EKN Trackside: Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 – Friday Report

Racing underway for the largest 4-Cycle event of the year at New Castle Motorsports Park

Austin Garrison grabbed heat race win in his return to CKNA, taking one of two in Senior Light (Photo: EKN)

The first full day of action was completed on Friday as the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 went into full official racing mode. A warm-up session followed by qualifying and the opening round heat races were contested at the New Castle Motorsports Park facility. The roughly 500 entries featuring over 400 drivers overcame the foggy conditions to open up the day before the skies opened and the sun shined over the New Castle, Indiana facility. The early contenders were distinguished through the first two official sessions for the nine Briggs & Stratton 206 categories competing.

A total of 34 karts took to the track in the Sportsman division for qualifying with Carter Barkis securing fast time with a 1:13.825-second lap. He cleared the field by over a tenth with Holden Harder into the second spot ahead of AJ Stoner, Alex Haese and Tyrone Kemper Jr. completing the fast five. It was a four driver fight at the front in the heat race including Barkis, Harder, Kemper and Stoner. On the final circuit, Harder was able to secure the top spot and the win by 35 thousandths over Kemper. Stoner and Barkis followed behind, however a penalty moved Barkis back to sixth for two wheels out of tram line at the start. That promoted Grady Cronick into the fourth spot, up five positions, with Izayah Maxey in fifth.

Ryan Cassity ran away with the opening heat win in Legends (Photo: EKN)

The Legends class grew to 40 in its third year and welcomed a new top qualifier with OVRP’s Tim Hannen setting the fast time. He was able to edge out last year’s winner Ryan Cassity by one thousandth of a second with a 1:14.271. 2021 winner Todd Baron was third with Canadian Steve Lyons and Doug Cook rounding out the fast five. Hannen and Baron led early in the eight-lap opening heat race before Cassity took control. He led the final four laps and stretched out to a half-second advantage at the checkered flag for the win. Hannen took second with Baron third. Canadian Eli Yanko and Lyons were right there in fourth and fifth with a host of drivers behind them.

The Senior Heavy category was among the divisions broken up for the heat races. Leading the way in the qualifying was Jake Heavlow with a 1:13.768 lap time to clear the 62-driver field. Colin Aitken was off by 49 thousandths in second with Sean Meier with Jerry Fandrey and Eli Fox completing the fast five. Heavlow was able to hold off the field in the AvsD heat race over Chris Carroll and David Vasquez. The BvsC heat race was won by Aitken, leading all eight laps over Eric Fagan and PJ Lyda.

Conner Lypka set fast time and won Heat 1 in new Cadet division (Photo: EKN)

The new Cadet division featured Conner Lypka leading the way on the opening day of official sessions. Lypka set fast time in qualifying with a 1:15.194 to clear the field by over three tenths with South Division champion Aston Wyatt second. Cooper Mull, RJ Brown and Kayden Williams rounded out the fast five. Lypka was able to lead the way in the opening heat race, holding off Wyatt after he led early in the 8-lap race. Daniel Draganov came from 16th on the grid to finish third ahead of Brown and Mull.

Spencer Hite led the way on the opening day of action in the 12-driver Kid Kart division. Hite posted a 45.223 lap time in qualifying to edge out Jackson Brewster for the top time in the session. Blaise Hindery, Jaxson Reinholz and Grand Heckman made up the fast-five. In the heat race, Hite came away with the win as Hindery moved up to second with Grant Heckman following in third. Riggins Barnicle and Zeb Turner advanced up into the top-five.

Brady Schad set fast time in qualifying on won a heat race in Junior (Photo: EKN)

The Senior Light division featured 87 drivers taking to the track for qualifying, led by James Overbeck with a lap time of 1:11.795. Austin Garrison was second in the session with Christopher McKeithan placing third. Henry Wheeler and Pauly Massimino completed the fast five. The AvsD heat race was paced by Overbeck and Massimino. On the final circuit, Massimino took over the top spot to claim the win. Seven-time CKNA Grand Nationals winner Colin Warren was the next in line in third. The BvsC heat was won by Garrison after an early fight. Dylan Amundsen came up to finish second with Brandon Jarsocrak in third.

The 77-driver Junior field was led at the start of the day by Brady Schad. It was a 1:13.384-lap that put him at the top of the qualifying time sheet, edging out Isaac Malcuit by 68 thousandths. Jaxon Young, Jordan DiLeo and Shane Smith made up the fast five. When they broke up into their heat races, Schad won the opening heat race, holding off DiLeo by 55 thousandths with Landon Buher making big gains on the race into third. The BvsC heat race went down to the wire with Isaac Malcuit earning the provisional win until a penalty for contact dropped him to third. That promoted Christopher Wakefield to the top spot in the order over Cade Jaeger.

Pauly Massimino won a heat race in Senior Light and Senior Medium to open up day one (Photo: EKN)

In his first start at the CKNA Grand Nationals, Ben Crittenden was able to record the fast lap in the Master qualifying session. A 1:13.870 lap put him in the top spot over defending race winner Eric Fagan and former CKNA winner Marc Stehle. Ryan Cassity and Geoff Shaw completed the fast-five. The heat race was busy with action as a number of drivers led at one time. In the end, Fagan claimed the win over Stehle with Shaw in third. Cassity placed fourth with Bill McLaughlin coming up from eighth to fifth.

The final category on track in the order was Senior Medium, featuring 95 drivers taking to the track for qualifying. James Overbeck earned his second quick time on the day, posting a 1:12.572 lap time for quickest in the session. Ian Quinn was second with last year’s Junior winner Eli Warren in third. Brandon Jarsocrak and Eli Fox made up the fast-five. It was seven-time CKNA winner Colin Warren that came through for the win in AvsD heat race. He led Christopher McKeithan at the checkered flag with Fox in third. Pauly Massimino improved in the BvsC heat race, scoring the win over Quinn with Henry Wheeler placing third.

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