Record Breaking Entries for 2023 CKNA Spring Nationals
Second ‘major’ of Briggs 206 calendar welcomes large turnout in Charlotte
Cup Karts North America held their annual Spring Nationals at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, for the second of their three national races, and the opening round of the new for 2023 North East division. A total of 376 entries competed at the historic kart circuit on the inside of turns three and four of the NASCAR oval. Drivers from all over the country, with over 50 coming from Canada, battled on the six tenths of a mile, 15-corner track, that produced close wheel-to-wheel action throughout the weekend, creating for some dramatic finishes.
A total of 66 karts qualified for Senior Medium in a field that saw some of the fastest names in Briggs 206 racing, and in a field where the first 39 karts in the timed session were covered by a second, victory wasn’t going to come easy. Brandon Jarsocrack went fastest in Qualifying over Owen Lloyd and Collin Warren. In the odd Qualifiers heats, Jarsocrack and Dylan Amundsen both took victories, while in the even heat races, Owen Lloyd looked dominant taking both wins going into the Feature on Sunday. Lloyd, Warren and Jarsocrack all took turns leading the 16-lap main event, with Lloyd showing the way during the opening circuits before Jarsocrack took over the top spot. Halfway through however, Warren grabbed the lead and never relinquished the position, taking the victory by a tenth over Amundsen. Lloyd, after looking untouchable in the heat races, came home third with Christopher McKeithan behind him and top qualifier Jarsocrack as the final driver on the podium.
Colin Warren was able to make it a double on the weekend, securing two wins in Senior competition by also taking the victory in Senior Light. Warren had his work cut out for him however with the top three drivers in Qualifying separated by less than a tenth, but ultimately ended up going fastest. Warren went on to win both heat races for the odd qualifiers split, while for the even qualifiers, Owen Lloyd grabbed both wins, shaping up for a fight between the two come Sunday. In the end however, Warren continued to stack his deck as one of the best four-cycle drivers in the country, taking the victory after a nail-biting finish ahead of Dylan Amundsen by seven hundredths. Nicky Palladino came home third in front of Austin Garrison, and Owen Lloyd, who was credited with the fastest lap of the race.
Adam Maxwell topped the time sheets in Qualifying for what would turn out to be a hotly contested Senior Heavy division. Sean Meier took the win in Heat 1 after starting second just ahead of Eric Fagan after polesitter Maxwell fell back to fifth. Fagan struck back in Heat 2 however taking one of the closest finishes on the weekend, winning by eight thousandths to Elmer Edmonson. The main event began with Fagan taking over the lead early from Meier, where he held the lead for the majority of the race. In the final couple of laps, the two would make contact in the last section of the track, resulting in Fagan receiving a puncture to his left rear tire, and was forced to retire. Meier went on to take the victory with Edmonson not far behind in second and Justin Wishard in third. Following them was Eli Fox in fourth and James Michael Sullivan in fifth.
In Junior, bumper-to-bumper racing for the lead was present in all races from heats to the main event. Isaac Malcuit, last year’s winner in Sportsman at CKNA Grand Nationals 6, secured fast time in the qualifying session where the split from first to fourth was less than a tenth. Four different drivers ended up taking wins in the heat races between the odd and even splits, with Eli Warren and Malcuit taking the odd heat wins while Ronnie Klys and Cade Jaeger won in the even heats. Malcuit and Warren broke away from the pack in the Final, opting to push each other to space themselves from the rest of the field before fighting for the lead. On the final lap, the battle was on between the pair, with Carter McMurray slowly closing in from third. Their fighting brought in McMurray even closer, allowing him to make the move for the lead with a few corners to go. He would hold on, scoring the victory in his Junior debut at CKNA while also winning at the same track his father – NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray did twice before. Malcuit beat out Warren to the line for second, with the top three separated by only 64 thousandths at the checkered flag. Ragan Saville and Cade Jaeger capped off the podium.
Marc Stehle took a close victory over Eric Fagan on Sunday in the Masters main event after the two couldn’t be separated all weekend. Stehle grabbed quick time in qualifying over Ryan Cassity in second and Fagan in third, but it was Fagan who came out on top in both heat races by just a few tenths over Stehle each time. Fagan led from the green flag to the white flag in the Final, pushed the whole race by Stehle. On that final circuit, Stehle made his move for the lead and kept it all the way to the line to take victory in Masters. Fagan came home with second as Cassity was just over a second back from the leading pair in third. Ian Macintyre crossed the line in fourth with Todd Baron in fifth.
Ryan Cassity continued the dominance he showed in the Legends class back at New Castle Motorsports Park for Grand Nationals 6, taking top qualifier honors by nearly half a second. Cassity controlled the 100lap Heat 1 by storming to an eight-second advantage at the line. Heat 2 was much closer with the pairing of Cassity and Todd Baron nearly inseparable, ultimately Cassity taking the flag first yet again. Cassity’s dominance wouldn’t last, however. After Cassity led the first half of the Feature, Baron moved himself up to top spot and never relinquished the position, taking home the victory. Don Newman crossed the line in third behind Cassity. Phil Pignataro, after qualifying second, came home fourth on in the Final as Tim Hannen snuck onto the podium in fifth.
Layton Mull and Carter Barkis were the two drivers setting the pace in Sportsman throughout the weekend, with the two heading each session on the weekend. Barkis came out of the gates sprinting for Qualifying, grabbing fast time by just over three-tenths. He continued to show that pace into Heat 1, taking victory by half a second over Grady Cronick. Mull took his turn to lead the charge in Heat 2, setting himself in a good spot for the Sunday Feature. Mull, after leading the first portion of the race and dropping back in the middle, came back with two laps left to take the lead, and eventually the victory over Barkis, and Holden Myers in third. Cameron Marsha, after over a year out of the seat of a Briggs 206 finished fourth, and Cronick capped off the top five.
Cade Wolfe and Luke Giglio were untouchable throughout the weekend in Cadet, with the two walking away from the rest of the pack in every session. Wolfe started the weekend off by setting fast time in qualifying over Giglio by 24 thousandths but couldn’t hold onto the lead in Heat 1 as Giglio took those honors. Wolfe struck back in the second heat on Saturday, taking the win in a close finish that saw the two come across the stripe side by side. The pair walked away from the field to begin the feature and battled it out in the final couple of laps. Wolfe was able to secure the victory ahead of Giglio with third-place finisher Daniel Draganov back by nine seconds at the line. Making up the final two steps on the podium were Melville Dos Santos and Logan McCloskey.
Jayden Francisco held the P1 position of the results pages all weekend long in the Kid Kart division. Francisco secured fast time in qualifying, both heat race wins and the Feature. Francisco built a 3.2 second lead in the Final for his victory. Liam Francisco was behind in second as Jaxson Reinholz – who took fast lap of the race – drove to third. Riggins Barnicle came home fourth and Spencer Hite rounded out the top-five.
The Cup Karts North America continues its busy 2023 schedule with the third round of the CKNA South Division, set for March 31-April 2 at Monticello Karting in Florida. The new CKNA North East Division holds their second event of the season on April 14-16 at the Oakland Valley Race Park in Cuddebackville, New York. The CKNA North Division begins its season at the Motorsports Country Club in Cincinnati on April 21-23. Be sure to mark down the third and final CKNA major event on the season – the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 – at the New Castle Motorsports Park on September 28-October 1.