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Crockett and Gabriel Earn Wins at Central States Challenge in Pevely
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 23:00
The fifth round of the Superkarts! USA Central States Challenge went into the books over the August 20-21 weekend as the series visited its home facility - the I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri. The event, presented by Crockett Motorsports, welcomed drivers from various states in the surrounding area with the GP Kart dealer hosted a Saturday evening dinner for all attendees. On-track, Derek Crockett took home the overall win in the Stock Moto group while Mick Gabriel traveled west from Indiana to sweep the action in TaG Senior.
 
The Stock Moto battle came down to S1 and S2 drivers exchanging the lead throughout the event. Derek Crockett was the lone S1 driver for the round, but was the rabbit for S2 point leader Joe Ruch. In qualifying, Ruch - from Indiana - was able to nip Crockett, racing at his home track, for fast time in the session with a 37.028. The margin between the two driver’s fast laps was just a mere two-thousandths of a second. Kyle Gnau was second in the S2 class with Austin Duncan in third. Ruch kept the point through the first heat race, grabbing the holeshot to lead Crockett to the checkered flag after 10 laps. Gnau and Duncan remained second and third in class. It was a repeat in heat two, only this time Gnau was followed by Nick Lougee as Duncan retired after lap one.
 
Crockett picked up the pace once the lights went out to begin the 14-lap feature. Pressuring Ruch from the opening corner, the two battled for the lead. Crockett assumed the point on lap six and on lap eight, secured the lead after Ruch made a slight error resulting in a spin. That dropped him back behind Gnau until lap 13 when Ruch took over the S2 class lead. At the checkered, Crockett took the overall win by seven-seconds with Ruch crossing the line in second, scoring the win in the S2 class. Third overall was S4 driver Ron Petersen as he kept pace with the younger drivers to extend his point lead in the category with another class win. Gnau placed fourth overall, ahead of Kyle Donahue to complete the S2 podium. Chris Dickson placed fifth overall, second in the S4 category.
 
The TaG Senior field welcomed its largest field of the season, but on the time sheets it was all about Mick Gabriel. Posting the fast lap in qualifying (38.412), Gabriel went wire-to-wire in the two heat races. Gabriel continued his run at the front of the field in the feature, leading all 14 laps to score a four-second victory and event sweep. Brad Winkelmann placed second with Kyle Koetters rounding out the podium.
 
The series has bolstered strong numbers since its inception for the S5 Junior Stock Moto category. The qualifying session was a nail-bitter as only eight-thousandths of a second separated the top-two drivers in the end with point leader Jenna Grillo edging out Erik Nelson for the pole position. Collin Willis joined the party in the opening heat race, pushing Nelson back to third during the opening lap. Grillo went on to score the win comfortably as Nelson worked by Willis for second on the final lap. Willis, however, was penalized one spot for jumping the start, moving Joe Reed to third. Grillo and Nelson ran 1-2 during the 10-lap heat two run with Willis able to steal back the third spot from Reed, brining Colton Brooks with him. In the main event, Nelson got the jump off the grid and that was all he needed, driving away to a seven-second victory. Grillo fell into the grasp of Willis toward the end of the race, losing the second spot to him on lap 12. Reed placed fourth with Brooks in fifth.
 
Another exciting event went down in the TaG Cadet division, as is typical with every SKUSA Central States Challenge event. Huck Jenkins led the way in qualifying, posting a 45.384-lap to lead Ryan Joehl. The order held through the first heat race as Jenkins drove away to a six-second win in 10 laps. Joehl picked up the pace in heat two as the duo battled for the win. At the line, Joehl scored the win by two-seconds over Jenkins. The fight continued into the main event with each taking a turn at the point. By lap eight, Jenkins established himself in the lead and went on to score the victory by half a second ahead of Joehl. Tony Petersen and Collin Brown ran uncontested in the local option Yamaha Jr. Sportsman and Clone categories.
 
The SKUSA Central States Challenge is part of the Mazda Road To Indy program for 2011, a regional karting ‘grassroots’ partnership that will reward one driver from the series to the program’s Scouting Combine in November at Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, Florida. SCSC was originally set to conduct the final step of the process - driver interviews - this past weekend. However, the interview process has been moved to the season finale, where the series will select one driver to represent the SCSC program.
 
The last round of the six-race championship series is set for September 24-25 at the same I-55 Raceway facility.