EKN Trackside: 2022 Rock Island Grand Prix – Report

Scott earns three Rock trophies as Bujdoso, Wishard and Ostrom take King crowns

Riley Scott was the big winner of the Rock Island Grand Prix, winning three times (Photo: EKN)

The 2022 Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix went into the books this weekend, as the volunteer group and the city of Rock Island, Illinois welcomed karters to the city streets for a 27th time. The two-day street race completed on Sunday with 17 main events on the day following practice, qualifying and heat races on Saturday. Thunderstorms cut the heat racing action short, moving three races over into Sunday morning before the main events began. The coveted Rock trophy were handed out to the 17 class winners, including three to Riley Scott while Andrew Bujdoso, Drake Ostrom, Justin Wishard, and Scott Barnes each took home two.

Coming into the event, Riley Scott had gone winless at the Rock Island Grand Prix since winning twice in 2018. Competing in nine categories on the weekend, one less than in 2021, Scott had a busy yet successful day on Sunday. His first triumph came in the Margay Ignite Senior division. After a wild opening few laps, Scott Barnes led the way with a group behind him. Tony Neilson and Justin Vancil moved past Barnes on the last lap. Contact involving both along with Barnes allowed Scott to slide past and grab his first victory in the category, becoming the seventh different winner. Barnes was able to come across the line in second but was penalized 10 seconds for the contact with Neilson. That promoted Charlie Keeven to second, dropping Barnes to third.

Andrew Bujdoso defended his King of the Streets crown and won Open Shifter (Photo: EKN)

The second victory on the day for Scott came in the Briggs 206 Heavy 2 race, the seventh main event of the day. Jeff Dolian led the opening 11 laps before Drake Ostrom took control. Scott positioned himself into third in the last lap, and was able to capitalize on the final lap to come around first to the checkered flag for his first win in the category. Connor Lund came through for second with Scott Barnes in third.

Scott’s third triumph came in the Briggs 206 Medium division, race 12 of the day. Scott jumped out to the lead with Carter Pryor on his bumper. Pryor never left his Ionic teammate, helping to push Scott to his second Rock trophy of the day. The top four were all together crossing the line with Michael Welsh and Justin Wishard right there. The top three were separated by only 91 thousandths of a second.

The King of the Streets is always a fan favorite, however, was unable to pull in big numbers. The talent however was strong, including defending winner Andrew Bujdoso and EKN Shifterkart Driver Rankings #1 AJ Myers. Unfortunately, Myers was sidelined with a mechanical issue on the pace lap and would not make the start. Bujdoso was able to grab the holeshot and lead all 20 laps for the victory. Robert Bujdoso was able to hold onto second with last year’s Open Shifter Masters winner Joe Ruch in third.

Justin Wishard earned his first two RIGP victories, including King of the Rock 100cc (Photo: EKN)

The now two-time King of the Streets winner grabbed his third career Rock trophy in the Open Shifter class. In a run of attrition, Bujdoso was able to outpace Myers in a 1-2 finish for Magik Kart USA. Blake Korth, making his RIGP debut, was third despite not completing the second half of the race.

The King of the Rock 100cc class ran for a second time at the Rock Island Grand Prix, welcoming a new winner. Justin Wishard jumped out to a solid lead early in the 20-lap race, however, Austin Wilkins was able to run him down with fast laps of the race. Wilkins took the lead coming to the white flag, however, Wishard was able to out duel the former RIGP winner to grab the crown and his first Rock trophy. Charlie Mohr won the fight for third over Oscar Panozzo.

It was a similar battle in the Senior 100cc main event between Wishard and Wilkins once again. Wilkins was able to lead three laps, including up to the white flag. Wishard came around with the lead and his second victory of the day. Wilkins had to settle for second with Mohr once again in third.

Rounding out the third King event of the Rock Island Grand Prix was the King of the Rock Briggs 206. Tony Neilson established himself as the leader early and was the leader of a long lead pack. Connor Lund and Drake Ostrom positioned themselves into the second and third spots during the second part of the race. It all came down to the final circuit, with Ostrom able to help push Lund past Neilson. Through the final few corners, Ostrom worked past Lund, coming across the line as the new King. Jeff Dolian ended up second with Michael Welsh third. Justin Wishard and Neilson completed the top-five in a close finish.

Drake Ostrom became the new King of the Rock Briggs 206 winner and Yamaha SuperCan Heavy victor (Photo: EKN)

Ostrom, a 1-time winner before, brought his total to three earning a second victory on the day in Yamaha SuperCan Heavy class. Back on the schedule for the first time since 2019, 10 drivers took part in the final race of the day. Four drivers made up the lead pack with Ostrom at the point in the first half and then Charlie Mohr leading the way in the second part up until the last lap. Contact occurred with Ostrom able to avoid the mess and come away with the victory. Blake Korth came around in second with Mohr back to third and Todd Bolton placing fourth.

A fourth driver was able to grab two Rock trophies as Scott Barnes put himself into the top-10 of all-time winners. His first on the day came in the Ignite Senior 2 race, where he won last year. Ashton Wheeler and Barnes swapped the top spot multiple times in the 15-lap battle. On the final circuit, Barnes was able to grab the spot, earning a second straight victory in the category. Riley Scott was able to move past Wheeler for the second spot.

Barnes jumped from that class to the Open Shifter Masters class, leading all 20 laps to earn his third victory in category. Last year’s winner Joe Ruch drove to second with Tiffany Kelly placing third in her first Rock Island Grand Prix.

The day opened up with the Travis DeVriendt Memorial Briggs 206 Heavy class. Justin Wishard led the first half with Tony Neilson assuming the spot in the second half. He led until the final lap with Connor Lund able to draft past in the early portion of the lap, bringing a group with him. Lund held off the challenges in the final few corners to score the victory, his second in the category after winning back in 2014. Jeff Dolian came in second with Wishard finishing third.

Scott Barnes drove to wins in Ignite Senior 2 and Open Shifter Masters (Photo: EKN)

For a third straight year, Tony Neilson was able to claim the victory in the Ignite Masters class. Scott Barnes led the majority of the race, including taking the white flag. Contact put him into the wall, as Neilson came around to take the checkered flag. Jeff Dolian, subbing for Scott Blind, drove up to second with Brandin Moore in third. Neilson’s career win total is now up to 23, five behind all-time leader Gary Lawson.

Adding to the wins for the Scott family, Jeff Scott took his second career win in the Briggs 206 Masters class. A big wreck early on took leaders Jeff Dolian, Don Newman and Scott Barnes. This allowed Michael Dittmer to lead the way up until the final circuit. Scott, who started the lap in fourth, was able to slip his way up into the lead and the victory. Todd Bolton drove up to second with Aaron Snyder in third. Michael Welsh also pushed Dittmer back to fifth.

Ashton Wheeler was able to record his first victory in the Briggs 206 Medium 2 class. Justin Wishard led the first 13 laps until contact on lap 14 took him and Riley Scott out of the race. This allowed Carter Pryor to take over the lead at the white flag, however, Wheeler was able to take over the top spot on the final circuit to claim his third career RIGP victory. Drake Ostrom came across in second with Pryor back to third ahead of Michael Welsh.

Kevin Williams, Kris Porter and Steve Welte completed the winners on the weekend. All three won in the Vintage categories. Open for Williams, Porter in Yamaha and Welte in Mac class.

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