EKN Trackside: 2023 United States Pro Kart Series – Indiana Grand Prix – Saturday Report
Grids are set at New Castle with Eves, Ramos and Myers the drivers at the front
A busy and full day of racing was completed on Saturday with the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series Indiana Grand Prix putting in three rounds of heat races at the New Castle Motorsports Park. It was a hot one, with temps in the upper 80s at the New Castle Motorsports Park, with 30 heat races held in nine hours, including a lunch break. Thankfully, no major issues delayed the schedule as the starts were clean, but the racing was heated. Following the three rounds of heats, the grids are now set for the main events on Sunday.
Consistency is key over the three heat races, which is what is keeping Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) on the pole position for Sunday’s main event in the Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro class. Ramos fought back to the win in the opening heat race while Senior rookie Ayden Ingratta (SCR / Redspeed) and Braden Eves (MPG / Kart Republic) were the other winners. The opening two motos were scrambles, including Texas winner Joe Turney (CDR / Kart Republic) trying to fight his way through the field after qualifying 11th. He ended up with results of seventh, sixth and eighth to move into the outside of row three. Eves with his victory and a runner-up in Heat #1 put himself on the outside of the front row. Pauly Massimino (BJR / LN Racing Kart) starts third with three top-six finishes. Ingratta, who qualified 13th, moves up to fourth with impressive results on the day. Two-time defending champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) was roughed up some throughout the day, but will start fifth. Championship leader Brandon Carr (RPM / Tony Kart) was shuffled back throughout the day, falling from ninth in qualifying to now starting the Final back in 16th.
Two drivers stood out all day in the SRP Engines Pro Shifter class. Top qualifier Kyle Wick (GFC Karting) was joined at the front by Speedsportz winner AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA). Myers seemed to have a bit more pace throughout the day, picking up the wins in Heat #1 and Heat #3 while Wick took the second moto. Myers now moves to the inside of the front row with the pole position as Wick slots in on the racing side of the grid for the start of the 18-lap main event. Tahlon Yockel (Magik Kart USA) continues to improve and will start third alongside Jacob Gulick (GFC Karting) who was not able to match the pace of his teammate on Saturday. Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) scored a pair of fourth place finishes to line himself in fifth while championship leader Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) struggled on the day and will now start sixth.
One of the more impressive performances on the day was by Braden Eves (MPG / Kart Republic). Running double duty, he shined in the Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior class, picking up two of the heat wins after qualifying sixth. Connor Ferris (TFR / Kart Republic) was nearly as consistent, winning two races of his own but misses out on the pole position by two points with Eves adding a third and Ferris a fifth-place result. They will lead the field to the green flag with Speedsportz winner Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) and fellow Texan John Burke (Tesoro / CRG) in row two. Senior rookie Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) and championship leader Peyton Phillips (Hi5 / Tony Kart) fill out row three, putting four Texans in the top-six heading into the Sunday. The other two wins went to top qualifier Austin Jurs (Redspeed). The Illinois driver picked up the win in his first and third heat while contact with Aden Rudolph (PSL / Birel ART) while fighting for the top spot in their second heat cost both valuable points. Jurs will start back in 15th. All 51 drivers will start the main event with no Last Chance Qualifier Sunday morning.
It was a battle all day long in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior division. Top qualifier Anthony Martella (SCR / Redspeed) came away with a heat win but finished runner-up in the other two behind two-time winner and championship leader Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic). They were about the same pace all day, along with Jackson Wolny (RPG / Kosmic) and Steven Miller (CDR / DAP). Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Kart Republic) had two fourth-place results and will now start fifth after qualifying 13th. Oliver Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) also improved on the day, and will go from seventh after qualifying 10th. Jensen Burnett (REM / Kosmic) was top-six all day and will go from outside row three.
Five different drivers won in the six different heat races on the day in the BBS Racing Engines KA100 Junior class. The driver with the best results was Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon / Tony Kart), who won the opening heat race and finish runner-up in his other two. That puts him on the pole position for the main event alongside Junior rookie Caleb Tarter (MPG / Kart Republic), who was consistently in the fight for a heat win but finished with three top-four results. Payton Westcott (Nash / EOS) was another fighting at the front all day, and will start from third with Austin Olds (MPG / Kart Republic) staying out of trouble over his three heat races to start the Final in fourth. Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) was the only driver to win twice on the day, but a poor finish in his second heat will have him starting fifth. Oliver Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) had the best drive of the day, coming from 15th to 1st in the AvsC heat race. He starts ninth. Turner Brown (SCR / Redspeed) qualified 12th, and won the BvsD heat race, but two bad finishes have him back in 28th on the grid. Two-time winner and championship leader Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) was the other winner on the day, and he starts the main event in seventh.
The day belonged to Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) in the Speed Concepts Racing KA100 Masters category. The top qualifier won two of the three heat races, placing second in the opening moto after getting shuffled back. That keeps him on the pole position for the Final with Heat #1 winner Adam Crepin (Gillard) now up into the second spot on the grid. Niki Coello (FMS / Merlin) is now starting third with Miguel Mier (Orsolon / Tony Kart) up to fourth on the grid. Contact in the second heat brought bad results for a handful of drivers, including Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic) who now starts fifth and two-time winner and championship leader Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) will begin from sixth. Last year’s X30 Masters champion Danillo Ramalho (Piquet / Sodi Kart) is now back to ninth after a DNF in Heat #2.
The DNJ International Services Mini Swift class could see a new winner on the year. Marco Romero (Team Benik) has the spotlight after Saturday, winning the final two heat races on the day after starting seventh. Top qualifier Tristan Murphy (RPM / Nitro Kart) was unable to win a race, but moves to the outside of the front row for the main event on Sunday with three top-five finishes. Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin) will go from third while Heat #1 winner Travis Pettit (TKG / Kart Republic) starts fourth. Royce Vega (Team Benik) and William Kim in the third row. Championship leader Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic) improved each heat race, coming from 21st to finish inside the top-13 in all three. He now starts from the 10th grid position.
Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) continues to be the driver to beat in the Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift class. Ives drove to the win in all three heat races after qualifying second. Maxwell Macha (SLA / Sodi Kart) however is right there, challenging Ives in all three heat races and will start from the outside of the front row. Aston Wyatt (Speedsportz / Birel ART) and Luke Giglio (RPM / Kart Republic) fill out row two with Enzo DiGennaro (TFR / Kart Republic) and Emerson Laine (TKG / Kart Republic) from row three. Top qualifier AJ Stoner (A-MAXX / Tony Kart) was shuffled back each heat race, and will start from seventh.
The question now is weather heading into the final day and the main events on Sunday. Rain and thunderstorms is in the forecast. Follow the coverage all weekend long on the EKN Social Media accounts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news, updates, photos, videos and more, including the top-10 results after each session beginning with qualifying on Friday. Listen to the racing action by heading to the EKN Live page or tune in on the EKN Radio Network.