SKUSA: PCK-CS: Series round one St. Louis summary

CENTRAL STATES CHALLENGE NEARLY TOPS 100 ENTRIES FOR OPENING EVENT Crockett doubles up while Donahue family scores three inside the Gateway International Raceway MADISON, IL (May 10, 2009) -- The AMB i.t. Central States Challenge kicked off the...

CENTRAL STATES CHALLENGE NEARLY TOPS 100 ENTRIES FOR OPENING EVENT
Crockett doubles up while Donahue family scores three inside the Gateway International Raceway

MADISON, IL (May 10, 2009) -- The AMB i.t. Central States Challenge kicked off the 2009 season on May 9-10 inside the Gateway International Raceway, along the mighty Mississippi River in the metro-St. Louis area. The event, sponsored by the Missouri Army National Guard, was contested on a revamped road course utilizing the majority of the infield section and a portion of the oval's back straightaway, resulting in a 3/4-mile sprint track. Along with Sergeant Register of the Missouri Army National Guard, Superkarts! USA President Tom Kutscher was on hand to lend his support of the new event as the Central States Challenge enters its second year under the SKUSA banner.

The new facility was a popular addition with a record-breaking 97 entries making their way to the Madison, Illinois circuit from as far as Texas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Seven of the classes offered in the series follow the SKUSA structure from S1 to TaG Junior, while five other categories filled up the remainder of the schedule -- including Powder Puff, Yamaha divisions and Kid Karts. The big winners of the weekend included Derek Crockett, who took home two feature wins Sunday, while Kevin and Kyle Donahue combined for three victories.

Crockett is no stranger to running as many classes as possible. For this weekend, he would challenge in the S1, S3, and TaG Senior categories. Though he would only earn top honors in qualifying in S3, it was the S1 and TaG Senior divisions that Crockett would grab the checkered flag. Top qualifier and Prefinal winner Pat Malacarne would be Crockett's challenger in S1 as the two displayed a great duel. At the line, Crockett had the advantage by just over half a second while Kyle Gnau completed the podium. Crockett had his hands full in TaG with pole winner Justin Vancil after Prefinal winner Keith Freber sat out for the feature with a rib injury. Crockett and Vancil went back and forth, but it would be Crockett to get to the line first by just four-tenths over Vancil, with Gnau also running to earn another third place finish. Matt Zeis was the lone driver to beat Crockett in a feature race as the defending S3 champion began his title defense with a victory. He and Crockett battled all day long, with Zeis earning the Prefinal win but finding himself trailing Crockett in the Feature. Making a final lap pass stick, Zeis earned the win by seven-tenths at the line, while Chris Thomasson rounded out the podium in third.

The S5 Junior and TaG Junior categories saw their highest kart numbers in the series' two-year history, as the younger levels of the program continue to grow. Kevin Donahue would shine in both divisions as he earned the Feature win in each. Lukas Johnson was the early driver to beat as he topped all others in the qualifying session, but Donahue stormed through from third to grab the Prefinal win. From there, Donahue went untouched in the Final for the victory over defending champion Kaylee Granberg and Johnson. The TaG Junior victory was more work after Donahue did not record a lap in qualifying, having to start the Prefinal from the back. After coming through to take the win, Donahue held off a late charge from top qualifier Drake Ostrom to score his second feature win of the event. Colton Brooks, TaG 60 champion from last season who is moving up to the Junior category, finished third in his Junior debut. Kevin's brother Kyle got a slow start on the day as well, starting the TaG 60 Prefinal from fifth to climb up to the point by the end of the eight-lap race over pole sitter Kyle Kennedy. In the feature, Kyle would lead all 12 laps for a four-second victory over Zach Bohmer and Nathan White.

Three drivers put in a complete sweep in their categories for the opening weekend. While he pulled out of the TaG Senior category after injuring his ribs in a Prefinal victory, Margay Racing Products owner Keith Freber swept the action in the TaG Masters division. Freber added some much needed padding and muscled his way to a 15-second Feature win over Tim Koch and Greg Seep. Jack Kloeber showed the way in the S4 category as he outran Rick Freund and Ralph Woffard in the Feature. Grant Sandberg was the other driver to perform a class sweep in the Yamaha Rookie division. Jacob Blair and Kamryn Sloan ran second and third to Sandberg.

The final winners on the day included Tucker Cory in the Yamaha Junior division -- after he held off Drake Ostrom in a photo finish while Adam Poliette finished third -- and Powder Puff winner Kiersten Koch.

The Central States Challenge would like to thank the following for their support of the Gateway event: AMB i.t., Missouri Army National Guard, MG Tires, Car Car Motorsports, Crocketts Mobile Car Wash, Unique Heating and Cooling, Oakley, Russell Karting and the Gateway International Raceway staff. The next event is just around the corner as the program travels to New Castle, IN on Memorial Day weekend to the New Castle Motorsports Park for the first visit in series history. For all the details on the 2009 season and other information you need to know to become part of the SKUSA Central States Challenge, visit www.centralstateschallenge.com.

-credit: skusa

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Series Kart
Drivers Lukas Johnson