Race Report: 2023 Texas Sprint Racing Series – Winter Warm-up
Nearly 200 entries open championship series with first trip to Speedsportz Racing Park
The ninth season for the Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx is underway following the weekend of racing action at the Speedsportz Racing Park over March 24-26. The ‘Winter Warm-up’ event at the New Caney, Texas facility nearly broke the 200-entry mark for the 11 categories competing, battling changing weather conditions throughout the weekend. Rain hit the region during Friday practice day before a perfect day of weather on Saturday for qualifying and the first two rounds of heat races. On and off precipitation throughout Sunday kept the competitors on their game to complete the third round of heats and into the main events.
The largest category on the weekend was KA100 Senior by Exertech, featuring 39 drivers battling for the first victory of the season. Former series champion Peyton Phillips edged out British native and former world Rotax champion Oliver Hodgson by 59 thousandths in qualifying. Neither would come away with the win in the opening heat race as Brayden Robertson drove up from eighth to grab the top spot ahead of Phillips in a wild 10-lap battle. The second heat was won by Noah Baker, improving four spots to win ahead of Adrian Cruz. Conditions changed for Heat #3 as Hodgson mastered the wet track to a 10-second advantage over Phillips. Consistent results allowed Phillips to maintain the pole position for the main event and he used it to his advantage. Phillips led all 15 laps of the Final, holding off numerous challenges, including on the final circuit to cross the line first ahead by nearly two tenths. It was a fight for second at the line with Robertson edging out Hodgson for the runner-up spot. Aden Rudolph drove up to fourth with Ethan Arndt gaining six spots to round out the top-five.
Last year’s vice-champion in the KA100 Junior by Woltjer Racing Engines standings Landon Skinner began the new season with fast time in qualifying over the 27-driver field, edging out Diego Guiot by 43 thousandths. Three different drivers won over the three heat races, including Skinner in Heat #3, Guiot in Heat #2 and Tyler Roberts improving four spots in the opening moto to claim a race win. Skinner remained the driver in the pole position spot for the start of the Final, however, it was Guiot that took to the wet surface the best out of the entire field. After Guiot jumped to the lead on the opening circuit from third, he put down the quickest laps of the race to lead all 13 circuits for his first series victory. Skinner settled for second with David Ybarra joining them on the podium in third. Beckett Friesen and Justin Music rounded out the top-five.
Multi-time series champion Miguel Mier was able to add another victory to his resume in the KA100 Master by Kart Racing Solutions class, not without a battle all weekend. Mier was sixth after qualifying with Andy Miller and David Pergande taking the top two spots in the time session, separated by only 63 thousandths. They ran 1-2 in the opening heat race before Mier avoided issues that plagued him in the first race to win in Heat #2. Shane Burkett was named winner in Heat #3 after provisional winner Mier was removed from the results for missing a chain guard. That put Mier back to tenth on the grid for the Final with Burkett on the pole position. It took Mier eight laps, putting in the quickest lap times of the race to advance up to the lead. He would lead the remainder of the race toward a five-second margin of victory to begin the new season. Burkett held on to second with Kyle Yuchinski up four spots to third, his first series podium result. Morgan Lebaron and Gary Glanger each improved four spots to finish fourth and fifth.
It was a near sweep in the new Open Shifter by Amarillo Kart Complex division, welcoming 18 drivers for the opening weekend. Max Hewitt set fast time in qualifying before fending off challenges from Aden Rudolph and five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser in the three heat races for the race wins. Hewitt slipped down to second on the opening circuit of the 13-lap Final, relinquishing the top spot to Vincent Cossard. A lap later, Musser took control of the field. From there, Musser drove away to 12 second advantage on a wet track to claim the victory. Hewitt was able to beat out Cossard for the second position on the podium. Victor Jimenez and Justin Kelly completed the top-five.
The 206 Senior by Slipstream Racing was the largest Briggs & Stratton category on the weekend with 27 drivers. 2022 race winner Kelvin Xing was able to set the fast time in qualifying, edging out Bryce Frank and Landen Fitz. Frank led all nine laps of the first heat while Drew Chappell climbed from ninth to first in Heat #2. He followed the same path in Heat #3, this time in the wet to claim a second heat race win, which moved him up the grid for the main event. It took Chappell five laps before taking over the lead from Caiden Wolfe in the main event, leading the remainder of the 13-lap race to claim his first series victory. Xing won the battle for second ahead of Wolfe, Samuel Jung, and Ethan Wolfe.
New for 2023 is the 206 Heavy by Maxwell Paper Products category, welcoming nine drivers for the inaugural field. Noah Murphy became the first ever top qualifier as the only driver to dip into the 1:03 time bracket. Murphy was able to fight off Jorge Ruiz for the win in the opening heat, however, Ruiz drove to race wins in the final two motos. Ruiz shined in the wet conditions, posting fast times in the 12-lap Final to earn the inaugural victory in the category by over eight seconds. Murphy settled for second with Ross Smith joining them on the podium. Kyle Hale was fourth with Max Martinis in fifth.
A number of different drivers took a turn at the front of the field in the 206 Junior by Saville Electric class. Shelby Ramirez cleared the nine-driver field in qualifying by two tenths. Jenson Harrell, however found more speed in the opening heat races, winning both on Saturday. Ragan Saville took over in the wet conditions on Sunday, taking the top spot in Heat #3. Harrell and Saville each led during the first 12 laps of the main event, while Josey Chambers waited for the opportunity to sneak in. Up to second at the white flag behind Harrell, Chambers was able to secure the lead and the victory on the final circuit. Harrell settled for second with Saville in third. Sawyer Roussel was fourth at the line but penalized for cutting the track, moving Derek Wargo to the position and advanced Parker Fitz to fifth.
Aston Wyatt was able to start the weekend on top in the 17-driver 206 Cadet by Kept Clothing and finish the event as the victor. Just 31 thousandths separated Wyatt and Brayden Westfall in qualifying for fast lap of the race. Westfall was able to grab the win in Heat #1 before Tyrone Kemper Jr. stepped up to improve five positions in the final two heats for two race wins. In the Final, it was Wyatt that took to the wet track the quickest, jumping up to the lead from fourth at the start of the 13-lap race. Wyatt led wire-to-wire for his first series victory. Emmett Eddolls was a close second with Paxton Dyson in third. Tanner Barsch and Chris Tracey completed the top-five.
The Mini Swift by Alan Rudolph Racing Academy class nearly had a sweep on the opening weekend. Sawyer Chambers was able to clear the 13-driver field in qualifying, quicker than Pato Medina by 16 thousandths with Mason Barry a close third. Chambers led all 10 laps of the opening heat race however a jump start penalty dropped him to second and gave Tucker Trieb the win. Chambers bounced back to win the remaining two heat races before leading all 13 laps of the Final for his first victory in the category. Carson Barry posted the fast lap of the race enroute to a runner-up finish ahead of Bobby Klein. Emerson Laine advanced four spots to fourth with Mason Berry in fifth.
Kade Kaspar was the driver to beat all weekend in the Micro Swift by Royal Electric category. Kaspar edged out Aston Wyatt for fast time in qualifying by a mere 29 thousandths. After winning the first two heat races, Kaspar ran second to Colton Schniegenberg in Heat #3. Kaspar led the first half of the final before Wyatt took control. A battle on the final circuit allowed Kaspar to retake the position and earn his second career victory in the class. Wyatt held off Schniegenberg at the line for second with Pasha Ali fourth and Marcelo Flores up four spots to fifth.
The Honda Kid Kart by Rimrock Raceway welcomed four drivers on the weekend. Raif Ali was the driver to beat throughout the weekend, setting fast time in qualifying and winning all three heat races. Contact between him and Brennan Barsch in the early part of the Final allowed Cohen Scott to take control and lead 10 of the 11 laps for his first series victory. Ali fought back to second with Benjamin Osborn while Barsch finished fourth.
The second stop on the 2023 season for the Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx is the Spring Roundup, scheduled for May 26-28 at the North Texas Karters facility in Denton, Texas. Be sure to follow TSRS on Facebook and Instagram, and get details on everything at www.texassprintseries.com. Those interested in supporting the 2022 program with sponsorship, please contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.