EKN Trackside: Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 – Sunday Report
Coyote steals the spotlight at New Castle Motorsports Park with four victories, sweeping Senior divisions
The Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 will go down as a record-breaking event. A total of 485 entries took to the track on the weekend, featuring over 400 drivers from all over North America and the world, converging on the New Castle Motorsports Park. It was record setting weather at the New Castle, Indiana facility with near perfect weather all weekend, reaching into the low 80s temperature for the main events on Sunday. Fields were set after qualifying, three rounds of heat races and the last chance qualifiers deciding the final order for the nine Briggs & Stratton 206 categories battling to put their names into the record books.
The headline Senior Medium class was the largest, narrowed down from 95 drivers to 55 taking the green flag for the 16-lap battle. Seven-time race winner Colin Warren (VLR) started on the pole position with Pauly Massimino (Coyote) on the outside of the front row. They swapped the top spot in the opening laps before Christopher McKeithan (Coyote) was able to take over the position. Ian Quinn (Birel ART) eventually put himself up into the lead by the halfway point before McKeithan took back the position on lap 10. It was after that when the fireworks began with heavy fighting for the second spot. By the time white flag came out, James Overbeck (Coyote) was in the position but received a black flag for excessive penalties during the race. He obeyed the flag and pulled off the track, leaving the rest of the drivers to fight for the runner-up spot as McKeithan was able to drive away to a 1.5-second advantage for the victory. Quinn was able to secure the runner-up spot with Adam Maxwell (Coyote) up 11 positions to third. Jake Heavlow (Invader) gained 12 to end up fourth while Massimino came out in the fifth position.
It was a group effort at the front of the field in the Senior Light main event as the first two rows featured all Coyote drivers. Pauly Massimino and James Overbeck started from the front row with Christopher McKeithan and Brandon Jarsocrak in row two. Colin Warren (VLR) and Austin Garrison (GFC) made up row three, making it a six-driver lead group. The Coyote foursome were able to drop off Garrison from the lead pack before Warren lost the draft. Overbeck took over the lead on lap two and held the position for the remainder of the 16-lap race. It was a drag race to the line with Overbeck holding off Massimino by 13 thousandths of a second. McKeithan edged out Jarsocrak for third while Warren stayed ahead of Garrison to complete the top-five.
A total of 62 drivers took to the track for the Senior Heavy main event, the largest field for a Final at the CKNA Grand Nationals 7. Pole sitter and defending race winner Eric Fagan (MGM) and Chris Carroll (Coyote) led the field to the green flag and were joined at the front by David Vasquez (VLR), Jake Heavlow (Invader), Jerry Fandrey (EOS) and eventually Sean Meier (Coyote) – who started 10th. Carroll led a majority of the race with Fagan and Vasquez taking a turn at the lead. Fagan was leading at the white flag with Fandrey second and Carroll third. The action for the victory took place heading into the Monza corner when contact between Fagan and Fandrey occurred. This allowed Carroll to slip from third to first, taking the victory and becoming the fifth different winner and the fifth different chassis brand to claim the top step of the podium. Vasquez followed through for second with Fandrey in third ahead of Fagan. Heavlow beat out Meier for the fifth spot.
The Junior main event was shortened due to a red flag at the start, and then another toward the end of the race. Following the first red flag on lap three, Isaac Malcuit (Birel ART) eventually worked his way to the lead after starting fifth, fighting with outside pole position Christopher Wakefield (Sodi Kart) and polesitter Cade Jaeger (Coyote). It was Jaeger that led 10 of the first 11 laps before he was shuffled down to fourth with Jackson Wolny (Redspeed) on the charge. He started back in 23rd but was into the top-five after nine laps. It became a three-driver lead pack as the field was taking the white flag on lap 14 with Malcuit, Wakefield and Wolny in that order. As they were making their way to the far end of the track, a red flag was displayed, and the race called. It reverted the results back to lap 13, thus giving Malcuit the victory in his first Junior start after winning Sportsman a year ago. Wakefield was second and Wolny third. Canadian Jordan DiLeo (Kubica) started third and fell to fourth with Jaeger completing the top-five.
It came down to a two-driver battle in the 49-driver Masters field. Defending race winner Eric Fagan (MGM) and former CKNA winner Marc Stehle (Birel ART) led the field to the green flag. They were joined up at the front early by Geoff Shaw (VLR) – eventually losing the draft late in the race. Stehle led up until the receiving the white flag when Fagan took over the point. The two mixed it up in the Monza section, with Stehle coming out with the lead and holding on at the checkered flag by 47 thousandths. It is his first win in the Masters class, second at the CKNA Grand Nationals since 2019 winning the Senior Open Medium class. Shaw trailed in third with the battle for fourth going down to the wire. EKN’s own David Cole worked his way up from eighth into the position. An incident in turn five sent him off the track as Chris Giumarra (EOS) and Todd Baron (Arrow) went through. Giumarra took the checkered flag in fourth but was handed a penalty for the incident. That promoted Baron to fourth and CKNA North Division champion Sean O’Shea (Eagle) up to fifth.
The Legends class celebrated a second straight winner in Ryan Cassity (Coyote). The 2022 winner set fast time and won all three heat races. It was not without a fight as James Perkins (CRG) took the lead for a lap before Cassity returned to the point. Perkins and Canadian Jamie MacArthur (Ricciardo) kept it close to the end, unable to attack. Cassity took the checkered flag first, winning by over four tenths with MacArthur beating out Perkins at the line for second. Jeff Scott (Ionic Edge) was the quickest kart on the track, driving up from eighth to fourth with top qualifier Tim Hannen (Kosmic) completing the top-five.
The 16-lap main event for Sportsman featured a five-driver battle at the front of the field. Pole sitter Holden Harder (Nitro Kart) led the group for much of the race. He dropped to second on lap two with Carter Barkis (Parolin) showing the way for three laps. Harder took back the position on lap five with the role of challenger changing between Barkis, Ezekiel Haight (Nitro Kart) and Grady Cronick (Kart Republic). Tyrone Kemper Jr. (Charles Leclerc) eventually made it five drivers nose to tail at the front, however, Harder was too strong and held off the group to claim his first CKNA Grand Nationals victory. Cronick drove to second with Haight in third. Kemper and Barkis – who had fast lap of the race – completed the top-five.
Twenty-eight drivers made up the inaugural field for the new Cadet division, featuring drivers from ages 8-10 years old. Aston Wyatt (Birel ART) led the field to the green flag with Conner Lypka (CompKart) on the outside of the front row. Lypka was shuffled back to seventh on the opening lap as Wyatt and Daniel Draganov (Nitro Kart) fought for the lead early. Wyatt secured the top spot lap five as Lypka continued to fight back. He was able to get into second by lap seven and began pushing he and Wyatt away from Draganov. The fight for the win began on lap 12 with the two going back and forth. Lypka was able to secure the victory on the final lap, becoming the inaugural Cadet winner at the CKNA Grand Nationals. Wyatt settled for second with Draganov trailing in third. Dominic Gaddis (Nitro Kart) was fourth with Austin Taylor (Kart Republic) after a penalty to Alyssa Eddy (Birel ART) took her off the podium.
Blaise Hindery (MGM) became the seventh different winner in the Kid Kart class. Hindery led all 16 laps of the main event to beat out the 12-driver field by four seconds at the checkered flag. Spencer Hite (Coyote) ran second the entire race, but was challenged by Jaxson Reinholz (Formula K) at the line. Grant Heckman (VLR) and Zeb Turner (Nitro Kart) completed the top-five.
The CKNA Grand Nationals 7 is complete, setting new records and welcoming new and familiar names to the winner’s list. The goal for the over 400 drivers in attendance and those not racing is to begin planning for next year’s event, for a chance to once again set another entry total and driver total record, and for a chance to be a winner at the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 8 in 2024.