RECORD NUMBERS SET AT SECOND ROUND OF PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH Close racing produced by nearly 80 drivers contending the Infineon Raceway circuit SONOMA, CA (April 18, 2009) -- In its second season, the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North ...
RECORD NUMBERS SET AT SECOND ROUND OF PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH
Close racing produced by nearly 80 drivers contending the Infineon Raceway circuit
SONOMA, CA (April 18, 2009) -- In its second season, the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North program continues to gain momentum throughout the Northern California area as the top regional series in which to compete. The second round of the year was held on April 18 at the Jim Russell International Karting Center on the grounds of the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, with nearly 80 drivers on hand. Aside from the numbers, the racing was even better -- with seven new winners declared in the eight classes offered.
The largest field of the weekend was the TaG Senior group, which saw 18 drivers battling around the 3/4-mile course. As he did at the opening round, Larry Fraser took top honors in qualifying as the only driver under the 50-second mark. Fraser was a good two-tenths quicker than Brett Felkins. Landon Yee was third on the charts in his '09 PKC debut with Brett Buckwalter and Neil Alberico completing the fast five.
The opening heat race saw the top four in a heated battle, with Yee finding himself at the point after the opening lap. Fraser applied heavy pressure, breaking through for the lead on lap seven only to have Felkins steal the spot the following lap as he would go on and take the win. Fraser held off Buckwalter for second as Yee dropped to fourth. Felkins went green to checkered in the final heat race, taking the win by a comfortable gap over Fraser and Buckwalter. Yee retired on lap six, moving Will Martindale up to fourth and Alberico holding strong in fifth.
Fraser and Buckwalter were strong on the cold tires at the start of the feature, as they relegated Felkins back to third. Behind them, Martindale got crossed up in the tic-tac-toe and collected Alberico, ending his day while the round one winner rejoined at the tail of the field to eventually finish 10th. As his MG Tires warmed-up, Felkins began to pressure the top two, first getting by Fraser on lap six and then Buckwalter for the lead the next time by. From there he pulled out to a 1.286-second advantage to take the victory and assume the championship lead. Fraser beat Buckwalter to the line for second, with Yee coming through the field to place fourth in front of Canadian Michael Hogg.
The next largest class was the HPV 2 Junior division with 15 young, rising stars entered. The HPV program has continued to grow since being introduced mid-season at the PKC North program last year. Despite the high number of drivers, the battle at the point was a dual between defending class champion Kiel Spaulding and Junior rookie Luis Tyrrell. Qualifying was led by Tyrrell, who is making the move up from the Cadet ranks this season, and he cleared Spaulding's best lap by just over two-tenths. Tyrrell had issues at the start of the first heat, allowing Spaulding to run unchallenged. Falling back to sixth, Tyrrell advanced back to third behind Donavon Wheeler at the checkered flag. Tyrrell improved in the second heat, as he was able to work up to the point by lap six and take the victory over Spaulding.
The two went toe-to-toe in the feature as they both started from the front row. Spaulding led the early portion, with Tyrrell assuming the point on lap six. Tyrrell looked to have the win locked in until lap 16, when his brake rotor exploded and left him with no stopping power, eventually causing him to pull off track. The lead would transfer to Spaulding who would take his second straight feature win in the class, with Wheeler and Dylan Lupton completing the podium. Alessandra Madrigal made the trek from the East coast to finish fourth, with Marvin Gardner rounding out the top-five.
The second Junior class -- TaG Junior -- was another great battle involving Spaulding, this time matching him up against Louie Pagano. In qualifying, it was Pagano who would secure the pole position by just 0.039-seconds over Spaulding, with Dylan Lupton just three-hundredths back of him. Spaulding scored the victory in heat one, after Pagano led all the laps minus the final circuit where Spaulding was able to squeeze by for the position. Pagano made sure to break away from the field early in heat two to be able to score the win by two-seconds, as Spaulding fell one spot with Alessandra Madrigal taking the second position in the 10-lap race. Though the fight became three with Madrigal in the mix, Pagano was unfazed as he would go on to lead all 20 laps of the feature to take the victory. Madrigal was a close second as they crossed the line, minus Spaulding who retired on lap 17 with mechanical issues, moving Adrian Starrantino to the podium.
The S3 division looked as if it would be an exciting day at the front, with a number of drivers close to the pole-winning time set by karting veteran and Grand-Am Rolex star Memo Gidley. The top five, including Steve Reasoner, New Zealander Daniel Bray, Jacob Neal, and round one winner Tommy Thompson, were within two-tenths of a second for their best laps. Once the green light went on for the opening heat, Gidley launched away from the grid like a rocket and was alone out front until a broken shifter linkage ended his chance at victory on lap three. That gave Neal the point, as he had assumed the second spot in the opening lap. Neal went on to lead the remaining laps for the win. Neal would continue to show the way in the final heat, with Reasoner and Bray keeping within striking distance. After Bray was slow off the line to begin the feature, it was Neal and Reasoner alone at the point. In a very clean but tight race, Neal was able to hold off Reasoner's advances to lead all 20 laps to take the victory. Thompson ran alone in third, with Gidley moving up to fourth ahead of Brad Dunford.
Two drivers were on point all day long and swept their respective classes. Jared Woolf was looked to be the man to beat at round one, until a mechanical failure put him on the sidelines. He returned a month later to finish the job and dominate the S4 division. Woolf took the feature by a four-second advantage over Alex Keith and round one winner Jamie Wilson. Defending TaG Masters champion Rob Soares made his PKC North debut a clinic for his competition with an outstanding performance. Soares went on to take the feature over Jim Zootis and Steve Elo -- who won the opener last month.
The S1 category had a number of high-profile guests filling the grid for the second round. Former national champions Gary Carlton and Ron White made their '09 PKC North debuts, along with defending SKUSA SuperNationals S3 champion Brendan Phinny. In the end, however, it would be the S1 defending champ Cody Hodgson who stood on top of the podium. Carlton looked to have the field covered following qualifying and the first heat. However, in heat two a bad start put him at the back of the field. That gave Hodgson the point, and he never looked back. In the feature, he and round one winner Jacob Neal battled for the lead, with Hodgson posting the fast lap of the race enroute to the victory. White joined Hodgson and Neal on the podium in his first race of 2009. On track at the same time was the G1 category, which saw Jim Kidd take the win over Ethan Wilson.
The PKC staff will now travel roughly 500 miles south to prepare for the fourth round of the PKC South program, set for April 25 in conjunction with the San Diego Karting Association outside Qualcomm Stadium. The next round for the PKC North program will be the much anticipated South vs. North battle at the West Coast Shootout on May 16 at the Buttonwillow Raceway Park kart track, where both the South and North programs will compete against one another. For more information on the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge, head to www.prokartchallenge.com.