WKA: Jacksonville Gold Cup 'Winter Nationals'

By Bruce C. Walls JACKSONVILLE, FL-Three hundred and four WKA/Horstman Gold Cup competitors from the US and Canada kick off their 2001 season March 23-25 at 'Winter Nationals' hosted by Jacksonville, FL's 103rd Street Complex. Laura Smith, Jon...

By Bruce C. Walls

JACKSONVILLE, FL-Three hundred and four WKA/Horstman Gold Cup competitors from the US and Canada kick off their 2001 season March 23-25 at 'Winter Nationals' hosted by Jacksonville, FL's 103rd Street Complex. Laura Smith, Jon Baker and Ryan Cassity were the event's double winners.

Saturday - Smith, of Tallahassee, FL, swept both Briggs Junior classes Lite and Heavy wire-to-wire. A 38.984-seconds trip around the 1/8-mile road course earned her Bandit Racing Chassis Briggs Junior Lite's pole. Defending national champion Tommy Van Cleef clocked the outside pole time, but when the green waved Smith rocketed into the lead and never looked back before finishing the perfect ride 2.818-seconds ahead of Dallas, NC competitor Evan Keresi.

"The Margay kart handled great and Lee Capps motor had awesome horse power," said the 14-year-old racer who lost her mother January 14th. "I want to thank my dad, my sister and family for all of their support and I also want to thank Mike and Lee Capps, Barry Hastings and Dan Cox."

Van Cleef crossed third, Amanda Campbell finished fourth and Jake Neal rounded out the top five of 28.

Later that Saturday Smith secured Precision Industries Briggs Junior Heavy's pole with a 39.598-seconds lap and went on to lead the 18-racer field flag-to-flag ending her second perfect ride with a 1.44-seconds lead over Van Cleef.

"That one was pretty much the same as the first, the kart was a little tight, but the motor was awesome," she said after her second win. "It's a good feeling winning two."

Alex Ohman trailed Van Cleef across the finish line in third, Ashley Morrisey followed in fourth and Chris Braun capped the top five.

Coyote factory pilot Jon Baker, of Belview, OH, bagged both Controlled classes. Saturday his Baker Racing Engines powered Coyote kart went wire-to-wire in CMS Body Works Briggs Controlled Medium. Baker turned a 39.011-seconds lap for the pole and went on to take the final flag 1.086-seconds ahead of fellow Coyote factory pilot and defending national champion Travis Firing of White Hall, PA.

"It was all motor, we had an awesome motor," Baker credited after his first win. "The kart was really good, but we had trouble with it earlier and got a little advice from Wayne Wispelaera and it came around," he added.

Filling the remaining top five of six behind Firing were Rowan Pennink, Scott Rettick and Josh Skindell.

Sunday - Firing set the pace in Briggs Controlled Heavy with a 46.036-seconds lap, but it would be Milford, DE racer Matt Jester taking the initial led over the nine racer field while Baker and Firing battled for second. Once Baker secured second he and Firing drafted by Jester with Baker taking a never surrendered lead at mid-race. In the second half Baker built a very comfortable led crossing the finish line with an 8.273-seconds advantage. Jester held on to third and was followed in the top five by Joseph Murzynsky and Scott Rettich.

"It was all motor again like yesterday," Baker described. "I want to thank Griff's Clutches for both wins and Baker Racing Engines," the double winner added.

Coyote factory driver Ryan Cassity captured each day's first feature. Saturday the Decatur, IL based Turner Racing Engines powered racer beat fellow Coyote factory driver Carlos Ramirez to RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Briggs Lite's checkered flag. Trailing Ramirez across the finish line in the top five of 28 were Robert Smith, pole winner Anthony Forristall and Stevensville, MD Boat Mover backed Todd Wieslander.

Sunday - Cassity captured King Automotive Briggs Medium's checkered flag with a .291-seconds edge over CMS Body Works factory driver Tom Craze. " The kart was fantastic all weekend and so was the motor we had excellent horsepower all weekend," Cassity said after his second win.

Crossing behind Craze in the top five of 28 were Scott Kleman, Evan McManus and GT Machine backed Daniel Koehler of Baltimore, MD.

Casey Roderick turned SSC/CRG Briggs Junior Sportsman-1 Lite's pole with a 43.936-seconds lap and led the 19-racer field every lap until the final lap when Bradenton, FL racer Brad Bischoff nipped him in the final corner to take the win with just a .549-seconds edge. Bischoff, an Advanced Racing Engines powered Coyote factory pilot, threatened Rodericks lead every lap before earning his first national win.

"I saw Casey (Roderick) come to the bottom, he left a little room and I got him on the inside,' described the 11-year-old winner. "The kart began a little loose and came in at the end and the motor Andy gave us had a lot of horsepower. Winning my first national is the best feeling I've every had in my life," he added.

Sean Molaison was third across the stripe followed by Connor Cotaling and Matthew Travis for the top five.

Travis returned Sunday and did it all in Briggs Junior Sportsman-1 Heavy. The 10-year-old Jacksonville, FL based Lee Caps Racing Engines powered Coyote kart pilot earned the pole with a 51.997-seconds lap, won the heat and led the 16-racer feature field wire-to-wire. He turned the race's fastest lap time on lap eight and took the final flag 3.415-seconds ahead of Chris Karlin.

"It was all driver and motor. Having the home town advantage helped, but I'd only practiced once in the rain," said Travis after his first national win. "The kart was good, but it had some push and I was having to fight that. Lee Capps gave us a great motor; he's the best. Getting my first national win here feels very, very good."

Filling the remaining top five positions behind Karlin were Zachary Schiff, Joseph Coulter and Anthony Marinucci.

Garland Racing Engines powered Genesis kart pilot Joe Bodenschatz grabbed Garland Racing Engines Briggs Heavy's checkered flag .066-seconds ahead of Rat Powered Coyote factory driver Jace Reynolds of Wall, NJ. Koehler clocked the pole time at 39.884-seconds. Koehler commanded the 25-racer field during the initial laps with CMS Body Works sponsored Tom Craze in hot pursuit. Craze captured the lead just past mid-race, but quickly surrendered it back to Koehler. Koehler held on until three laps were left then Bodenschatz shot by him for the lead with Reynolds drafting behind him.

"I was lucky, last year I got beat by the draft and this year I used it," said Bodenschatz of Manasquan, NJ. "I want to thank Keith Gutberlet of Genesis Karts, Eric Garland for the motor and G-Man Kart Works for their support."

Rounding out the top five behind third place Koehler were Craze and Hurlock, MD based Coyote factory driver Alan 'Bunky' Whiting.

Miami, FL based Advanced Racing Engines powered Invader kart pilot Kyle Vensel notched his first national win with a flag-to-flag run in Strawser Racing/Circleville Raceway Park Briggs Amateur Medium. Vensel earned the pole with a 40.456-seconds lap, turned the race's fastest lap just after mid-race and took the final flag just .149-seconds ahead of Fred Reichert.

"The chassis was wonderful and Advanced Racing Engines has the best power out there," said the 15-year-old winner who added, "It's great winning my first national."

Justin Webb, of Jacksonville, FL, was third across the finish line. Trailing Webb in the top five of 24 were Rich Yannetta and Ray Rogers.

Webb avenged himself Sunday in Custom Trophy Briggs Amateur Heavy taking the checkered flag with a very comfortable 5.094-seconds cushion over Michelle Pennink for his first national win. John Anderson set the pole time at 48.962-seconds, took the early lead and then faded into the pack leaving Rogers to rule the 17-racer field. Next time around Rogers slid off the track in turn one and Webb took the lead for the first time. Ashley Larson took second and threatened until she got a piece of the lead and took the white flag, but Webb recaptured the front in time for the final flag.

"That was a pretty sweet way to win my first national,' said the winning Capps Racing Engines powered Bandit kart pilot. "I felt we had the strongest kart out there and I want to thank my brothers for helping in the pits, my father Joe, Todd Lamb, and Mike and Lee Capps for all of their support."

Frank Kelleher handled third, Vensel finished fourth and Yannetta capped the top five.

Coyote kart factory pilot Candice Jolly, of Naples, FL captured Briggs Limited Lite's checkered flag with Milford, DE driver Jason LaVere just .470-seconds behind her. Anthony Forristall found the fastest way around during qualifying turning a 36.598-seconds lap, but Jolly roared from third to first before the first lap was booked. LaVere grabbed the lead from Jolly on lap three and held her off until the last lap.

"This track's about the last lap. He (LaVere) passed me early on and that helped me," Jolly described. "I want to thank my dad, Advanced Racing Engines, Coyote karts and Cheeto Green for all of their support."

Rowan Pennink ran third, Forristall followed in fourth and Lawrence Sampson completed the top five of 12.

Scott Rettich dominated Power Products/Super Seat Briggs Limited Heavy. After earning the pole and winning the heat Rattich took the features final flag with a two lap advantage over his closest pursuer Dale Swartz. Tom Craze completed the three-racer field.

Coyote Products Briggs Junior Sportsman-2 Lite's checkered flag waved for Penellas Park, FL racer Justin Larson's Advanced Racing Engines powered Invader kart. Larson clocked the pole time with a 42.126-seconds trip. When the green flag waved AJ Morgan rocketed from third to first with Larson glued to his tailpipe. Larson followed Morgan until the last lap when Larson made his move to the front.

"I was drafting the whole race," Larson described. "He (Morgan) stayed in his draft and I went low and got underneath him," said Larson. "The kart was a little tight, but the motor was awesome as always. I want to thank the WKA staff for putting on this race, God for a safe race, Justin Bonsignore and Hi Performance Racing for all their support."

Completing the top five of 27 were Austin Hopper, Justin Bonsignore and Toby Kempson.

Shawn Brooks, a Chicago, IL based Rat Powered Coyote kart pilot, bagged Bonsignore Kart Supply Briggs Junior Sportsman-2 Heavy's win. Zach Jacobs earned the pole with a 50.769-seconds lap and hustled into the initial lead with Morgan threatening from behind. Morgan grabbed a piece of the lead and held it until they were heading for the white flag. Jacobs recaptured the lead in time to take the one to go signal and Brooks blasted by him in the back straight and held it to a narrow .142-seconds lead at the end.

"I thought I was in trouble there at the end," admitted the 12-year-old first time national winner. "The Coyote kart handled good all day, the motor was awesome and I want to then the Craze family and CMS Body Works for a great aerodynamic package. This is awesome winning my first national."

Morgan and Jacobs finished third and fourth and Chris McDonald capped the top five of 21-racers.

Lincoln, DE racer Matthew Jester was another racer who notched his first national wire-to-wire that weekend. Jester's Super Tech Racing Engines powered Coyote kart turned I- Performance Equipment Briggs Super Heavy's pole time with a 41.479-seconds trip. From there he rocketed into the lead and held off veteran kart racer by .377-seconds at the finish.

"I just drove my heart out and couldn't let up," said the 16-year-old Grotto Pizza sponsored pilot. "The kart handled good. It was pushing in the heat and we got it out for the feature. Kevin Coulborn's motor was strong; it's the fastest thing I've rode in. I also want to thank Curt Carey, this win's for him."

Rounding out the top five of 11 behind Cole were Bob Hannagan, Steve Lawson and John Muscente.

Sunday's second feature, McDonald Motorsports Briggs Restricted Junior was captured by first time national winner Mark Hackett, of Tampa, FL who beat Chicago, IL Coyote factory pilot Jerry Sharp to the finish by .150-seconds. "This is great winning my first national is just great!" beamed the 14-year-old I-Performance Racing sponsored winner. "The Kart race great all day and the motor was good al day and even better in the race. I want to add a special thanks to I-Performance racing for their sponsorship and thank my family for their support."

Following Sharp across the stripe in the top five of 24 were Ashley Morrisey, Laura Smith and Alex Ohman.

Bowie, MD based Super Tech powered Coyote kart pilot Dave Ploor posted MCP Brake Systems Briggs Senior's win. Ploor earned the pole with a 49.766-seconds lap and battled it out with teammate Doug McGiffin in the early laps then ran away from the 12-racer field finishing 5.005-seconds ahead of Jack Krieger.

"I've been watching my son (Matt Ploor, last year's Amateur Medium national champion) do it and this was my first pole, first win and the first time I've ever raced in the rain," said Ploor. "The kart ran great and Kevin Coulborn's motor ran great."

Cole claimed third, Custy Demikoff followed in fourth and John Muscente completed the top five of 12.

Race 2 of the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup Series will be hosted by East Lansing Kart track in East Lansing, MI June 29-July 1. Historic G&J Kartway in Camden, OH will host the series' 'Summer Nationals' August 10-12 and for the first time in three years Gold Cup racers will return to the 'Rock' for their annual Thanksgiving Grand National November 22-24 in Rockingham, NC.

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Series Kart
Drivers Anthony Forristall , Todd Wieslander , Evan McManus , Travis Firing , Chris McDonald , Joe Bodenschatz , Casey Roderick , Brad Bischoff , Jace Reynolds , Eric Garland , Joseph Murzynsky , Carlos Ramirez , Matt Ploor , Matt Jester , Frank Kelleher , Candice Jolly , Jason LaVere , Ryan Cassity , Matthew Travis , Zach Jacobs , Mark Hackett , Alex Ohman , Dave Ploor , Ashley Larson , Joseph Coulter , Robert Smith , John Anderson , Todd Lamb , Scott Rettich , Jonathan Baker , Justin Bonsignore , Rowan Pennink