CSOT: CART Stars of Tomorrow Las Vegas race report

Speed Rules Stars of Tomorrow SuperPro Finale Fleming Rebounds for Rotax Max Title Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 11) Starting from the pole, Scott Speed led wire-to-wire in today's Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow season finale at Las...

Speed Rules Stars of Tomorrow SuperPro Finale
Fleming Rebounds for Rotax Max Title

Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 11) Starting from the pole, Scott Speed led wire-to-wire in today's Championship Auto Racing Teams Stars of Tomorrow season finale at Las Vegas Karting Center. It was the 18-year-old Californian's third victory in the four-race series, taking the championship and the top prizes in the richest day in US karting history.

Speed's rewards include a full Champ Car test with Team Rahal, preceded by a Skip Barber Three-Day racing school, $5,000 cash and fully-paid ride in the 2002 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship.

In the Rotax Max category, a new `spec engine' class introduced to the American karting scene just this season, 17-year-old Andrew Alfonso took the race win after on-track victor Dustin Courter was penalized three places for contact that knocked early-leader Colin Fleming off course. Fleming then charged through the field to finish fourth on track, and was moved up to third after Courter's penalty.

That was more that enough for the 17-year-old to take the Rotax Max Stars of Tomorrow championship and an equally impressive award package including the $5,000 cash bonus, three-day Barber school, and Champ Car test with Team Rahal.

"I'm just so proud of how everything has worked this weekend," said Champ Car driver Bryan Herta, co-founder of the Stars of Tomorrow. "From a one-off race last year, the event has grown into a legitimate series, and is providing some deserving young racers with a legitimate `next step up' in the racing world. And in 2002 we plan to take the series yet another step forward."

The second place finishers in each series Jaskol in SuperPro and Chris Carmody in Rotax each received $3,000, the Barber school and Champ Car tests. Finally, the third place finishers in both classes Allmendinger in SuperPro and Jaskol in Rotax received $2,000 each.

The $20,000 in season-end cash awards were provided by Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) as part of that sanctioning body's sponsorship of Stars of Tomorrow, along with another $20,000 in individual race purses awarded throughout the season.

Although he never fell out of the SuperPro (for 125cc shifter karts) lead, Speed was challenged throughout the 30-lap race by Paul Tracy Karting teammates Matt Jaskol and A.J. Allmendinger. Each made repeated runs at the JM Racing/Tony Karts factory pilot, primarily in the hairpin just before the pit entrance, but neither could accomplish the pass as Speed held on to a half-second margin over Jaskol at the finish.

Behind the lead trio, Jordy Vorrath held down fourth place after contact eliminated both his teammate (and Toyota Atlantic racer) Michael Valiante, and Ron White. Just behind Vorrath, Darren Elliott and Benny Moon fought over fifth place, with Elliott edging heat race winner Moon by half a kart length at the finish.

The Rotax race got off to a rough start with a red-flag due to a multi-kart pileup just after the green, then and a back stretch crash on the first lap after the restart that eliminated more than a half dozen competitors.

At the front, Fleming led with Alfonso and Courter hard on his heels until the 10th lap when Colorado native Courter made an ill-advised attempt to go from third to first in a single corner, taking the lead but taking Fleming off in the process. Quickly recovering, Fleming providing much of the entertainment for the remaining 20 laps, as he fought his way through a thick pack of karts to finish an excellent fourth on the track, then third after Courter's penalty.

"The whole Stars of Tomorrow concept is intended to provide these kids with a solid opportunity to further their careers," said Las Vegas Karting Center's Hollis Brown, the second co-founder of the series. "Between the year-end awards and individual race purses, the idea also is to give back to the karters that participate, whether they run the entire series or just a single race."

<pre> Race Results & Final Standings:

125cc SuperPro Race: 1. Scott Speed, Manteca, CA JM Racing/Tony Karts 30 laps 2. A.J. Allmendinger, Hollister, CA Paul Tracy Karting - 0.361 seconds 3. Matt Jaskol, Las Vegas, NV Paul Tracy Karting - 0.781 seconds

125cc SuperPro Final Standings: 1. Scott Speed, Manteca, CA JM Racing/Tony Karts 60 points 2. Matt Jaskol, Las Vegas, NV Paul Tracy Karting 43 points 3. A.J. Allmendinger, Hollister, CA Paul Tracy Karting 34 points </pre> Scott Speed (SuperPro race winner, 3rd victory of the season, Stars of Tomorrow series champion): "The race started well enough for us, but from about the third lap on the engine would load up in the right-hand hairpin, and those guys (Jaskol and Allmendinger) could get a real run on me. Fortunately, we were able to hold them off. I can't believe I've finally won the championship. It's the best day ever in my career."

A.J. Allmendinger (2nd place finish, 3rd in championship): "I messed up the start and fell all the way back to sixth or so, and I probably overheated the tires making my way back to the front. By the time I caught up with Scott, I just didn't have anything left for him. Still, this has been a great season for us, and I'm looking forward to running a full season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series next year."

Matt Jaskol (3rd place race finish, 2nd in championship): "I picked up a push early on in the race and had to back off to save my tires. While I was doing that, A.J. (Allmendinger) got by. By the end of the race, the tires had come back on, but I wasn't able to get around A.J. to take a run at Scott. But second in the championship is awesome, and I can't wait to try out a Champ Car for the first time!" <pre> Rotax Max Race Results: 1. Andrew Alfonso, Danville, CA Corsa Kart/Tony 30 laps 2. Chris Carmody, Valencia, CA SSC Racing/CRG - 2.708 seconds 3. Colin Fleming, North Hills, CA Paul Tracy Karting/CRG - 4.102 seconds

Rotax Max Final Points Standings: 1. Colin Fleming, North Hills, CA Paul Tracy Karting/CRG 68 points 2. Chris Carmody, Valencia, CA SSC Racing/CRG 56 points 3. Matt Jaskol, Las Vegas, NV Paul Tracy Karting/CRG 44 points <pre> Andrew Alfonso (Rotax Max race winner): "It was a pretty rough race, with the crash at the first start and red flag. The sun went down during the delay and that meant we missed on the setup. As the air cooled the kart just got more and more loose as the race went on. The second half of the race, I was running by myself to the finish, but it's great to end the year with a win."

Colin Fleming (Rotax Max Stars of Tomorrow series champion): "The race was a tough one. After Dustin and I came together and I went off I just kept driving and driving, as hard as I could. I scared myself out there a couple of times, for sure. But you have no idea what winning the championship means to me, it's a dream come true."

-CSOT-

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Series Kart
Drivers Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta , Michael Valiante , Scott Speed , A.J. Allmendinger , Colin Fleming , Skip Barber , Andrew Alfonso , Ron White , Matt Jaskol