By Bruce C. Walls - Special to Motorsport.com CONCORD, NC-Tim O'Brien topped both HPV Senior Pro races offered during the 8th Annual Sprint Track Championships portion of the North American Karting Championships raced November 2-4 on the 7/10...
By Bruce C. Walls - Special to Motorsport.com
CONCORD, NC-Tim O'Brien topped both HPV Senior Pro races offered during the 8th Annual Sprint Track Championships portion of the North American Karting Championships raced November 2-4 on the 7/10 mile sprint track inside turns three and four of Lowe's Motor Speedway near Concord, NC. Trailing the Lebanon, OH based Woltjer Racing Engines powered Margay kart factory pilot by a fraction of a second each time was Mike Wilson Racing Karts factory shoe Michael Romeo of Niagara Falls, Ont. CN who's machine is powered by Profile Racing Engines.
Saturday O'Brien and Romeo shared HPV Senior Pro Day One's front row. Romeo earned the pole with a 44.977 seconds lap and O'Brien clocked the outside pole with a 45.015 seconds trip.
"I figured I had it on that lap," Romeo said of setting the pole. "With a little luck I can break the draft and hope the guys behind me battle it out and let me break away, but no matter what happens it will be close," he predicted.
When the green flag waved O'Brien bagged the early advantage with Romeo threatening from behind. On lap six Romeo turned the race's fastest lap time of 45.204 and grabbed the lead in turn eight, but O'Brien quickly recaptured it in the same spot next time around.
O'Brien took the mid-race signal and fought off Romeo's challenges down to the stripe where he owned a narrow 0.293 seconds edge.
"I just drove the best line I could and was consistent. I knew if I was consistent I'd win," said the Margay/Bridgestone/Woltjer /Galaxy Kart Parts/Bell Helmets/Skip Barber/Serious Race wear backed winner. "The Margay kart was unbelievable and the Woltjer Racing Engine had exceptional power," O'Brien added after his first victory.
"He (O'Brien) drove good and he drove smart," Romeo credited.
Georgia racer Chris Wehrheim came in third and was followed in the top six of 13 by Mahwah, NJ racer Chris Guimarra and Ohio brothers David and Mark MacDonald.
Guimarra grabbed Sunday's HPV Senior Pro pole with a 44.683 seconds lap and had Wehrheim starting next to him. Romeo started fourth and O'Brien qualified sixth. Romeo rocketed into the early lead as O'Brien battled his way to the front. O'Brien roared into second on lap three of 12 and then got by Romeo on the next lap. From there they battled back and forth, side-by-side until the final lap duel which began with Romeo in the lead and ended with O'Brien edging him out by just 0.096 seconds under the checkered flag.
"I knew he (Romeo) was behind me and I had to do the same thing I did yesterday just be consistent," O'Brien said adding that, "It takes a Margay chassis and a powerful Woltjer Motor to come here and win two races."
Trailing Romeo in the top five of 10 this time were Port Washington, OH based Brandon Adkins, New Jersey racer Jonathan Nevoso and Wehrheim.
Munster, IN KRT pilot Douglas Boyer dominated HPV Junior's three-racer field. The 14-year-old set the pole time with a 46.670 seconds lap and then beat New Jersey based Robert Bunker to the Pre Final finish by 6.396 seconds and by 4.230 seconds in the Final.
"We had a little push in the beginning , but it was perfect at the end," Boyer explained. "I want to thank Mark Zartarian for building a great motor it was perfect and I want to thank Boyer Construction and KRT for sponsoring me."
Florida racer Kaitlin Mangham rounded out the field behind Bunker.
James Kennedy captured all of HPV Junior Sportsman's glory. The 10-year-old Escondido, CA racer put his Hi Rev Racing Engines powered IKT kart on the pole with a 47.735 seconds trip was a comfortable 6.558 seconds ahead of Fair Lawn, NJ in the Pre Final and 4.135 seconds ahead of Harraka under the final's checkered flag.
"I got a good jump on the start and drove as good as I could," said the Top 3/Spy Sunglasses/No Fear Clothing sponsored winner who added, "The kart handled great and the motor was powerful."
Taking the top five of 11 positions behind Harraka were Saddle River, NJ racer Brandon Weber, Key Biscayne, FL racer Richard Philippe and Timothy Megenbier, Jr. of Melrose Park, IL.
A 53.597 seconds lap put Dublin, OH driver Zachary Schiff on Briggs Junior Sportsman-1's pole, but when the Pre Final and Final checkered flags flew they were for 9-year-old Orangeville, GA racer Casey Roderick. Roderick beat Schiff to the Pre Final stripe by just .343 seconds and owned a comfortable 5.727 seconds cushion over Jacksonville, FL based Matthew Travis in the Final.
"I had a tough little deal for this race," Roderick said. "The custom built kart felt very good and the Robinson Speed Shop motor was awesome, I haven't blown one of their motors yet and I want to thank them and Greg Keresi,"
Florida racers Brian Blum and Brad Bischoff bagged third and fifth and Mohnton, PA pilot Toby Parese finished fourth out of nine entrees.
Terry McDermott of Beaver Dam, WI turned Briggs Junior Sportsman-2's pole time with a 51.295 seconds trip. The Rat Powered Coyote kart pilot ran second by just 0.056 seconds to St Petersburg, FL based Austin Hopper in the Pre Final and then returned to take the feature with a 0.360 seconds advantage over New Lenox, IL based Fitchburg Plumbing backed racer Steven Brooks.
"It was tough," admitted the 13-year-old winner. "But I liked the way my dad setup the kart and Jace Reynolds's motor worked great and ran fast," added the G-Man Kart Works/Reynolds Crane/MODA/Lube Technology backed McDermott.
Hopper crossed third and was followed in the top five of eight by Estero, FL racer John Burrow and Constantine, MI based Zach Jacobs.
Advanced Racing Engines power Coyote kart pilot Sean Meier showed five Briggs Junior Sportsman-2 racers across the finish line. Sarasota, FL based Alex Ohman turned the top qualifying time with a 48.687 seconds lap and a 48.826 seconds lap put Dallas, NC competitor Evan Keresi on the outside of front row.
Meier grabbed the Final's early lead and rocketed away from the field with Keresi chasing him from a distant second. Keresi closed the gap in the final laps but trailed Meier by 0.474 seconds when the checkered flag waved.
"The Coyote kart was awesome and Andy Van Cleef's motor has awesome horsepower," credited the 13-year-old Jacksonville, FL based winner. "I just tried to keep my line and not make any mistakes."
Trailing Keresi across the finish line were Wihlen, Ohman and Potomac, MD pilot Chris Meredith.
Racers in the George Kugler Manufacturer's Cup Series will begin their 2002 season December 28th at the Grand Prix Race Park in Ocala, FL, which is part of this year's WKA Florida Kart Week. Horstman Gold Cup competitors start their 2002 season with Winter Nationals that will be raced March 1-3 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.