor retired on the final circuit, allowing Gafrarar to drive away to a 1.2-second advantage at the checkered flag. That gave second to Meza with Ivanna Richards going up four spots to the third step on the podium. Cooper Shipman was fourth with Rivera placing fifth.
Gafrarar was part of the nine-driver X30 Junior category that ran as a local option class due to the SKUSA WinterNationals taking place the following weekend. Local driver Brayden Domingue grabbed fast time in qualifying until Gafrarar took over. He won both heat races and led all 18 laps in the Final for the victory. Helio Meza won the battle for second over Max Taylor.
Ragan Saville was among the few drivers to sweep the weekend, finishing first in all on-track sessions for the 206 Junior class sponsored by Saville Electric. It was a battle throughout the weekend with Sawyer Roussel. During each heat race, Roussel led at one point until Saville was able to come through for the win. Saville led the first half of the Final before Roussel took the spot. With two laps remaining in the 15-lap main event, Saville reclaimed the lead and held on at the checkered flag by 96 thousandths for the victory. Roussel was credited with fast lap of the race in his runner-up finish, while Alfred Alvarez del Castillo joined them on the podium in third. Preston Piecko and Jenson Harrell rounded out the top-five for the nine-driver field.
A tie began the weekend for the 206 Senior class sponsored by Cruz Racing Development in qualifying. Jeff Dolian and Braxden Tregre both posted a 1:12.132 lap in the timed session to lead the 25-driver field. Caiden Wolfe and Dolian each won a heat race, setting up for a battle in the Final. It ended up with Dolian and Tregre that showed the way for much of the Final. Tregre took the lead on lap five of the 16-lap race and paced the field the remainder of the distance. At the line, Tregre won by over two tenths ahead of Dolian for the victory, posting fast lap of the race. Tyler Stephens improved three spots to the podium in third. The hard charger of the race was Kelvin Xing, advancing 12 spots to fourth ahead of Mikey Bowlin.
Wrapping up the IKF Briggs categories is the 206 Cadet class sponsored by Ferris Mowers, the opening class on the time schedule. It featured 17 drivers, many pulling double duty on the weekend. Jaxon Young opened with fast time in qualifying and winning the opening heat race. North Carolina’s Keelan Harvick won Heat #2. Four drivers were in the hunt with Harvick leading the first six laps of the 16-lap Final. Derek Wargo, who started sixth, took over the point with Lucas Palacio on his bumper. On the final lap, Palacio was able to grab the lead and hold it to the checkered flag for the victory. Harvick dropped Wargo to the third spot with Young holding in fourth. Paxton Dyson gained two spots to fifth.
Dyson would earn a series first victory in the Micro Swift division sponsored by Houston Freightliner / Western Star. A total of 22 drivers took part in the class with Sawyer Chambers posting the fast lap in qualifying. Royce Vega qualified fifth and came away with the wins in both heat races. Positions were shuffled on the opening lap of the Final with Vega and Dyson able to get away with the top two positions. Vega led until the closing laps when Dyson took his turn at the point. On the final circuit, Vega grabbed back the top spot to cross the line as the provisional winner. The win was taken away following tech, putting Dyson on top of the podium. Alex Chandler was second with Drew Walz earning hard charger with a drive to third from 20th. Nicholas Orbezo was fourth with Chambers fifth.
A field of 29 drivers contested the Mini Swift class sponsored by the Alan Rudolph Racing Academy. Former Pro Tour champion and TSRS champion Jack Iliffe returned to the USA from racing in Europe to open up the round with fast time in qualifying. He was shuffled back to fourth in the opening heat race as Carson Weinberg drove to the race win. Iliffe rebounded to the win in Heat #2, setting up for a thrilling 16-lap Final. Keelan Harvick joined in at the front, with all three taking a turn at the point until Iliffe secured the position on lap eight. He led the way until the taking the white flag. Weinberg was able to win the last lap battle, earning the victory by two tenths of a second at the line over Iliffe. Tyler Roberts was able to slip past Harvick for third with Alessandro Truchot in the fifth position.
The KA100 Master class sponsored by Kart Racing Solutions enjoyed its largest field in series history with 18 drivers. James Lundberg opened the event by securing the fast time in qualifying then defending series champion Miguel Mier grabbed both heat race wins. Mier led 15 of the 16 laps in the Final, however, was pressured late by veteran Robby Mott. At the line, Mier secured his sixth straight series victory by only 14 thousandths of a second ahead of Mott. Lundberg joined them on the podium in third with Dex Naquin fourth and Morgan Lebaron, who led one lap early, in the fifth position.
The Honda Kid Karts class sponsored by Helix Electric welcomed first time series race winner Dutch Westbrook. It was a sweep put in by Westbrook, who led the way in qualifying, won both heat races and then went wire-to-wire in the 12-lap Final for the victory by 35 seconds. Victor Guss-Wunderle and Brennan Barsch stood on the podium alongside Westbrook with Brody Stoffle and Kimo Ahmad rounding out the top-five.
Two other classes ran as local options to allow SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals competitors the opportunity for a warm-up race weekend. The X30 Senior class was won by North Carolina’s Pauly Massimino. The former SuperNationals winner swept the event, holding off Dante Yu and four-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg. Reigning Pro Tour title winner Hannah Greenemeier was fourth with Canadian Jason Leung in fifth. Mike Rolison ran uncontested in the X30 Master class.
The second stop on the 2022 season for the Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx is the Spring Roundup, scheduled for May 20-22 at the Speedsportz Racing Park in New Caney, Texas. Be sure to follow TSRS on Facebook and Instagram, and get details on everything at www.texassprintseries.com. Those interested in supporting the 2022 program with sponsorship, please contact them via email at email@example.com.