On the last three trips to Moran Raceway in Beaumont, CA, the Stars of Karting series has encountered rain on at least one day of each weekend. This year's race has set a new standard for the Western stop, as clear blue skies have been the...
On the last three trips to Moran Raceway in Beaumont, CA, the Stars of Karting series has encountered rain on at least one day of each weekend. This year's race has set a new standard for the Western stop, as clear blue skies have been the highlight from the opening day. The dry weather opened up the chance for great racing and the main events certainly delivered. Reigning ICC champion Gary Carlton (CRG) scored another victory, although this time he needed to battle with Jordy Vorrath (Intrepid) and David Jurca (Italkart) after they both jumped ahead at the green flag. In ICA, attrition was again the factor as only five cars finished, leaving James Kennedy (Sodikart) to motor through for the triumph. The Western Championship races saw two drivers clinch the crowns while the other three categories tightened, making Sunday's events the key.
The excitement of the ICC battle was fueled early as the Gatorz Pole qualifying session was a wild one. With a majority of the top drivers waiting until halfway through the session to take to the 1.1 mile track, the action heated up quickly when new Leading Edge Motorsports recruit Lorenzo Mandarino (Intrepid) laid down a 1:01.138 to set the early pace. Things changed when reigning champion and Western Division point leader Gary Carlton (CRG) kicked it up with what would be the fastest lap, a smoking 1:00.820 that was just two-tenths off the existing track record. Jordy Vorrath (Intrepid) made it exciting in the late going, putting down a 1:00.866 in the final minutes to jump to second, just 0.046 seconds off Carlton's pace. The Canadian kept at it, but just couldn't find that little more that he needed to steal away the pole. David Jurca (Italkart) was third in the order, just ahead of Fritz Leesmann (CRG), who also came on strong in the late going to lay down ! his best lap. Mandarino's time held up for fifth, while Jurca's Italian Motors teammate Hayden Duerson (Italkart) was sixth. Matt Jaskol (Topkart), Alan Rudolph (First Kart), Ryan Yop (Sodikart) and Jon Allen (GP) rounded out the top-10.
Vorrath grabbed the holeshot to take the lead heading into turn one as the field bunched in behind him. Working the course on the first lap, Carlton missed a shift exiting turn 11 and shuffled everyone behind him, allowing Vorrath to pull out a few kart lengths as they crossed the stripe for the first time. It took some time, but Carlton was eventually able to reel in Vorrath and then drafted by heading into turn one. The rest was history as he pulled out to a one-second lead. Jurca closed the gap on Vorrath to finish third with Leesmann and Duerson rounding out the top five.
Vorrath again was fast off the line to start the main, getting the jump on Carlton from the outside of row one to lead the field into one. Jurca followed Vorrath and got by Carlton through turn one as well, pushing the defending champion back to third in the opening lap while Leesmann and Duerson completed the early top five. It didn't last long as Carlton used his SwedeTech Maxter power to get by Jurca on the main straight heading into turn one. Re-focusing on the leader, Carlton caught and then overtook Vorrath the next time by. There was more action occurring during the early laps, as Andrew Zimmer (Italkart) went off-track and into the tires exiting turn four, throwing an errant tire into the lead group that was entering the Bus Stop complex. Jon Allen (GP) and Ryan Yop were the unfortunate drivers who encountered the roadblock, getting collected by the rolling rubber to end their days.
Up front, Carlton continued to run fast laps as he stretched out the gap on Vorrath. The driver on the move was Leesmann, who had attacked up to third. While it looked like Leesmann was set to fight Vorrath for the runner-up position, the top three would run unchanged for the remainder of the 22-lap distance to take his fifth West Coast win to clinch the Western Division championship. Jurca finished fourth in the final tally behind Vorrath and Leesmann, while Mandarino moved up to fifth in his debut with Leading Edge Motorsports.
PCH Motorsports ICA
Nick Tonkin (Birel) was the first driver to assume the point in ICA qualifying, but James Kennedy (Sodi Kart) came calling quickly to move to P1. However, a majority of the big guns remained on the grid for the opening minutes of the session, which resulted in some major shuffling midway through the time period. Tyler Dueck (Intrepid) was first to assume the lead position, but the drafting trio of David Jurca (Italkart), Michael Hogg (Italkart) and Scott Jenkins (Intrepid) were picking up speed quickly, eventually moving to the top. Jenkins ran at the tail of the trio and used the draft to post the fastest time with a 1:02.451, but Dueck was closing on the group as well and immediately dropped the Gatorz Pole to a 1:02.357. Jenkins would not make it to the checker after making contract with Jurca in turn two, ending his run in the tire barrier after having logged the second quickest time. Victor Cabrera (Kosmic) came on late in the session to take third, ahead o! f Hogg and Jurca. Following the session, the order was shuffled when Stars officials made the ruling to put Jenkins behind Jurca to start the Prefinal, moving Cabrera to second, Hogg to third and Jurca to fourth.
Dueck got the jump on the field at the Prefinal green while Jenkins moved up to second from his fifth place starting spot on the first lap. Hogg, Jurca, and Wehrheim rounded out the early top five. On lap three, Jenkins made the pass for the lead heading into turn one after getting a great run down the frontstraight. The Brit then began to pull away as the rest of the field caught up to Dueck to begin a great battle for second. As Dueck, Hogg and Jurca battled, Cabrera caught them through the laps. At the halfway mark, Dueck's motor expired after the spark plug electrode broke, allowing Hogg to take over second. Cabrera then marched his way to the runner-up position, getting by both Jurca and Hogg on consecutive laps. Jenkins would cruise through to take a comfortable win over Cabrera, Hogg, Jurca, and Kennedy. At the scales, however, Jenkins was underweight and was removed from the classifications, giving Cabrera the pole position for the main event with Hogg s! et to start outside row one.
Unfortunately, it was another attrition-filled ICA main event with only five drivers making it to the checkered flag. Problems arose for Jurca, who was scheduled to start third, as engine troubles forced him to pull into pit lane. Cabrera led the field for the opening lap followed by Hogg, Cody Jolly (CRG), Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart) and Kennedy. By the end of lap one, Jenkins had moved up to ninth after starting 17th, and he was pushing hard. On lap four, Hogg got inside of Cabrera, dropping him to fourth in front of the charging Jenkins. The duo then got together in the far end of the track, ending both of their races.
During the same lap, Jolly was on the move and stole the top spot from Hogg. The twosome ran 1-2 while Dueck continued his advance, moving to third from 15th, closing in on the leaders in the process. Dueck was certainly catching the lead duo, that is, until his throttle snapped, forcing him to drive the kart with one hand. He finally pulled in with just two laps left, classifying him in sixth. While Dueck was hanging on, Kennedy had worked himself into second behind Hogg, until his engine also lost power. This handed Kennedy the lead and the eventual win as he crossed the line 2.574 seconds ahead of Jolly. Wehrheim took care of his powerplant and finished third with Jacob Neal (CRG) - nursing sore ribs - in fourth ahead of Pat Ianucci, putting a second Sodi Kart in the top five.
Neal now leads the Western Division standings heading into Sunday, although with only an eight-point advantage over Cody Jolly with the drop included in the calculations. Nick Tonkin (Birel) sits third in the order while Dueck is 30 points back of the lead.
The Western Division Spec Racer point race took a turn early when Conor Daly (Top Kart) laid down the fastest lap of the 15-minute Gatorz Pole Qualifying session to take the inside of the front row for the Prefinal. The Eastern Division champ turned a 1:04.795 to lead the 29-kart field, putting himself in the hunt for the West title as well. Daly sat fourth in points coming to Moran, 18 markers behind championship leader Chris Scribner (Tony Kart), who struggled in qualifying with the 23rd fastest time. Top SoCal star Neil McCoy (Topkart) was second in the order, ahead of Utah winners Colin Katzakian (Intrepid) and Joey Licata Jr. (Biesse). Track owner Rocky Moran Jr. (Birel) rounded out the top-five.
The Spec Racer Prefinal did not make it to two laps as the red flag came out for an accident in turn four, one that saw Andrew Withers (CRG) need medical attention. On the restart following a 30-minute repair time, McCoy led the field to the green flag with the rest of the field running close to his bumper. After the opening laps, the front was shuffled after a small pile-up in turn 10, moving Jody Collins (CRG) up from fifth to second. It also allowed McCoy to scoot away to a large lead. When the checkered flag fell, McCoy had a three-second advantage over Collins with Katzakian, Michael Self (Arrow), and Licata rounding out the top five.
After two failed attempts, the Race Director made the front two rows swap positions and the Spec Racer Final got underway. Daly (accident) and Collins (engine problems), two drivers who were running up front for most of the day, were out early. Katzakian led the way at the start as the rest of the field began to shuffle itself in behind with three-wide action becoming the norm heading into turn one. Self was the first to dictate a lead change, stealing the top spot on lap four as McCoy, Licata, and Katzakian ran closely together. Three laps later, McCoy became the third leader of the race as he was able to work by Self. The group continued to battle hard until Self lost his right rear tire around corner two, mixing up the lead group and allowing McCoy to pull out to a comfortable lead.
Katzakian then inherited the second spot and continued to push hard when the gap began to shrink each lap. McCoy looked to be in trouble, as he continued to look down at his brake system as the laps wound down. During this time, Katzakian continued to close. With two laps to go, McCoy's advantage was down to zero, as the leader was continuing to slow. McCoy fought to been Katzakian behind until on the last lap when the two got side-by-side heading into turn 10. McCoy would not back down and spun off into the dirt. This allowed Katzakian to cruise to his second straight Stars of Karting checkered flag, following up his win at Miller Motorsport Park. Championship contender Devon Sandeen (Intrepid) moved up to second as a result while Licata dropped back to third. Joey Wimsett (Intrepid) and Nick Freytag (Sodi Kart) had solid runs to finish inside the top five. McCoy was able to get back on track to finish 11th with no brakes being discovered as the cause of his pr! oblems in the late stages.
Sandeen now heads into Sunday leading the championship by 20 points over Scribner with Zach Beard (First Kart) just 10 points behind. Katzakian and Licata - despite missing the Race of the Americas event - now move to fourth and fifth.
DPK-Birel driver Taylor Miinch put his stamp on the JICA category early, taking the Gatorz Pole with a fast time just four laps into the session. Turning consistent, 1:05s, Miinch posted a 1:05.1 to move to the top of the chart, eventually lowering his pace to a 1:05.025 to win the pole. Branden Underwood (Topkart) was second in the order, turning his quickest time late in the session with a 1:05.124. Miles Maroney (CRG) has been running very well all weekend and found himself at the pointy end of the grid once again, this time finishing up in third at the end of the 15-minute session. First Kart USA teammates Phil DeLaO and Brendan Langlois rounded out the fast five. JICA point leader Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) was ninth in the order.
Miinch grabbed the hole shot at the drop of the green and went on to lead all 12 laps of the JICA Prefinal. Maroney was second until dropping a wheel off, slipping back to fifth on lap three. Underwood closed the gap in the final laps to cross the stripe on Miinch's bumper, setting up the fight in the Final. Maroney battled back to get by both Langlois and DeLaO to finish third.
The JICA Final was as dramatic as it could get. The race began with a few drivers getting together mid-pack, sending Scott Rossi (Intrepid) into the tires outside turn one. Miinch got a strong launch and would lead the field across the stripe to complete the first lap with Maroney and Langlois close behind. They ran that way for the first seven laps until Maroney got a great draft down the frontstraight to make the pass for the lead heading into turn one. Next on the move was Langlois, trying to make his bid for the Western JICA title, first getting by Miinch for second and a few laps later drafting by Maroney for the lead with six laps to go. As they shuffled, Underwood also caught up to the lead pack, making it a four-kart battle. Underwood was given third after Maroney dropped a wheel exiting a corner and then he worked by Miinch for second the following lap. Underwood was the man on the move.
Langlois then began his defense of the top spot, running a tight line down the front straight with the white flag being displayed. The Canadian held the lead heading into the final corner and Underwood would make contract with Langlois, pushing him wide, allowing Maroney to slide inside of the top two and steal the win at the line. Underwood crossed the line second while Miinch edged Langlois for third. Post-race contact induced by Langlois at Underwood at the scales forced the Stars officials to remove Langlois from the results, advancing Masters and DeLaO into the top five.
With his seventh place result, Menezes clinched the Western Championship and will now look to improve his overall point total on Sunday, setting up for the National Finals in Las Vegas in mid-October.
King Taco Cadet
Tyler Thomas (Top Kart) and Mason Chelootz (Intrepid) took to the track together for King Taco Cadet qualifying and they laid down some great laps with Thomas posting a 1:12.610 in the early going to set the time to beat. No one was able to match the time, although a quick group of drivers including Dylan Kwasniewski (Tony Kart), Santino Ferrucci (S-1) and Sage Karam (Birel).
Chelootz had engine trouble on the grid and was unable to make the Prefinal, moving the outside line up one row. After a great Cadet battle up front, the two championship contenders had a photo finish after the nine laps with Thomas getting the edge by 0.017s over Karam. Camden Geise nipped fellow Top Kart drivers Jacob Will (Top Kart) and Murray for third with the top five crossing the line with 0.25seconds.
The Cadet Final was the Thomas-Karam show once again as they broke away from the field to a comfortable gap on the battle for third. Thomas paced Karam around the 1-mile circuit for most of the race until the white flag was shown and Karam made his move heading into turn one. Thomas looked inside the next few corners until getting side-by-side the leader heading into right-hand hairpin turn ten. As the duo came around the corner, there appeared to be contact, which sent Karam off the track as he was forced to shortcut onto the backstraight. This battle allowed Ferrucci and Geise to join the fight. Karam re-entered the track in fourth as they all came around the final corners. Heading down for the checkered, Ferrucci got a run out of the last corner to pull alongside Thomas for a photo finish, with the Top Kart driver getting the edge by 0.013s at the line.
Following the event, the Stars officials made a few rulings regarding on-track action, moving Thomas behind Karam for their contact and Ferrucci behind Tristan DeGrand (Kosmic) as a penalty an early altercation that ended DeGrand's run. Geise moved to the top spot on the podium as a result, advancing Karam up to second as well. Chelootz drove from last to be classified fourth behind Thomas, while Murray rounded out the top five.
Karam maintain his hold on the top spot in the championship by just 25 points over Thomas with the drop calculated in, and he needs to finish fifth or better if Thomas is to win on Sunday. Geise sits 55 points out of first, still in the hunt.
An end to a great weekend in Beaumont, California as clear skies again greeted the Stars of Karting Western Division finale at the Moran Raceway. With the championship races heating up, so did the racing on track with close racing in all five divisions with three titles still up in the air heading into the day. Reigning ICC champion Gary Carlton scored another victory after battling Jordy Vorrath again. In ICA, James Kennedy was granted the victory after the two leaders made contact on the final lap of the main event.
History would be made during the 15 minute ICC Gatorz Pole Qualifying session as the track record set by Alan Sciuto during the 2004 SKUSA Pro Moto Tour event would fall. Early on, David Jurca (Italkart) looked to be the man to break that record, dropping three tenths off his previous fast lap to hit the 1:00.698 lap time. Following Jurca's quick time, Carlton moved to second with his out lap at a .866 with expectations of getting faster. He did, however he stayed in the eights with a 1:00.804. The track record would go to the Canadian Jordy Vorrath (Intrepid) who on his out lap came up just short of the record with a .664 and would drop to a 1:00.374 the following lap to earn the new track record. Jurca would hold strong in second with Carlton, Fritz Leesman (CRG) and Jan Velez-Walter (Intrepid) rounding out the fast five.
Vorrath grabbed the hole shot to start the 15 lap Prefinal with Carlton quickly getting by Jurca for the second spot heading into turn one. The top three ran that way for most of the race until Carlton made a deep pass into turn one for the top spot on lap 13. Carlton would go on to take the win with Vorrath not challenging back and settling for second with Jurca third. Leesmann dropped back to fifth behind Duerson but was able to pass back in the late stages of the race.
It was Vorrath and Jurca again getting a great jump as Carlton struggled to get off the line quick. Champion Racing's Vorrath put a small gap on Jurca with the Italian Motors driver doing the same to the PCH driver. Lap 10 is when Carlton began his drive to the front, getting by Jurca in the familiar deep pass heading into turn one that he had used all weekend long.
He then began studying Vorrath, looking inside of turn two a few times, just barely missing the back bumper of Vorrath as they turned in. Then Carlton put in his signature Moran move into one, this time Vorrath fighting back and not giving up the outside line as they exited the turn. Carlton drifted high and the two made contact, sending Carlton to the dirt though he stayed on the gas to dirt track it to turn two before Vorrath could get there. The Canadian stayed close but was unable to make an attempt for the remainder of the race as Carlton went on to take his sixth Western Division victory to head to the National Finals with a solid point lead for his second straight national crown.
The rest of the field were in packs of two as Leesmann and Jurca fought for third while Duerson won the battle for fifth over Mandarino. Recent King of the Streets winner Alan Rudolph (First Kart), who started the final 27th after losing the chain in the Prefinal, passed 10 karts in the opening five corners of the race and managed to advance up to ninth behind strong performances from Richard Benitez (Kosmic) and Jon Allen (GP).
PCH Motorsports ICA
Many of the ICA drivers took there time getting out on track for the 15 minute Gatorz Pole Qualifying session with Victor Cabrera (Kosmic) leading the way for most of the session. Transponder problems hit Brit Scott Jenkins (Intrepid) as his transponder was dead and not picking up. After the Stars officials were able to flag him off track with their transponder flag, he came in and switched transponders with just enough time to make two timed laps. His out lap was all he needed as he put down a 1:02.339 lap time, nearly two tenths clear of Cabrera's best time. Michael Hogg (Italkart) was third quickest with Saturday winner James Kennedy (Sodi Kart) and Tyler Dueck (Intrepid) completing the fast five. Championship contenders Cody Jolly (CRG) and Jacob Neal (CRG) were sixth and ninth respectively.
The ICA drivers went three wide into turn one with everyone coming away clean with Jenkins leading the way. The top four was uneventful as they drove away from the rest of the field with Jenkins taking the win ahead of Hogg, Jolly, and Kennedy. Dueck fell back early but managed to get back to fifth.
The Western Division ICA championship would be decided on the last lap of the main event in dramatic fashion. Neal held the point lead heading into the event with Jolly a close second. In the opening laps, contact between Neal and Dueck put the PCH Motorsports driver at the back of the field and eventually retired from the event in 15th. This gave Jolly a chance at the title outright with a strong result. On lap five, Jolly took control of the lead from the Prefinal winner Jenkins - who continued to fall back throughout the 22 lap event with ignition trouble - eventually finishing sixth.
Jolly held a comfortable lead on Cabrera for most of race until the J3 Competition driver began to close up the gap. With the white flag flying, Cabrera was on the bumper of Jolly crossing the line. Getting a great run through turns three and four, Cabrera pulled along side Jolly heading into the corkscrew. Entering the corner, the two made heavy contact, allowing third place runner Kennedy to slide trough the section to inherit the lead and the win. Dueck would win the battle for second with Nick Tonkin (Birel) completing the podium. Cabrera would continue to finish but was moved behind Jolly who also continued to be classified 10th.
The finishing order gave Tonkin the Western Division ICA championship for MRP-Birel America as the Canadian edged Dueck by just five points for the title. Jolly fell back to third, just ahead of Neal, Rosenzweig and Joel Miller (Tony Kart) - all separated by just one point.
Michael Self (Arrow) held the top spot in Spec Racer Gatorz Pole Qualifying early on until Conor Daly hit the track following the five minute mark. The Top Kart driver moved up to second in his out lap and then P1 the following circuit with a 1:04.662 lap time. Self held second until FirstKart.com's Andy Lee got a good draft behind Chris Scribner to move up to the provisional second spot. Two more Top Karts joined Daly up front as Neil McCoy moved up to second with Ty Matta third fastest, moving Lee to fourth and Self to fifth. Things shook up in the tech shed as Matta was removed for a carburetion rule moving Jason Toft (Birel) into the fast five.
After a short stint up front by Lee, Daly took over the point on lap four and led the rest of the 12 lap Prefinal for a three second lead. The 'drives' of the race however were Devon Sandeen (Intrepid) and Matta, both starting from the back of the field and driving their way up. The battle for second saw numerous drivers hold the spot, but when the checkered flag fell, Joey Wimsett (Intrepid) moved up from 11th to take the spot. Joey Licata Jr. (Biesse) started eighth and moved up to third with Matta and Sandeen completing the top five.
As has been the case all year, the Spec Racer Final was a wild one. Pole sitter Daly again had trouble after leading the early portion of the race. Contact in the final corner with Self put him further back in the field and gave Wimsett the lead. Two laps later, Self took his turn at the point as he and Sandeen were both able to get around him. At the halfway mark, Sandeen got a good run down the straight and made the pass for the lead heading into turn one. From that point on, Sandeen put his head down and stretched out to a five second victory over Self who ran the final laps of the race holding onto his gas tank that came loose during the race. Wimsett won the battle for third over Licata with Toft completing the top five. After the race, officials moved Self behind Daly in the finishing order for the contact in the final corner, classifying Daly 10th and Self 11th, moving Matta into the top five.
The win gave Sandeen a solid advantage in the standings and his second straight Spec Racer Western Division crown and will lead the overall standings heading into the National Finals.
The JICA division was the first group to hit the track for Gatorz Pole Qualifying with yesterday's pole winner Taylor Miinch (Birel) leading the way early until the First Kart trio began to run their fastest laps of the session. Phil DeLaO took the top spot before Spencer Pigot stole it from his teammate while Brandon Langlois jumped up to P4 behind Miinch. Saturday winner Miles Maroney (CRG) jumped up into second in the late stages to break up the front five. Problems in the scale house though for Langlois has he came in underweight to continue a rough weekend for the Canadian, moving Garrison Masters (CRG) up to fifth.
Pigot controlled the start of the JICA final with DeLaO, Maroney, Miinch, and Brendan Phinny (Top Kart) rounding out the early top five. After getting shuffled back to fifth on lap three, DeLaO brought out a red flag after contact with Masters. On the restart, Pigot, Maroney and Miinch pulled out to a solid lead and ran that way to the checkered flag. Phinny ran a solid fourth with Langlois working up to fifth from 20th.
From the pole position, Pigot lead the field through turn one to being the JICA main event however his reign up front did not last long with both Miinch and Phinny getting by before completing the first lap. On lap three, Phinny took his turn at the point with a charging Maroney pushing Miinch to third in the same lap. Three laps later, Maroney assumed the top spot and would not look back, leading the rest of the way for his second win on the weekend. Phinny ran a close second with Pigot - who fell back to fifth in the early stages - drove back to third ahead of Miinch with Masters rounding out the top five.
King Taco Cadet
Sunday was a new day as Tristan DeGrand (Kosmic) bounced back from a tough day Saturday to earn the pole in Cadet with a 1:12.769 lap time. Tyler Thomas (Top Kart) was second fastest with Mason Chelootz (Intrepid), Scott Phillips (Birel) and Santino Ferrucci (S-1) completing the fast five.
After two laps, the Cadet Prefinal was stopped for a red flag accident with Sean Conyers needing medical attention but walked away. The race had a single-file restart with the field running nose to tail except for three wide action down the long front straight. When the checkered fell, Sage Karam (Birel) moved up to take the win just ahead of Thomas by 0.005-seconds. Dylan Kwasniewski (Tony Kart) was 0.079-seconds behind. Saturday winner Camden Geise (Top Kart) was fourth with Ferrucci fifth.
The King Taco Cadet final was at first a six kart battle for the lead and as the race reached the halfway mark, eight drivers were in the lead pack. The group went four wide into turn one with Thomas getting the short end of the stick and went off the outside of the corner, ending his race and the championship hopes. With the shuffling and four wide action, Karam and Kwasniewski broke away for a two kart battle for the win with Karam grabbing the checkered flag 0.082s in front. With the win, Karam earned the West Cadet title and an all-expenses paid trip to a 2008 IndyCar Series event for he and a parent courtesy of King Taco, and matched his East Division point total with five wins counted toward each total. Ferrucci won the battle for third ahead of Chelootz and Phillips.
The Series East and West Division competitors now look ahead to the Desert MINI of Las Vegas National Finals October 19-21 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. National Champions will be crowned in five classes at an event that willl be televised on the Versus Network.