Repeat Winners and First Time Victors at California ProKart Challenge
Second event of season at Buttonwillow provides excitement to complete first third of championship chase
The second event of the 2023 California ProKart Challenge saw teams and drivers return to the Buttonwillow Raceway Park over the May 6-7 weekend. Round Two of the Superkarts! USA regional program welcomed nearly 100 karters competing in seven categories around the 7/10-mile circuit in the clockwise direction. Perfect racing weather provided an amazing backdrop for the racing action over the two days.
Texan John Burke was able to repeat as spoiler on the weekend in the HRT Driver Development KA100 Senior class. A field of 30 drivers took to the track over the two days, with Kane Martin setting the pace at the beginning with a 51.254 lap time in qualifying to edge out Ethan Lampe by 96 thousandths. Martin went on to lead all 12 laps of the Prefinal while Burke advanced two spots to join him on the front row for the main event. Burke was able to grab the lead on the opening circuit of the Final from the outside pole position. From there, he led all 22 laps to drive away with a 1.3-second advantage at the checkered flag for a second straight victory. Lampe drove to the second spot as Martin fell back to third. Steven DeKeyser advanced three spots to fourth with Izaac Gutierrez completing the top-five.
It was a similar result in the Speedsense Motorsports KA100 Junior division with Keagan Kaminski securing another victory to begin the season. The defending series champion missed out on the fast-time in qualifying by 27 thousandths as Alex Rantala set the best lap a 51.783 time. It was a three driver fight in the Prefinal, however, with Shea Aldrich joining the top-two. Aldrich exchanged the lead with Kaminski over the course of 11 laps before securing the win in the end. Jayden Johnson joined late to steal second from Kaminski in the final few laps. Aldrich set the pace for the opening three laps in the Final until an issue on lap four dropped the Prefinal winner outside the top-20. This allowed Kaminski to take over and from there, drove away to a four-second margin of victory. Truly Adams was on the charge, advancing six spots over the 22 laps to claim the runner-up spot ahead of Ryan Giannetta, up six positions himself. Turner Brown improved three spots to fourth with Johnson slipping down to fifth.
The Superspeed Bearings Mini Swift category was first in the order on the weekend, welcoming 16 drivers. Luca Popescu made his first start of the 2023 California PKC season and set the pace early with a fast time of 54.623 in qualifying to clear the field by over a tenth. It was a battle for the win in the Prefinal, first with Giuseppe Guidera in the early portion until Troy Ferguson became the challenger to Popescu. It was Popescu that was able to grab the win, with Nixon Ellsworth into second and Matthew Cagle up from 16th to third after not recording a lap in qualifying. Ellsworth grabbed the lead at the start of the Final, with Popescu slipping out of the top-10 on the opening circuit of the 20-lap race. It eventually became a Ferguson-Cagle show up front with the two each taking turns at the lead position. Cagle was able to secure the spot in the closing laps, holding off Ferguson to record his first series victory in Mini Swift. Keegan Ellsworth jumped up five spots and edged out Nixon for the third step on the podium, with Round One winner McLaren Carroll rounding out the top-five.
The P1 Racing Engines Micro Swift division welcomed a second different winner on the season with Drew Jensen taking top honors. Jensen came up short of a weekend sweep in the 12-driver field after just missing out on fast lap in qualifying as Luis Martinez set quick time by over two tenths. Positions changed in the Prefinal as Jensen was able to outrun Martinez late in the race for the win. In the Final, they continued their fight for the top spot over the 20-lap race. Each led at a time, with Jensen able to secure the position with a few laps remaining, holding on to earn the victory by just over a tenth ahead of Martinez. Byron Borneman joined them on the podium for a second straight third-place finish. Nathan Ramirez and Jett Destito ended up fourth and fifth.
It was a weekend sweep for multi-time series champion Billy Musgrave in the Factory Karts Pro Shifter division. Musgrave started the weekend with a quick time of 47.479 in qualifying to clear the field by over two tenths. Musgrave led all 12 laps of the Prefinal before being challenged early in the Final by Keawn Tandon. After shuffling for the lead early, Musgrave secured the spot on lap five, leading the remainder of the 22-lap run for a second straight victory on the season. Tandon crossed the line in second-place. He was, however, penalized three-seconds for a jump start, thus promoting Alan Sciuto to second and Anthony Freese to the third step of the podium. Tandon ended up fourth ahead of Liam Jones.
Tony Rossetti was the only other driver to perform a sweep on the weekend, controlling the action in the Empire Karts X30 Master class. Rossetti set fast time in qualifying before winning the Prefinal and Final for his first victory of the 2023 season. Round One winner Ronnie Swaim was second, with Robert Switzler in third. A championship battle is brewing in the Nash Motorsportz KA100 Master class between Round One winner Matthew Ostiguy and now Round Two winner Ronnie Swaim. Ostiguy grabbed the quick time in qualifying and won the Prefinal. He led the first half of the Final before Swaim took control. Over the second half of the race, Swaim drove away to a three-second advantage for the victory. Ostiguy settled for second with Alex Gutierrez in third.
The California ProKart Challenge takes the month of June off as the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals will be held on June 9-11 at the Utah Motorsports Campus. The SKUSA regional program returns to action on July 7-9 with a trip to the Santa Maria Karting Association facility in Santa Maria, California for the third round of the 2023 championship chase. For more information on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com and be sure to follow the Superkarts! USA Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.