CSOT: CART Stars of Tomorrow Las Vegas qualifying

Heat Racing, Qualifying, Set the Stage For Stars of Tomorrow Finale Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 10) ­ Four heat race winners today helped set the odds in 125cc SuperPro Shifter Karts for Sunday's Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow ...

Heat Racing, Qualifying, Set the Stage For Stars of Tomorrow Finale

Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 10) ­ Four heat race winners today helped set the odds in 125cc SuperPro Shifter Karts for Sunday's Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow finals at Las Vegas Karting Center, while Dustin Courter claimed the Rotax Max pole for tomorrow's second feature event.

The qualifying heats were used to help determine the grid positions for the large, 45- driver, 125cc SuperPro field. Benny Moon, A.J. Allmendinger and Matt Jaskol, all protégés of CART Champ Car driver Paul Tracy, took the first three heat wins with Scott Speed spoiling a Tracy team sweep by winning the final heat of the day for JM Racing. Two additional heats will be run Sunday morning to finalize the grid.

The first heat saw pole qualifier Michael Valiante nearly stall at the light, dropping all the way back to 12th place. He eventually clawed his way back to a sixth place finish. A train including Moon, Jody Vorrath, Colin Fleming and Alan Rudolph set the pace at the front of the field, with Moon finally maintaining a narrow advantage to the finish.

Scott Speed claimed the early lead in heat two, but was soon chased down by the fourth starting Allmendinger. The pair battled hard for several laps, but then Allmendinger executed a textbook "block pass" into the turn two hairpin on lap six and went on to stretch his advantage to 1.5 seconds at the checker.

The next heat saw Jaskol take the holeshot from the outside of row one at the start and pull away to a four-second victory over Valiente, the largest victory margin of the day. In the final heat, Speed and Allmendinger resumed their battle from heat two and pulled away from the pack, but this time Speed prevailed over his long-time rival.

In the Rotax Max category, a new `spec engine' class introduced to the American karting scene just this season, it was 17-year-old Courter at the top of the time sheets for the 30- kart field. Running a Rotax Max for only the second time this season, Courter edged Colin Fleming by just two-tenths of a second, with Andrew Alfonso of Danville, CA, rounding out the top three.

The 30-lap championship final for 125cc SuperPro is scheduled to start tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. PST, with the Rotax Max final, also a 30-lap run, at 3:15 p.m.

125cc SuperPro Shifter Kart Heat Race Winners:
1. Benny Moon            Paul Tracy Karting/PTK
2. A.J. Allmendinger      Paul Tracy Karting/PTK
3. Matt Jasko              Paul Tracy Karting/PTK
4. Scott Speed            JM Racing/Tony

Benny Moon (SuperPro Heat 1 winner): "Michael Valiante (pole qualifier) bogged down at the start, almost stalled, and four of us got around and broke away. My kart was a little loose at the start, but about mid-race the chassis really hooked up. Jody (Vorrath) was right behind me, but I was able to control the pace to the finish."

A.J. Allmendinger (SuperPro Heat 2 winner): "Scott (Speed) got the hole shot, but I caught up to him after the first three laps or so. I was able to get under him going into the hairpin and was able to open up a bit of a gap. After that, I just tried to drive the kart straight, not slide too much or abuse the tires."

Matt Jaskol (SuperPro Heat 3 winner):  "This helps make up for the first race, where we
had a carburetor problem and the motor wouldn't pull.  This time, the start was good, the
chassis was good and the engine was good.  I guess you could say it was a good race!"

Scott Speed (SuprePro Heat 4 winner): "We made some setup changes after our first heat, trying to get some more grip out of the chassis, and they worked. I knew A.J. was right back there, but I only had to worry about him going into the hairpin, I was faster going up over the top of the hill and back down the straight."

Rotax Max Kart Qualifying:
1. Dustin Courter    Century Performance/Birel      46.710 seconds (70.124 mph)
2. Colin Fleming       Paul Tracy Karting/CRG        46.997 seconds
3. Andrew Alfons     Corsa Kart/Tony                  47.012 seconds

Dustin Courter (Rotax Max pole qualifier): "I got up behind (Andrew) Afonso early and used him kind of as a `rabbit' to chase and it worked. This is only my second Rotax race, and you have to be a lot smoother coming out of the corners in these karts. It's fun, but a different technique than shifter karts."

Colin Fleming (Qualified 2nd): "I had real trouble finding a clear lap today, so I think we've got something more for them in the race. Our biggest advantage is consistency, I think I can run those times all race long. We've run the whole `Stars of Tomorrow' series this year and just need another strong finish tomorrow."

--csot-

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Series Kart
Drivers Paul Tracy , Michael Valiante , Scott Speed , A.J. Allmendinger , Colin Fleming , Alan Rudolph , Andrew Alfonso , Matt Jaskol