Speed and Giebler Emerge as SKUSA SummerNationals Champs NASCAR's Allmendinger and McMurray enjoy return to roots at fantastic facility SHAWANO, WI (July 18, 2010) - For any competitive kart racer, USA International Raceway in Shawano, ...
Speed and Giebler Emerge as SKUSA SummerNationals Champs
NASCAR's Allmendinger and McMurray enjoy return to roots at fantastic facility
SHAWANO, WI (July 18, 2010) - For any competitive kart racer, USA International Raceway in Shawano, Wisconsin is an absolute 'must' on any 'bucket list' of race tracks. A combination of high-speed corners, tight hairpins, undulations and wild elevation changes makes the track one of the best in the country - and the structural facilities at the venue only help to further complete the package. This past weekend, the Superkarts! USA organization brought its top drivers to the track for the inaugural SummerNationals, and with blue skies and warm temperatures being the order of the weekend, the racers were treated to a special experience. There was a little rain on Sunday morning that turned the qualifying rounds into a wet weather circus, but things eventually cleared and the afternoon was perfect. A total of 85 competitors hit the track over the weekend as SKUSA continued its new national Pro Tour program, and when the dust had settled, the big winners in the two headline classes were veterans Alex Speed (S1) and Phil Giebler (TaG Senior). Each driver raced hard in both the Saturday and Sunday events, taking a win a piece and podiums in both mains, earning themselves their respective $1000 first place check in the process. The addition of NASCAR stars AJ Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray brought the event to a new level, and both drivers showed well in their return to their karting roots.
Speed (GP) was certainly the man to beat in S1 Pro Stock Moto on Saturday, dominating the main event to post a 5.054-second win over his STA Racing teammate Jason Toft (GP). Allmendinger (Kosmic) rebounded after a tough day of practice on Friday when nothing seemed to work, settling in with long-time tuner Tim Pappas to find the sweet spot of his chassis. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver battled into the top-five in the heats and eventually slipped through for an impressive podium run into third in the main. Absent from the head of the class was S1 stud Fritz Leesmann, who struggled all day Saturday in his Aluminos CRG. The veteran shifter pilot exploded back on the scene on Sunday and dominated the proceedings, out-running Speed in the 20-lap main to take the win and second overall for the weekend, although Speed's pair of podium finishes gave him the crown and the money. Allmendinger capped a great weekend with another third place finish, taking third overall in the tally. To his credit, McMurray drove his butt off all weekend, taking fifth on Saturday and fourth on Sunday. With his Sunday win, Leesmann now takes control of the points heading into the SKUSA Pro Tour finale - the SuperNationals in November. The Californian leads SpringNationals race winner Clinton Schoombee by 283 points in the chase for the #1 plate.
Like Speed and Leesmann, St. Louis, MO shop owner/driver Derek Crockett (GP) enjoyed an impressive weekend at the SummerNationals, sweeping the main events in the S2 class. Crockett steered his way to the win on Saturday over Lukas Johnson (River Lake Racing Birel) and Evan Batt (Indiana Racing Services Tony Kart), but he needed some luck on Sunday as he looked locked into a third place finish behind Evan Walters (Intrepid) and Josh Lane (Energy). Lane was leading heading to the white flag when Walters made a bid to re-take the point as they drove into the tight hairpin - a track addition laid out by SKUSA's Tom Kutscher as the second-to- last corner on the track. After completing the move, Walters looped his ride as he put down the power to rotate the kart, collecting Lane in the process. Crockett had tucked underneath them both to get the best run he could out of the corner, and found himself exiting the turn alone with a full lap standing between him and his second win of the weekend. Syar Motorsports' Matt Alcorn took over second, which helped him maintain the overall S2 point lead that he had gained after sweeping the SpringNationals, while Johnson completed the podium in third to advance to second in the standings. Alcorn's lead in the championship tally is now a healthy 125 markers heading to Las Vegas.
The S4 Stock Moto Master drivers put on a great show in Shawano. The star of the opening day of action was Phil Conte (CRG), who held off the consistent advances of Evolution Karting's Kurt Mathewson (GP) for the win. Aluminos' Jonathan Allen (GP) started the day as the driver to beat by qualifying on pole, but he slipped back in the opening heat race. Allen would claw his way back to the front in the second heat and then maintained his position in the final to complete the podium. On Sunday, Conte was again expected to fight for the win, but after losing his air filter on the opening lap, he was sent to pit lane. This opened the door for the Aluminos team to take control, as Allen was joined by teammates Phil Dunford (GP) and Peter Workum (GP) at the head of the pack. The trio would battle all race with Dunford setting the pace, but the leader would lose the position on the final exit from the hairpin on the last lap, his engine gasping just enough to allow Workum to dive to the bottom of the track and seize the opportunity, winning his first national event. The margin of victory was a slim 0.055 seconds, with Workum, Dunford and Allen finishing in that order. In the S4 point standings, Conte still holds onto the lead by 188 points over Workum. In the other Master shifter class in the SKUSA line-up - G1 - Fernando Diaz (Aluminos GP) and PP Mastro (CRG) split the victories, keeping Diaz well out front in the championship tally.
As always, the TaG Senior race was great entertainment, pitting some of the best drivers from the West Coast against a strong contingent from the Great Lakes area. Veteran karter and former Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler (FA Kart) stole the show on Saturday, keeping long-time SKUSA racer Benny Moon (Kosmic) at bay. Moon is currently working on putting together a Late Model stock car deal in North Carolina and traveled up to Shawano with Allmendinger, who put his friend in the seat of his own TaG entry. Moon looked like he'd never been away, challenging Giebler at every corner. National Kart Supply's Mark Vielgut (Corsa) joined the duo in the fight, sitting just off Moon's bumper to keep him honest. On the final lap, Moon forced the issue during the exit from the hairpin and was able to pull alongside Giebler, but that was it. Vielgut slid low to push Giebler through, stealing second as Moon went off track and hard into the barrier cushions in front of the flag tower, just a yard away from the finish line. He would be classified in 14th, as Tommy Andersen (Merlin) came through to take the final rung on the podium. In the TaG Masters class, Steve Wiener (FA Kart) was awarded the victory.
On Sunday, Moon was back at it again and was joined by Franklin Motorsports' TJ Koyen (Merlin) up front in the TaG Senior class, as they ran away together to fight it out for the win. Koyen took over the top spot early, and while Moon was again able to mount a consistent challenge, he did not have what he needed to control the lead. Koyen would stand on top of the podium beside Moon, while Giebler again astounded the paddock by driving from dead last to third after a DNF in the second heat. This performance earned him the $1000 first place prize for the overall weekend victory in the class and, maybe more importantly, an almost insurmountable 340-point lead in the standings in the race for the national championship. Vielgut and Koyen were second and third in the overall chase. In TaG Masters, Brian McHattie (Kosmic) topped the order to win the day.
In the Junior categories, Colorado's Austin Schimmel (Rocky Mountain Kartworks GP) was the class of the field in S5, although he encountered trouble in the waning stages of the Saturday main and was chased down by teammate Christian Schureman (GP) for the win. Schimmel's mount would be stranded on-track during the final lap, leaving him with a DNF as Texan Alex Tartaglia (The Kart Shop Intrepid) and Grant Prejean (Birel) passed by his crippled entry to complete the podium. Schimmel would rebound on Sunday to score the victory in dominant fashion over Tartaglia and Schureman, who posted his third straight podium finish. In TaG Junior, Californian Luis Tyrrell dominated the weekend with a pair of main event victories to run his season total to three, taking a commanding lead in the points heading to the SKUSA SuperNationals in November. Emmanuel Mestre (Tony Kart) and Austin Thomas (STA Racing GP) were second and third on Saturday, while Tyrrell and Mestre were joined by the impressive Karl Weber (Motorama Kart Parts Birel) on the Sunday podium. To cap this Junior review, Colton Herta (BA-1) and Parker Thompson (Tony Kart) split the TaG Cadet main events, as the five drivers in the field were locked all weekend long. Herta outran Noah Grey (FA Kart) and Thompson on Saturday, while Thompson stepped up and stretched away from the field on Sunday to take the win, leaving Herta to battle with teammate Christian Brooks (BA-1). Herta won the scrap to take a solid lead in the championship hunt.
All in all, the inaugural SKUSA SuperNationals should be considered a big success. The race was missing a large number of entries it could likely have counted on should the Rotax Grand Nationals not have been scheduled on top of their date, but the end result was a paddock full of smiling faces. SKUSA's approach to customer service was a talking point, as Friday and Saturday night BBQs were enjoyed by the racers and with the focus on fun and enjoyable racing, they certainly gained some new fans. The addition of Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger to the paddock added to the excitement, as both drivers enjoyed strong outings during their weekend 'off.' They'll both be back in the office this coming weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.
The SKUSA staff will now turn their focus on both the upcoming ProKart Challenge North-South Shootout at Santa Maria on August 13-14 and the continuing preparations for the SuperNationals in November in Las Vegas. Online registration for the sport's biggest race was opened on June 1 and the entries are coming in on a regular basis.