SPEED WINS TWO FEATURES, ONE CHAMPIONSHIP AT PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH FINALE New SKUSA regional completes season on high note with largest turnout of the season SONOMA, CA (September 13, 2008) -- The inaugural season of the Superkarts! USA ...
SPEED WINS TWO FEATURES, ONE CHAMPIONSHIP AT PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH
New SKUSA regional completes season on high note with largest turnout of the season
SONOMA, CA (September 13, 2008) -- The inaugural season of the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North program came to a close on September 13 as the sixth and final round of the series was put into the books at the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. With SKUSA issuing the new MG Tire FZ compound for the series finale -- the same tire that will be used for the upcoming SuperNationals XII in Las Vegas in November -- many new teams and drivers made the journey to Northern California for some testing. With it being the final round, seven class championships were also up for grabs, with many of the chases coming down to the final lap.
Two drivers were searching for double championships on the weekend. However, both Alex Speed and Jason Toft walked away with just one each. Speed earned two victories on the day, one that clinched the TaG Senior title and another that came up just short in the S1 championship. Toft battled Speed in the TaG division, but would earn his crown in the S3 category.
The TaG Senior field was a stacked line-up with Speed, Toft, championship contenders Brett Buckwalter and Will Martindale, and veteran driver Phil Giebler -- the 2007 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Giebler was in Sonoma to support two of his team drivers, along with testing for the upcoming SuperNationals. They would all find themselves chasing a former Masters driver, Larry Fraser, who posted the fastest lap in qualifying over Buckwalter and Speed. NorCal's Troy Diede was fourth in front of SoCal hotshoe Joey Licata Jr.. Toft would start seventh in the first heat, Martindale in ninth and Giebler tenth.
Fraser held his own against the younger rivals in the opening moto, first holding off Buckwalter at the start and then Speed for five laps before the two-time national shifter champion assumed the point and the Heat #1 win. Fraser fell back to third behind Buckwalter with Toft and Giebler advancing into the top-five. Speed paced the field in the first half of the race with Fraser giving chase before Toft and Giebler entered the fray in the second half of the 10-lapper. It was a wild one in the second heat as things heated up. Speed was leading for the majority of the race with Fraser running second -- until Toft was able to get by and then pressured Speed for the top spot. Once by on lap eight, Giebler came through on the final lap to challenge Toft for the lead. The two made contact and Giebler would cross the line first ahead of Speed, Fraser, Brett Felkins -- making the move from the junior ranks to the senior division -- and then Toft. Officials, however, put Giebler behind Toft for the contact, giving Speed the win and moving the rest up one spot.
Fraser got the jump on the younger pilots to lead the opening lap of the feature until his engine let go. This put Toft to the point after Speed fell back to fourth behind Felkins and Andrick Zeen. Speed eventually got to second on lap eight to initiate a battle with Toft for the win. The two went back and forth, exchanging the lead five or six times during the second half of the 20-lap race. At the checkered, Speed got the edge by 0.104 seconds over Toft -- which also gave Speed the championship by 54 points over Martindale. Giebler finished third ahead of Buckwalter and Martindale while Felkins fell back to eighth with the fast lap honor, finishing behind Licata Jr. and Adam Zeen.
Speed would earn his fourth S1 feature win after sweeping all on-track action throughout the day. SoCal's Jacob Neal and eventual champion Cody Hodgson battled for second, with Neal getting the edge after 20 laps. Hodgson would earn the title by 85 points over Speed.
Toft would secure his championship in the S3 category, but not without a fight in the final round. Many PKC South regulars made the journey north for extra seat time, and took the first and third spots in qualifying with Patrick Cushenberry and Clinton Schoombee earning the positions by posting quick laps in the timed session. S3 newcomer Tommy Thompson was second quickest, with regulars Brad Dunford, Marc Elliott and Jason Toft completing the top-six. Once the green flag waved for the opening heat, Thompson got a great jump and led all 10 laps as Toft worked his way up to second quickly, where he would cross the line ahead of PKC South S3 champion Bobby Legate.
Thompson was clean again at the drop of the green in heat two, while Toft fell back to fourth in the opening lap. Battling back again, Toft worked himself to the lead by lap four until Thompson got his with two laps to go. Toft ran second again with Colorado's AJ Noud coming up to third. Toft and Noud battled early for the second spot to begin the 20-lap feature, allowing Thompson to get away from the pack. Thompson would go on to win by over three seconds, with Toft getting away from Noud enroute to the S3 championship.
Craig Corwin completed his fifth event sweep to lock in his G1 championship. Corwin was the class of the field all season, and continued on to the final round. He took the victory over Ethan Wilson and Jim Kidd, the same order of the championship standings. Rob Soares nearly pulled off a sweep in the TaG Masters category, leading the field in Qualifying and the two heat races. While on his way to a possible fourth feature win of the season, Soares broke on lap 12 and would have to watch from the sidelines. Lucky for him, he earned enough points on the day to clinch the championship. Helmar Beregszaszy went on to take the feature win, his second of the year and helped him move up to second in the standings. Jeff Deehan edged Steve Elo for third in the main event.
David Oroshnik and Jim Zootis went back and forth to pace the TaG Masters Light division throughout the day. Oroshnik led the way in qualifying while the two split heat wins. In the feature, Zootis pulled out to a two-second victory over Oroshnik while Herman Ip bounced back from a disqualification in heat two to place third -- and clinch the class championship. Zootis ended up second in the standings, followed by Oroshnik.
With Matt Alcorn already clinching the S4 title, he moved up to the S3 division for the finale and allowed a new driver to step up on the day. That driver would be Brian Keck, making his first PKC event of the season. After running second to Sergio Machado in Qualifying, Keck would pick up the pace and take both heat wins and the main event victory by 10 seconds. Machado finished second to put him third in the championship, while Alex Keith ran third to clinch second in the standings to wrap up a solid season.
Making their third appearance with PKC, the HPV 2 Junior division put in a professional and clean day of racing on and off the track. The only issue during the day happened in qualifying when Donavon Wheeler was disqualified for bumping Kiel Spaulding, who eventually had the exhaust pipe break loose, causing Spaulding to be placed at the tail of the field as well. David Vasquez took the pole position with Kelsey Nilsson and Joseph Keaton. With his pole position, Vasquez was given a ride-along in a special Drifting demonstration by the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in a Ford Mustang in the center of the kart track during the lunch break. By the smile on his face, you could tell he enjoyed it.
Vasquez got back to business in the opening heat as he and Nilsson went 1-2, while Wheeler and Spaulding advanced to third and fourth in the 10-lap race. They continued their drive forward as Spaulding and Wheeler went 1-2 in the second heat with Vasquez and Nilsson finishing third and fourth. Spaulding would go on to lead all 20 laps to take feature win number two, with Vasquez running second ahead of Wheeler and Nilsson.
The ProKart North class champs will be awarded an unprecedented championship prize package totaling more than $50,000 -- thanks to Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and PKC -- at the season end awards banquet at the Audi Center at Infineon on October 25. For more information about this event and to check out the line-up of year-end prizes available to ProKart Challenge competitors, head to www.prokartchallenge.com.