NEAL DOUBLES UP FOR THIRD STRAIGHT EVENT AT PROKART CHALLENGE SOUTH SoCal star continues to shine at race of 100+ competitors outside Qualcomm Stadium SONOMA, CA (April 25, 2009) -- The fourth round of the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge...
NEAL DOUBLES UP FOR THIRD STRAIGHT EVENT AT PROKART CHALLENGE SOUTH
SoCal star continues to shine at race of 100+ competitors outside Qualcomm Stadium
SONOMA, CA (April 25, 2009) -- The fourth round of the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge South program took the competitors to the 1.1 mile temporary circuit outside the Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers. Running in conjunction with the San Diego Karting Association (SDKA), the two organizations merged similar classes, including the nine PKC divisions, to share the course throughout the April 25 event in perfect San Diego beach weather. As in the previous two rounds of the series, 17-year-old Jacob Neal continued to be the star of the traveling show by scoring two feature wins on the day.
The event in San Diego seemed to be much easier for the young hotshoe, as he swept all on-track sessions for the S1 and S3 divisions back-to-back. In the stacked S3 category, Neal led the way in qualifying as the only driver to post a sub-one minute lap time. In the opening heat, Neal was chased by Jimmy McNeil until he retired on lap five, after a steering component broke while attempting to pass Neal. Point leader Patrick Cushenberry and defending champion Bobby Legate assumed the chase positions, but came up just short at the line. In the second heat, Neal got away from the line clean, while Cushenberry had a tough opening lap and fell back to sixth to allow Brad Dunford to slide into the second spot. Though Dunford gave a solid effort, he settled for second, as Neal was able to hold him off for the win. Legate ran third until lap seven when his engine seized. By then, McNeil and Cushenberry had advanced up to fourth and fifth, and then moved up one more spot with Legate's retirement.
In the feature, Neal would go unchallenged, as he put down a pace similar to his qualifying time to pull out to a 26-second margin of victory. McNeil looked to have the runner-up spot locked in, until a broken shifter cost him the podium. That gave a charging Legate the second spot, with Dunford winning the final podium spot -- after Cushenberry spun while in battle on lap 14. Neal went on to sweep the S1 division, as well. Challenged early on by point leader Peter Abba, Neal would be too strong en route to a 28-second win, with Abba beating Imran Husain for the second spot.
The G class continues to carry large fields in 2009, with longtime PKC regular PP Mastro besting the field in San Diego. After earning the top qualifier honors, Mastro went unchallenged in the opening heat. The final heat race, however, would see Mastro battle Roy Montgomery for the top spot. The two shared the position, until Mastro retired on lap 10 with a broken throttle cable, handing Montgomery the win. Mastro's pace in the feature, on the other hand, would be too much for Roy, as Mastro would recover the positions he lost by his DNF to regain the top spot in the first half of the 20-lap race -- then go on to win by six seconds. Montgomery would also surrender the second spot to point leader Troy Butts to sit third on the podium.
Ken Schilling was the man to beat early on in the S4 category, as he began his bid for the first feature win of the season with the top qualifier spot. The rest of the day did not pan out Schilling's way, as he had a bad opening lap of the first heat race and fell to fifth, managing to recover back to second. The win would go to outside front row starter and championship contender Rob Whitley. Another poor start for Schilling to begin the second heat race allowed Whitley to show the way once again and a second heat victory, this time with PKC newcomer Dave Van Gordon on his bumper for the entire 12 laps. Schilling would be unable to score a comeback, finishing fifth in the heat race and retiring on lap six of the feature after spinning to avoid contact with another kart. At the front of the field, Whitley was able to get away clean early on in the 20-lap feature to take home the win by nine seconds -- his first of the season. Van Gordon lost a great battle with point leader Jeff Smith for the second spot to complete the podium.
The TaG Master category saw its fourth different feature winner in as many events in 2009. After placing second at the Grange event last month, Jeff Bobbitt ultimately emerged as the victor in San Diego. Bobbitt began the event second in qualifying after Mike Kelley, who was just over two-tenths quicker on his fastest lap. Bobbitt got the jump to start the first heat race, and held on for the win. The rest of the event, Kelley continued to chase Bobbitt unsuccessfully, as he would finish second in the final heat and feature. Round two winner Jeff Deehan would complete the podium, with point leader Steve Wiener ending up fourth.
The Qualcomm Stadium event was the second trip for the new KF2 division in the PKC South program, with former shifter kart national champion Alex Speed dominating the day's action. Grange winner Will Martindale -- as well as Cody Hodgson -- kept it close throughout the day, but Speed's pace at the end of the day would keep them second and third. Larry Fraser was able to edge TaG Senior point leader Howie Idelson for the TaG Senior victory, his first of the season. In S4 Magnum, Luke Bianco had the field covered until retiring early in the feature, handing the win to point leader Tony Morrison for his second straight victory. Max Zacky was the lone TaG Junior competitor in San Diego, but gained valuable track time running with the TaG Senior and TaG Master fields. The Friday night ProKart Challenge complimentary BBQ, sponsored by PCH Motorsports, impressed the crowd with an amazing, slow-cooked brisket and a multitude of salads. A fantastic event, for sure! Special thanks to SDKA for hosting such a positive experience.
Up next on the ProKart Challenge calendar is the much anticipated 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. Some of the best karters from California and the surrounding areas are expected to compete in this South vs. North battle. For more information on the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge, head to www.prokartchallenge.com.