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springnationals - Rounds 3&4 June 14-16, 2024
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SKUSA Pro Tour

EKN Trackside: SKUSA Pro Tour SpringNationals - Sunday Report
Written by eKartingNews.com   
Monday, 19 April 2010 01:00
The final day of the Superkarts! USA North American Pro Tour SpringNationals will go down in history has one of the most epic opening events for a season. The racing at the Jim Russell International Karting Center was phenomenal like the weather was in the Sonoma, California area. All eight racing groups saw action packed races throughout the day with thrilling finishes and amazing maneuvers demonstrated by the over 100 drivers in attendance. With temperatures in the 80s, the track showed grip early on in the day went away toward the end to keep the drivers and teams chasing for optimal speed. The final lap of the day saw an amazing move by Clinton Schoombee, going from third to first in one corner to secure the S1 victory while Phil Giebler took the win Sunday to earn himself a $1,000 check for his efforts.

S1
Things were turn around from Saturday’s action as the order in qualifying saw Brett Buckwalter (Italkart) posting the fast lap of the session. Jason Toft (GP) was quickest out of the box until Buckwalter huddled his time with a 47.740. Comfortable with his time, Buckwalter pulled off to limit his time on his MG Tires. Day one winner Fritz Leesmann (CRG) took his time entering the track and made a late run at the pole, coming up short by eight-hundredths of a second. Nic LeDuc (GP) slide in ahead of Toft for third on the order while New Zealander Daniel Bray made it three GPs inside the fast-five.

The field got away clean as the lights went out on the SKUSA starting tree for the first heat race with Buckwalter earning the holeshot. The front five ran nose to tail until the second lap when contact was made entering turn three. Buckwalter and LeDuc both went wide, with the pole sitter continuing on however LeDuc stalled in the spin. Leesmann assumed the point with Toft challenging for the lead. Toft attacked quickly to take over the point on lap four. Leesmann worked Toft’s bumper until the final lap when the two criss-crossed each other through turn three. Toft went to hold on to take the win over Leesmann with Buckwalter able to recover for third ahead of Tommy Thompson (Energy) and Lorenzo Mandarino (Vemme).

Through the opening corner to begin second heat race, Buckwalter was shuffled to the back following some contact. At the same time, LeDuc was spun around and was forced to watch from the sidelines. Before the first circuit completed, Toft came into the pit lane limping in with a broken shift rod, ending his chance at the race win. Out front, Leesmann was challenged early on by Mandarino. Putting down some solid laps, including the best of the race, Leesmann stretched out his lead to over two-seconds. Meanwhile, Mandarino fell into the clutches of Thompson, Bryan Eady (CRG), and Clinton Schoombee (CRG). On the final circuit, Mandarino and Thompson exchange position through turn three. While doing so, the two made contact with Mandarino going over the front of Thompson’s Energy. Both drivers continued on but it allowed Eady and Schoombee to slide by for the second and third spots. Thompson ended up fourth with Mandarino back to fifth.

As the final race for the weekend, the excitement was through the roof as an exciting final 20 laps was expected from the headline S1 drivers. Drama began early as Thompson, slated to start fourth, pulled in with throttle issues. With his spot left empty on the grid, the field got the signal to start. Eady grabbed the holeshot as Schoombee got a great launch to sit second ahead of Leesmann. Both Schoombee and Leesmann worked around Eady by lap three and put themselves as the pace-setters. Brett Felkins (Intrepid) was quick on cold MG Tires, able to knife his way up to P3 by lap four to push Bray and Mandarino further down the order. Also on the charger were Bray and Toft from the tail of the grid, making for heavy action midway through the race. Lap seven, Leesmann assumed the lead with a solid move into turn three. By the halfway mark, he and Schoombee had a solid lead while Bray had moved up to third with a large crowd behind him. Toft challenged for the third spot, diving inside Bray into turn four. Trying to hold the outside line, Bray spun the kart around. Able to continue, Bray lost a few spots and would be out of the hunt for a podium finish.

With the front three established, no moves were made while Toft continued to go purple on the scoring monitor in the process of chasing down the top and cut into their advantage. With three laps to go, Toft was now on the bumper of Schoombee and the fight for the win became three. Getting the white flag, Toft got a great draft from the two in front of him to bullet past Schoombee going into one. As they went into turn three, Schoombee made a daring move inside of Toft and also Leesmann at the same time. During Leesmann’s turn-in to the apex, he gave room to the streaking Schoombee to his inside. The result saw Schoombee steal the lead as they went off into turn four. With a mistake free run to the line, Schoombee held on for the exciting victory over Leesmann and Toft. LeDuc closed in on the final lap to finish within a few tenths of Toft in fourth while Eady completed the top-five. Leesmann would leave the weekend as the overall winner, taking home the $1,000 cash prize with Schoombee and Toft walking away with $500 and $250 respectively.

TaG Senior
The TaG Senior qualifying session was quick and easy to identify the top players for day two. Gregory Liefooghe (CRG) was quickest in out lap before Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) move to the provisional pole. Bettering his time on his next lap, Menezes used the new Vortex power to dip below the 50-second mark for a 49.943 lap time. Saturday’s winner Phil Giebler made a charge at Menezes time but would not do so. Bobby Kelley (Maddox) slide under Giebler’s time as both ran in the 50-flat mark. Larry Fraser (GP) was fourth in the order to line up outside Giebler for the opening heat race with Adrian Starrantino (CRG) continuing to show speed with the young driver fifth in the order.

The first heat race for the TaG Senior group was a crazy eight-lap battle royal. The drivers left no inch on the track untouched as the field scattered and scampered through the opening corner. With the field bunched up about midway through the field, Menezes grabbed the lead with a bunch of karts in tow. Battling for position, Menezes, Kelley and Fraser made bumper to bumper, side to side contact jostling down the front straight as positions exchange with nine karts in the lead group. At the same time, contact cost Liefooghe the race as his bumper was dragging behind him, forcing officials to hand him the meatball flag. Lap six, contact between Fraser and Giebler in turn four saw the FA Kart driver prevail as Fraser ended up off the track and out of the race. Out front, Nick Johnston (Avanti) found himself up from ninth and to the point with Menezes giving chase. On the final lap, Menezes got too close, climbing up the back on Johnston and losing a number of positions. Johnston held on to take the win with Travis Lowe (FA Kart) benefitting from the hard racing to move up from 18th on the grid to second ahead of Giebler. Starrantino was fourth with Menezes ending up fifth.

After a short meeting with SKUSA officials, the field was warned to calm down the contact in the next round. Once the green flag waved, Johnston led the field briefly before Giebler and Menezes went to first and second on lap two and extended out to a comfortable lead. Menezes was never close enough as Giebler cruised to the win. Johnston came under pressure from a charger Kelley and Fraser who both started near the back of the pack. Fraser was able to work up to third with Johnston holding onto fourth ahead of Kelley and Liefooghe, up to sixth from 17th.

Twenty karts filled into the first corner to begin the main event, led by Giebler and Menezes. With plenty of pushing going on throughout the field, Giebler came away with the lead followed up by Fraser, Kelley Menezes and David Harwin (Tony Kart). Liefooghe would get shuffled out and fell deep in the field after completing the first lap. Giebler took advantage of the rest of the top-five jostling for position to lengthen his lead. Kelley and Menezes prevailed to secure second and third following Fraser running wide in turn three while completing the third lap. Lap by lap, Giebler continued to run laps times just a tick quicker than Kelley and Menezes to keep his lead at around two-seconds.

The top-five, including Fraser and Stepanova Nekeel (Vemme), ran static until the closing laps. Menezes turned on the switch to run the fast lap of the race with two to go, and in the same process slip by Kelley for second exiting turn four. Out front, Giebler continued his consistent lap times to score victory number two by 1.923-seconds. The win gave Giebler the event victory and $1,000 in cash. Menezes scored the runner-up while Kelley took the final podium spot, making up for the possible one he lost on Saturday. Nekeel made a bold pass attempt on Fraser in the final circuit through turn three. Despite some heavy contact, both continued on with Nekeel crossing the line fourth ahead of Fraser. Officials however ruled the contact was avoidable, thus moving Nekeel behind Fraser in the final order, still a solid end to a tough weekend for both drivers. Liefooghe battled back to finish eighth, but with this results on the weekend he earned $500 for the second highest point total while Menezes walked away with $250 ending up third.

In TaG Masters, Ethan Wilson (Tony Kart) held strong again against the younger and lighter TaG Senior field. Wilson was best throughout the day in the category with Craig Corwin (MBA) scoring the second positions and Jeff Dehaan (GP) able to compete on Sunday to complete the podium

S2
Continuing to be the driver to beat, Matt Alcorn (Energy) again bested the S2 field in qualifying, posting a 48.479 lap time. He would be challenge on the session by both Neil Joseph (Italkart) and Cameron Pringle (GP). Pringle would secure the second spot over Joseph, just six-hundredths off Alcorn’s time. Lukas Johnson (GP) would end the session fourth with Derek Crockett (GP) moving over to S2 for Sunday, ending up fifth in the qualifying order.

Alcorn grabbed the holeshot to begin the opening heat as Joseph jumped ahead of Pringle. Johnson and Crockett were able to slide through as well to move Pringle back to fifth after the opening lap. The top five ran close together but Alcorn was just too strong, going on to take the win by two-seconds. The fight on track was for second as Joseph fought strong to hold off a charging Crockett. Getting by Johnson, Crockett put the pressure on Joseph though he was able to hold him off at the checkered. Johnson crossed in fourth with Pringle a close fifth.

Extending his streak on the S2 category, Alcorn drove away to another win in the second heat. Crockett gave chase early on but came under pressure from the rookie Johnson. At the checkered, Johnson took the spot from Crockett to start on the front row for the main event. Pringle ran the fast lap of the race in a fourth place performance while Joseph retired on lap six while running inside the top-five, moving a charging Alec Gumpfer (Tony Kart) up to fifth.

The S2 main event was nothing like the early races of the weekend as it was filled with drama and excitement to the final checkered flag. Alcorn was able to grab the holeshot and led until going wide at turn three. This allowed Johnson to slide by for the point to lead for the first time on the weekend. Alcorn returned to his familiar position at the front the next time by turn one. Johnson fought back but settled back in behind the Energy driver. Certainly showing more speed, Johnson came back to take over the lead with a deep braking move into turn three. Now with a clear track in front of him, Johnson began to stretch out his lead. It would all diminish in a blink of an eye as his Honda powerplant lost power on the exit of turn two, putting him on the sidelines with a tough defeat. Alcorn assumed the lead with Johnson’s GP teammate Crockett now on the charge. Alcorn would pull a distance in certain portions of the track while Crockett diminished the lead in others. Coming to the checkered, Alcorn held on to his second victory and a sweep on the weekend to assume the point lead leaving the event. Crockett would finish just 0.250-seconds back in second while Pringle won the battle for the final podium spot. Christian Bird (GP) was moved to fourth after Diede was docked one spot for jumping the start of the race.

S4
The question coming into Sunday’s qualifying session would be if anyone could match the pace of Saturday’s winner Jeff Smith. From the opening laps of the 12-minute session, Smith put his CRG on the provisional pole, dropping below the 49-second mark with a 48.914. Phil Conte stepped it up over the night with some adjustments to qualifying second for a CRG front row. Yesterday’s pole winner Alex Keith (Energy) was just off Conte’s pace to sit third with Rob Logan (Tony Kart) also picking up the pace to end up fourth. Second thru fourth was separated by just five-hundredths of a second. Saturday’s runner-up Raymond Zanotto (Tony Kart) completed the fast-five.

Smith continued to show the way in the opening heat race, however this time, Conte kept pace with him throughout the eight laps. Conte kept within striking distance however never made a move to finish second behind Smith. A great scrap took place for third with Inglebright, Logan, and Zanotto. Able to break away, Zanotto took the spot and cleared the rest of the field with Inglebright crossing in fourth and Keith sliding up to fifth ahead of Logan.

In round two, Conte grabbed the holeshot to put Smith in the challenger’s position briefly. Smith attacked quickly to reclaim the point on the second circuit. Once out front, Smith dropped the hammer to run out to a two-second win. Conte fell into the grasp of Inglebright, who would take over the second spot before the checkered fell on the eight lap race. Keith moved up one more spot to fourth as he pushed Zanotto to fifth in a great dice for position.

The feature race began with Inglebright grabbing the holeshot when the lights went out for the start of the 20-lap event. The rest of the field shuffled around behind him with Smith able to secure second before losing any more spots. Once settled in on the opening lap, Smith reassumed his position at the front. From there, it was a reply of every race we saw as he just powered away in his CRG to another win and securing the victory on the day by over three-seconds. The fight to watch was for second as a host of driver filled the bumper of Inglebright, including Conte, Zanotto, Keith and others. Keith however would fall from the fight on lap four after spinning in turn two. He would continue on but not before falling to the tail of the field. Zanotto challenge Conte for third but after dropping a wheel, lost a ton of ground. From there, Conte felt no pressure of his own and began working the bumper of Inglebright. Making a last ditch effort, Inglebright was able to hold off the advances of Conte to claim the second step of the podium. Zanotto crossed the line fourth but was docked two positions for rough driving, moving Peter Workum (GP) to fourth and Howie Idelson (Sodi Kart) to fifth, putting in a good finish on a tough weekend.

G1
The G1 group was dominated Saturday by Fernando Diaz, and he picked up where he left off in Sunday’s qualifying session. Posting a 48.205 lap time, Diaz put his GP machine on the front row. Two drivers fought it out for the outside spot on the front row as Jim Kidd (Italkart) was able to better the time of Robert Marks (CRG). Kelly Baker (Italkart) sat on pit lane waiting for clear track toward the end of the session but only managed the fourth quickest lap of the session while Imran Husain (CRG) completed the fast-five.

Diaz took advantage of a great battle for second to sneak away for the first heat win. Diaz stretched out to a 1.286-second victory over eight laps. Marks held second with Kidd falling back to fourth behind Baker. Marks went wide out of ‘toe-tac-tic’ section, allowing Baker to come through for second. Marks recovered and went on a charge to reclaim the second spot in the final lap while Baker held off Kidd for third at the line. Eduardo Martins (Tony Kart) recovered from a tough qualifying run to end up fifth.

Baker got a great jump as the lights went out to begin the second heat on the bumper of Diaz. Baker put the pressure on early but again, Diaz was able to extend a good lead over the SKUSA SuperNationals runner-up from last year. The driver to watch however was Marks as his CRG came in late in the race. Posting the fast lap of the race, Marks was able to move ahead of Baker for second by the checkered. Martins moved up one more spot to end up fourth ahead of Kidd.

The opening laps of the feature race for G1 appeared to leave the race to any driver within the top five. Baker, Marks, Martins and Kidd kept up with Diaz through the opening circuits of the 20-lap event. After several exchanges for the lead, Diaz assumed the point and had broken away by lap six. By then, the rest of the top-five battled hard for runner-up spot. Marks eventually took over the position while Martins, Baker and Kidd continued a new battle, this time for third. With Diaz well out in front, the race turned for the worse as his engine expired while crossing the line with three to go. Skidding off the track, Diaz could only watch as a second victory was ripped from his grasp. Marks assumed the point and out along on the track, he drove to a three second victory. The fight for what was now second heated up as Baker went on the attack. Trying a move on the inside of the final corner, Martins fought him off to hold on to second. Baker crossed the line third with Kidd right behind in fourth. Roy Montgomery (CRG) scored the fifth position, crossing the line ahead of Husain.

S5
Daniel Langon (GP), riding off the momentum of his victory on Saturday, came into Sunday as the driver to beat. Alex Tartaglia (Intrepid) challenged for the provisional pole, coming just six-hundredths off Langon’s pole winning time. Austin Schimmel (GP) was third in the order with Christian Schureman (GP) and Scott Phillips (Italkart) rounding out the fast-five.

Tartaglia grabbed the holeshot to kick off the first heat race as Langon found himself in chase mode for the first time this weekend. Langon studied Tartaglia for five laps before making his move to reassume the point. At the line, Langon took the win by six-tenths over Tartaglia. Schimmel continued to run third with Phillips able to work by Schureman for fourth.

The picture of the class changed in the second heat as again Tartaglia stepped up to the plate once again. After grabbing the holeshot, the Texan held off Langon to score the win and secure the inside of row one for the main event. Schureman advanced up to third as he put Schimmel back to fourth ahead of Phillips.

The S5 group saved the best for last as the main event was a thriller to the end, minus one driver. Langon had issues on the pace lap and was unable to get his kart refired before the field left the grid, force to watch the race from the sidelines thinking of what could be. With Langon out, the rest of the field put in a performance for 15 straight laps. Tartaglia and Schureman began by exchanging the lead lap after lap. With Tartaglia appeared to in the lead in the closing laps, he went wide through turn three, dropping to third. On the final circuit, Tartaglia charged forward to second and began chasing Schureman. At the line, Schureman ran mistake free to score the victory by 0.182-seconds over Tartaglia with Schimmel and Phillip close behind in third and fourth.
 
TaG Junior
The fight for the provisional pole position was a great challenge as Saturday’s winner Luis Tyrrell (Wild Kart) swapped the spot with Kathryn Cornell (Intrepid) during the 12-minute run. Tyrrell was first to strike until Cornell stepped up to the plate to post a 51.193 lap time. Tyrrell put down some late flyer laps but spun off the chain with two minutes to go to end what could have been a pole run. Cornell thus held on for the pole position with Tyrrell settling for second. Emmanuel Mestre (Tony Kart) was third in the order with Emily Maddison (Tony Kart) and Austin Dement (Top Kart) wrapping up the fast-five.

Tyrrell duplicated the type of starts he produced yesterday as he shot away from the field to open up the opening heat race. Behind him, Cornell got a shot from Mestre through turn three, going wide on the exit as Mestre took over the second spot. Mestre continued on to run two-seconds back of Tyrrell after eight laps. Cornell held off Norris for third with Dement in the hunt until pulling off before the checkered, handing fifth to Jake Craig (CRG).

Once again in the second heat for TaG Junior, Tyrrell showed the way as the rest of the field battled for second. Mestre dropped back to fourth but worked his way up to second by the end of the eight laps ahead of Cornell, Norris, and Craig.

The main event looked to be Tyrrell as he once again broke away from the field in the early portion of the race. Mestre got away from the rest of the drivers battling for position and arrived on the bumper of Tyrrell at the halfway mark. Once there, Mestre drafted by for the lead with five laps remaining. Tyrrell stepped up to the plate to return the pressure back on Mestre. Campaigning the final lap, the two drivers made contact while battling for the victory through turn three. Tyrrell was on the inside of Mestre and contact was made. This allowed Cornell who was running third to slide by and assumed the lead. Tyrrell rejoined the track and tried to run her down. Cornell would go on to earn the victory. Tyrrell would have to settle for second in what could have been a second victory on the weekend. Dement held off Norris for the final podium spot with Craig rounding out the top-five. Mestre would be classified seventh, unable to take the checkered flag.

TaG Cadet
Superkarts! USA officials changed the qualifying procedure for the TaG Cadet group, separating the field into groups to eliminate drafting. After all the drivers made their three laps, Colton Herta (BA-1) recorded the fast lap of the session with a 57.196 to secure the pole. Parker Thompson (Tony Kart) was second quickest with a host of others just off his time. Christian Brooks (BA-1), Blaine Rocha (Wild Kart), and Davey Manthei Jr. (Wild Kart) were all just a tenth off to complete the fast-five.

Brooks was able to advance forward in the opening heat race as he moved up to the point early on and held off Thompson for the win. Herta slipped back to third as he fought off a group of drivers with Brenden Baker (Nevoso) and Hunter Corbitt (Top Kart) completing the top-five.

A three driver breakaway became four as Herta recovered from a slot start to rejoin the fight for the win with two laps to go. Thompson led for most of the race until the white flag shown. Brooks and Herta worked together to get by Thompson into the turn one. Herta then challenged Brooks, sliding by on the inside to take the lead and the win in the final corner. Brooks ended up second with Thompson, Baker and Noah Grey (FA Kart) up to fifth.

Undoubtedly one of the craziest finishes seen, Tate Holleran (BA-1) scored the victory in an unusual position. After a shaky start through turn one with a number of drivers spinning around, Holleran, Herta, Thompson and Grey made up the lead group. The four put on a display for the fans along the fence as they made a number of lead changes. Late in the race, Herta lost ground but managed to put his head down to run the fast laps of the race to rejoin the fight. Back into third as the white flag waved, Herta was into second by turn four and then into the lead as they went into the tic-tac-toe section. Coming to the final corner, Thompson went for the win and the two went wide on the exit of the corner. This allowed Holleran to slip to the inside. Thompson and Holleran drag-raced to the checkered and went for the same spot at the line. Doing so, Holleran was spun around just as they reach the line. Inside of Holleran, Grey ducked to the inside to steal the second spot from Thompson while Herta ended up fourth. Corbitt would complete the top-five, edging out Brooks.

Certainly the event’s final day put an exclamation point on the entire event. The vibe throughout the paddock was a positive one, from the drivers, the crews and the SKUSA staff. The focus now turns to the July 16-18 weekend as the SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals will take place at the USA International Raceway in Shawano, Wisconsin.