PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH FINALE SEES SPEED AND KELLEY TAKE TOP HONORS Speed plays spoiler role in S1 Pro category as Kelley clinches TaG Senior title with victory SONOMA, CA (September 4, 2010) - The third season of the Superkarts! USA ProKart...
PROKART CHALLENGE NORTH FINALE SEES SPEED AND KELLEY TAKE TOP HONORS
Speed plays spoiler role in S1 Pro category as Kelley clinches TaG Senior title with victory
SONOMA, CA (September 4, 2010) - The third season of the Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge North program wrapped up this past weekend at the Jim Russell International Karting Center with the completion of round six in the championship chase. The Sonoma, California facility hosted some of the top talent from the West Coast as the series championships were on the line. Former national champion Alex Speed seems to be reaching his peak as the racing season journeys into its final stage with the NorCal native scoring his second S1 Pro Stock Moto series victory in just his third start. The same could be said for Bobby Kelley, who scored his second straight TaG Senior main event win to secure the class title.
Coming into the sixth and final round of the PKC North program, the S1 division had witnessed five different winners in that many races - with round one winner Fritz Leesmann leading the way in the standings. His bid for the title began strong, as he secured the pole position in qualifying with a 47.981-lap on the 'National' circuit, edging out Speed by six-thousandths of a second. Championship challenger Brett Buckwalter ended up third in the order. The positions remained unchanged for the top two spots in the heat races, with Leesmann leading the way in both over Speed. Buckwalter ran third in the first but a slow start allowed Jason Toft and a returning national star Matt Jaskol by for position, dropping him to fifth in the results. The main event looked similar to the heat races, with no change in the running order until lap 15. Leesmann was leading the way before his carburetor unexpectedly came off the engine, ending his hopes at a second victory on the season. Speed inherited the lead and went on to the win by just under a second over Toft - with Buckwalter completing the podium.
Bobby Kelley and Larry Fraser came into the final round as the top two in the championship chase in TaG Senior. Kelley entered the event with some momentum, scoring the victory at the PKC West Coast Shootout last month while Fraser, a main event winner twice on the season, did not score solid results in the last outing. The two drivers sat 1-2 after the timed qualifying session, with Kelley getting the advantage by just 0.049 seconds over Fraser with a 50.479-lap. Fraser got the jump on Kelley to begin heat one, leading the first three laps before Kelley retook the position en route to the win. Heat two would see a mix-up at the front of the order. Kelley was shuffled back to fifth in the first circuit with Fraser showing the way ahead of JP Cadoux. During the second lap, Cadoux made accidental contact with Fraser, putting him on the sidelines for the remainder of the race while Cadoux, Kelley and others fell outside the top-five as a result. Jess Peterson escaped with the lead and took the race win ahead of Shane Walters - with Kelley able to drive back to third.
It took Kelley just four laps in the main event until he returned to the point, working by both Walters and Peterson - who led the first three circuits. Kelley would go on to lead the remainder of the 20-lap feature for his second win of the season, and lock in the championship. Peterson held on to finish second, three seconds back of Kelley, edging out a charging Gregory Liefooghe who started ninth. Fraser posted the fast lap of the race to gain 10 bonus points, advancing from 11th on the grid to finish seventh, but would have to settle for second in the final point standings.
With the SKUSA SuperNationals XIV just around the corner, the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto category saw a few guests as the championship fight raged on. Leading the way for the S2 'newcomers' was Kiel Spaulding; as the S5 Junior Stock Moto SuperNats champion edged out Cameron Pringle for the pole position by 0.088-seconds. Newly crowned PKC North S5 champ Daniel Langon made his S2 debut as well, qualified third ahead of championship contenders Neil Joseph and Matt Alcorn. Pringle was able to grab the holeshot and lead all eight laps of the first heat race over Spaulding, while Joseph shot up to third over Alcorn. Langon would fall back to sixth behind David Arnstein. At the drop of the green to begin heat two, both Pringle and Spaulding were slow off the grid, allowing Alcorn and Joseph through to rage their championship fight out front. Alcorn led the first five laps before Joseph took the spot and the win. Will Martindale, former TaG Senior front runner, made his S2 debut on the weekend and worked himself up to third ahead of Pringle at the line.
The complexion of the main event changed just after the first lap as Alcorn experienced an engine failure before completing the opening circuit. Joseph, with a chance at the title in his sights, led the way - with Langon moving up to challenge him first before Pringle took over the second spot on lap nine. On lap 11, Joseph would relinquish the lead to Pringle and began a fight to hold off Martindale. On lap 16, Martindale took over the second spot as Joseph fell to third. At the checkered, Pringle scored the victory by over three-seconds for his second on the season and fifth podium trip in as many starts. Martindale recorded the runner-up finish in his class debut while Joseph held on for third, finding out after the event that he had a leaking fuel pump which hampered his pace in the second half of the race. Alcorn would leave the weekend earning enough points to hold on to the championship lead and the title.
Already locking in the season championship, Jeff Smith put an exclamation point by sweeping the S4 Master Stock Moto action on the day - his fourth of the season. The main event win for Smith was his sixth straight in the series, including a big win at the PKC West Coast Shootout, and has him lined up as the pre-event favorite heading into the SKUSA SuperNationals come November. Jim Inglebright scored the runner-up spot, with Alex Keith completing the podium spot. Also sweeping the day's activities in the S3 Novice Stock Moto category was Ryan Rasberry. The PKC North newcomer led the way from qualifying to the main event, outrunning Todd Wilson.
The tightest battle heading into Sonoma was in the TaG Master category, with Jeff Deehan and Ethan Wilson separated by just 25 points. Wilson stepped up to the challenge as he went on to top the result sheets each time out to score the event sweep and the championship. Peter Workum was second to Wilson in qualifying with Deehan in third. Come the heat races, Deehan was able to edge out Workum in both eight-lap battles to sit second. In the main, Deehan still held the spot until three laps to go when he jumped a curb and lost his chain. Workum secured the second spot behind Wilson, 12-seconds back - with rookie Greg Kohs completing the podium.
The TaG Junior category on the season has been an up and down one for a number of drivers. Certainly ending the season on the upswing is Austin Dement, as he scored his third straight main event victory. Dement led the way early on, taking the pole position by three-tenths over PKC North newcomer Nicolas Morales and championship contenders Kathryn Cornell and Deven Sanchez. Dement led all eight laps in the first heat, as Cornell worked by Morales for second with Sanchez holding fourth. Morales came back in the second heat, working to the point by lap three to lead the remainder for the win over Dement and Cornell. At the drop of the green for the feature, the order remain unchanged until lap five, when Cornell worked her way by Dement for second, and then Morales for the lead the next time around. The order went static before Dement made his charge. Working by Morales on lap 16, he put the pressure on Cornell. Dement was able to make his move on the final lap with Morales coming through. At the line, Dement took the victory by 0.121 seconds over Morales with Cornell back in third and Sanchez holding strong in fourth to score the championship. In HPV2-Junior, Jack Freese swept the day over point leader Cornell to score maximum points. Cornell, however, established enough of a point lead entering the event to be able to score the class championship with her runner-up finish.
With the PKC North program wrapped up, the drivers will be able to accept their awards at the season-ending banquet, scheduled for October 16. The ProKart Challenge staff is currently finalizing the details of the awards ceremony, with the location to be announced in the near future.
Racing for the ProKart Challenge is now complete and following the crowing of the program champions, attention will turn to the SKUSA Pro Tour finale, the SKUSA SuperNationals XIV, at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on November 17-21.