MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK After wrapping up the trio of heat races with the final motos Sunday morning, the first main events of the Stars of Karting Western Division filled what was a great afternoon of competition. The primary championship ...
MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
After wrapping up the trio of heat races with the final motos Sunday morning, the first main events of the Stars of Karting Western Division filled what was a great afternoon of competition. The primary championship contenders stepped to the forefront at Miller Motorsport Park today, as in four of the five classes, the winners swept both main events. PCH Motorsports' Gary Carlton (CRG) would not be denied in ICC, while Champion Racing's Joey Wimsett (Intrepid) powered to the front in the TaG category with a pair of impressive victories. Bryan Eady (Intrepid) followed suit in the TaG ICC class, as did young Trent Hindman (Merlin) in the Cadet class. JICA featured the only split winners, as Tony Kart drivers Phil DeLaO and Gustavo Menezes both scored race wins on the day.
Heading into the final heat race Sunday morning, Champion Racing/Intrepid USA's Jordy Vorrath held the provisional pole for the main events with his with his 1-2 finish. As he did in the previous heat races, Vorrath got the holeshot as Stars flagman Matt Long waved the green flag. Carlton however continued to struggle and fell back to fifth. In typical Carlton fashion however, he began picking the top five off one by one as the laps went on, eventually getting by Vorrath one lap nine and cruising to victory. Sitting second, Vorrath would have the pole position for the two finals but the gremlins crept in and the Canadian came to a stop on the front stretch with two laps to go after the engine expired. Fritz Leesmann (CRG) would benefit from Vorrath's DNF, crossing the line second ahead of Michael Vincec (CRG) with Cody Jolly (CRG) and Ron White (GP) completing the top five.
With the points tallied, Vincec would earn the pole for the finals in his Cameron Motorsports entry with Alex Speed starting alongside in the new Trackmagic machine. Vorrath and Carlton - despite a poor heat race each - would go from row two with Jolly and Leesmann in row three.
Vorrath continued his string of holeshots to start out the first final, jumping inside Vincec - who got shuffled back - into turn one to take the top spot. The rest of the field slotted in behind with Carlton third behind Speed. The former teammates battled for the second spot, trading some paint before Carlton earned the position on lap six. He then set his sights on Vorrath. Both running their best laps toward the end of the race, Carlton was just a bit faster. Lap 15 would see the lead change hands to Carlton and would go unchallenged to his first win. Leesmann also came on late and got around Speed for third with Vincec alone in fifth.
Things got a bit edgy for final two with Carlton improving his start as both he and Vorrath leaped around the front row into the opening first corner. Behind them, Speed and Vincec made contact and began a chain reaction that shuffled up the field. Unfortunately, the race was cut short for the two as they would watch from the sidelines. Up front, Vorrath and Carlton were joined by G-Phactory/Sodi Racing USA's Ryan Yop who avoided the turn one pile up. Carlton took over the top spot on lap five but the trio remained tight until about the halfway mark when the defending champion put down impressive laps again en route to a second victory. Vorrath would respond back but it would not be enough, recording his fourth straight runner-up finish for '08. Yop recorded his best Stars result to round out the podium. Jolly closed on Yop but was unable to get by, settling for fourth with PCH Motorsports' Jacob Neal, who sat out Saturday's heat racing action battling the `SoCal flu' going! around, recording a top five finish in his Stars ICC debut.
With the arrival of a new day, it was a different view up front in the TaG ICC class. In the final heat race, Michael Hogg (Italkart) did a much better job getting off the line after struggling on Saturday, getting the holeshot and the lead ahead of Saturday double-winner Jose Zanella (Tony Kart) and Bryan Eady (Intrepid). Eady was the driver who found the extra speed overnight, taking the second spot from Zanella on lap two and then the lead on lap three from Hogg, both passes utilizing the big draft down the long frontstretch at Miller. Eady would benefit from Hogg and Zanella battling for second to take the win by one second as Hogg was able to hold off Zanella after swapping the spot in the final few laps. The battle for fourth doubled up with Matthew Mair (Tony Kart) and Daryle Redlin (Intrepid) joining Max Riddle (First Kart) and Don McGregor (Italkart). Riddle took the position with Mair, Redlin, and McGregor following at the line.
With the points set, Zanella and Eady would start the finals from the front row with Hogg and Riddle filling row two.
The opening final was all Eady as he grabbed the holeshot and set a blistering early pace to power away from his challengers. The action to watch was the fight for second, which did not include Zanella, as Hogg, Mair, and McGregor went at it tooth-and-nail for the entire 16-lap race. At the line, Mair would hold off Hogg for second while McGregor came up just short of the podium. Zanella dropped to fifth in the final, just not showing the speed that he had on Saturday.
Zanella made the right changes to his Tony Kart between races as he and Hogg challenged Eady aggressively in the second final. The trio ran nose-to-tail for much of the race with Eady leading the way. The order never changed, but Eady and Zanella would swap the fast lap of the race in the closing laps. When the checkered fell, Eady took the victory by 0.379-seconds over Zanella, with Hogg earning the final step on the podium once again, his fourth straight podium finish after sweeping the class at the Eastern opener in Florida earlier in the month. Mair was fourth while McGregor rounded out the top five.
The third heat for the TaG division ended early for a few front runners as Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart), Neil McCoy (Top Kart), and Will Martindale (Trackmagic) did not take the green flag, suffering from different mechanical issues. Polesitter Joey Wimsett (Intrepid) got a better start than he did in the Saturday heat races as he led the field through the opening lap. It would not last, however, as double heat race winner Chris Scribner (Top Kart) returned to his familiar spot at the front as Wimsett would fall back throughout the 10-lap race, fighting an ignition problem. What looked to be a duplicate of Saturday's races with Scribner at the point changed with the charge by Pat Iannucci (Sodi Kart). Starting from seventh, Iannucci got a great draft on Scribner and assumed the spot into turn one on lap seven. Scribner then fell back into a battle with Iannucci's G-Phactory/Sodi Racing USA teammate Andrick Zeen. The two swapped the second position on a few occasions, but Scrib! ner held the spot when the checkered fell. Neil Alberico (Top Kart) was fourth while Michael Self (Sodi Kart) advanced to fifth. The tech barn changed the order as Alberico was removed when he arrived without an airbox on his engine, moving Self to fourth and Adam Zeen (Sodi Kart) to fifth.
With their wins, Scribner and Iannucci would start 1-2 in the finals with Self and Cody Tracy (First Kart), who spun in the opening lap of turn one in Heat 3, launching from row two. Wimsett would start alongside Wehrheim in the third row.
What was considered his breakout race last year at the same facility, Wimsett avoided all the gremlins that troubled him in the heat races to put in a another strong performance at Miller to earn his first win of the year. Sitting fourth at the opening lap behind Self, Scribner, and Tracy, the Champion Racing/Intrepid USA driver quickly put Tracy behind him and set his sights on the lead duo. As Scribner looked inside Self into turn one, Wimsett went deep from third with an amazing move into P1 in turn three. Wimsett would continue to put down fast laps and pulled away to a 2.837-second victory over Self.
Iannucci had a bad start from the front row, dropping out of the top-five before driving back through to Scribner's bumper. On the final lap, the two went side-by-side through the turn 7-8-9 complex, neither giving an inch as Iannucci got the better run to turn 12 to earn the position. Wehrheim, the Ocala double winner, was running fifth early on until his brake rotor exploded as he was in the Esses and went off in the dirt giving him plenty of work in-between the finals. Tracy completed the top-five when they crossed the line, but he was removed in the tech barn for an illegal reed, moving Troy Diede (Intrepid) to fifth. As we watched yesterday, Jason Toft (GP) put in another stellar effort as he came from 20th to finish seventh.
A duplicate podium photo was taken following the second main as Wimsett, Self and Iannucci stood in the same spots following race two. Wimsett moved up to the top spot on the track by lap eight of the 16-lap race, taking the spot from Self, who chased him throughout the event. Iannucci again fell back at the start, only to regain the positions and finish third. McCoy and Wehrheim avoided trouble to place fourth and fifth to end the weekend.
MRP Motorsport - Birel JICA
The MRP Motorsport - Birel JICA field required a second start to their third heat race underway after the first was given to a badly out-of-line grid. After the karts were regrouped, they eventually got the official green flag and Saturday double winner Phil DeLaO (Tony Kart) got the jump and led the field in the opening lap. Unlike Saturday, DeLaO had company up front with Brendan Phinny (Top Kart) and Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) joining the party, set to fight for the win. Gaining speed as the race went on, Menezes proved to be the faster kart on track and eventually worked his way up to the top spot and the heat race win. DeLaO settled for second, just ahead of Nick Neri (Maranello). Alessandra Madrigal (Kosmic) and Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) completed the top five as Phinny dropped to sixth.
With his two wins and runner-up finish, DeLaO would start from the pole with Menezes outside him, ready to continue their duel. Phinny and Miinch would start from row two while Madrigal and Miles Maroney (First Kart) scored row three starting positions.
From the pole, the only thing DeLaO saw during the first 16-lap main event was open track as the Advanced Karting pilot went green to checkered for his first-ever Stars of Karting victory. Menezes was right there, but he just didn't have enough to challenge DeLaO for the victory, settling for a solid second. Phinny was close to the top two, but seemed to be comfortable with third, saving his tires for the second main, as he told EKN's Rob Howden on the podium. One of the fastest drivers on track was J3 Competition's Madrigal. She had worked herself from outside the top-five after a bad start to an impressive fourth place result. Another good run was put in by the Margay driver Bobby Runyan, who earned a handful of spots early on to advance up to fourth, eventually dropping to a strong fifth in the final tally.
What looked to be DeLaO's perfect weekend quickly turned in to simply a great outing as an error with just two laps to go in the second final opened the door for Menezes. A drop of a wheel, a slide off the racing line and some resultant dirty tires sent DeLaO wide, allowing Menezes to make a pass with two laps to go. DeLaO was not able to recover to challenge for the lead as Menezes took the checkered flag to tie the points race with first and second place results on the weekend. Phinny battled most of the race with Madrigal, as she was again one of the quickest drivers on-track. Phinny ran his fastest laps of the race to get back by the Kosmic driver, holding her off for third on the podium as she recorded another fourth place finish to end a solid weekend. Miinch had his best run of the weekend to complete the top five.
King Taco Cadet
The King Taco Cadet division always provides great racing for those along the fence line, and Sunday was no different, beginning with the Heat #3 coming down to the two drivers who were highlighted yesterday, Andrew Murray (Birel) and Trent Hindman (Merlin). Murray held the top spot early until Riley Reyes (CRG) quickly worked his way to the point. Murray challenged at the end, but was unable to make the pass stick through turn 13. This allowed Reyes to pull a gap to earn his first Stars Cadet checkered flag. Murray held off Hindman at the line for third while Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) enjoyed the photo finish edge for fourth in front of Jake Craig (Top Kart).
A turn one opening lap pile-up sorted out the field at the beginning of the first final, allowing Hindman and Murray to pull away to sort the race out among themselves. You could have thrown a blanket over the duo as they ran nose-to-tail all race with Murray waiting patiently for the chance to take the top spot. It all came down to the final lap with Murray looking inside Hindman on more than one occasion, but he never forced the issue as the two drivers ran very clean throughout the 12-lap race. Hindman would be able to pull away coming onto the frontstraight and took the win by 0.138-seconds over his talented challenger. Broc Yocom (Intrepid) had a great run and finished alone in third to earn his first podium of the year, while Reyes won the fight for fourth ahead of Craig.
As we saw all weekend, Murray and Hindman were up front again for the second Cadet final of the weekend. Hindman just seemed to have a bit more power than Murray as he was able to get away and keep the gap to score his second checkered flag of the weekend. A better start for the second final put Chelootz in the battle for third as he was able to hold off Yocom and Santino Ferrucci (Top Kart) for the final podium spot of the day.
With the Western Division now underway, the teams will now look to the Race of the Americas at New Castle Motorsports Park on May 30 - June 1, one weekend after the Indianapolis 500. The race is traditionally the largest of the year from a kart-count standpoint thanks to the combination East-West format and the popularity of the beautiful New Castle facility.