FIRESTONE SWEEPS MASTERS SHIFTER CLASS IN SANTA MARIA AT PROKART CHALLENGE SOUTH Last event at current Santa Maria Karting Association location for PKC South program SANTA MARIA, CA (June 27, 2009) -- Beautiful weather welcomed the Superkarts!...
FIRESTONE SWEEPS MASTERS SHIFTER CLASS IN SANTA MARIA AT PROKART
Last event at current Santa Maria Karting Association location for PKC South program
SANTA MARIA, CA (June 27, 2009) -- Beautiful weather welcomed the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge South program to the Santa Maria Karting Association facility on June 27 for the sixth round of the 2009 championship. The karting circuit, located on the grounds of the city's airport, provided great racing around the 7/10-mile circuit known as the 'National K layout'. The event marked the return of former PKC regulars to the top of the podium -- as Nick Firestone showed the way the entire day in the G1 division, while Connor De Phillippi took the win in S1.
Firestone was on his game early as he out-qualified the closest competitor, Fernando Diaz, by four-tenths. Running in the 47-second lap bracket, Firestone cruised to a five second victory in the first heat and three second win in the second heat. Roy Montgomery and PP Mastro swapped positions to run second and third to Firestone in the heat races. Mastro tried to keep it close in the 20-lap feature; however, Firestone continued to put down a consistent pace that Mastro could not match. Firestone was able to stretch out to a two-second advantage for his first PKC win of the year. Mastro had to settle for second, although he gained ground on Troy Butts and Roy Montgomery in the championship chase, as they finished seventh and fifth respectively. Diaz was able to record the fastest lap of the race, as he played catch up on the front two, running out of time and filling out the final step of the podium -- with PKC North driver Jim Kidd finishing fourth.
Running on the track at the same time, the S1 division saw a chess match between De Phillippi and championship leader Jacob Neal. In qualifying, Neal had the advantage by two-tenths and took the provisional opening heat win -- until penalized two positions for jumping the start, thus giving De Phillippi the win. Though the two recorded identical fast laps in the second heat, Neal would again show the way for the race win. De Phillippi got the holeshot to begin the 20-lap feature, with Neal coming back on lap eight to reassume the lead. He would hold that spot until De Phillippi struck back on lap 18 to slide through for the position. The four-time SuperNationals winner held off Neal to take the win by just over seven-tenths, as the two nearly posted identical fast laps once again, showing just how evenly matched the two were. Peter Abba ran a solid third to complete the top-three, with Jason Chott and Imran Husain rounding out the top-five.
Neal, however, would continue his reign over the S3 division in ProKart Challenge competition, earning his fifth straight win in the South program. Clinton Schoombee had the early edge over Neal, as he nipped him in qualifying by just 82-thousandths for the top honor. Neal got the holeshot to begin the opening heat race, but Schoombee struck right back to retake the position and go on to the win -- with Neal riding on his bumper the entire time and Patrick Cushenberry running a close third. Neal would not complete a lap in the second heat, as an issue with shifter linkage on his Honda engine forced him to pull off. This put Schoombee at the point, with Cushenberry putting on the pressure. Lap four, Cushenberry took over the position and went on to take the win. Schoombee fell to third, as Harley Owen picked up the pace, recording the fastest lap of the race to slide into second. As the field has seen before, Neal was able to slice his way forward in the 20-lap main event, eventually catching the leaders by lap three. The top three mixed it up hard in the early goings, as each took a turn leading, allowing Neal to close in quickly. By lap five, Neal had found himself at the point. From there, he put down some monster laps to pull out to a six second margin of victory. Schoombee won the battle for second over Cushenberry, as Brad Dunford slid by Owen for fourth near the halfway mark.
The S4 division looked to be a day-long battle between championship leader Jeff Smith and competitors Jason Attwood and Phil Dunford. The three qualified within 66-thousandths of one another -- with Attwood getting the edge over Smith and Dunford. Once racing began, however, Dunford retired early after making contact with one of the barriers; then on lap five Attwood had contact with Ken Schilling, which sent Attwood to the back of the field. That allowed Smith to cruise to the opening heat win. The next session was all Smith once again, as he took the win over Rob Whitley and Casey Young. Attwood had worked up to fourth along with Dunford into fifth. Young was able to get the best start of the front runners in the 20-lap feature, and led the opening two laps before Smith regained the position on lap three. From there, he would go on to lead the rest of the laps to record his first feature win of the season and extend his championship lead. Attwood held off Dunford for the second spot, with Ken Schilling and Peter Workum completing the top-five.
Alex Speed also extended his points lead in the KF2 division with his win in Santa Maria. Speed showed the way in qualifying -- as well as the opening heat over Cody Hodgson and Billy Cleavelin. In the second heat, Hodgson took advantage of Speed -- retiring on lap two with his chain popping off -- to go on to win over Cleavelin and Ryon Beachner. Speed was able to bounce back quickly in the feature, as he was leading by lap two of the 20-lap race -- and then led the rest of the way for his third straight victory. Hodgson ran alone in second, with Will Martindale recovering from earlier issues to join them on the podium. Cleavelin ran fourth, with Beachner in fifth.
The TaG Master class saw Ethan Stone record the fastest lap in qualifying. However, he was not running up to SKUSA engine rules, which put championship leader Steve Wiener on the point to begin the heat race action. Wiener went flag-to-flag in the opener over Jeff Bobbitt -- and Allan Svela up to third. Wiener was leading early in the second heat until lap three, when contact put him at the tail of the field. Bobbitt assumed the point and took the victory over Deehan, while Wiener climbed back up to third. At the drop of the green, Bobbitt put down some quick laps early on cold MG Tires to continue to show the way, eventually leading all 20 laps for his second feature win of the year. Wiener ran second, with Mike Kelley posting the fastest lap of the race as he came up from fifth to third. Deehan was fourth with Svela rounding out the top-five.
Though only three drivers contested the S4 Magnum division, all three were in the hunt throughout the day. Luke Bianco led the way in qualifying; however, Tony Morrison and Todd Scholta each won a heat race. In the end, Bianco muscled his way to the point and took the victory by six seconds over Morrison and Scholta. Howie Idelson gained points in the TaG Senior championship chase after taking both heat wins and the feature. Point leader Larry Fraser was the top qualifier; however, he was unable to match Idelson's pace the rest of the day. Newcomer Tyler Jones took second in the main behind Idelson, as Fraser retired on lap seven with a broken chain.
The final round of the 2009 ProKart Challenge South program will take the competitors back to where it all began this season -- CalSpeed Karting at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. On August 29, PKC South champions will be decided in the seventh and final round, this time contesting the circuit in the reverse direction. Following the action, those that earn the titles will be crowned at the October 3 banquet -- location to be announced shortly. For more information on the Superkarts! USA's ProKart Challenge itself, head to www.prokartchallenge.com or call 951-491-0808.