EKN Trackside: 2022 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals – Saturday Report
Norberg clinches fifth championship with victory as Kremers seals first in USA with another win
Ryan Norberg clinched his fifth SKUSA Pro Tour title in X30 Senior with win four on the season (Photo: EKN)
The Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is reaching the end of the 2022 season with the fifth round of the championship program contested on Saturday at the New Castle Motorsports Park. The first day of racing was held at the SKUSA SummerNationals with warm weather greeting the over 200 competitors at the New Castle, Indiana facility. The racing action was just as hot, with all eight categories featuring close racing and excitement from start to the very end. In the process, eight drivers stood at the top of the podium in their respective categories, including six earning their first along with four championships decided early following the penultimate round of racing.
Championship was certainly on the mind of Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) in the X30 Senior presented by Speedlab Racing Engines. Norberg was classified eighth as Hayden Jones (RPG / Kosmic) was looking to grab his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Jones held on through the Prefinal and Norberg worked up to second but was penalized for moving positions after the commitment cone prior to the green flag. That put him fourth on the grid behind Paul Bocuse (RPG / Kosmic) and Louie Westover (Solo Kart USA). A wild opening couple of laps featured a handful of drivers at the point until Norberg took over on lap five. From there, it was smooth sailing as they continued to fight for position behind him. Norberg drove away to over a seven-second advantage, however, it was reduced to four seconds with a partial pushback bumper penalty. In the wild closing laps, Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) was able to grab second ahead of Jones with Edward Portz (RPG / Kosmic) up 13 spots to fourth in his first race after several months away. Rounding out the top-five was Round One winner Jeremy Fletcher (RPM / Tony Kart), who retired early in the Prefinal. He was up to second at one point in the race, ending up fifth to earn the hard charger by advancing 25 spots. For Norberg, it was a clinching day, earning his fifth SKUSA Pro Tour unofficially.
Also clinching a title after the penultimate round was Marijn Kremers in the Pro Shifter class presented by PSL Karting. Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) was able to complete his third sweep of the season by setting fast time in qualifying, winning the Prefinal and leading every lap of Final for a third time this season. The fight was for second with 2021 champion AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) controlling the position for the entire 18 laps. Contact between Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) and Jake French (PSL / Birel ART) allowed him to get away early. French regrouped and tried Myers later but fell down the order. This allowed Pickett to run third and was able to move past the defending champion, earning his second podium finish on the season. Round Three winner Kyle Wick (GFC / Trackmagic) was fourth at the checkered, until a pushback bumper penalty dropped him to eighth. That promoted French to fourth and Billy Musgrave (Factory Karts) to fifth. For Kremers, it is the first SKUSA Pro Tour championship and first title in the USA.
The Ryan Perry Motorsport KA100 Senior class welcomed a first time winner on the day as the race to the victory went down to the wire. Championship leader Alex Stanfield (GWR / Tony Kart) did what he needed to do, setting fast time in qualifying. However, three-time winner Jeremy Fletcher (RPM / Tony Kart) came away with the win in the Prefinal with Stanfield in third behind Oliver Calvo (SCR / Redspeed) after penalties. The first half of the Final was Stanfield and Calvo at the point until they were joined by a pack of two, and then later an even larger group to make it a party at the front. Calvo was able to lead the pack around to the white flag before multiple lead changes took place. Several drivers made contact over the last few corners, with Calvo able to escape to claim his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory in the category. Fletcher came away with the runner-up spot ahead of Senior rookie Parker DeLong (RPM / Tony Kart), earning a third-place podium in his class debut. Aiden Levy (TKG / Alonso Kart) drove up to fourth with Peyton Phillips (Supertune / Tony Kart) advancing 14 spots to fifth. Stanfield ended up sixth at the line.
A great story unfolded in the Master Shifter class presented by Harden Motorsports Group. Justin Kelly (CRG) was making his first career SKUSA Pro Tour start and did so in memorable fashion. Kelly set fast time in qualifying and then went on to win the Prefinal handedly. He continued to drive away in the Final, leading all 18 laps to over a five-second advantage for his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Veterans AJ Noud (HMG / Birel ART) and John Crow (Factory Karts) joined him on the podium with Mike Rivera (GFC) up to fourth and Robert Fiege (HMG / Maverick) in fifth, clinching the provisional SKUSA Pro Tour championship.
Adding to the list of drivers gaining that first SKUSA Pro Tour win in their respective class was Sebastian Wheldon in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior division. Championship contender Max Garcia (MPG / WPK) set fast time in qualifying with Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN) earning the Prefinal win after several penalties were handed out after the race. Wheldon (JC / LN) was among those fighting for the win in the Prefinal, only to find himself off the track and falling to the tail of the field in 19th. He was able to put together a drive back to the front in the Final, picking drivers off one by one. Eventually, he was up to second and reeled in leader Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic). Once into the lead, he went on the defensive, and that allowed a group of drivers to close in. On the final circuit, contact in the scoreboard hairpin caused the group to shuffle up, and allowed Wheldon to get away. At the line, Wheldon secured his first SKUSA Pro Tour win in the category by four tenths ahead of Gafrarar. Alexander Chartier (RPM / Tony Kart) crossed the line in third – and recorded fast lap of the race – only to be penalized for blocking, knocking him to seventh and moving Brinkman up to the third step on the podium. Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) and Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) completed the top-five.
The action in the KA100 Junior class presented by Nash Motorsportz was tough to predict. One name expected to be up front was point leader Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic), who set fast time in qualifying. A wild Prefinal ended with many penalties, and promoted Spencer Conrad (GWR / Tony Kart) with the win, mixing up the starting order immensely for the Final. After some exciting opening laps, Gafrarar came from 16th on the grid to the front of the field by lap eight with Ayden Ingratta (SCR / CRG) out front. They would be run down by Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) and Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) in the closing laps of the race, setting up for a showdown on the final circuit. Ingratta was able to fight off the challenges and came away with the victory, holding off Shipman by 83 thousandths at the line. Meza ended up advancing 12 spots to third with Gafrarar crossing the line in fourth. A three-second pushback penalty dropped him down to eighth, allowing Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) to gain points in the championship with a fourth-place finish while Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN) ended up fifth.
The SKUSA Pro Tour welcomed Keelan Harvick to the list of winners in the Mini Swift class presented by Parolin USA. Harvick (HR / Parolin) was able to qualify third behind top qualifier Gage Bailey (Benik) and Turner Brown (SCR / CRG). Each would have their issues on the day as Harvick went on to be promoted to the win in the Prefinal after a penalty to Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic). Palacio started the Final in 20th and fought his way forward during the 16-lap event. Harvick led the majority of the race, exchanging the top spot with championship leader Jack Iliffe (IRM / Parolin). By lap 14, Palacio was able to work by them all and pacing the field to the white flag. A wild last lap saw Harvick take advantage of the situations in front of him, and escape in the final few corners with the lead to score the victory. Palacio came across the line in second, however, a blocking penalty dropped him off the podium into sixth. That promoted Asher Ochstein (Supertune / Tony Kart) to second and Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin) into third. Iliffe ended up fourth, earning enough points to claim the provisional SKUSA Pro Tour championship, while Johnie Stamps (Parolin) scored a fifth-place result.
The final results in the Micro Swift class presented by Team Benik were decided after the checkered flag. Jackson Gibson (RPG / Tony Kart) was able to claim the fast time in qualifying and went on to earn the win in the Prefinal. He was part of a four driver lead group that included Alexander Procuna (Parolin), Royce Vega (Benik) and championship contender Rocco Simone (Parolin). Each took their turn at the point which included 10 lead changes in the 16 lap race. On the final circuit, Simone came away with the lead and the provisional victory. A five-second penalty for contact took the win away, putting him sixth in the results. That promoted Procuna to the top spot for his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Gibson crossed the line in third, but was penalized for cutting the track, dropping him to seventh. Vega ended up second with Drew Walz (Birel ART) up 14 spots officially to third ahead of Parker Ives (Nitro Kart) and Antonio Pizzonia Neto (Parolin).
The sixth and final round of action for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour will be completed on Sunday at the New Castle Motorsports Park with the last winners of the 2022 season to be decided along with the final points tabulated for this year’s championship chases.