SKUSA: PKC-N: Series Sonoma summary

PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH OPENS '09 SEASON WITH SOLID EVENT IN SONOMA Spaulding doubles up in Junior divisions while Martindale earns TaG Senior win SONOMA, CA (March 14, 2009) -- The second season of the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North ...

PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH OPENS '09 SEASON WITH SOLID EVENT IN SONOMA
Spaulding doubles up in Junior divisions while Martindale earns TaG Senior win

SONOMA, CA (March 14, 2009) -- The second season of the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North regional program got underway this past Saturday, March 14, in Sonoma, California as the Infineon Raceway Jim Russell International Karting Center played host to the opening round. Despite cooler weather than expected, the weekend saw phenomenal racing in the eight categories -- with nearly 80 drivers on hand. Coming away from the event as the star of the show was Kyle Spaulding, as the Junior driver scored two trips to the top step of the podium on the day.

The month has been a successful one for Spaulding, who entered the PKC event fresh off a three-win weekend in Southern California. Competing in both the TaG Junior and HPV2 Junior divisions, it would be a typical busy weekend for the youngster.

The HPV2 Junior field was stacked with 19 karts entered. The early leader of the group was Luis Tyrrell, as he posted the best lap in Qualifying -- just over a tenth quicker than the defending class champion Spaulding -- with Kathryn Cornell, Dylan Lupton and Cody Kay completing the fast-five. In the opening heat race, Tyrrell and Spaulding went back and forth until Tyrrell came across the line first on the tenth and final lap. During post-race tech inspection, an improper clutch would, however, cost Tyrrell the win and put Spaulding in P1 for the start of heat two alongside Lupton. Spaulding paced the field in the second heat until the final lap, when Lupton got around for the win to start in the pole position for feature.

A bad start for Spaulding put him back to third behind Lupton and Joey Teves on the opening circuit of the feature. The drivers would hold their positions until Spaulding charged forward on lap 13, first getting by Teves and then Lupton for the lead one lap later. Holding off Lupton, Spaulding went on to take the victory by just 0.187-seconds. Tyrrell carved his way toward the front in the 20 laps to take third, just behind the front two, along with the quick lap of the race to recover from his heat one disqualification.

In TaG Junior, Spaulding battled Cornell throughout the day. Earning top honors in Qualifying, Spaulding ran second to Cornell in the opening heat while the second heat came down to inches as Cornell came just short of nipping the win from Spaulding, a margin of 0.095-seconds at the line. Spaulding made the right adjustments before the main event, getting away from Cornell early, and went on to lead all 20 laps to his second victory of the day. Cornell held on for second with Camden Geise completing the podium.

Will Martindale made the trip back home to California after spending most of the first two months of the year competing in Florida. In his return, he was matched up against veteran Larry Fraser, who edged him by 0.029-seconds in TaG Senior Qualifying. The fight would be short-lived as Fraser spun on lap two while running on Martindale's bumper. That gave Martindale the space he needed to take the win over Senior rookies Mason Marotta and Brett Felkins. Martindale would escape the challenges of the field once again to lead all 10 laps of the second heat race, while Fraser climbed back to second ahead of NorCal veteran Brett Buckwalter.

The main event would be a near duplicate of the opening heat race with Fraser once again getting shuffled out after starting second, giving Martindale enough breathing room to go on and cruise to the victory for a near perfect weekend. Behind him, Buckwalter held on for the second spot on-track; however, he would be removed from the results due to an improper carburetor. That placed Felkins into the runner-up spot and Marotta on the podium, as well.

The S3 category continues to grow throughout the karting community, with the Californian coast no stranger to the emerging division. The field in Sonoma welcomed karting veteran and Grand-Am driver Memo Gidley -- who was looking to keep his skills sharp during his long break between Daytona Prototype races. Like he never left the seat of a kart, Gidley was quick out of the box -- but was edged in Qualifying by Steve Reasoner, just 0.050-seconds separating the drivers' best lap. Come race time, however, Gidley shined in the opening heat race, leading all 10 laps to edge SoCal star Jacob Neal by just 0.016-seconds at the line with Reasoner running third. The 1999 SKUSA SuperNationals winner would again go flag-to-flag over Neal in heat two with a little more distance between them when they crossed the line, while Tommy Thompson advanced up to third.

The charging Thompson saved the best for the end as the rubber continued to get laid down on the Sonoma circuit. Jumping up to second in the opening lap, Thompson quickly got by Gidley for the lead on lap two. From there, Thompson would run unchallenged as he went on to lead the remainder of the 20-lap race for the victory. Gidley fought Neal for the second spot with Neal eventually coming out with the spot, putting Gidley on the third step of the podium.

Neal would add a victory to his runner-up finish from S3, as he went on take the opening S1 main event win. New Zealander Daniel Bray returned to the States once again, and was the early favorite after taking the top honors in Qualifying from Neal by over three-tenths. Neal, however, got the hole shot to begin the opening heat race and held off Bray's attempts to regain the spot. Then Bray got the jump in heat two as he led the opening three laps of the race before Neal retook the lead and went on for the win. The opening lap of the feature shuffled up the field as Bray went into the tic-tack-toe section a little too hot. As a result of the skirmish, defending class champion Cody Hodgson slide through for the lead as they came by the stripe for the first time. He and Neal went back and forth in the 20-lap event until Neal locked in the position to take the victory. Hodgson took second with Bray recovering from his lap one error to take third.

In S4, Jared Woolf looked to have the class locked away after topping the charts in Qualifying and cruising to victory in heat one. A stuck piston in heat two put him on the sidelines for the day, which allowed Jamie Wilson to step up and take the honors in the second heat along with leading all 20 laps in the feature. Scott Cooper and Peter Workum completed the podium. Defending G1 champion Craig Corwin began his title defense on the right path as he took both heat wins and the feature victory. Fernando Diaz edged Corwin in qualifying, breaking up Corwin's bid for a perfect weekend, and went on to finish second, with Ethan Wilson running third. In TaG Masters, Steve Elo took the main event win over Jim Zootis and Jeff Deehan.

The ProKart Challenge North program will return to Infineon Raceway on April 18 for round two of the seven event championship, with more details regarding the event to be announced in the near future. For more information on Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge, head to www.prokartchallenge.com.

-credit: skusa

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Series Kart
Drivers Memo Gidley , Peter Workum