TUNICA, MS-A worldwide record 930 dirt kart racers from around the country entered the Uni-Select Parts Plus Auto Stores 12th Annual Indoor Dirt Kart National Championships presented by JAM Promotions November 29-30 at the Tunica Arena &...
TUNICA, MS-A worldwide record 930 dirt kart racers from around the country entered the Uni-Select Parts Plus Auto Stores 12th Annual Indoor Dirt Kart National Championships presented by JAM Promotions November 29-30 at the Tunica Arena & Exposition Center in Tunica, MI making it the largest indoor karting event ever held. Three of those entrees, Jessica 'Jesse' James, Kevin Weldon and Kevin Swindell earned double wins at the historic event.
James, one of two females reaching victory lane that weekend, swept both Smith Brother's Racing sponsored Junior Sportsman Champ features Light and Heavy. In Friday's Light class the 13-year-old Searcy, AK based Shane James Racing Engines powered Rage Kart pilot fought her way from third to take the win 3.384-seconds ahead of ninth place starter Matthew Gray. Pole winner Brandt Barksdale bagged the top starting spot with an 11.063-seconds trip around 1/8-mile banked dirt oval and led the 18-racer field through two of three caution restarts before surrendering the lead to James who led them through another restart before taking the checkered flag.
"The Rage kart handled pretty good and Shane James motor was pretty fast," she said after her first win. "I started third and one by one they moved out of my way."
Austin Billops brought his #10 machine from an 11th place start to a third place finish and was followed by Lucas Wallace and Barksdale for the top five. Jared Neiswander advanced from dead last to a sixth place finish and was trailed by Ashton McLeod who started 14th, Austin Archdale, who started 13th, Stephen Sullinger and Tyler Smith in the top ten.
That Saturday Kyle Curry claimed Junior Sportsman Champ's pole with a 10.875-seconds lap, but surrendered the early lead to James who led the 17-racer field across the stripe with a 2.63-seconds advantage over Kamron Campbell who started sixth in the 17-racer field. Barksdale turned a fifth place start into a third place finish and was followed by Matthew Gray, Lucas Wallace who came from eight to finish fifth. Austin Billops bagged sixth from a seventh place start and was trailed in the top ten by Cameron Ivie, James Foulks and Archdale.
"It just took a lot of hard work," James said of winning two indoor championships.
Evansville, IN racer Kevin Weldon took two of the three 2-cycle classes offered sweeping both Yamaha classes, Maxxis/Gold Speed Heavy and Race On Driving Experience Light, wire-to-wire. Weldon turned a 9.554-seconds qualifying lap for Friday's Heavy pole and held off early challenges from outside pole winner Tayla Shoultz as Chris Seay fought his way from a fourth place start reaching second after three laps. From there Seay, an Ultramax factory pilot, kept the pressure on Weldon until the end where Weldon owned a slim 269-hundreths of a second edge.
"I just tried to drive a good line and get through lapped traffic the best I could," described Weldon who pilots a PLR Racing Engines powered Laser AV-4 CKI kart.
Showing in the top 10 of 11 behind Seay were Chuck Clark, Tim Schmits, Adam Osborn, Darrell Guess, Carl McSpadden, Andy Black, Chris Birky and Shoultz.
Saturday Weldon blistered the track with a 9.365-seconds pole-winning lap. This time Carbon, IN based Clark threatened down to a 0.004-hundreths of a second finish line difference for the second closest win of the event.
"The Laser AV-4 handled good and we finally got the right tires on stayed out front and out of trouble and got through lapped traffic good," Weldon said after his second win.
This time Seay was third across the stripe followed by Schmits, Gonzales, Osborn, Birky, Shoultz and Pedro Davis for the field.
Seay avenged himself later that day in the event's final class National Kart News Unlimited 2-Cycle where a 9.240-seconds lap poised him on the pole for a perfect run that ended just 0.124-hundreths of a second ahead of Clark.
"I knew the kart was fast, I just had to hang in there," said Seay "I want to thank my dad Henry Seay for the motor and the rest of my family for coming down here and supporting me."
Weldon ran third and was followed by Schmits, Phillip Jones, Mark Gonzales, Bobby Garland, Birky, Jefferson City, MO brothers Ryan and Wendell Shorthose, Bobby Snow, James Rawls and Carl McSpadden.
Germantown, TN based Shane James Racing Engines powered Kevin Swindell scored a pair of wire-to-wire to wins that Friday. A 10.416-seconds lap put him on the pole in Phantom Racing Chassis Junior Champ Light. Then after taking the 22-racer field through two late race caution restarts, the last with three laps to go, he beat Nick Johnson to the stripe by a close 0.104-hundreths of a second.
"This is a great race track, I just had to kept the kart down low," described the 13-year-old winner. "I want to dedicate this win to Bob Nervo who pass away last weekend."
From a tenth place start Shane Forbis fought his way to a third place finish and was followed in the top five by Logan Parker and Beau Browning for the top five. Lee Monfries started 19th and battled his way to sixth across the stripe. Trailing him in the top ten were Jake Tucker, Meagan Skees, Mike Spatola and Lee Thompson.
Swindell spun a 9.640-seconds top-qualifying lap for Tyler Racing Engines Junior 3 Light's pole. He led the 19-racer field through two cautions before the race was called on time with just one lap remaining. At the end he was leading Creighton Nelms by 2.025-seconds.
"It takes great equipment and great people behind you to come here and win two classes in one day," Swindell said.
Mark Pasino, Jesse Russell and Tyson Franks rounded out the top five. Behind them in the top 10 were Aaron Hamilton, Ryan Sifford, Zachary Kanizer, Justin Wilkersen and McKay Wenger.
On Friday Ultramax Racing Chassis factory pilot Roger Padgett, of Waxhaw, SC defended his win in Country Select Catfish Star Champ from last year's indoor race with another, this one over pole winner Jack Stump. Stump earned the pole with a 10.354-seconds lap and led the 20-racer field to the first of two caution restarts. Padgett, who produced a 10.458-seonds lap for a the outside pole, got a jump on him on the restart then led them through another, with three laps to go, before narrowly beating Stump to the stripe by 0.389-hundreths of a second.
"Jerry Welch's motor was strong and the Ultramax Racing Chassis was perfect and I knew from the first lap we had a good kart that would go anywhere I wanted it to so I just drove a smooth straight line," Pagdett said.
Ronny Stinson came from sixth to third under the checkered flag and was followed by Brad Hoisington who made it from eighth to fourth and Tony Vancil who advanced from 12th to fifth. Further back in the field Frank Heckenast crossed sixth, Roger Kitchens followed in seventh, John Clemmons came in ninth and Craig Cropper capped the top ten.
Scott Bell scored Burris Racing Senior Champ's win with Padgett in hot pursuit down to a narrow finish. "I just keep listening to Roger Padgett's advice," said Hickory, NC based Bell. "The Ultramax kart ran great I wouldn't trade it for anything and the Welch motor was great. I want to thank Chuck Dill and Dill Fabrication for their help and support."
Georgia racer Michael Rivers ran third and was followed in the top five by Stump and Andy Diggs. Derek Riley crossed sixth and was trailed in the top 10 by Steven Rice, John Clemmons, Steve Dimmick and John Henderson.
Texan Tyler Townsend was the event's first pole winner earning the lead starting position in Smith Brother's Racing Junior 1 Light with a 10.306-seconds lap with a 10.306-seconds lap, but when the first checkered flag waved it was for the Welch Racing Engines powered Ultramax kart of Flintwood, KY based Forrest Gifford. Gifford was just 0.211-hundreths of a second ahead of Townsend at the stripe.
"The Ultramax kart handled great and the Welch motor was strong, I just used lapped traffic," said the 10-year-old winner.
Jonny Whitman finished third and was followed by Rien Kelley and London Gressett for the top five. Behind them in the top 10 were Jacob Price, Andrew Leigh, Hunter Holland, Tad Earhart and Justin Strappe.
Townsend took it all in Saturday's Smith Brother's Racing Junior 1 Heavy. He earned the pole and then led the 20-racer field through a lap five caution before beating Tyler Miles to the stripe by nearly a second.
"I just drove hard and didn't quit. The Phantom Nemesis kart handled good and the Williams Motorsports motor was very strong," Townsend said.
Gifford grabbed third, Burks bagged fourth and Alex Stumpf finished fifth. Kelley, Holland, Gressett, Cameron Stewart and Jacob Price posted the remaining top 10 positions.
Smithfield, KY competitor Brandon Morris fought his way from 12th to take nextAir Stock Super Heavy's win 0.529-hundreths of a second ahead of Robby Hammond. Scotty Reed ruled qualifying with a 10.068-seconds lap. A mid race caution found outside pole winner Mike Dickerson leading the 20-racer field on a restart, but when racing resumed he surrendered the lead to Morris.
"The Nemesis kart handled good and the SBR motor was very strong, but that restart was very important too, because my tires were going away and that's what won it for us," Morris explained.
Justin Posey came from the eighth starting position to finish third followed by Josh Boaz and Lebron Haggard who finished fourth and fifth. Dickerson slipped back to sixth when the checkered flag waved. Following him in the top 10 were Mike Fox, Chris Smitnieks, T.O. Velasquez and Craig Brown.
Paducah, KY competitor Joe Warren captured Stew Power Stock Light's feature with perfection. He turned a 9.539-seconds lap for the pole and led the field through two caution restarts before beating Jim Focht to the finish by just 0.131-seconds.
"I didn't think I could pull it off, but everything worked perfect the way it's suppose to, the Nemesis kart handled great and the Warren Racing Engine was strong," the winner said.
Filling third through fifth were Morris, Will Brinkley and Tony Harden. Brian Samples, Chris Shown, Andy Coln and Deni Rankovich rounded out the remaining top 10.
Brian Samples bagged NextAir Stock Medium's win. Brad Hogue topped qualifying with a 9.681-seconds trip and led the early going while fifth place starter Brian Samples worked his way to the front. When the checkered flag flew for Samples he owned a 0.912-seconds advantage over seventh place starter Wes Jones.
"The kart felt like it was fast in the beginning and I just drove hard got the lead and held it to the end," said the Olive Branch, MI based winner. "I want to thank Shane James for the motor, Phantom for the kart, James Polmonari for their support and most of all to my parents and grand parents for all of their help."
Tim Knight took third, Hogue held on to fourth and Dickerson finished fifth. Following in the top 10 were Chad Waller, John Pitts, Michael Edwards II, Jimmy Rogers and Matthew Morris.
Ultramax Racing Chassis Stock Heavy's feature saw the closest finish when pole winner Ty Jones, of Jackson, TN, took the win just 0.001-seconds ahead of Woodbury, TN based John Pitts' Heath Racing Engines powered Jaguar kart.
"I got the pole, the right motor, the right tires and it just hooked up," Jones explained.
Hammond handled third, Chad Waller followed in fourth and Wes Jones completed the top five. Filling the rest of the top 10 were Rick Hearnsberger, Danny Zimmerman, Hogue, Edwards and Dickerson.
Robert Dargie produced a 10.164-seconds lap for Ultramax Racing Chassis Junior 2 Light's pole and led the early laps as Trenton Beckinger advanced to second. Beckinger, with a little drafting help from Evan Ellis, took the lead just after the race's only caution waved. In the final laps Beckinger pulled away from Ellis and owned a 2.339-seconds advantage at the end.
"It was a hard race, but lapped traffic helped and that's where I'm usually good," said the Keokuk, IAbased winner. "The Phantom Nemesis handled great and the SBR motor was strong the whole race."
Dargie, Tanner Bohlen and Lucas Wallace rounded out the top five. Finishing in the rest of the top 10 were Fowlkes, Zach Axlen, Morgan Blalock, Bradley Partin and Scott McCarus.
From an eighth place start Decatur, IL racer Matt Tague took charge of Shane James Motorsports Junior 2 Heavy's 19-racer field just before caution waved for the third time and lead them home from there. Atoka, TN racer Justin Carver was the top qualifier with a 9.836-seconds lap. He led the early going taking the field through two cautions before surrendering the lead.
"It was a little bit of everything. The Phantom Nemesis and SBR motor worked good and a little bit of luck," said the 13-year-old winner.
Tanner Bohlen trailed Teague by just 0.097-hundreths of a second and was followed in the top five by Bohlen, Partin, Carver and Beckinger in the top five. Top 10 finishers included Glenn Mayle, Axlen, Phillip Higgs, Kyle Henderson and Ben Stumpf.
Rits Racing Engines powered Coyote kart pilot Brandon Queen captured Welch Performance Karting Limited Modified Light's win crossing just 0.259-hundreths of a second ahead of sixth place starter Jonathan McNutt. Travis Sexton's 9.524-seconds qualifying lap earned the Tennessee racer the pole. Sexton shot out into the early lead, but when the first of two cautions waved on lap five Chevy Miller had worked his way to the front from third. Miller led the restart and Queen quickly ran him down and took the lead. Queen led the 20-racer field through their second restart before taking the checkered flag.
"It surprised me," Queen admitted. "I started ninth and before I knew it I was leading, it all happened so fast."
Brinkley, Joe Young and Kendall Gregory made up the rest of the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Rodney Lee, Aaron Loftin, Tim Woods, Jeffrey Couch and Michael Edwards, II.
Brad Stevens, of Isola, MS, topped Enik Engines 4-Cycle Open's pole with a 10.018-seconds lap and bagged the win after a flawless ride a very comfortable 3.755-seconds ahead of seventh place starter Scott Bell.
"I tried to lead from start to finish and just hold on and not wreck," said Stevens an Enik Engines powered Phantom Nemesis pilot.
Finishing in the top five behind Bell were Chris Cain, Brandon Kelley and Jason Woodhead. Filling the top ten were David Cain, Mike Douglas, Shane Gibbons and Tim Woods.
Chattanooga, TN competitor Robby Hammond backed up his 2001 win in Service Master of Dalton Senior Stock with another this year. Tim Knight turned the pole lap at 9.991-seconds and hustled into the initial lead with Hammond quickly behind him from third. Once Hammond's BAMA Racing Engines powered Shadow kart got to the front it stayed their until the end where he was a comfortable 1.666-seconds ahead of Knight.
"I thought Tim (Knight) had me there near the end. He made a good run and then was slipping," Hammond said. "The Shadow kart handled good and BAMA's motor was real fast."
Taking the top five were William Ivy, Byron Parrish and Rick Mawhiney. Showing in the top ten John Bell, Randy Morton, Todd Filson, Jack Stump and Rodney Bounds.
Carl Young Racing Engines powered Louisville, KY based Rage kart pilot Nick Johnson beat Twister Karts Junior Champ Heavy's pole winner Logan Parker in a narrow 0.032-seconds victory. A 10.579-seconds lap put Johnson on the outside pole from where he shot into a never surrendered lead.
"I'm glad I was in front the whole time. The kart was a little loose at the beginning and then the SS 44's hooked up," said the 13-year-old winner. "The Rage kart handled great and Carl Young builds a good engine."
Justin Stearns battled his way from ninth to third when it was over. Trailing him in the top 10 were Jake Tucker, Samantha Duncan, Leah Monfries, Swindell, Mike Spatola, Darryl Gigler Gilbert and Beau Browning.
Memphis, TN based Samantha Gargus came from third to beat Ryan Gifford to NextAir Junior 3 Heavy's checkered by a mere 0.052-hundreths of a second. Swindell tuned the pole lap at 9.379-seconds and shared front row with Gifford. Just after Gargus worked her way to the front the first of three cautions she would lead them through waved.
"The Trick kart handled perfect and it was fast and Jeff Ragsdale's motor was strong all of the way," said the 13-year-old winner.
Tyson Franks took third, Brent Reeves ran fourth, Tyson Hall handled fifth and was followed in the top 10 by Jake Arey, Heather Wilsey, Andrew Hock, Brett William and Swindell.
Plans are in the works for the 13th annual Parts Plus JAM Promotions National Indoor Karting Championships which are likely have a bigger crowd next Thanksgiving which will make another world record. To be a part of it call JAM Promotions at 901.368.5278 and keep up to date by visiting their web site at www.indoorkartnationals.com
- Bruce C. Walls