NEAL TAKES THIRD STRAIGHT PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH VICTORY SoCal driver continues to dominate S3 division with win at Jim Russell International Karting Center SONOMA, CA (June 13, 2009) -- ProKart Challenge North - the Superkarts! USA's...
NEAL TAKES THIRD STRAIGHT PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH VICTORY
SoCal driver continues to dominate S3 division with win at Jim Russell International Karting Center
SONOMA, CA (June 13, 2009) -- ProKart Challenge North - the Superkarts! USA's Northern California regional program - reached their midpoint of the season with the running of the fourth round on June 13 at the Jim Russell International Karting Center in Sonoma, California. The popular 'reverse national' circuit was utilized for the first time this season, and helped produce some fantastic racing around the 7/8-mile course. The theme throughout the year has been seeing Southern California stud Jacob Neal atop the podium, and Saturday was no different as he won both the S1 and S3 divisions.
Neal had to work for both victories as they were not easy to come by. The challenging S3 division saw Neal just miss out for the top spot in qualifying as veteran and Grand-Am Rolex star Memo Gidley returned for another outing to steal the pole position by just 13-thousandths. The two were joined by third fastest qualifier Tommy Thompson in the opening heat race. Neal led in the early goings until Thompson took his turn at the point. Neal would reassume the position and would go on to take the win in front of Thompson and Gidley. The final heat would be a near repeat of the first, with Neal and Thompson swapping the lead before returning to the same finishing positions. Neal, however, threw down the gauntlet in the feature to pull ahead by more than four seconds after leading all 20 laps for the victory. Teammates Thompson and Gidley shuffled the second spot in the early portion of the race until Thompson secured the position. Another pair of teammates, Steve Reasoner and New Zealander Daniel Bray, rounded out the top-five.
In the S1 category, Neal would only have to fight one other driver in the championship race: defending class champion Cody Hodgson. Neal won the first round as he out-qualified Hodgson by just two-tenths. In the first heat, however, Hodgson won the battle with a final lap maneuver. Neal would then be removed from the results, as his kart came off the track too wide at tech. The second heat would go to Hodgson, as well, with Neal in tow -- who would be penalized one position for jumping the start. In the feature, the deciding point would be lap 12 when Hodgson retired with a seized engine, handing Neal the lead and the victory. Troy Castaneda would finish second with Hodgson placing third.
The largest division of the event was the TaG Senior group -- with all drivers vying for the victory. Championship leader Larry Fraser began his quest to extend his point lead as he laid down the fastest lap in qualifying, just 29-thousandths quicker than Brett Buckwalter. Will Martindale and PKC Shootout winner Andrick Zeen were both within a tenth of Fraser, showing just how tight the competition was up front for the pole position. An opening lap skirmish dropped Zeen and Buckwalter outside the top-five, allowing Fraser and Martindale to pace the field. That changed on lap three when Fraser experienced an engine issue that caused him to spin, dropping him to the tail of the field and putting Martindale at the point. He went on to lead the remainder of the laps ahead of Nic LeDuc and a charging Zeen. Martindale and Zeen ran 1-2 the entire final heat race, as LeDuc fell to the tail of the field following some opening lap excitement. Round two winner Brett Felkins moved up to third with Buckwalter returning to the mix with a fourth place run after running the fastest laps of the race. Martindale led the first circuit of the 20-lap feature with Zeen and Buckwalter on his tail, but would be shuffled back to fifth the next time by the scoring loop, leaving Zeen at the point. Buckwalter changed that on lap three as he assumed the lead. From there, he managed to stretch out to a solid three-second advantage for his first victory of the season - as the rest of the group battled for second. Zeen eventually came out with the position, as Martindale ran third. JP Cadoux advanced up to fourth - with Chris Scribner returning to the seat for a fifth place performance.
The HPV 2 Junior class has been a solid addition to the PKC North program, and continues to provide exciting racing for the future stars of karting. Defending class champion and championship leader Kiel Spaulding showed the way in qualifying, as he edged rival Luis Tyrrell by just 86-thousandths for the pole position. Tyrrell would have the advantage come race time, taking the opening heat race win after swapping the top spot with Spaulding in the eight lap event. Tyrrell went unchallenged in the final heat after Spaulding fell to eighth in the opening lap. That advanced Kyle Kaiser to second and Dylan Lupton up to third. Kaiser would be pushed out on the first lap, which opened up things for Spaulding. After starting fifth he was first, as they came to the stripe for the first time. Tyrrell held ground on Spaulding's bumper for 13 straight laps - until he made his move on lap 14. From there, Tyrrell pulled out to a 1.359-second victory, as Spaulding fought and held onto second ahead of Joseph Keaton after Lupton retired on lap 13.
The TaG Masters class had much excitement on track, with the largest turnout of the season thus far. Jim Zootis led the way in qualifying, ahead of defending champion Rob Soares. Zootis led all eight laps of the first heat race, with Jeff Deehan sliding in for second ahead of Soares. With Soares falling back, Zootis and Deehan began a short battle for the lead in the second heat. Deehan held the spot early before Zootis took his turn. On the final lap, Deehan stole the position and the win - with championship leader Steve Elo moving up into third. The feature would be decided on the final lap after the two swapped the lead for the first 19 laps. Zootis held the lead on the final lap until contact between the two sent him off track. Deehan continued on and crossed the line first but was penalized and placed behind Zootis in the final order. That gave Elo the victory over Paul Hohlbein and Helmar Beregszaszy. Zootis was fourth with Deehan positioned fifth.
The TaG Junior field looked just as promising, until two lead drivers blew their motors in qualifying. However, that did not take away from the performance put in by Dylan Lupton. After qualifying on pole and winning the opening heat, Lupton retired early in the final heat race to put him at the back of the field to start the feature. He quickly advanced himself up the order and took over the lead by lap two. From there, he pulled out to a 13-second margin of victory for his first win of the season. Adrian Starrantino was second with Niki Luna finishing third.
S4 championship leader Jamie Wilson extended his point lead with a victory Saturday in the feature. Jared Woolf was the early favorite, after posting the fastest lap in qualifying; but Alex Keith took the opening heat win. Wilson got into the mix in the final heat by scoring the win, leading to a flag-to-flag victory in the 20-lap feature. Woolf retired on lap three with mechanical issues, allowing Keith to run second to the line with Peter Workum completing the podium.
Jim Kidd and Ron Tamba went back and forth throughout the day in the G1 category. Kidd had the advantage in qualifying, while Tamba won the first heat. Kidd bounced back to win the second to set up for a killer main event. Kidd led all but the final lap, as his engine let go as he was headed toward the checkered flag. Tamba was able to slide by to steal the victory in his first PKC outing of the season. Ethan Wilson went by as well for second, as Kidd pushed his kart across the line for third.
A special PKC thanks goes out to Shawn Thomas Automotive for again bringing out a priceless classic race car from the Tom Price private collection to share with the weekend's competitors. The winners from both Junior classes, Dylan Lupton and Luis Tyrrell, were treated to a few laps around the kart track in a 1957 Maserati on Saturday afternoon, driven by Memo Gidley. More of these race cars will be featured in future ProKart races.
The ProKart Challenge North program returns to Sonoma on July 11 for the fifth round of the seven race championship. The South program, however, is slated to hit the Santa Maria Kart Track on June 27, with a number of South and North drivers expected to attend. For more information on the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge itself, head to www.prokartchallenge.com or call 951-491-0808.