Rain Hampers Fourth Gold Cup Opener
JACKSONVILLE, FL-Heavy rains forced WKA race officials to cancel Sunday's classes in the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup series season opener for the fourth straight year and shortened Friday's practice for 361-racers entered in the Tomar Winter Nationals at Jacksonville, FL's 103rd Street Sports Complex for the March 7-9 event. Racers in Saturday's 10 classes got full rounds of practice, qualifying, heat and feature races in before a series of storms that drenched northern Florida began dumping two inches of rain on the grounds causing minor flooding.
The two largest classes racing that Saturday were Bandit Racing Chassis Briggs Junior Lite and Garland Racing Engines Briggs Heavy each posting 30- entrees. Havana, FL racer Chris McDonald edged out Sean Meier by just 0.001-hundreths of a second at Junior Lite's finish for the day's closest and most hotly contested race. Bradenton, FL's 'Bad' Brad Bischoff moved up to that class from Junior Sportsman-2 and turned in the fastest qualifying lap at 39.187-seconds on the 31,000-foot asphalt sprint track that boasts a 1,000-foot straightaway.
"The lap felt good, I just had to be calm and not freak out," said Bishoff, a Checkered Flag Fuels Racing Engines powered Coyote kart pilot. "I hope we learned something about this class this weekend especially about passing and drafting."
Wall, NJ racer Jace Reynolds topped Briggs Heavy's qualifying with a 40.324 seconds lap, won the heat race over fellow New Jersey competitor Eric Garland, of Washington, by 0.140 seconds and was first under the feature's checkered flag with Garland trailing again, this time by 0.152 seconds, but was forced to concede the win to Garland because his air filter dropped off at the end of the long straightaway as they were battling for the checkered flag.
"The Shadow kart handled real good and G-Man Kart Works gave me a great aerodynamic advantage," Garland said adding, "I want to thank my crew Chicken Lips and Randy."
Jacksonville, FL racer Sean Meier was the top qualifier out of 29-racers in Digatron Briggs Junior Heavy with a 39.594-seconds lap. From there the 15- year-old Advanced Racing Engines powered Coyote kart factory driver dominated the heat and feature races with outside pole winner Justin Larson close behind each time. Larson trailed him by 0.209 seconds in the heat race and by just 0.069 seconds in the feature.
"Me and Justin (Larson) were racing good together and when I had the chance to pass him at the end I had to go," Meier described.
In another down to the wire finish former Gold Cup Triple Crown winner Travis Firing, of Charlotte, NC, nipped Precision Industries Briggs Lite pole and heat winner Tommy Van Cleef, of North Port, FL, at the feature's finish by 0.600 seconds.
"The Margay kart was awesome all I had to do was run my own race," said Firing who earned the Triple Crown as a Coyote Karts factory driver who switched to Team Margay this season. "I want to thank Keith Ferber of Margay Karts for putting everything together for me this year and Johnny Bartlett of Checkered Flag Fuels did an excellent job over the winter putting motors together for us and I'm just happy to get a win in the first race of the season."
-Bruce C. Walls, guest writer