Phinny earns first KZ2 pole position while Felkins goes two for two in qualifying It was an exciting first day of official on-track action at the Snap-on Stars of Karting Western Division opener. The Jim Russell International Karting Center...
Phinny earns first KZ2 pole position while Felkins goes two for two in qualifying
It was an exciting first day of official on-track action at the Snap-on Stars of Karting Western Division opener. The Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway is a challenging 3/4-mile course that the nearly 70 competitors attacked Friday with a full day of practice completed with the qualifying sessions that will line up the six divisions being contested on the weekend for their three heat races on Saturday. Five of the categories saw drivers earn their first top qualifying honors in their respective divisions.
Though all three former national champions - Alex Speed, Gary Carlton and defending champ Michael Vincec - are absent from competition, a good field of drivers took to the challenging circuit in their qualifying session. Taking the provisional pole was Brendan Phinny (Top Kart) with a 47.992 while Marc Elliot (Arrow) held the second spot. Local NorCal pilot Gregory Liefooghe (Intrepid) would take the spot with nine minutes remaining until Phinny would steal it back the next lap. Turning laps quicker as the session progressed Phinny knocked his time down to a 47.546. When the checkered flag flew, it was Phinny earning his first KZ2 pole position of his career. Liefooghe ended the session in the second spot with the CRG of Cody Jolly in the third slot while Elliot edged out the only former winner in the field - Ron White (CRG) - to compete the fast five.
With Senior National championship contender Joey Wimsett in the pits with a broken clutch, fellow Intrepid driver Bre tt Felkins took the pole early in the session. With the session winding down, Wimsett got on track with six minutes remaining and quickly climbed into the top-10. With hard work from mechanic Mike Rolison, Wimsett advanced up to P3 by the time the checkered flag flew to end the session. No one was able to find the speed to knock Felkins off the pole, scoring the Stars of Karting track record in Senior National with his 50.575. Canadian Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) looked to have a strong run early before pulling off to the inside of the front straightaway mid session with motor issues to end 12th overall. Rounding out the fast five behind Felkins was Brazilian Andre Nicastro, Wimsett, privateer Nic Le Duc (Tony Kart) and Brett Buckwalter (Italkart).
Felkins made it two for two as he put his Intrepid TaG ICC entry on the top of the qualifying charts in their 15 minute session to begin his bid at the $5,000 check to win Sunday's feature race. Ocala runner-up Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) was unable to knock Felkins off the top and will start the heat races from outside row one. Italkart will fill row two with Andre Nicastro and Neil Joseph. Championship runner-up in '08 Michael Hogg (Top Kart) completed the fast five. An interesting note is four the of top five are competing in the Senior National category on the weekend as well.
A field of 17 drivers took to the track in the Junior National class with Eastern division winner Phil DeLaO and his CRG looking to take the pole. Standing in the way was a Top Kart pilot by the name of Luis Tyrrell. Tyrell took the early pole against a deep field of juniors with Alessandra Madrigal (Kosmic) close on his heels. Californian Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) took the second spot briefly before Madrigal took the position back. The driver mechanics had their watch on during the session was Trackmagic's Kiel Spaulding as he began to move up the order late in the session. With the session coming to a close, a few drivers were able to make moves forward but no one could touch Tyrrell - who earned his first pole position honor in his first start in a Stars of Karting junior division. Coming home in second was the charging Spaulding who came just 0.075-seconds short of Tyrrell's time. Madrigal ended up third ahead of Miinch and Dylan Lupton (Birel). De La O would claim the six th position in the session, leaving some work to be done in the heat races.
DeLaO would however find the way to the top of the time charts in the KF3 category. His 50.696 lap would put him on the pole for all three heat races with Alessandra Madrigal (Kosmic) to start outside row one. Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) was third with Broc Yocom (Kosmic) ending the session in fourth.
The battle for pole started early in Cadet with Top Kart pilots Jacques Saurino and Carter Williams. Saurino held the provisional pole Noah Hermanson (Birel) stole it at the checkered flag to end the first group's session. With the faster drivers in the second group, a group of Californians took to the circuit as they looked to knock down Hermanson's time. One of the top drivers were out early with Zane Smith (Top Kart) pulling into the pits with a leaking gas tank and was unable to get back on the racing surface. Getting below the one minute barrier was JR Raczko (Energy) with a 59.541 lap time to take the pole position ahead of Riley Reyes (CRG), Hermanson, Williams and Saurino.
With the grids set, the drivers will get down to wheel-to-wheel action on Saturday with three heat races per classes scheduled on the day. The Sonoma circuit offers great racing and though the numbers are lower than expected, good battles for the wins are in the forecast for the day. For complete coverage, visit the Official Event Page with links to results and the Official Discussion Thread and make sure to tune into the EKN LIVE page with the final heat races of the day to be aired through the EKN TV section.