VINCENNSE, IN-Six of 310 racers entered in the final race of thev WKA/Ultramax Racing Chassis Speedway Pavement Series 2003 season were double winners at the Performance Products Nationals hosted by Fast Track in Vincennes, IN September 12-14. Jason Petty was first on the board with a wire-to-wire win over Bob Baker, another double winner, in Vickery's Speed Shop Briggs Lite.
Petty, of Creedmoor, NC, clocked a 12.057 seconds qualifying lap on the 1/2 mile oval and had third place qualifier Michael Edwards, another double winner that weekend, and Justin Hill of Concord, NC challenging him for the lead. Petty showed the 25-racer field through a restart on lap 14 before taking the checkered flag just 0.125 seconds ahead of Baker. Behind Baker in the top five were Hill, Justin Bonsignore and Josh Most.
"I had to earn that one," admitted Petty, who leads the national points chase, "I about shot my leg off on that last restart. I kind of misjudged my restart a little bit and that really kind of had me worried, but (Bob) Baker is a good guy, he drove me clean and I really appreciate that. I'd like to thank Phantom Racing Chassis, Quantum Race Products, Wynns, Seal Master Bearings and Harrill Wiggins for giving me a great kart it's a new tech kart and we've been working with it a little bit and it's going real good and I'm happy with it. I also want to thank Tommy Newman for the R&D work and all the hours he's put in, man I'll tell you it's just unreal. Tod Miller Racing Engines, High Speed Photos, my dad, Wayne Oakley and Ultramax for sponsoring this series it's a real good deal they've got and I appreciate that and most of all I want to thank Jesus Christ."
Petty ended his day like it started with another win this one in Cool Power Briggs Controlled Medium. Holland, NY based Baker brothers Wayne and Bob bagged the front row starting positions with Wayne spinning an 11.747 seconds lap for the pole. Wayne took the early lead over his brother as Gene Nasworthy and Petty came up fast behind them. After they got by Bob Baker Petty passed Nasworthy and closed in on Baker. With six laps remaining Petty powered by Baker for the lead, which was often challenged, but never surrendered. Wayne closed in on Petty in the final laps, but trailed by 0.599 seconds at the end, which puts him in the lead for the national title. Bob Baker took third followed by Nasworthy and Brad Stevens.
"I won two and that's all that matters," Petty said, "We made a deal today that if I won both races I didn't have to buy dinner, so I don't have to buy Wayne, Harrill, or my dad dinner. I'd like to thank MY-CHRON Mike and most of all Jesus Christ."
Second place clinched the points lead for Baker who now has 876-points, Nasworthy is second in the national points chase with 811 and Petty finished the season third in points at 746.
The Baker brothers each posted a pair of wins that weekend. Wayne and Stevens were the only entries in G-Man Kartworks/Super Seat Briggs Limited Medium and they agreed to a five-lap shoot-out for the feature, which Baker won by 0.191 seconds to secure that points lead. He extended his points lead for another title Sunday taking that day's first feature win over Kevin Smith in Custom Trophy Briggs Controlled Heavy.
Baker blistered the track with an 11.889 seconds pole-winning lap and had Nasworthy, of Gray, GA, sharing front row with him at 12.106 seconds. When the initial green flag waved Baker blasted into the lead with Nasworthy, Tim Sullivan and Smith battling for second behind him. Baker built a huge lead only to have it cut twice by the caution flag before stretching out a 1.109 seconds finish line advantage over Smith who won the final fight for second. Sullivan was third across the stripe followed by Nasworthy who finished second in the national points chase and Paul White, Jr.
According to Baker leading the point chases in two classes, "Has a lot to do with good handling karts, driving consistent lines and driving a good line and a good setup from my dad. I want to thank him for helping me out this year, Phantom Racing Chassis, Harrill Wiggins, Shorty's Automotive, the Yamaha dealers that sponsored me and I'd just like to thank my parents and everyone for their support."
Sunday was Bob Baker's day starting with Titan Karts Briggs Senior Champ where he grabbed the lead from outside pole winner Jeff Leeke with just three laps to go. Baker turned the fastest qualifying lap at 13.11 and shared front row with Leeke who burst into the initial lead and showed the 18-racer field through a pair of restarts before surrendering the front to Baker for the win he took 0.130 seconds ahead of Leeke.
"I learned from the last race I led the whole race and then he (Leeke) got me on the last lap so I learned from that and got him the same way he got me just drafting off," Baker explained. "Shorty's motor came on strong and I want to thank Harrill Wiggins for the buggy and I also want to thank my parents, grandparents they weren't here, but I wish they were, my brother, Amber and everyone that helped."
A third place finish kept Wayne Winters in the national points lead. Brad Hoisington and Jamie Haynes followed in fourth and fifth.
Two races later Baker was back on the grid for a fourth place start in CKI Briggs Medium. Brian Sullivan secured the pole with a 12.271 seconds lap and had Michael Edwards starting next to him. Parnell burst into the early lead from third and was leading on lap three when the first of three caution flags waved. Parnell led the restart, but before another lap was booked Sullivan and Edwards got together and Baker took advantage of the situation and slipped into the lead, which he held through two more restarts before taking, the checkered flag 0.197 seconds ahead of Josh Most.
"That was a real thriller up to the caution again, same as yesterday," Baker described, "As soon as I passed Parnell there was another caution and my kart kind of went away, but I still had enough to keep it up front from there. My clutch was terrible; it wouldn't go on the restarts. I want to thank Harrill Wiggins and Phantom Racing Chassis, Troy's Automotive for another great motor the thing pulled up the hill like a ton."
A third place finish was good enough to earn Parnell in the lead for that national title. Taking fourth and fifth behind him were Ultramax Racing Chassis factory driver Brad Sellers and Dustin Smith.
Keokuk, Iowa competitor Trent Beckinger swept the Junior 2 classes with wins in Southwestern Cable Briggs Junior Sportsman 2 Lite, which earned him the lead for that national title, and in RLV Briggs Junior Heavy. Statesville, NC based Tod Miller Racing Engines powered Jake Crum captured Saturday's pole with a 12.517 seconds lap and was joined on front row by Ryan Doherty. Beckinger's best effort of 12.656 seconds had him starting third. Doherty dominated the early laps with Beckinger threatening. Beckinger captured the lead several laps before mid-race and built an impressive advantage that was cut by Crum in the final laps who trailed him by just 0.429 seconds at the end.
"The Phantom Nemesis was perfect all throughout the race, but it tightened up at the end a little," described the 13-year-old double winner during his first trip to victory lane. "It was pretty hard getting around the #1-kart (Crum) until the kart came in and then it worked out for me."
Doherty's followed in third where he stands in the national points chase. Matthew Mascioli finished fourth and Jake Cook capped the top five of 14.
Sunday Beckinger took advantage of a late race caution to capture Junior Sportsman 2's win 0.270 seconds ahead of pole winner Trevor Bayne who belted out a 12.737 seconds lap for the preferred starting position. Bayne, who was in a battle with Crum for the national championship, blasted into the early lead with Beckinger banging on his back door. On lap seven the first of two caution flags waved for the 13-racer field. Bayne led the restart and held off Beckinger until the caution flag waved again this time on lap 15. When the green flag returned Beckinger got the jump over Bayne and broke into the lead for the win.
Jake Cook crossed third and was followed in the top five by Crum, the national points leader, and James Fowlkes, of Tennessee, who's fifth place finish puts him third in the national points standings.
Defending national Animal champion Michael Edwards, of Winchester, VA, continued his domination over those classes with decisive points leading wins in Saturday's MY-CHRON by Aimsports Briggs Animal Medium and Sunday's Coyer Enterprises/Longacre Briggs Animal Heavy.
Edwards and Hill came to Vincennes locked in a tie for Animal Medium's championship. Edwards earned the pole and Hill the outside front row starting position. Hill hustled into the early lead with Edwards glued to his rear bumper. They traded the lead several times and Edwards had it on lap six when the race's only caution flag flew. When the green flag flew again Hill got the jump on Edwards and held it until they passed under the mid race signal when Edwards powered past him for good. Hill crossed second by 0.139 seconds and was trailed in the top five by Joey Manuca, Leeke and Jamey Thomas.
"We traded the lead the first three or four laps. He (Justin Hill) is a smart driver and I'm a smart driver. It's kind of hard to out smart somebody that's just as smart as you are. He's just as smart as I am it was just that my kart was a little better and I think he had a little more pressure on him because he's never won a national championship and than again I had a lot on me because this is mine, Animal is mine, I'm not letting it go until I leave. It's my pride and joy," Edwards described. "The kart was real loose from the get go. I had a hand full, I had to drive the thing the first 15-laps, the last five laps is when it came in. We need to get to work for tomorrow, it wasn't good enough and I'm not happy."
When Sunday came Edwards was ready for a second Animal win. This time he earned the pole with a 12.079 seconds lap and had Leeke next to him on front row. At the drop of the green flag Edwards rocketed into the lead and scooted away from Leeke who trailed him at a distance the whole trip. When it was over Edwards had a 1.677 seconds finish line advantage over Leeke securing his second national championship points lead. Crossing behind Leeke were Michael Burns Seth Schneider and Dan Hardy.
"This one was the same as all year, we've got a good team and good kart and I do my best to get out there and perform week in and week out with the Animal, I just wish some of our luck in the Animal class would come off in the Stock Class," Edwards said.
Kyle Bonsignore, of West Bay Shore, NY, swept the Briggs Junior classes ahead of their national point leaders. Saturday the 14-year-old double winner led a field of 18 flag-to-flag in MCP Brake Systems Briggs Junior Lite. Bonsignore blasted out a 12.370 seconds lap for the pole and led the 18-racer field flawlessly before taking the checkered flag with a 0.161 seconds advantage over the new national points leader Jesse State, of New Hyde Park, NY.
"Me and Jesse State made a deal," explained Bonsignore who pilots an Advanced Racing Engines powered Titan kart. "He needed to finish second to win the championship and if he was second and nobody was there he wouldn't pass me, so I'm pretty happy that we drove away from the rest of them. I've got to thank SBR Power Plants for their awesome setup, MRC, Horstman, RLV, Douglas Wheel and G-Man Kartworks."
Gray, GA based Hunter Peacock crossed third for a second place finish in the national points chase. Jordan Napier followed in fourth and John Paynter finished fifth earning the Indiana race third in the national points chase.
Sunday AJ Weeks cranked out a 12.427 seconds lap reaching 57.938 mph for Airbag Services Briggs Junior Heavy's pole and Paynter produced the second fastest qualifying lap at 12.453 seconds. Weeks took the early lead as the 19-racer field flew around turn one. Before the next lap was complete Paynter had his machine at the front. On lap four the first of two caution flags waved and Paynter led the restart. By then Bonsignore had worked his way from a sixth place start to second. When racing resumed Bonsignore dove under Paynter in turn one for the lead. Caution came out again at mid race. Bonsignore led the restart and led to the finish where he was 0.189 seconds ahead of Paynter.
"Man that was awesome coming from right in the middle of the pack," Bonsignore described. "I had an awesome kart, awesome motor and an awesome setup. Brent and Brian from SBR Power Plants are great people. I've always like this plaice and it's a pretty good feeling knowing I'm top dog till next season."
Napier took third Zachary Kanizer crossed fourth and Weeks finished fifth, which earned him second place in national points.
Nine other classes competed that weekend.
-Bruce C. Walls, Guest writer