EKN Trackside: 2023 Challenge of the Americas – PKRA – Preview
Midway point of 16th season takes west coast program to Glendale, Arizona
This weekend is the halfway point of the 2023 Challenge of the Americas program, set to take on the Phoenix Kart Racing Association over the March 3-5 weekend. The Glendale, Arizona facility will host Round Three and Four of the six-round international west coast championship series, including the second event of the new OK-N category.
The Challenge has visited the Phoenix Kart Racing Association 13 times in its past 15 seasons. The facility is owned and operated by the club, which has called the ‘Formula K Raceway’ home since 1982. It became nationally known in the late 90s, and has hosted many major events during its 40-year history. The facility is a multi-configuration, with the national circuit measuring out to 3/4-mile with 12 turns in the clockwise direction. It features a long straight, banked corners, esses and off-camber sections.
eKartingNews.com is proud to be entering the 12th season of Trackside Live program with Challenge of the Americas. Mike Smith is set to call the action all weekend from PKRA. Those unable to attend can listen in to the live broadcast. Bookmark www.ekartingnews.com/live and follow the EKN social media channels for more throughout the weekend in Arizona.
It is nearly the same pre-entry total for the largest category thus far at the Challenge with Senior 100cc presented by Forward Direction Motorsports at 36 set to battle in Tucson. Former series champion Liam Letzsch (GFC Karting) came away with the victory on Sunday, and enters the second event with the championship lead. The gap to second will increase prior to the action at PKRA with Round One winner Chase Hand (GFC Karting) unable to compete this weekend due to scheduling conflicts and third in the championship – G3 Argyros (Precision / CRG) – not competing as well. This increases his point lead to 65 over Tim Carel (Kart Nick / Tony Kart) and Stephen Eisert (Speedsense / Exprit). New names added to the entry list for PKRA that will be in the hunt include multi-time 2022 race winner Oliver Hodgson (CompKart), Senior rookie Cooper O’Clair (CompKart) and Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) set to run double duty.
The Junior 100cc presented by Nash Motorsportz is just a few short of the Tucson total heading into Phoenix with 30 drivers pre-registered. The opening weekend welcomed two first-time winners with Archer Eversman (FDM / CompKart) and Nixx Eggleston (Ruthless / Exprit), however, Alexander Gonzalez (Nash / EOS) enters the second weekend with the championship lead with consistent results in Tucson. Gonzalez leads by 48 points over Spencer Smith (FDM / CompKart) with Gage Korn (Race Factory / Kart Republic) in third. Eggleston and Eversman are fourth and fifth, separating the top-five by 75 points. As we saw in Tucson, do not be surprised to see two more first-time winners on the weekend.
History was made in Tucson with Macy Williams (CB Motorsports / Gillard) becoming the first female race winner in ROK Shifter presented by Swedetech Racing. Williams holds a 10-point lead over Round One winner Jacob Gulick (GFC Karting), who picked up his second career victory at the opening weekend. They will be the measuring stick on the weekend, joined by Keawn Tandon (GFC Karting) and Canadian Matthew Taskinen (Ruthless / Ventisimo) making their first starts in 2023.
Three drivers finished in the same position throughout the weekend in Tucson for ROK Shifter Master presented by Ron White Racing. Jonathan Vitolo (GFC Karting) led the way to claim his first two career victories at the Challenge, ahead of Nick George (Team Visalia / Aluminos) and Pat Beckley (GFC Karting). Those three drivers are separated by 54 points heading into the weekend. They will also be joined by three-time defending champion Kevin Woods (RWR / CRG), who was not in attendance in Tucson.
The new OK-N presented by P1 Engines will increase to at least 10 drivers for the Phoenix weekend. Race winners Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) and Blake Nash (Nash / EOS) will be joined by the same group of drivers from the opening weekend, with the addition of Aaron Farhadi (Nash / Kart Republic). Fellow podium finishers Dustin Salaverria (TKC / Sodikart) and Chris Martin (TKC / Sodikart) will look to add to the hardware along with a redemption weekend for Chase Jones (MPG / Kart Republic) who broke a chassis in Phoenix.
The same result from 2022 was seen in the Master 100cc presented by Ruthless Karting. Ian Koentges (FDM / CompKart) won five straight in 2022 to earn the championship. He continued the win streak, taking both victories in Tucson to begin 2023. Christopher Mann (Ruthless / Exprit) was the top challenger, and sits 32 points back in second. Daniel Jones (RWR / CRG), Preston Newberry (FDM / CompKart) and Luke Tracy (VemmeKart) are the top-five in the standings after two rounds. Missing the Tucson weekend but set for his class debut in Phoenix is four-time Master ROK champion Derek Wang (Ruthless / LN Racing Kart).
The championship standings for Mini ROK division presented by Alex Keyes Racing has the top-seven separated by only 49 points. The championship leader – Jackson Gibson (Speedsense / Exprit) – will not be in Phoenix due to scheduling conflict, thus handing the point lead to Round Two winner Gabriel Balog (Racelab / JV Kart). Just three points back is Luca Popescu (Nash / Energy) with Round One winner Matt Guidera (RWR / CRG) in third. Braydon Wagner (GFC Karting), Paxton Romero (FDM / CompKart) and Cam Becker (Race Factory / Kart Republic) are still in the title chase heading into the second weekend.
Be sure to catch the action on Saturday and Sunday with LIVE audio at www.ekartingnew.com/live or www.ekartingnews.com/radio and be sure to follow the EKN social media channels for updates, photos, videos and more!