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November 18, 2012 News
SKUSA SuperNationals XVI - Saturday Report

Another beautiful day welcomed the competitors and fans of the SKUSA SuperNationals XVI on Saturday (November 17) outside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. With weather a non-factor, the conditions were perfect for some solid racing in the nine categories taking part of the Pro Tour season finale. Both under the sun and the night lights, the racing was exciting and got the fans excited for the big show - SuperSunday main events. With grid places for the main events up for grabs, day three at the SuperNationals featured two more Heat races for all the classes.

First up were the morning classes (S4, S5, KZ2, and TaG Senior). Hitting the Rio parking lot course bright and early was the opening heat race featuring the S4 A vs. C groups. Bonnier Moulton (Tony Kart) and Eddie Olpin (Kosmic) led the field to the green and the duo held station through the opening stages of the 12 lap race. In fact, the order up front did not alter until the final lap, when Jordon Musser (Birel) executed a pass for the runner-spot to gain five more points then his championship rival Olpin. Behind the trio, Robert Marks (CRG) steadily worked his way forward, ultimately coming home in fourth, ahead of Emilio Padron (Tony Kart). Canadian Chris Perreault (Vemme) was 17th

The second half of the large S4 field immediately followed via B vs. D. While Brian Fisher (DR Kart) started from the pole, he bogged down the green flag waved, falling down to forth as Trevor McAlister (Praga) took over the lead ahead of Willy Musgrave (Tony Kart). Fisher soon recovered however, not only working his way back into second, but closing the gap on McAlister. Despite repeatedly looking for a way past, he never regained the top spot, taking the checkered flag in second. Eduardo Martins (Kosmic) showed good speed and skill to take home third place, beating Musgrave and Jim Inglebright (GP) to the line. Canadian Don McGregor (Italkart) was P9.

When the S5 karts took to the track for their first of two Heat races on the day, it was Patricio O'Ward (GP) who got the best jump, in fact a little too good, taking the lead. While he scored an easy win, it was quickly taken away for a jumped start, giving polesitter Carter Williams (FA Kart) the victory. Andrew Evans (Kosmic), making the most of some quick laps in the second half of the run, crossed the line in third, ahead of Micah Hendricks (Praga). An additional post race penalty promoted Marcus Armstrong to fifth as championship leader Jim McKinney (KGB) was also penalized for jumping the start. Canadian Nelson Learn (GP) crossed the line in 16th.

Heat 2 for the KZ2 contingent featured a familiar story line, as Max Verstappen (CRG) emerged with another win. It was not totally straight forward though, Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart) initially led the way, but the former SuperNats champion was not able to hold off the hard charging second generation racer. Behind the eventually winner, the order shuffled multiple times, before Anthony Abbasse (Sodi Kart) came home second. Patrik Hajek (Praga) initially crossed the stripe in fourth, but was moved up one spot, after Ardigo was penalized for a jumped start. Completing the top-five was reigning CIK-FIA European Champion Jorrit Pex (CRG). The multi-kart Canadian contingent was led by Zach Meyer (GP) in 16th, followed by Michael Vincec (Vemme) in 24th, Philip Orcic (Zanardi) in 30th, after only completing two laps, and Nico Fattore (GP), no laps completed in 32nd.

The first of back-to-back TaG Senior Heat races (A vs. C) had drama before the green flag even waved, as two failed starts sent the front row of Charles Leclerc (ART GP) and Michael Valiante (Italkart) back a row, and made David Sera (Arrow) and the Phil DeLaO (Top Kart) the drivers out front to start. Valiante, however, avoided the subsequent bumping and contact in the opening few corners to move into the lead, ahead of DeLaO and Enzo Mestre (Formula K). As Valiante pulled away, the order behind shuffled lap after lap, with Luke Chudleigh (Maranello) initially becoming part of the mix and soon joined by Olin Galli (Energy) and a hard charging Louie Pagano (Birel), who took the runner-spot on the last lap. In the end, the Canadian scored a comfortable victory over Pagano, DeLaO, Leclerc, having recovered from a poor start, and Galli. Fellow Canadians Luke Chudleigh (Maranello), Remo Remo Ruscitti (Italkart), Jamie McAllister (Italkart), and Scott Hargrove (Italkart), were sixth, 10th, 20th, and 24th respectively.

The TaG Senior B vs. D run proved to rather uneventful, at least by SuperNats standards, as Dennis Olsen (Energy) started P1 and never relinquished the lead. Behind the flag-to-flag winner, Jake Craig (Kosmic) was the early P2 man, but he was unable to hold the position, as Gabby Chaves (Kosmic) took over the position by lap four, never relinquish the place from that point forward. Front-row starter Austin Elliott (Top Kart) completed the top-three, leading Craig and Kiel Spaulding (FA Kart) to the line. Cory Cacciavillani (Kosmic) was the top Canadian in 16th, followed by Chad Campbell (GP) in 20th, Marcus Brodie (Vemme) in 26th, Devon Sandeen (Vemme) in 28th, Alejandro Liverant (Praga) in 35th, and Adam Isman (Italkart) in 43rd.

S4 drivers commenced their final rounds of Heat races via A vs. B, which featured Moulton and Fisher leading the field to the green. Other than Musser briefly taking over second at the start, the duo battled for the win the entire race. Thanks to a lap 10 pass, DRT Racing driver Fisher emerged with victory over Moulton and Musser. Musgrave and Padron were next to the line. McGregor impressed with a top-10 finish in eighth.

The closing S4 Heat (C vs. D) likewise featured the front-row starters going head-to-head lap after lap for top honors. Pro Tour point leader Olpin started P1 and held the position all the way to the checkered flag, putting more cushion on his championship lead heading into the SuperSunday. Leading Edge Motorsports’ McAlister was never far behind, however, and ready to bounce before taking second over Martins. Completing the top-five following two good drives were PP Mastro (Tony Kart) and Ryan Pool (Tony Kart). Perreault was 12th.

Identical results locked up Fisher and McAlister in the point total following the heat races, with Fisher awarded the pole position for SuperSunday thanks to his better qualifying result. Moulton moves back one row to start P3 with Olpin starting fourth. The Utah driver enters SuperSunday leading the title chase by 184 points over Musser - who starts ninth.

The start of the third S5 Heat witnessed mixed results for the front-row starting duo of Williams and O'Ward. Williams was immediately shuffled down the order, and while he briefly recovered, the end result was just sixth. O'Ward meanwhile jumped into the lead, extending the advantage all the way to the checkered flag. Behind the race winner, Salvador de Alba (CRG) impressed by advancing all the way to second, leading the Kiwi Armstrong, McKinney, and Axel Matus (CRG) to the line. Learn was 15th.

With his two wins, O’Ward will be on the pole position for the SuperSunday main event as Williams will line-up alongside, a rematch of the SummerNationals battle. Evans will go from P3 with Erik Nelson (Kosmic) earning the outside row two position. Championship leader McKinney will go from 12th on the grid, holding a 111-point advantage over Hendricks with O’Ward and Williams all within 139 points.

With the final grid order yet to be determined for the $10,000 Feature race on SuperSunday, all the KZ2 racers were looking for a strong result in the third and final Heat race. Verstappen yet again was the driver to watch, never putting a wheel wrong en route to yet another win. Hajek initially looked like he was going to come home second, but he was unable to hold back two-time winner Ardigo, eventually coming home in third. Pex and Rick Dreezen (Tony Kart) in addition showed well, completing the top-five. Orcic rebounded in the final Heat with a 11th place, edging Vincec in 21st, Meyer in 25th, and Fattore in 33rd.

Completing the sweep over the last two days awarded the pole position for the young Verstappen on SuperSunday. Hajek will move one spot, to outside the front row as Ardigo moves back to third. Pex jumps to fourth to start the feature while American Gary Carlton (Energy) will go from P5 after three straight sixth place finishes.

Ending the Heat races for the morning classes were the final two TaG Senior runs, with A vs. B up first. Right when the green flag waved, chaos erupted as several of the front-runners impacted the barriers, including the polesitter Leclerc, who ended up being classified 29th. This allowed Joel Miller (FA Kart) to vault into the lead, ahead of Galli, Jamie Seracki (Merlin) and Chudleigh. That being said, front-row starter Olsen was quickly the driver on the move, working his back into first the top-five, then the top-three. Never giving up, he made the most of the dueling Miller and Galli to close the gap and take over the lead on lap 10. Holding off Galli at the stripe Olsen scored the win. Sieracki completed the top-three, edging Chudleigh and Miller. McAllister was 20th, followed by Liverant in 22nd, Cacciavillani in 24th, Sandeen in 26, and Brodie 31st.

The C vs. D TaG Senior ended the morning activities with some additional close racing. While Valiante and Elliott led the field to the green, it was DeLaO who was the racer on the move. Initially slotting into second behind the veteran Valiante, he made his move on lap six and never looked back, holding on for a narrow win and vital points in his quest for the Pro Tour title. Elliott ran uncontested in third to the stripe, ahead of Ruscitti and Pagano, who both ran worked their forward. Hargrove (just missed the top-five in seventh, ahead of Isman in 17th, and Campbell in 24th.

The victory gave DeLaO the provisional Pro Tour championship as he enters SuperSunday 220 points ahead of Ruscitti. The SuperNats title however is in the sites of Olsen, who will start on the pole position with Galli on the outside. Pagano improves from his 19th in qualifying to start P3 in the main event with Valiante in fourth. Elliott and DeLaO will make up an all Top Kart row three with Chudleigh and Sieracki behind them.

Before the afternoon contingent of classes ran their final Heat races, the S4 and Tag Senior SuperSunday grids needed to finalized via a pair of Last Chance Qualifiers.

In the S4 affair Perreault converted the pole into a win over Brad Dhesi (CRG), Antonio Canedo (CRG), Ken Schilling (Vemme), and Lance Lane (DR Kart), the later duo having initially been fighting for the last transfer place in sixth. That honor, however went to Steve Perdue (AMV), who overcame some last lap pressure from SKUSA #2 plate Nick Firestone (Zanardi).

The TaG Senior race also had a polesitter go flag-to-flag, with Daniel Roeper (Italkart) taking the victory ahead of Cacciavillani, Aussie David Sera (Arrow), Alejo Fernandez (Energy), and Evan Meehan (Praga). Wisconsin driver TJ Koyen made a chassis switch prior to Friday morning’s action, putting his Merlin to rest and piecing together his new Exprit chassis from DB Motorsports. Starting 31st and able to avoid the early carnage that began the LCQ, Koyen drove his way forward as if he drove the kart for years, and he eventually earned the final transfer spot with a pass just two laps from the finish.

The always entertaining TaG Cadet drivers started the afternoon Heat race action, with A vs. C up first. Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) made the most of a good launch by passing the lead duo of Antonio Serravalle (Tony Kart) and David Malukas (Birel), building a small gap. While he ultimately emerged with the victory, it was not without drama, as Serravalle repeatedly diced for the top spot, before dropping back a few places in the closing stage. Brandon Lemke (Merlin), thanks to a superb final tour that had him advance three places, was second to the checkered flag, ahead of Rasmus Lindh (Kosmic), Serravalle and Ryan C Lewis (Kosmic). Canadian Griffin Dowler (Energy) was 27th.

The follow-up B vs. D TaG Cadet affair was typical wild event. It started with front-row starter Zach Holden (Top Kart) falling down to eighth in the opening few corners and Leonardo Stoia (PCR) taking over the spot over Nick Brueckner (Kosmic) and polesitter Hunter Kelly (Tecno). That wasn't to last though, as Hunter worked his way back to front as joined by Neil Verhagen (Arrow) and Marek Machuda (Praga). With multiple drivers in contention for the win, it was only the checkered flag that sorted things out. Verhagen in the end emerged with a 0.096s win, thanks in part to some contact, Brueckner and Machuda completed the top-three, bettering Kelly and Chase Farley (Energy). Canadian Roman DeAngelis (Kosmic) had another strong showing in ninth.

Next up was the highly-regarded TaG Junior racers via the A vs. C Heat. George Russell (OK1) led the field to the start, holding off the new No. 2 man Dalton Sargeant (Tony Kart) through the opening few corners. Matching fast laps, the duo ran nose to tail the entire race, eventually finishing 1-2. Yurik Carvahlo (Italkart), having started P2, ran alone in third the entire race. Behind, fourth place shuffled as the race progressed, before Joao Vieira (Tony Kart) secured the position. Canadian Parker Thompson (Energy) - via a last lap pass - was fifth at the line over a host of others. Fellow Canadians Zachary Claman DeMelo (CRG), Devlin DeFrancesco (CRG), Jordan Redlin (Zanardi), Ethan McDade (Italkart) were 11th, 12th, 19th, and 32nd.

While the TaG Junior B vs. D race featured a win by the polesitter Lance Stroll (Zanardi), it was not without lots of entertainment. Pro Tour championship leader Luke Selliken (Kosmic) provided some pressure for the Canadian driver. Selliken kept up the pressure but no change in the order came about, leaving Stroll with the win and Selliken holding second. Thomas Schou (Kosmic) likewise was worth keeping an eye on, moving his way forward as the race progressed to beat Bruna Tomaselli (Kosmic) and Vitor Batista (Energy). The order, however, was shuffled post race, with Tomaselli penalized two positions, advancing Batista to fourth and Colton Herta (DR Kart) to fifth, the second generation racer having been as high as third early on. Canadian Gianfranco Mazzaferro (Zanardi) was 28th, while Tyler Ripani (LH) was 30th.

The TaG Master drivers were out to continue the fun, when they rolled on-course for their second Heat race. They promptly did that, in part to the polesitter Scott Falcone (Arrow) suffering a horrible launch that quickly had him down in 14th. Fellow front-row starter Larry Fraser (Tony Kart) though got away cleanly, albeit under attack from Robby Mott (Corsa). The Ribtect owner ultimately wasn't to be denied, making his move before the halfway mark and never looking back. Fraser lost a further position to Paul Bonilla (Arrow) late in the affair, before taking the checkered flag in third. Billy Cleavelin (CRG) - in what was an up and down run in and out of the top-five, worked his way up to fourth in the final lap, followed at the stripe by Jim Russell Jr. (Parolin). The race was interrupted for a red flag, with all drivers able to walk away, but Nienkotter was unable to restart after losing his chain just prior to the stoppage.

The first S2 race of the day had two drivers particularly showcasing their talents. Starting one-two - Billy Musgrave (Tony Kart) and Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) - and showed speed and skill lap after lap en route to first and second respectively. Connor Wagner (FA Kart), who held second at the end of lap one, came home in third, in front of Austin Schimmel (GP) and Christian Schureman (Vemme). Scott Hargrove (Italkart) added another top-10 to his tally in ninth, followed by Austin King (PCR) in 28th, and Adam Dowler (Energy) in 43rd.

After strong opening run in the S1 opener on day two, European karting champion Simas Juodvirsis (Energy) was looking to score the Heat 2 to win. He, however, had the talents defending Pro Tour champion Daniel Bray (GP), Italian legend Alessandro Manetti (Praga), and Nic LeDuc (CRG) to deal with early on. The duel for the win continued into the late stages, ultimately resulting in contact with Manetti that allowed Bray to take over lead ahead of a charging Fritz Leesmann (CRG). The lead group at one point seemed like the entire field, until contact sent LeDuc into the outside barriers in turn four, resulting in a hard flip, but he was able to walk away. That split up the field and allowed Leesmann to strike. The Pro Tour championship leader showed his resolve on the last lap, executing superb late braking move to for the win. Bray came home second, leading Manetti, Joey Wismett (CRG) and Juodvirsis to the line. Post race, Juodvirsis was penalized one place for blocking, advancing Jason Toft (GP) to P5.

TaG Cadet began the third round of heat races for the afternoon groups, continuing to entertain the SuperNationals crowd. Gangi Jr. got another great start in A vs. B, and was able to leap-frog Serravalle and Kelly for the lead. He led the entire way to the checkered flag after 10 laps to score his third straight heat win to secure the pole position for SuperSunday. Serravalle settled for second over Kelly as Lewis and Jack Doohan (OK1). Dowler was 16th.

The final heat race, pitting groups C vs. D, came down to the wire as Malukas put together his best heat race of the event by scoring the win. He and Lemke diced for the lead early on until Malukas was able to break away for a bit. Lindh put on the pressure in the final few laps, and came just inches away from stealing the win from the MRP Motorsport driver. Luis Felipe Branquinho (Tony Kart) was just behind in third, as was Hunter Corbitt (Top Kart) in fourth. Lemke dropped back to end the eight lap race in fifth. DeAngelis just missed the top-10 in 11th.

Kelly’s efforts during the heat races not only got him on the front row for SuperSunday, it put him 45 points away from Corbitt in the Pro Tour title chase. Serravalle will drop back to P3 for the main event, while Lemke will go from outside row two.

Russell completed the sweep in the TaG Junior category, earning his third win of the event in the A vs. B heat race. Sargeant and Stroll battled for the second spot with the American earning the position after 10 laps. Selliken placed fourth, securing an outside row two starting position for the main event and a 135-point advantage in the Pro Tour standings entering SuperSunday for the Rolison Performance Group driver. He was followed on-track by Buddy Rice Karting’s Thompson, who was penalized one position in post race events, promoting Vieira to P5. Mazzaferro was 27th.

The final TaG Junior heat race - C vs. D - saw a wild 10-lap event as Carvalho led wire to wire. When the dust settled, Nick Ramirez (Tony Kart) was second over a close Kurt Kostecki (Kosmic). Claman-Demelo recorded his best finish of the event to place fourth over 2011 TaG Cadet SuperNationals winner Logan Sargeant (Tony Kart). DeFrancesco was the next Canadian to the line in 13th, edging his countrymen Ripani in 28th, McDade in 32nd, and Redlin in 37th.

After Russell on the grid for the main event is Stroll, Dalton Sargeant, Selliken, Carvahio and Kostecki, all finishing better than seventh in all their heat races.

TaG Master group provided some carnauge throughout the event thus far, however, heat three was hard racing but much cleaner, with only a few small incidents. Falcone held the early lead but relinquished the position after lap three to Nienkotter. From there, the two-time winner running under the J3 Competition stable score his only heat race win to salvage an 11th starting spot for the main event. Mott ended up second with Fraser in third, holding off Bonilla and Cleavelin. Bonilla and Cleavelin scored the same amount of points however a better qualifying effort gave the Full Throttle Karting pilot the pole position, and an 18-point advantage in the Pro Tour title chase over Falcone - starting 10th. Mott will go from P3, a position that has won the last two SuperNationals. Fraser is set to go from fourth with Russell and defending Pro Tour champ Brian McHattie in row three.

Musgrave found himself in the challenger role for the first time of the event in the final S2 heat race. After grabbing the holeshot, Musgrave came under pressure from Ruscitti, who started off pole. Pro Tour point leader Sabré Cook (CRG) was second early, but Ruscitti reclaimed the spot on lap two and then took the lead away from Musgrave on lap three. The leaders ran close together with no change until Cook slid by Musgrave for second on the final lap. This gave Ruscitti enough cushion to cruise to the win. Schureman ran to fourth with Texan Ryan Kinnear (OK1) in fifth. the Canadian Hargrove was next to the line in sixth, followed by King in 28th, and Dowler in 36th.

Musgrave remains on the pole position with title leader Cook now in P2, leading the title chase by 160 points over Cody Tracy (Tony Kart). Wagner and Hargrove will go from row two, as Troy Diede (CRG) and Milan Dontje (Energy) filling out row three.

The final heat race of the day - S1 - set the tone for what is to come on SuperSunday, as the top drivers once again put on a show. Juodvirsis grabbed the holeshot and led all 10 laps for the win. It was not as easy as it may have appeared, as both Manetti and Bray showed speed to steal the top spot, but were unable to make it happen. Tyler Bennett (Tony Kart) ran to fourth with Texan Jake French (Birel) in fifth. The battle to watch was AJ Allmendinger (Rek Tex) making his way up the order. The final battle of his race came with former PTK teammate Matt Jaskol (CRG). It was like watching an older version of the SuperNats over again, as they tried to outgun each other with some tight racing. Allmendinger came away with the hard-fought sixth place as Jaskol settled for seventh. Juodvirsis secured the pole position with his second win in two days, while Bray and Manetti remain in their same grid positions as well. Bennett moves to fourth in the order with Toft and French capping off the top-six. Leesmann will go from seventh after he recorded a DNF in the third heat while making his way forward, and enters the final day of the Pro Tour season leading Wimsett by 90 points.

TaG Cadet provided six spot to the main event through the Last Chance Qualifier, a 10-lap race that saw Javier Gonzales (OK1) take the win. Javier Gonzalas (Intrepid) crossed the line second but was removed for improper tire. This moved Michael Benyahia (Kosmic), Ethan Barrett (Tony Kart), Max Hewitt (Praga), and Jagger Jones (Tony Kart) up one position, along with Nicholas d’Orlando (Kosmic) now into the SuperSunday main event. Anthony Sawyer (DR Kart) was unable to transfer into the main event by result, but will start at the tail of the field for placing inside the top-three of the Pro Tour standing entering Vegas, along with all ProKart Challenge champions. Dowler was 22nd.

Davey Manthei Jr. (Kosmic) scored the win easily in the TaG Junior Last Chance Qualifier. Noah Grey (FA Kart), Sebastian Coulson (FA Kart), Juan Manuel Jimenez (ART GP), Fabrizzio Famularo (Tony Kart) and Sonny Cervelli (CRG) transferred on to SuperSunday. Redlin was 14th, Mazzaferro 22nd, and Tyler Ripani 38th.

EKN Trackside Live continues with Opening Ceremonies for SuperSunday at 9:30 am local time. Tune in to http://www.ekartingnews.com/live at 8:30am PST for the start of the morning categories with the afternoon groups beginning after that. Visit the ,a href="http://www.ekartingnews.com/news_info.php?n=21167>EKN EVENT PAGE for everything you need regarding the SKUSA SuperNationals XVI.
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