Best weekend ever... except for the tornado. As the top karting teams in North America rolled out of New Castle early this week, none could match the success of Cameron Motorsports/CRG. The Canadian-based squad had wins in each of the Stars of...
Best weekend ever... except for the tornado.
As the top karting teams in North America rolled out of New Castle early this week, none could match the success of Cameron Motorsports/CRG. The Canadian-based squad had wins in each of the Stars of Karting premier classes, and five trips to the podium all told on Sunday. It had drivers on the front row in three of five Stars classes to begin the day, and each delivered before the sun went down in Indiana.
Leading the Cameron/CRG charge at the Mazda Race of the Americas was Michael Vincec in headlining ICC. When Saturday dawned and trips around New Castle Motorsports Park began to count for real, Vincec was never outside of the top three and started all five sessions from the front row. He showed veteran savvy in heat racing on his way to posting 2-2-3, and maintained off-pole position headed to twin mains Sunday afternoon.
"Heading into the heat races the goal is always to finish, and to finish well," Vincec said of his approach to heat racing that has been perfected in Rotax Max and Euro competition. "Maturity has a lot to do with it as well. You just have to be patient and be smart about the moves you make, and you get a good starting position for the final race."
Vincec had a good starting position indeed, and capitalized as he slotted second behind reigning National Champion Gary Carlton when the flags waved on the first main. Once again patience was the word for the Canadian teenager. "Heading in I knew I had the speed to be with Gary and fight for the lead, but overall I just wanted to podium," he said in recalling his goal for the first final - a goal that was headed to the top step when Carlton retired working lap seven. Vincec lost the lead for three laps in the second half, but took it back with two laps to run and secured his first ICC win of the season shortly after. The win also boosted him into the point lead for the National Championship, a tally he extended in the second main when he returned to the podium, this time in third.
"Final two was a good result but I felt that I had the speed to win," Vincec said upon his return home this week. "I didn't have a good start and fell back a bit, but I managed to catch up. Battling with Speed just allowed Jurca to pull away." His instincts dead on, Vincec turned the quickest lap of the main event by the slimmest of margins, and as the lead trio fought it out Vincec took third to close the weekend.
Adding to the incredible atmosphere around the Cameron/CRG pit on Sunday was the performance of Australian recruit Scott Saunders. In what began as a field near fifty, the TaG pilot punched his star card when he delivered a win and a runner-up finish in double mains. It was an impressive feat that began with a win and second in heat runs, and started features from off- pole. Victor Cabrera was on the point in a field that could certainly turn boys to men.
"I was really nervous sitting on the front row next to Cabrera and having so many talented drivers behind me," Saunders noted in replaying the first run. "Yet I knew in my mind that if I got a good start and made it through turn one and into the draft, I could make a race of it." A great plan to be sure, but it was abruptly halted when Stars officials moved the Australian back to row two after a pair of false starts. "I was not trying to jump the start at all," Saunders said afterward. "I was just trying to keep even, but I was being pushed from behind. It actually helped because I wasn't as nervous afterward, and I was more determined than ever to win!"
As if to justify the statement, a third attempt was also waved off before the field finally took the green. Saunders then worked to the point in short order, taking a spot on each of the first three laps to go from third to first. Afterwards he stretched a lead to nearly a second as war waged behind, and took his first career Stars win after fifteen laps. Icing on the cake came with a runner-up finish in race two, a run that had similar characteristics. This time slotting fifth from the first lap, Saunders worked his way to second by lap five but the leader was already leaving the compound. Still, Cameron/CRG had it's second win and fourth podium of the day, and all were brimming.
"I am so proud of myself and the Cameron Motorsports Team," Saunders said in reliving his finest moment in karting. "I could not have asked for a better mechanic than Brian Bettencourt, and my parents back home in Australia are equally pleased with the way the weekend went." The event was the second National for Saunders with the team, while its fifth podium came from a driver making his team debut.
Miles Maroney is a much more known entity in North America, and as a National #4 making his return to CRG much was expected of him in Indiana last weekend. The young star didn't disappoint, and after going 2-4 in a pair of heats he was on JICA pole Sunday afternoon. He held it at the start of the first main, and after leading the first pair, ran to lap fourteen in second position. The podium slipped from his grasp on the final lap as the top four crossed within a second, but Maroney made amends in the late start. Leading once again through the first lap, he was knocked to second and was as low as fourth before firmly establishing himself in third. It was a brilliant debut that promised more to come.
Four other Cameron/CRG drivers were in action in Indiana in three different classes. Joining Vincec in ICC, David Carmendy celebrated his 19th birthday by qualifying a matching P19. In the first final he took just seven laps to carve his way to 12th, a position he would keep in the first final. In the late start he sliced toward the top ten once again, reaching it on lap nine before problems dropped him backward and out in the second half. Chad Grunow and Jeffrey May were in JICA, and both ended up in a Sunday morning Last Chance Qualifier. May escaped it in taking the sixth and final transfer position, and ultimately crossed 29th and 21st as he continued to find his way in Stars competition. Kurtis DeBoer continued his on-track education in Cadet, and finished 17th in the first start and 16th in the final.
It was a banner weekend for the crew from Hamilton, Ontario, yet one that began in the worst possible way. Tornado warnings on Friday night delivered enough wind and rain to collapse and tear the canopy from the Cameron/CRG hauler, and the team arrived to a devastating scene on Saturday morning. "Things looked grim when we all showed up in the morning, but the amazing group of drivers and families instantly began to clear it away," said Danielle Duffy, Cameron/CRG Team President. "The drivers were concerned for out setup and property more so than the day's events and within an hour you just thought we were all there to catch some rays! I am so proud of each and every one of them - and once they hit the asphalt they excelled beyond expectations. I can't thank everyone enough for their efforts over the weekend. Not just on our team, but F1 Boston and SSC East for their concern as well, and for helping us store everything safely after the storm."