WKA: SoK: Eastern Division Ocala summary

eKartingNews.com Stars of Karting Ocala Sunday Race Report The opening round of the Snap-on Stars of Karting Eastern Division program ended Sunday with a successful weekend completed at the Ocala Gran Prix in Ocala, Florida. A...

eKartingNews.com Stars of Karting Ocala Sunday Race Report

The opening round of the Snap-on Stars of Karting Eastern Division program ended Sunday with a successful weekend completed at the Ocala Gran Prix in Ocala, Florida. A picture perfect weekend of weather and no red flag incidents throughout the three days on track made for great event. The intensity picked up on track in the final day with drivers making their final moves toward the front. A number of competitors picked up their first Stars victory on the day with others adding to their CVs.

KZ2

Sunday's action was not your typical day in the KZ2 class albeit for the hole shot to begin the Prefinal as it was former two-time national champion Gary Carlton (CRG) who retained the lead into the opening corner. Alex Speed (Tony Kart) slotted into the second spot from the outside of row one grid position with Michael Vincec (CRG) jumping into third. Vincec looked as if he would be the driver to beat after getting by Speed and running down Carlton with the quickest laps of the race. The defending champion applied heavy pressure on the former champ and final made his move after the halfway mark. Going through the hairpin section, neither gave way and the two made contact. Carlton stalled his engine while Vincec got back going after Speed, Tony Lavanant (Energy), and Hayden Duerson (Italkart) slide by. They would finish that way with Ouimet completing top-five.

The start of the main event would be one driver short as Lavanant had issues on the pre-grid and was unable to get on track in time for the start. Once Matt Long waved the flag, the field scattered into turn one. Speed came away with the point while Carlton worked himself up third through the opening lap behind Duerson. Once by Duerson, it was a quick overtaking of Speed to retain the lead. Once out front, Carlton put down some fast to put some space between him and the fight for second. Speed looked to be experiencing a loose machine as Duerson got by for second and he fought hard to keep Vincec at bay. His attempts at holding him back failed with Vincec getting by for the third spot.

It seemed the results were set until lap 22 when Carlton did not come by the start/finish line. A broken chain put Carlton on the edge of the track and ended his bid for an opening 2009 victory. Duerson inherited the lead and went unchallenged to his first Senior victory in Stars competition. Vincec recorded the fastest lap on his way to second with Speed completing the podium. Cody Jolly (CRG) finished fourth in his comeback with Cameron Motorsports and Arie Ouimet (CRG) just behind in fifth.

KF2

A great start for the KF2 field to begin their 20-lap as Alex Speed (Tony Kart) got the jump over polesitter Cody Hodgson (Tony Kart) however Speed went wide in the exit of the opening corner allowing the three-time heat winner to slide through for the lead. Behind them, it was a charging Michael Hogg (Top Kart) who got a great start, advancing up from eighth to third in the first two laps and would begin a good battle with Victor Pedrosa (Tony Kart). As the laps wound down, Hogg's setup would go away as Pedrosa would get by and then eventually David Jurca (Italkart). Japanese driver Shinnosake Iguchi (Kosmic) joined the only fight on the track, for the fourth spot with Hogg and Jurca. Hodgson kept his perfect record as he went on to take the win once again ahead of Speed. Pedrosa was alone in third with Hogg earning fourth after Jurca pulled off with engine issues and Iguchi spun with two laps to go.

The group kept clean for most of the weekend, but all of that went out the window into the opening corner of the main event. The front row of Hodgson and Speed got away clean however Pedrosa and Hogg went for the same piece of real-estate and got together sending both off-track. This put Jurca, Iguchi and Gennari into the top-five. The line-up changed one lap later with Speed pulling off with an electrical issue. This put Jurca in the challenger position to dethrone Hodgson. Both put down near identical lap times throughout the 20-lap event.

Hodgson would not put a wheel wrong as he went on to lead flag to flag for his first Stars victory. Jurca finished second Iguchi redeeming himself with a podium run in the feature. Pedrosa drove back up to fourth with Gennari completing the top-five.

Senior National

The outside line got the jump at the early waving of the green flag as Kevin Monteith (First Kart) escaped turn one with the lead as polesitter Will Martindale (Tony Kart) dropped to third with Michael Politis (Tony Kart) and David Jurca (Italkart) both getting by as they exited the corner. Politis would get shuffled back to seventh with Spencer Pigot (Maranello) up from tenth, Cyndie Allemann (Maranello) and Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) would all get by. Monteith got out to a small advantage early on but Jurca cut into that lap by lap until drafting by on lap six. Jurca would then extend his lead lap after lap while Monteith eventually fell into the grasp of Martindale, Pigot and Ruscitti as they would all get by the Senior rookie on lap 12 in the back section.

Jurca held the same advantage all the way to the checkered flag with Martindale taking second. Pigot, another Senior rookie put in a stellar run to third with Ruscitti holding off Monteith for fourth. Allemann was sixth with Joe Patterson (Maranello) coming up from 13th to seventh, bring Kyle Wiegand (Top Kart) with him. Nigel Saurino (Top Kart) and Hunter Short (Kosmic) completed the top-ten.

The start to the main event was a bit messy behind polesitter Jurca as the inside line got a great jump. Martindale skated in the outside line as they entered the corner and was sent even further back after Monteith - with some help from behind - nearly went over top of him. This put Jurca out front with Pigot, Saurino, and Patterson. They would run that way until Patterson came through for third and then put his Maranello teammate Pigot one spot back. Saurino would get by Pigot as well and they would run that way to the checkered flag.

The win was Jurca's first Stars win since winning the Race of the Americas ICC feature last year. For Patterson and Saurino, it was their first podium finishes with their new respective teams. Allemann held off a charging Dan Wheldon (Top Kart) who ran the quickest lap of the race (38.594) to come up from 20th to finish a respectable sixth. Seventh through 10th in the final run down were Michael Hogg (Top Kart), Martindale, Ruscitti and Neil Alberico (Top Kart).

TaG ICC

The TaG ICC division began the final day's action with their 16-lap Prefinal race. At the drop of the green, it looked as if polesitter Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) may have jumped the start, however, he did get the hole shot over Don McGregor (Italkart). As they entered turn three, McGregor got inside of Ruscitti for the position. The two then began to pull away as Eric Simon (CRG) kept the two in close range but would eventually lose ground. Ruscitti kept the pressure on McGregor and finally got a pass to stick into turn one following the halfway mark. From there, Ruscitti would hold off the advances of McGregor to take the win; however the officials ruled him to have jumped the start, moving him back to start fourth on the grid. Simon ran alone to third with Noah Stark (Birel) advancing from sixth to fourth as he got around Jeff Garner (Italkart) and David Wilsey (Italkart).

McGregor and Simon made up the front row of the first main event of the day however as head flagman Matt Long gave the starting signal; Simon left the line early and would thus be penalized following the completion of the race. Both McGregor and Ruscitti would eventually get by Simon to begin a 24-lap chess match for the win. Ruscitti had shown he had what it takes to win after taking all three heat races and the unofficial Prefinal victory. It would be McGregor however that used his experience in the closing stages to take over the lead and secure his first Stars victory. Ruscitti settled for second while Simon finished on-track in third. His penalty however dropped him to the tail of the field and put Stark on the podium in his first ever Stars event after came out on top in a great battle with Garner.

KF3

Polesitter Phil DeLaO (CRG) took a gamble to begin Sunday's action as he kept on his tires from Saturday's events for the Prefinal, saving his second full set for the main event. At the start, he was able to get away cleanly as the rest of the field shuffled positions. Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) got the best start of the field, moving up from fifth to second in the opening lap with Tristan DeGrand dropping to third. A few laps later however DeGrand got the heat in the tires and make a stellar overtaking maneuver into turn three to regain the second spot. They would run that way for the remainder of the 16-lap event with DeLaO taking the win over DeGrand. Nick Neri (Tony Kart) made a last lap move stick to overtake the third position with Trent Hindman (Merlin) a close fifth.

The inside line was the ticket for the starts throughout the weekend and in KF3, DeLaO and Neri took advantage to get away cleanly to begin the feature. As they exited the opening corner, contact between Miinch and Jack West (Tony Kart) sent both drivers into the dirt and out of the race. The top two went back and fourth after establishing a small advantage over DeGrand and Hindman but with their side by side action the lead pack became four.

DeLaO made his final pass for the lead through the second hairpin as Neri got a little wide which was just enough room for DeLaO to slide by. Neri would lose another spot as DeGrand eventually assumed the position. Set on cruise control, DeLaO earned the first official main event victory for the KF3 division in Stars of Karting. DeGrand held on for second with Neri completing the podium. Hindman ran to fourth with Sam Beasley (Arrow) completing the top-five.

Junior National

The inside line held ground as the Junior National field entered the opening corner. Polesitter Phil DeLaO (CRG) showed the way to open up the 16-lap event with Tyler Thomas jumping up from fifth to second while Daniel Formal (Birel) ran third, trying to hold off Louie Pagano (Birel). Thomas looked to have the speed needed to dethrone DeLaO and made it show in lap four as he took the lead for the first time. DeLaO would not go quietly as he retook the spot two laps later. Their side-by-side action allowed Formal and Miinch to close back to make it a four-kart lead group. Once DeLaO regained the spot, he would not relinquish the position as he took the win ahead of Miinch, Thomas, and Formal. Pagano won the fight for fifth over Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) and Reid Arnold (CRG). Sam Beasley (Arrow) had a great run from 19th to eighth with Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) following up from 15th with CJ Cronis (Arrow) completing the top-ten.

The Junior National feature was one of the best races of the day with action taking place all over the 6/10-mile circuit. DeLaO and Thomas showed the way through the opening lap before Thomas quickly took over the lead heading into turn one to begin the second lap. That triggered what would happen in the remaining 23 laps. Thomas, DeLaO, Miinch, Pagano, and Formal made up the lead pack that was not comfortable with just sitting back. Thomas and Miinch each took a turn at the point before their side by side action allowed DeLaO to retake the top spot. More side by side and event three wide battles through the hairpin section. In the esses, contact between Pagano and Thomas sent the Birel driver around and down through the order.

Up front, DeLaO took his second feature win of the event with Miinch and DeGrand joining him on the podium. Formal crossed the line fourth with Thomas ending up fifth following the contact just ahead of Beasley. Hindman held off Sage Karam (Birel) and Sharkey for eight with Austin Self (Birel) rounding out the top-ten.

Cadet

The little young guns in the Cadet field got a little physical to start off the 12-lap Prefinal with Zane Smith (Top Kart) getting the worst of the contact as he spun around in turn one and would have to start the main event from the tail of field. Out front, it was the same three drivers as yesterday with Santino Ferrucci (Top Kart), Gresham Wagner (Birel) and Ashley Rogero (Kosmic). As they did in the final heat on Saturday, the three were very racey from the get-go, swapping the top spot numerous times. When they came to the checkered flag, it was Ferrucci earning the victory with Wagner edging out Rogero for second. Joel Jens (Merlin) won the fight for fourth over Austin Garrison (Gillard) and Aidan Landauer (Merlin).

As with the other classes, the outside line was not the place to start at the Ocala facility with outside pole sitter Wagner dropping back to seventh at the start while Ferrucci got away clean. Rogero joined him up front as the two showed the way early on while Wagner battled his way forward. Ferrucci and Rogero went back and forth for the lead and were eventually joined by Wagner up front. As they came to the line, Ferrucci had the advantage and took the victory. Rogero crossed second with Wagner third. Garrison advanced one spot up to fourth along with Landauer moving to fifth.

Wrap-up

The first weekend of the 2009 season is now in the books with the Stars of Karting staff keeping the event running smoothly and the final day's events wrapped up before 5pm. Despite the uncertainty of the series future, new President Alan Rudolph and the rest of the Stars staff made certain each competitor and team was welcomed throughout the weekend and their concerns heard. A number of programs are in the works for the Western Division opener at the Infineon Raceway Jim Russell International Karting Center in Sonoma, California over the April 24-26 weekend to make sure the series continues to build the momentum throughout the 2009 season.

This report was furnished by eKartingNews.com, the online leader in karting news and features

-creit: sok

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Series Kart
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Alan Rudolph , Kyle Wiegand , Cyndie Allemann , Hayden Duerson , Michael Hogg , Arie Ouimet , Spencer Pigot , Sage Karam , Neil Alberico , Trent Hindman , Jack West , Nick Neri , Louie Pagano , Remo Ruscitti , Santino Ferrucci , Tyler Thomas