EKN Trackside: 2022 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals – Sunday Report
‘Five and Five’ for Norberg as Myers claims final battle to end season in New Castle
Ryan Norberg won his fifth straight in X30 Senior to bookend his fifth SKUSA Pro Tour title (Photo: EKN)
The 2022 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour saw the final chapter written on Sunday with the last day of the SummerNationals completed at the New Castle Motorsports Park. Another picture-perfect day greeted the more than 200 entries in the eight categories to bring the weekend at the New Castle, Indiana facility to an end. The sixth and final round of the 13th championship season decided the final four title winners with four drivers securing their crown on Saturday. Only two new winners added their names to the list for the 2022 season while five others repeated their victories from the previous day.
With the championship already decided in the Speedlab Racing Engines X30 Senior division, the focus for the 30 drivers on hand was victory. Blake Nash (Nash / EOS) secured his first SKUSA pole position with fast time in qualifying ahead of Frankie Mossman (Benik / Kosmic) and provisional champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) – earning his fifth career SKUSA title. Nash was shuffled down the order as Norberg and Mossman were able to get away in the Prefinal to run 1-2. Norberg was able to escape at the start of the 18-lap Final, getting out to the lead as they battle for second behind him. With consistent laps and fast time posted on lap 15, Norberg secured his fifth straight victory on the season by 2.9 seconds. The driver on the charge was Hayden Jones (RPG / Kosmic) who was shuffled down to 11th in the Prefinal. Jones fought forward, grabbing position by position until he was into the second spot, unable to cut into the lead Norberg had established already to grab the runner-up position. Former FIA Karting World Champion Pedro Hiltbrand (PSL / Birel ART) was third with Austin Garrison (SCR / CRG) one spot off the podium in fourth. Mossman ended up in the fifth position as the top rookie on the day.
EKN Shifterkart Driver Rankings #1 AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) showed why he has held that position for the many months with another sweeping performance added to his CV in the PSL Karting Pro Shifter division. Myers set fast time in qualifying and led every lap of the Prefinal. Grabbing the holeshot, Myers pace the field the entire 18-lap distance for his second victory of the season, locking in the #2 position in the championship. The top spot was secured Saturday with Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) picking up his third victory on the season. The 2019 FIA Karting World Champion in KZ set fast time in the Final, driving to second after getting shuffled back to seventh at the start. The fight for third went down to the wire with Jake French (PSL / Birel ART) and Billy Musgrave (Factory Karts) going back and forth. French crossed the line ahead for the position but suffered a pushback bumper penalty that placed him fifth. That promoted the four-time SuperNationals winner to the podium in third and Tahlon Yockel (Magik Kart USA) to fourth. Hannah Greenemeier (RPG / LN Racing Kart) was hard charger, up 17 spots to sixth.
Jeremy Fletcher (RPM / Tony Kart) did what he needed to do on the day to secure the provisional championship in the Ryan Perry Motorsport KA100 Senior class. Fletcher grabbed the 10 bonus points in qualifying with fast time and went on to win the Prefinal, securing enough to claim the provisional championship by taking the green flag in the Final. He and Saturday winner Oliver Calvo (SCR / Redspeed) worked together to pull away from the rest of the field. Calvo led every lap until they began fighting for the victory on the final circuit. Coming to the final two corners, Fletcher was ahead and Calvo made his move into the penaultimate corner. The two made contact and Fletcher went off into the grass. He rejoined just prior to the finish line, missing the final corner and crossing ahead of Calvo. Fletcher would be penalized 15 seconds for cutting the track and unsafe re-entry along with another six for a pushback bumper. Calvo was classified as the winner, earning a second straight on the weekend. Frankie Mossman (Benik / Kosmic) was promoted up to the second spot with Josh Campbell (RPM / Tony Kart) landing on the podium for the first time in third, up 12 spots from 15th. Cedrik Lupien (RPG / Kosmic) was fourth with Vinnie Meskelis (GWR / Redspeed) placing fifth, posting fast lap of the race.
One of the great races of the day came from the Harden Motorsports Group Master Shifter class. Former SKUSA Pro Tour champion John Crow (Factory Karts) grabbed the holeshot and was hounded by top qualifier AJ Noud (HMG / Birel ART) and Saturday winner Justin Kelly (CRG). Crow was able to fend off challenges from both throughout the 18 laps to record his first victory on the season. Noud ended up runner-up once again with Kelly a close third. Prefinal winner Michael Guasch (RWR / CRG) ended up fourth ahead of Brian Chatfield (Rivera / GFC) in fifth.
It was a repeat performance in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior class with Sebastian Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) picking up his second straight victory on the weekend. Wheldon backed up his victory on Saturday with a fast time in qualifying while championship contender Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic) grabbed vital points with a win in the Prefinal. The other half of the title chase – two-time winner Ayden Ingratta (SCR / CRG) was third, and the trio were able to get away from the field following an opening lap incident that involved Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS), Max Garica (MPG / WPK) and others. Between Gafrarar and Ingratta, fast time bonus points and who finished where were crucial. Ingratta was able to get to the lead for one lap, however, Wheldon led all but that lap 8 circuit. Gafrarar eventually was into second and pushed Wheldon and he away from Ingratta in the closing laps. On the final circuit, Gafrarar tried for a way past Wheldon but came up short as the Saturday winner took victory once again. Finishing second and earning fast lap bonus points, Gafrarar secured the provisional championship. Ingratta settled for third on the day, second in the points. Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) rebounded from a tough Prefinal, coming from 20th to fourth as the hard charger of the race, working past Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN Racing Kart) for the position.
The Nash Motorsportz KA100 Junior category was another exciting race and drive for the championship with the final few laps determining both. Diego Ardiles (Supertune / Tony Kart) set fast time in qualifying however championship contender Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic) took the top position away in the Prefinal. Going into the main event, two-time winner Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) needed to finish eighth or better should Gafrarar claim the win and the fast lap bonus in the Final. Gafrarar did what he could, fighting for the victory however Saturday winner Ayden Ingratta (SCR / CRG), Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) and Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) were going for victory. All four led for a time but in the end, Ingratta was able to muscle up to the lead and secure the victory, holding off Meza at the line by 57 thousandths of a second. Gafrarar landed on the podium in third ahead of Shipman while Vasquez finished fifth, earning enough points to claim the provisional SKUSA Pro Tour championship.
Sunday was a repeat of the closing laps in the Parolin USA Mini Swift category. Saturday winner Keelan Harvick (Parolin) was able to jump out to the lead at the start of the Final with Prefinal winner Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic) on his bumper. They ran that way the entire distance, with Palacio losing ground on the final circuit after dropping a wheel on the exit of turn three. That was the distance Harvick needed to cruise to his second straight victory on the weekend. Palacio fought off provisional champion Jack Iliffe (IRM / Parolin) for the runner-up spot on the podium. Tyler Roberts (IRM / Parolin) was in the lead group early but drifted back, holding onto fourth ahead of Gage Bailey (Benik).
Four different winners on the season in the Team Benik Micro Swift class following the action on Sunday. A wild opening corner to the start of the Final shuffled up the order, allowing Marco Sammut (MDR / LN Racing Kart) to take control of the race. The lead exchanged hands several times, including Nicolas Orbezo (IRM / Kosmic) and Royce Vega (Benik). Sammut took the white flag as the leader and held on for nearly the entire lap until Orbezo was able to slip past in the final two corners, securing his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Vega came across the line in third with Matheus Ramalho (REM / Kart Republic) up 14 spots to fourth while Drew Walz (Mottaz / Birel ART) improved 10 positions to fifth. The championship went down to the wire between Rocco Simone (Parolin USA) and Troy Ferguson (Benik). They came into the day tied in points when factoring in the drop. Simone was one spot better in the Prefinal. Ferguson looked to be out of it at the beginning, falling to 17th on the opening circuit. He would fight his way back up to seventh, just one spot behind Simone at the checkered flag. That would give Simone his first SKUSA Pro Tour championship.
The 13th season of the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is complete, with the final race winners and 2022 champions etched into the record books. The focus now for the organization turns to the next major event in just over 100 days when karts will hit the temporary circuit outside the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the SKUSA SuperNationals 25.