Race report and images by Bruce & Susan Walls of Action Enterprises
Kershaw, S.C. – Racers competing in the American Kart Racing Association’s season openers made karting history at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. March 18-20. Combined more than 100 racers entered the new AKRA / Vega USA American Sprint Cup Series and Road Racing Series competition.
This was the first time ever two AKRA karting series opened their seasons at the same track. On this weekend 2-cycle and 4-cycle American Sprint Cup competitors battled in the “Southern Tour” opener presented by Razor Chassis and Roberts Kart Shop on the 0.7- mile sprint track, while Road Racing Series competitors did the same on the compound’s 2.279-mile road course.
All together 56 classes raced that weekend including a full day of practice that Friday. Of those 38 were multi class winners. Woltjer Racing Engines powered Fullerton Kart Pilot Eli Trull, of Mooresville, N.C., was the weekend standout with 4 American Sprint Cup Series wins. Colin Warren was a triple winner. Double winners took 10-races in that series.
“My kart handled good today and that’s only because my mom and dad and my coaches got my kart setup right so I could hit my marks,” Trull credited.
In Saturday’s TaG Cadet Restricted Trull had Danny Dyszelski glued to his back bumper for 12-laps. Dyszelski trailed Trull across the stripe by just 0.271 seconds. Further back, filling the top five, were Mateo Rubio-Luengo, Mason Cantrell and Bryce Sanders. Trull took TaG Unrestricted with a comfortable 16.841 seconds advantage over Tanner Carter. Brewer Davis and Lucas Vera were third and fourth. In Saturday’s Yamaha Cadet Trull took the final flag with a comfortable 4.821 seconds cushion over Rubio-Luengo.
Sunday Dyszelski clocked a 1:4/658 minutes top TaG Cadet Restricted qualifying lap. Trull spun a 1:5.017 minutes lap that was 3.59 seconds slower for the outside front row starting position. In the main event Trull was leading midway through the race until he spun abruptly in the 0.7-mile circuit’s infield. Drivers including Dyszelski and Rubio-Luengo took evasive action to miss the spinning Fullerton, and the race stayed green.
Trull would keep his composure and return to action not far behind the lead pack. He would slice his way back to the front of the field, passing Sanders, Cantrell and Dyszelski on his way to the rear bumper of the leading Rubio-Luengo. Contact between Trull and Rubio-Luengo sent the Luengo kart off the track in turn 7 and resulted in a one-position penalty for Trull, giving the win to Dyszelski. Trull was second, Sanders third, Cantrell fourth and Rubio-Luengo fifth.
Trull was Sunday’s second fastest Yamaha Cadet qualifier this time sharing front row with pole winner Rubio-Luengo who turned a 56.641 seconds lap. Trull’s time was 0.136 seconds slower at 56.641 seconds. This time Rubio-Luengo was right on Trull’s tailpipe as they crossed the finish line separated by a mire 0.066 seconds. Further back Cantrell and Brewer Davis were third and fourth.
Warren, of Naples, FL, won both TaG Senior races and added a third win in 206 Senior Medium on Sunday.
Corey Towles, another double winner, was 206 Senior Medium’s top qualifier with a 54.835 seconds lap that was 0.297 seconds faster than Warren’s 55.132 seconds fastest qualifying lap.
Towles took the early lead with Warren chasing him down and eventually taking the lead. Once he got it, Towles kept the pressure on him down to a 0.153 seconds difference at the stripe. Close behind in the top five were Aren and Tyler Smith followed by Haley Kummer.
Towles, of Jacksonville, FL, topped both 206 Senior Sprint Medium races. Saturday, the 19-year old double winner built a commanding lead over Warren. At the stripe Towels was comfortably 10.423 seconds ahead of Warren. Trailing Warren in the top five were Smith Aly Antley and Kummer.
“In the Heavy class it came down to giving good feedback and my dad hitting the setup just right,” Towles credited. “That was it we just put it away.
Sunday Towles turned in the top-qualifying lap at 55.012 seconds. JT Swygert was second fastest with a fast time of 55.729 seconds that was just 0.717 seconds off the pace. Skaggs and Austin Queen shared row two followed by Zach Linsell and Matt Skaggs. This time it was Swygert following Towels’ Rob Smith Kart Shop’s powered Comet Eagle chassis. Swygert was 3.910 seconds late. Skaggs, Queen and Ryan Taylor finished third, fourth and fifth.
Eleven Road Racers earned double wins including the Eaten Rapids, MI father/sons team of Jerry and Nick Cole who are veterans of both national series. Jerry Cole, who is 72-years-old, won each day’s Formula 100 race. Saturday Cole beat second place Todd Hayden, another double winner, to final 1’s finish line with a full lap advantage. Sunday Cole captured Formula 100 Final 2. Hayden handled Controlled Finals 1 and 2.
“We had a good race out there today,” Nick Cole said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been here ever. It took a little while for me to get my game together, but we figured it out. I got the kart running pretty good. Had a good run, I enjoyed it.”
Nick won both Yamaha Pipe offerings. Saturday his brother Eric Cole finished second one lap down. Further back Rex Pierce was two laps down and Rick Queen was 18 laps behind Cole.
Nick, a veteran 4-Cycle Sprint Cup competitor compared the two racing styles, “Its a little more laid back over here,” Nick explained referring to Road Racing. “But it’s a lot more work back home just getting ready for this series. Right now it’s nice here because my brother’s here racing with me, got my mom, my dad and my brother all here. That’s a lot different then back in the day.
“We had a nice day out here yesterday. It was nice and warm and sunny. Off the line I got a decent start,” Nick said of his Saturday win. “Basically I just tried to be consistent through the whole race. Felt my tires get a little hot about midway through so I had to try and cool them off a little bit. Once I got a little fuel burned off I got a little lighter, got my tires cooled down a little and I got a little quicker towards the end of the race. I just stayed consistent and tried not to make any mistakes. That’s always hard in a 45-minute race.”
American Sprint Cup racers also had a double winning father and son team. Joey Miller, of Callahan, FL and his son Brently each earned two wins over the weekend. Joe dominated both 206 Masters races. Saturday his Stevie Roberts Kart Shop powered Razor Kart ruled with a 6.904 seconds advantage over Matt Skaggs who trailed Miller by 6.380 seconds Sunday. Both times Jody Covington and Lawrence Andy Jones were third and fourth.
“We just had a good kart all weekend and Andy with Busted Knuckle Racing got us up here and we worked on the setup, threw everything at it trying to change some stuff and changed some stuff and things worked out for us and we got where we needed to be,” Joey explained.
Piloting a similarly prepared machine, seven-year-old Brently took the Kid Kart offerings with Payton Bridges less than a second behind both times. Saturday it was by 0.294 seconds, Sunday 0.212 seconds.
“Things worked out and I’m a good driver,” Brently proudly stated.
Nine-year-old Tanner Carter captured both 206 Cadet classes. Saturday Carter checked out. At the checkered flag he owned a huge 12.523 seconds advantage over second place Elijah Skaggs. Trailing Skaggs in the top five were Owen Lloyd, Danny Dyszelski and Camryn Reed.
“Things turned out pretty good for us. We had a good kart all weekend. I just pull away after I got the lead.”
The race was a tight battle for the lead from start to finish with Carter beating Beagle by just 0.222 seconds. Taking the remaining top five were Dyszelski, Skaggs and Lloyd.
Cade Frazier capped the 206 Junior offerings. Saturday he finished a very comfortable lap over Ian Habiuk Sunday Macon Moore followed him across the stripe 8.724 seconds later.
Back in Road Racing’s double winners column, Kyle Cuthbertson bagged both Yamaha Sprint classes. Jordan Johnson covered Junior Novice Extra and Junior Novice Sprint. Saturday Mason Wheatley was a lap down when Johnson crossed Junior Novice Extra’s finish line. Sunday Wheatley was further back when Johnson was at the stripe.
James Cartledge captured the Clone/L0206 classes. Both times, the Gallagher brothers, Steven and Mark, trailed him across the finish line. On Saturday Steven was one lap down at the end followed by Mark who was 2 laps down when the checkered flag flew. Sunday the Gallagher’s were both one lap down behind Cartledge.
Fran Mazzucotelli found the Formula 125 checkered flags.
Saturday Chesapeake, VA based Pascual Torres won Stock Honda Final 1 and 125 Shifter Final 1. In Stock Honda Torres piloting a Praga kart with a self-built motor with a Brian Fisher cylinder, took the checkered flag 43.040 seconds ahead of Denver Liabenow. Lee Waddell was third. Later that day Torres topped 125 Shifter Final 1with Liabenow behind him 51.178 seconds later.
“The first win was fairly simple. The track was a little green in the beginning and we pushed hard.” Torres said, “The engine was great, it pushed hard. Had some pretty good lap times and had a good race. The handling on the Praga kart was phenomenal. I made a few adjustments during practice and it (the kart) really came in towards the end and was really, really fast.
“The second feature was a little more challenging because we were out there with the ICC’s and they have a lot more engine, but even with them having more power we were still able to stay on top of them. We were able to win over a more powerful engine with the Praga and the Fisher Engine,” Torres explained adding, “Conditions today (Sunday) are a little less favorable, the track conditions are very cold. It’s very green and dusty. It will be three or four seconds slower today then it was yesterday. My teammate went out earlier and we did some testing and he proved that the track is a lot slower today than it was yesterday.”
Eric Stockford posted the Piston Port Sprint wins. Saturday Cuthbertson was seven laps behind when Stockford crossed the stripe. Veteran Road Racer Dan Stowell finished third. Sunday Stowell was on Stockford’s tail pipe when the checkered flag waved.
Todd Hayden topped the two Controlled Finals. Saturday he owned a full lap lead over Fran Mazzucotelli when the checkered waved. Sunday he soloed the second final.
Brandon Basela bagged both TaG Senior Finals. Saturday his closest pursuer, Travis Waddell, was a lap down at the end. Basela was Sunday’s only TaG Senior competitor.
Racers in the American Sprint Cup Series’ Northern tour will compete in three races starting with round 1 scheduled for June 3-5 at Genesee Valley Kart Club in Avon, NY followed by round 2 scheduled for July 29-31 at Thompson Kart Raceway in Thompson, OH, Round three will be held August 26-28 at Nicholson Speedway in Chestertown, MD
Vega USA Southern Tour racers have two more dates on their 2016 schedule. On April 29-May 1 they will race at a newly constructed venue in the Herrin Compound in Dublin, GA and September 16-18 the tour’s final stop will be at historic Barnesville, GA.
Road Race competitors will head to Brooklyn, MI for the first of two visits there. On the weekend of June 17-19 they will be battling for national points at Lexington, OH then July 9-10 they visit Grattan, MI before heading back to Brooklyn, MI September 24-25.