Race Report: 2023 Texas Sprint Racing Series – Fall Finale
Final championship round contested at Speedsportz Racing Park
The 2023 Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx ended on the September 15-17 weekend with the running of the ‘Fall Finale’ event. Teams and competitors visited the Speedsportz Racing Park for the second time this season, contesting the New Caney, Texas circuit in the counterclockwise direction. Wet weather was a factor, including lightning in the area that forced a delay of action on Saturday. A handful of heat races were forced over into Sunday, however, the TSRS crew and competitors were able to complete the loaded schedule on the final day only 30 minutes past the original timeline.
The weekend served as the final event of the five-round championship program. The Texas Sprint Racing Series hosted a year-end banquet dinner Saturday evening that included raffle prizes for those in attendance. TSRS partnered up with Abundant Harvest Kitchen, a non-profit catering company that helps to support local food banks. Because of the support of TSRS, its racers, sponsors and teams, enough money was raised to feed over 800 families in the community.
On track, a total of 30 drivers battled in the KA100 Senior by Exertech class, led by Aden Rudolph in qualifying. He edged out former series champion Peyton Phillips by 75 thousandths with a 55.342 lap time. Qualifying fifth, California driver Jesus Vasquez Jr. fought forward to claim the win in both Heat #1 and Heat #2. Phillips held off Vasquez for the top spot in the final heat race to set up what was to be a battle in the Final. The main event however was all Vasquez as the Round Four runner-up finisher was able to lead wire-to-wire in the 18-lap race. Vasquez pulled away to a 2.8-second advantage for his first series victory this season. Phillips settled for second holding off a returning Jake French. Adrain Cruz and Rudolph capped off the top-five.
There was another California driver scoring victory on the weekend as well, welcoming Billy Musgrave as a first-time winner in the KA100 Master by Kart Racing Solutions. Musgrave nearly pulled off a sweep on the weekend, beginning with clearing the 25-driver field in qualifying by over three tenths. He went on to win the opening two heat races and provisionally the third. A jump start penalty, however, dropped him to fourth in the order with defending series champion Miguel Mier taking the win. The final was a duel at the end between Musgrave and Mier. Musgrave led every lap leading up to the white flag. Mier pressured Musgrave down the final straight and through the final few corners. At the line, Musgrave held on for the victory, edging out Mier by 29 thousandths. Vincent Cossard drove a podium finish of third in his first series start in the category. Two-time race winner Morgan LeBaron was fourth with Randy Russell placing fifth.
The KA100 Junior by Woltjer Racing Engines class welcomed another two-time winner on the season. Two-time winner Diego Guiot was the leader of the 23-driver field from qualifying and through the three heat races. It became a three driver fight in the 17-lap Final with Guiot joined by Round Three winner Landon Skinner and Beckett Friesen. Each had a turn at the lead until Skinner secured the top spot by lap 11. Guiot was third and moved up to second at the white flag. Last lap issue put Guiot on the sidelines, allowing Skinner to claim his second victory of the season. Preston Piecko was able to slip into second ahead of Friesen, each earning their first podium of the season. Graham Trammell and Justin Music completed the top-five.
The action in the 206 Senior by Slipstream Racing division saw several drivers battling throughout the weekend at the front. Sawyer Roussel claimed his first fast time in qualifying and won the opening heat race. Bryce Frank was able to come through with a last lap win in the second heat race before Jacob Oliver won the shortened third heat race. It was Oliver that jumped out to lead the 25-driver field in the Final, showing the way for the first 15 laps. On the final circuit, Frank was able to get out in front and cross the line first by 75 thousandths for his first victory of the season. Oliver settled for second place with Round Four winner Samuel Jung on the podium in third, climbing six spots. Zachary Abrahim and Mikey Bowlin rounded out the top-five.
Two drivers stood out for much of the season and at the series final in the 206 Junior by Saville Electric class. Defending series champion Ragan Saville set the bar in qualifying, clearing the 14-driver field by over two tenths. Saville held off a charging Derek Wargo for the win in the opening heat. Wargo was able to go all the way, coming from fifth spot once again to win Heat #2. In Heat #3, it was Saville that won once again over Wargo. The lead group grew to four with Jackson Baldus and Josey Chambers joining the fight. Saville and Chambers exchanged the lead several times before Wargo took the position on lap 10. From there, Wargo led the remainder of the race to claim his second of the season. Saville ended up second with Chambers claiming the fast lap of the race while completing the podium in third. Baldus was fourth with Robert Arana in fifth.
It was a near sweep in his first victory of the season for Tanner Barsch in the 206 Cadet by Kept Clothing division. Barsch edged out Aston Wyatt by two thousandths of a second in qualifying. He went on to win the opening heat race before dropping to fifth in Heat #2 as Wyatt took the win. Barsch came back to win the third heat to grab the pole position for the Final. It was Wyatt however that led the last 15 laps of the main event. A penalty for impeding however took the win away from Wyatt, handing it to Barsch. Wyatt was classified second with Round Three winner Brayden Westfall landing on the podium in third ahead of Drew Blehm and Theodore Mitchell.
Aston Wyatt did break up a possible sweep in the Micro Swift by Royal Electric category. Colton Schniegenberg was able to set the fast time in qualifying and win all three heat races. After an early fight with Wyatt, Schniegenberg led the majority of the Final. Coming to the white flag, he retired, handing the lead and the victory to Wyatt. It was the second straight for Wyatt to close out the season. Tanner Barsch won the battle for second with Andrew Li Anastasio in third and Marcelo Flores in fourth.
Making the move up to the Mini Swift by Alan Rudolph Racing Academy class on the weekend, Pasha Ali was able to secure victory in his debut. Up from the Micro division, Ali started by qualifying P2 behind Nicolas Orbezo. Three drivers won in the heat races with Emerson Laine, Orbezo, and Carson Barry gaining wins. Barry led early in the Final until Mason Barry was able to reach the front, retiring a lap later. This put Laine at the front of the field before Barry returned to the point. Toward the end of the race, Orbezo retired heading to the white flag and Ali jumped from fourth to first. Ali was able to hold on to the checkered flag for his first victory. Chambers ended up second ahead of Barry. Laine and Cadroe Milbrandt rounded out the top-five.
Ross Smith nearly completed a sweep on the weekend in the 206 Heavy by Maxwell Paper Products category. After setting fast time in qualifying, Smith was beat out for the win in the opening heat by Jesse Gwin, making his first start on the season. Smith bounced back to win the final two heat races. Gwin fought back in the Final, taking over the lead on lap five, and going the distance to the checkered flag. The win was taken away following penalties as Gwin received a tramline infraction, dropping him from first to second. That gave Smith his third victory of the season. Noah Murphy was third with Max Martinis and Nick Miller completing the top-five.
The only sweep of the weekend came in the Honda Kid Kart by Rimrock Raceway class. Raif Ali was able to secure his first victory of the season. Ali led from qualifying, all three heat races and the main event, driving to a 19-second advantage. Brennan Barsch was second with Brody Brown in third. Benjamin Osborn was fourth with Kylian Short placing fifth.
The 2023 season for the Texas Sprint Racing Series presented by Auctionetx is now complete. A full review of the championships will be published in the coming weeks. For now, the focus turns to the 2024 program that will begin in the month of February with another five-event schedule. Be sure to follow TSRS on Facebook and Instagram, and get details on everything at www.texassprintseries.com.