The first day of the PRI Trade Show ended with many attendees exiting out of the Orange County Convention Center to the noise of karts running around a temporary circuit for the second annual Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic, hosted by the Stars...
The first day of the PRI Trade Show ended with many attendees exiting out of the Orange County Convention Center to the noise of karts running around a temporary circuit for the second annual Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic, hosted by the Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar Series. Nearly 3000 people filled the grandstands and fence lines to see some of the best in motorsports and in karting do battle around three-tenths mile bullring under the lights. In the end, Wayne Taylor Racing Grand-Am Rolex Series driver Michael Valiante would win the main event over the Karters division race winner Gary Carlton.
The Karters division began the Qualifying sessions with Brendan Langlois (FirstKart.com) out on the track first. Many drivers were still prepping their karts when the green flag came out. At about the halfway mark of the ten minute session, reigning ICC National Champion Gary Carlton (SSC East) moved to the provisional pole spot with a 14.275 lap time. Unfortunately, Carlton scrubbed the inside barrier of the last turn, bending the steering components of his CRG. Fastest in practice, Joel Miller (Tony Kart USA) was second overall just 0.053 seconds back of the pole. David Jurca (Italian Motors) was third overall with last year's runner up Kyle Wiegand (Team Top Kart USA) in fourth. Champion Racing-Intrepid's Tyler Dueck rounded out the fast five.
NASCAR's Jamie McMurray (SSC East) came out with the provisional pole for the Masters division. Eddie Lawson (Tony Kart USA), Scott Speed (MRP-Birel America), Michael Valiante (Italian Motors) all held the P1 spot for a moment until it was Nelson Philippe (SSC East) who controlled the spot when the checkered flag fell on the session. Philippe's fast lap was 14.336, just half a second slower than the Karter's division. Speed ended session second with Joey Hand (Team Top Kart USA) third fastest. Valiante and Jan Heylan (MRP-Birel America) rounded out the fast five.
Carlton got the jump at the green flag to start the 30 lap Prefinal while the rest of the field sorted themselves out behind. The reigning national champion paced the field with the top eight breaking away from the rest of the pack. The only change for position would be for the lead as early on Miller was able to make a pass through turn one to get alongside Carlton and complete it through turn two. Miller took the checkered flag three-tenths ahead of Carlton with Wiegand and Jurca to start from row two for the final. Last year's winner Matt Jaskol (Team Top Kart USA) was fifth with Dueck completing the top six.
The Masters Prefinal was a wild one beginning with Speed leading the field in the first few laps. A slight error on his part, clipping the inside barrier of turn three spun him around and sent him to the back - eventually dropping out with handling problems. Philippe would inherit the lead again while the rest of the pros battled hard with many retiring early - Hand was out after his motor expired, Phil Giebler (Team Sparco USA) exhaust came off, and Jaime McMurray (SSC East) also clipped a barrier while running in the top five. In the end, Philippe would lead Valiante to the checkered flag but in the tech barn was penalized 10 positions for a fuel violation. That moved Valiante to start the main event from the pole with Rice on the outside of row one. Brian Herta (Team Top Kart USA) was fast and held off AJ Allmendinger for third with Lawson rounding out the top five.
The Karters earned the green flag to start their 50 lap final with a few drivers getting collected in turn one, including Hayden Duerson (Italian Motors) who was running Valiante's kart. He was unable to continue and sat inside the track with the team waiting for the race to end to make the necessary repairs. The top five was lead by Miller with Wiegand getting a great start to second ahead of Carlton, Jaskol, and Jurca. Carlton was able to slide by in turn one for second, bringing Jaskol with him and dropping Wiegand to fourth. Soon after, Wiegand coasted into pit lane with a broken chain. The top three would run nose to tail has they made their way through traffic. Jurca was a few paces behind, not able to work by the traffic as well as the lead group.
As the laps were winding down, Carlton made his move with a deep pass into the right hand turn two with the grandstands cheering him on as he would go on to take the win. Miller held of Jaskol. Dueck closed the gap on Jurca but ran out of laps for to round out the podium while Josef Newgarden (SSC East) won the sixth and final transfer spot to the main event.
With driver introductions, the IM squad had enough time to swap out bent tie rod and spindle on Valiante's kart before they left the grid. After two failed attempts, the main event got the green flag with Valiante getting the jump on Rice, as did Herta who moved to second in the opening lap. Rice regained the second spot back that began the craziness that would in sue for the remaining laps. Lawson clipped a barrier exiting turn two, dropping him out of the top five and eventually the race. That moved Jaime McMurray (SSC East) into the top five behind Allmendinger.
The top two put some distance on the battle for third as Herta was swallowed up by the rest of the field that instigated a Bristol style battle that including the karters who were making their way up through the field. Allmendinger would move Herta out of the way, dropping him back, while Carlton made his way into the top five, getting by McMurray. Carlton worked himself to fourth and began to run down Allmendinger, who put some distance on the battle behind him. Getting by Allmendinger quickly, Carlton set his sites on Rice in second. With just a few laps to go, Carlton made up the distance on Rice and made a pass stick, grabbing the second spot. Valiante would cruise to the victory with fireworks and the crowd cheering as he took the checkered flag. Carlton's crowd pleasing second capped an unbelievable drive from 17th. Rice would be on the podium again, this time in third Allmendinger and Dueck sliding by McMurray - both recording the fastest lap of the race - for fifth.