After a dismal start to the 2007 season with rain on Friday and Saturday, the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar Series competitors and staff was greeted with beautiful clear skies and warm temperatures all day Sunday as the Mazda Race...
After a dismal start to the 2007 season with rain on Friday and Saturday, the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar Series competitors and staff was greeted with beautiful clear skies and warm temperatures all day Sunday as the Mazda Race of the Americas completed its final day of competition. Two rounds of A and B finals were contested during the day, closing the first chapter of the national championship.
With the top 36 following the heat races heading straight to the A Mains, two additional transfer spots were available to the top two finishers in the B Mains. A total of 11 drivers left the grid for the ICC B main with Cole Mathewson (Top Kart) getting the holeshot to lead early. Voytek Burdzy (Merlin) was second until Ryan Yop (Sodi) got by on lap two with a pass heading into turn one. The following lap, Yop got underneath Mathewson at the end of the front-straight and then completed the pass through turn two. The man on the move was Mike Beeny (Arrow), however, as he tried to make his way up to a transfer spot. After advancing up to fourth, Beeny got shuffled back to fifth but regained his composure to move back up to fourth again, gaining on the battle for second between Mathewson and Chris Jennings (Birel). Jennings ducked under Mathewson in the tight turn 11 on lap nine, bunching the three together as Mathewson defended his spot against Beeny. Yop went on to lea! d the rest of the 13 laps with Jennings earning the final spot into the first A main.
The ICC lined up for their first final of the 2007 season, setting up on the front-straight, 19 rows deep. Wunderbar Racing's Fritz Leesmann (CRG) got the jump from outside row one over defending champion Gary Carlton (CRG), who secured the pole with a pair of heat race wins. New PCH Motorsports recruit Nick Halen (CRG) was third over David Jurca (Italkart) and Matt Jaskol (Top Kart) in the early top five. Carlton quickly moved to P1 entering turn one on lap two and he would not be denied. The attrition began early as the field crossed the line to begin lap four, as Trackmagic's Tad Funakoshi had an engine let go as he was battling to get back into the top ten. Funakoshi would pull off to the outside of the track just past pit-out.
Back up front, Carlton stretched out to over a one-second lead, although Leesmann cut into it slightly as the top five remained static until Jaskol moved to fourth heading into turn one on lap 10. The attrition continued running in the top-10, Josh Schreiber (Kosmic) dropped out of the race with a flat right rear tire on lap 12. A dicey battle for the seventh spot saw rookie Hayden Duerson (Italkart) stick his motor in front of the group, making contact with Philippe Gelinas (Birel) and Michael Vincec (CRG), which allowed Kyle Wiegand (Top Kart) to move up a spot with Vincec, Gelinas and Richard Benitez (Kosmic) continuing on.
In the end, it was CRG 1-2-3 with Carlton, Leesmann, and Halen scoring the podium finishes. Jaskol came up just short for third while Jurca rounding out the top five. Lorenzo Mandarino (GP) ran sixth for most of the race until falling back late as Vincec, Wiegand, and Gelinas all moved forward as Mandarino's handling went away. Benitez completed the top-10 with Alan Rudolph (First Kart) moving up nine spots to 11th.
When the second set of races got underway in the afternoon, Yop earned his second B Main win of the day, stretching out to a 3.406 victory over Beeny, who made his first feature of the weekend.
The final race of the day was the second ICC main event and Leesmann again got the jump off the line with Carlton, Jaskol, Jurca, and Vincec slipping into the early top five. Carlton again reassumed the point on the second lap, attacking the point, while Vincec moved up one spot as well. The rest of the field was mixing it up until Funakoshi and Halen got together in turn one after crossing the line for the fifth lap, ending both of their races early. Jurca continued to fall back, dropping back to 10th before the final lap when he made contact with David Carmendy (CRG), ending his race in turn one, one lap short.
Carlton would cruise to his second win on the weekend, taking home a solid cash haul of $3700, which included his prize money ($2000), Snap-on gift certificates ($1000), the Zoombang Pole Award ($200) and a pair of $250 checks from Mazda for the fast lap in both races. Leesmann earned another runner-up finish in Race #2, while Jaskol finished third ahead of Vincec and Danilo Dirani (Tony Kart), who earned his first top five finish.
Racing on Sunday kicked off with the first ICA B Main with only five drivers taking the green flag, racing for two transfer spots into the A Main. John Mossey (Gillard) took the lead in the early stages until a stuck motor ended his chance to move on. I would also end his weekend as he had burned through his available motors. Kevin Glover (CRG) was also a victim of engine failure, while the remaining three continued on for the 13-lap race. Glover was also out of engines and would not return. Rookie Jacob Neal (CRG) took the win over Brandon Jones (Arrow), both moving to the A Main, leaving Eddie Coffin Jr. (Arrow) - who returned after a flip yesterday - out of the main event.
A very clean start allowed the ICA drivers to begin their first 23-lap main event with Guillermo Freile (Tony Kart) grabbing P1 from his pole spot with British pilot Scott Jenkins (Intrepid) using the inside line to steal second. It didn't take long for the Brit to jump up front on the next lap. J3 Competition's Jeremy Nelson (Kosmic) slipped back from his outside row one starting spot and then was involved in a crash in turn five, collecting a group of the top-10 drivers. Colby Jenn (Intrepid), James Kennedy (Sodi) and Joe Paterson (Gillard) filled up the early top five although Jenn was one of the first top drivers to retire with a stuck engine in turn one on lap 13, after falling back a few spots as the engine soured.
The drivers on the move were Kennedy and Federico Montoya (Birel) moving up to second and third. On lap 18, Kennedy dropped a wheel off the track, falling to seventh and ensuring a battle for the third spot. Montoya then held a solid distance for second as Jenkins continued to pull away, taking the win by 4.336-seconds. Contact in the final corner as the drivers battled for third dropped Kennedy to 13th, allowing Nick Tonkin (Birel) to score the podium finish with Jake Rosenzweig (CRG) and defending class champion Joel Miller (Tony Kart) rounding out the top five. The man on the move was actually B Main winner Neal as he had moved up to P14 by lap 17, ended up finishing 10th in his first Stars ICA feature race.
Only three drivers made the grid for the second B Main in the afternoon as Neal and Jones repeated the first edition with Coffin Jr. ending his weekend in third and out of the final main event. As stated, both Glover and Mossey did not start, having no engines to use.
After one lap, the second main was red flagged when Nico Silva (CRG) made heavy contact with the tires on the main straight, forcing a complete restart for the class. On the restart, Jenkins went to the front with Nelson, Freile, Paterson, and Brandon Adkins (Margay) sitting as the early front five. The front four spaced themselves out as a battle for fifth ensued. On lap eight, Paterson pulled out with mechanical problems, moving the fifth place battle to fourth with Miller and Tyler Dueck (Intrepid) leading that group at the time.
Miller and others were able to reel in Freile with Miller putting down some fast laps, moving to third before closing the gap on second. Freile began his defense against Montoya and Dueck for fourth after the halfway mark. At the end, it was a British invasion as Jenkins made it two-for-two and continued the three-year streak of a non-North American driver to win the Race of the Americas in ICA (Fore in '05 and Sims in '06). Rosenzweig held off Miller for second while Montoya and Dueck capped the top five.
A clean start for the nine B Main starters in Spec Racer put Hector Alvarez (Intrepid) and Amber Friedberg (SKM) out front and pulling away from the group as they battled from third back. Friedberg closed on Alvarez in the final laps, but the leader would not be topped as Alvarez held on to win the 10-lap race, both transferring to the first A Main.
NorCal hotshoe Chris Scribner (Tony Kart) grabbed the lead from the pole position with Jason Toft (Birel) moving up to second after Jared Woolf (Intrepid) and others in the top five had a slow start. The top five, including Michael Self (Arrow) and Will Martindale (CRG), stretched themselves away from the rest of the pack. On lap six, Self moved himself to third and began looking for a way behind Toft after starting eighth. Martindale would not go down quietly, however, as he struck back just after the halfway mark. The CRG driver then caught Toft and set his sights on Scribner. With two to go, Martindale made his move and was able to stick the pass in the tight hairpin on the inside of the track setting up for a wild finish. The top three got together hardcore through the banked turn nine, beating on each other, until Scribner and Martindale had more contact in turn 11, allowing Toft to grab the win. Conor Daly (Arrow), who moved up from 15th, slid into second with M! artindale and Scribner crossing the line a disappointed third and fourth. Self and Woolf made contact with a few laps to go as well, dropping them back and allowing Devon Sandeen (Intrepid) to finish fifth. B Main winner Alvarez moved forward, as did Neal in ICA, finishing 14th.
Alvarez and Friedberg again finished 1-2 in the second B Main to fill up the final row for the second Final of the day. When the race went green, Woolf got the jump with Scribner, Martindale, Sandeen and Zach Beard (First Kart) rounding out the early top five. Scribner and Martindale continued their fight, moving up to the top two spots as Beard was able to get by Woolf as well. Woolf fought back to regain the third spot as the top three put some distance on the battle for fourth coming up to the halfway mark. Margay pilot Matt Codalata - who started 13th - moved up to fourth. The battle would come to an end, however, on lap 12 as Jamie Ferrell (Birel) was involved in a red flag accident that saw him with a beat up knee after hard contact in turn one.
The race was restarted after Ferrell was looked at and helped off the track with a leg injury, but Toft was unable to get his kart restarted and missed the rest of the race. The top two began to shuffle the front spots with third through sixth running together. On the final lap, Martindale tried to get by Scribner, but was unable to get alongside him with the NorCal regular edging the Wunderbar Racing pilot by 0.261-seconds at the line. Daly made it two podiums in his debut with ArrowUSA with a third, finishing in front of Devon Sandeen and Nick Fairney (Intrepid). Alvarez went from 37th to an outstanding sixth place in yet another amazing performance.
Five drivers took the green in JICA's first B Main with Birel drivers Joffrey Amaya and Mikee Mejia leading the way from the get-go. Amaya built up a quick gap on the rest of the field as Mejia and Hans Saurino (Tony Kart) battled for the final transfer spot. Saurino put Mejia behind him as he set out for Amaya, but came up just short as they crossed the line, both transferring to the feature.
After two failed attempts and some head games by the front row, outside polesitter Sergio Pena (Gillard) got the run at the green, but Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) came right back to lead the first lap. Pena took over the spot early until he lost the nosecose on lap three. Pena allowed Menezes by for the lead, but went by the black flag twice before pulling onto pit lane. This gave Menezes a large lead with CRG drivers Mikael Greiner and Jose Zanella moving up to second and third. Another driver lost a nose and was sent to the scales as Florida Winter Tour JICA champ Jarvis Gennari (Tony Kart) fell victim to the errant bodywork and pulled off after running seventh. Canadians Brendan Langlois (First Kart) and David Ostella (CRG) were the hard chargers of the race, moving together to fourth and fifth after starting on row seven.
Things would get exciting at the end as Menezes cruised to the win when Zanella made an aggressive move on Grenier in the turn eight left-hand hairpin. The two drivers pushed up on exit, allowing Langlois to take a low exit, giving him the runner-up position. The battle for the final podium position continued, as the CRG drivers made more contact in turn 11, allowing Scott Rossi (Intrepid) to slip through for third. Grenier and Ostella capped the top five as Zanella dropped to sixth.
It was another repeat in the second B Main as Amaya and Saurino were first and second to start 37th and 38th in the final as other four drivers heading home early.
After a missed start, the second JICA final got underway with Pena having the edge coming out of turn one, followed by Menezes, Gennari, Grenier, and Spencer Pigot (First Kart), who attacked quickly from eighth starting spot. Menezes moved to P1 after the third circuit, bringing Gennari with him. On lap eight, Gennari got his first taste of the top spot after getting by Menezes heading into turn one. The front three continued to swap spots as Langlois charged through the field again to put himself on the bumper of his First Kart teammate to form the five-kart lead pack. With five to go, things began to shuffle around, putting on great performance for the crowd with some veteran-style driving. At the line, Pena held off the late charge by Menezes while Gennari finished third in front of Langlois and Pigot. In post-race tech, however, Pena would get nabbed for head volume, advancing Menezes to the win, his second of the weekend, and Gennari and Langlois to the podium.
King Taco Cadet
With just enough cars to fill the field, Stars of Karting officials made the call to put all 39 Cadet drivers into the A Main, thus removing the Cadet B Main from the schedule.
The start of the first main was clean for all 39 competitors until they bunched up in turn two, with Cody Humphreys (Shockwave) watching his race end early. Up front, Sage Karam (Birel) moved to the top spot by lap two with Grant Vogel and polesitter Tyler Thomas (Top Kart) in tow. Vogel got some drafting help from Thomas as they used the long frontstraight to move by Karam on lap four.
The final lap dash was a thriller as Thomas made his bid for the win on the frontshute, heading to the inside at the stripe, getting help from Karam to complete the pass. Karam then ducked inside for the lead in turn five with Vogel looking to follow through in the next few corners, giving Karam enough of a gap to take the win as they crossed the line, Vogel taking second just ahead of Thomas. Dylan Kwasniewski (KRT) was fourth with Andrew Murray (Top Kart) winning the battle for fifth.
Thomas and Karam got the jump at the drop of the green for the second main event and this time, Austin Barnes (S-1) and Nick Neri (Tony Kart) joined the fight in a breakaway lead pack. Vogel dropped back into the battle for fifth in the early stages as Neri moved up to third on lap six while Karam and Thomas built up a gap over him. Barnes continued to fall back as Jacques Saurino (Birel) and a host of other drivers made their way by. Back up front, on the white flag lap, Karam made his Birel as wide as possible as Thomas took a couple looks for the win, unable to make a clean pass, missing out on the victory by 0.084 seconds. Neri finished third while Camden Geise (Top Kart) improved from 15th to fourth ahead of Vogel.
With Carlton, Jenkins, Martindale, Menezes, and Karam all setting the bar for the rest of the year, the following four Stars events will be just as intense as the rest of the paddock now plays catch-up in their bids for a national championship