WKA: IRL SoK: Moran Raceway preview

The Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar Series will complete the last leg of the divisional schedules with the Western Division finale in Beaumont, California at Moran Raceway. The weekend will be the third and final event on the Western...

The Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar Series will complete the last leg of the divisional schedules with the Western Division finale in Beaumont, California at Moran Raceway. The weekend will be the third and final event on the Western schedule to crown the divisional champions and set up the fight for the national titles in all five divisions.

The series will be making its fourth visit to the 1-mile course with weather conditions a big factor at each of the events. The then Stars of Tomorrow program was forced to move the 2003 season finale to the newly constructed Moran Raceway after wild-fires surrounding the California Speedway forced the officials to find a new location. The '03 event was hampered with rain showers on Saturday before sunshine saw Darren Elliott take the victory. The series returned in 2004 and 2005 for early-season events with rain again effecting the weekends.

Moran Raceway
In 2006, Rocky Moran Sr. and Rocky Moran Jr. - the father/son duo who created the facility - announced the land that the track sat on was sold to a large national developer and would close sometime during the '06 summer. The Moran family then began to concentrate on finding a new location to build another top notch facility until the landlord gave the track a second life by allowing racing to extend at the course through 2008. Thus, Stars officials and the Moran's worked together to bring the Stars of Karting program back to So-Cal and Beaumont.

For maybe the first time in Stars history at Moran, the weekend is forecasted to be completely sunny with no chance of rain. The nice weather will provide a great setting for the weekend's racing action, including a DWT Forza Pasta Dinner Extravaganza Friday night following the final practice sessions.

On track, only two of the five Western championships have a clear leader with the other three classes a practical toss up between multiple drivers.

ICC

Eastern Division champion Gary Carlton will look to have a better weekend then he did in Shawano for the Eastern finale. The PCH Motorsports driver had his toughest weekend in Stars competition thus far, finishing outside the top five and retiring early in the two finals. Heading into Moran, Carlton holds a 30 point advantage with a drop over fellow Californian Fritz Leesmann. The Wunder-Bar Racing pilot wrapped up the ProKart Challenge S1 championship this past weekend in Moran with many Stars competitors using the event for extra practice time. Carlton will need to finish sixth Saturday if Leesmann is able to score the victory to clinch the Western Division title.

Eastern Division runner-up Matt Jaskol has a 420 point total and could replace that with his points in the West toward the national championship with a solid weekend in his Team Top Kart USA machine. Probably the most improved driver of the year has been Carlton's PCH teammate Nicholas Halen, who has scored three podium finishes in the West thus far and sits fourth in the standings ahead of Italian Motors driver David Jurca. The veteran driver will be busy this weekend, running both ICC and ICA while also serving as driver coach for the IM squad drivers Andrew Zimmer and Mitch Cobb jumping from ICA to ICC.

PCH Motorsports ICA

Both the Eastern and Western divisional titles are still undecided. Eastern Division leader Scott Jenkins missed the Shawano event to attend the CIK-FIA KF2 European Championships, where he placed 15th. Jenkins will be using this weekend's event at Moran to replace the Shawano event he missed. Following the results of Shawano weekend without his replacement results inserted, the Intrepid pilot still leads the Eastern Division standings, thus he is already the unofficial Eastern Division champion. How ever many points Jenkins scores this weekend will only extend his point lead toward the national championship.

On the West side, defending ICA national champion Joel Miller has his six races recorded already. The Tony Kart USA driver has been competing in the Skip Barber National series and will be in Utah to extend his point lead in that program. Thus, he used his New Castle results to substitute for this weekend and unofficially leads the standings by 119 points over PCH Motorsports' Jacob Neal and MRP-Birel America's Nick Tonkin, who are tied heading into the weekend. Both Neal and Tonkin have been quick this year and will be fighting each other along with the rest of the tough 16 kart field. PSL Karting's Jake Rosenzweig is just four points behind the lead duo with Cameron Motorsports' Cody Jolly just 14 points out in fifth. As unpredictable as the ICA class is, 13 drivers are still mathematically in the championship hunt - some not attending the event as seen by the entry list below.

Spec Racer

The most exciting racing throughout the year has come mostly from the Spec Racer division. The fight for the Western Division title shows just how close the competition is with six drivers within 20 points of each other. Locked at the top with 240 points are three drivers, Chris Scribner, Zach Beard, and Devon Sandeen.

Scribner currently holds the tie breaker with his victory at the Race of the Americas aboard his Scribner Plastics Tony Kart. Three top six finishes by FirstKart.com's Beard has him eyeing the title while last year's runner up Sandeen has three top five finishes in his Checkered Flag Racing entry.

Close on their heels is newly-crowned Eastern Division champion Conor Daly. A first and a second place finish at the Shawano event with his new Team Top Kart USA machine moved him to the top and he will look to repeat that feat in this weekend. Daly is also chasing the EKN TaG Driver Rankings number one spot, held currently by Wunder-Bar Racing's Will Martindale, who currently sits fifth in the West standings just 18 points out of first. Recent Skip Barber Champ Car Rotax Career Enhancement Scholarship and World Speed Motorsports Rising Star Award recipient Michael Self is certainly on a high after the past month and could easily put his Msquared Arrow up front this weekend and in the standings. Stars Miller event winners Joey Licata Jr. (TNR Motorsports) and Colin Katzakian (Leading Edge Motorsports), who both missed the Race of the Americas event, still each have a chance at the Western crown, along with the rest of the top 13 in the standings.

JICA

Only five drivers remain eligible for the JICA Western title with Cali's own Gustavo Menezes leading the way. The Tony Kart USA driver has two first place finishes along with two runner-up finishes to hold a 50 point advantage over newly-crown Eastern Division JICA champion Brendan Langlois. Menezes needs just to finish eighth in Saturday's final to clinch the championship. Both had a chance at the East crown but the Langlois came out of Shawano on top by just a slim margin to earn FirstKart.com its third straight Eastern Division title. Brendan Phinny sits third heading into the weekend after he put his Team Top Kart USA in victory lane in both finals at the Miller Motorsports Park event. Canadian Scott Rossi (Leading Edge Motorsports/Intrepid USA) sits fourth, just ahead of Tony Kart USA driver and Rotax Grand Finals America's Team Mazda member Jarvis Gennari.

King Taco Cadet

Much like their races on track, the race for the Western Cadet title is a close one between MRP-Birel America's Sage Karam and Team Top Kart USA's Tyler Thomas. Karam, the newly crowned Eastern Division Cadet champion has only a 20 point advantage after his consecutive win streak ended during the Sunday final at Miller. Karam quickly started the streak back up, winning both finals at Shawano in August to sweep the East. Thomas will look to continue his West streak and inch closer to Karam's East point total. His Top Kart teammate Camden Geise sits third in the standings and is coming off two wins at the recent IKF Region 7 event at Willow Springs. Canadian Anthony Furfari (Juncos Racing) is fourth heading into this weekend but will sit this event out to prepare for the upcoming WKA Manufacturer's Cup Series event. Former race winner Tristan DeGrand (J3 Competition) sits fifth in the standings, still mathematically in the hunt. The West Division King Taco Cade! t Champion will receive an all-expenses paid trip for them and a guardian to a 2008 IndyCar Series event courtesy of King Taco.

-credit: sok

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Series Kart
Drivers Rocky Moran Jr. , Skip Barber , Rocky Moran , Matt Jaskol , Jake Rosenzweig , Joel Miller , Jarvis Gennari , Michael Self , Sage Karam , Gustavo Menezes , Tyler Thomas
Teams Juncos Racing