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SKUSA Pro Tour

Speed and Giebler Score During SummerNationals Opening Day
Sunday, 18 July 2010 00:00
With perfect weather blanketing an incredible facility, the Superkarts! USA SummerNationals enjoyed great head-to-head racing and some amazing finishes in the opening day of action at USA International Raceway in Shawano, WI. In the feature category of the day – TaG Senior – veteran Phil Giebler emerged for a huge battle to take the win, while in the S1 Pro Stock Moto class, Alex Speed made the most of his return to SKUSA competition with a dominant victory over a star-studded field.

Saturday’s race schedule was capped by an incredible battle in the TaG Senior class, as Pro Tour point leader Phil Giebler (FA Kart) positioned himself throughout the day for the shot at another win. That said, National Kart Supply’s Mark Vielgut (Corsa) dropped the gauntlet early as he grabbed the pole position in qualifying. The combination of the asphalt construction and the specific cornering requirements of the track have made it very apparent the spec MG tires have a 1-2 lap sweet spot during qualifying, and the drivers have adjusted their strategies to address this unique situation. Vielgut was strong out of the box during the timed session, but in contrast to the tire expectations, he would take three laps to hit his mark, posting a 1:13.048 that would give him the pole for the first of two heat races. California driver Adrian Starrantino (CRG) would sit second after the timed run, coming in ahead of Benny Moon (Kosmic), who traveled up to Shawano with good friend AJ Allmendinger. Moon is driving one of Allmendinger’s TaG karts, and has been very impressive. Giebler was fourth, right ahead of veteran Jamie Sieracki (Merlin).

In the first heat, Vielgut would drive to a 1.339-second win over Starrantino, while in the second 8-lapper, Moon would find his way to the front thanks to a late-race move past Geibler. After success in the first heat, Vielgut was battling a damaged clutch through the entire second race, but he was able to hold onto third, ahead of Starrantino and Merlin Nation driver Tommy Andersen. On the other end of the spectrum, TJ Koyen (Merlin) had showed well throughout the day but ran into trouble in the second heat, relegating himself to the tail of the field for the 16-lap final.

The main event was a barnburner, as Giebler took the lead early from the outside of the front row and was pressured from the get-go. Moon would apply pressure all race long, but Vielgut was right there to keep him honest. Andersen would eventually find his way out of the pack to slip into fourth, working to hang on with the lead trio. Behind the front group, top ProKart Challenge pilot Larry Fraser would hook up with Koyen as they were both coming back from disappointing Heat #2 results. Fraser started 13th and advanced quickly to the top-10, where he was joined by Koyen, who started from the final position on the grid (19th). With Fraser clearing the path, they would work their way to fifth and sixth, respectively, finishing up great recoveries that should give them motivation for Sunday.

The race would come down to the final lap when Moon got inside Giebler heading onto the backshute, but as they went two-wide over to the ‘Elevator Shaft’, Giebler took back the point thanks to his inside line position. Moon would wait until the final hairpin to make his next move, criss-crossing the leader on exit when Giebler defended to the inside. They were again side-by-side heading through the final sweeping right-hander, but this time, Moon was hung out to dry and this allowed Vielgut to stick his nose inside. Giebler capitalized and shot out of the corner for the win, while Moon and Vielgut leaned on each other coming out of the corner. Moon would drop his right side off the track, sending him into a slide off the racing surface and into the haybales as Vielgut held on for second. Moon never did cross the line and would be officially classified in 14th, while Andersen would assume third ahead of Sieracki, Fraser and Koyen. It was a wild finish to a great day.

Earlier in the day, the S1 drivers put on a similar show. The only difference was the dominance of STA Racing’s Alex Speed (GP). After topping the qualifying run over Select Shifter’s Clinton Schoombee (CRG) with a 1:11.071, Speed would run away to a pair of heat race wins. Aluminos’ Fritz Leesmann (CRG) was third in the order ahead of NASCAR Cup star AJ Allmendinger (Kosmic), while young Brett Felkins (Intrepid) was fifth. Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray (CRG) sat ninth in the order, and would begin his charge forward.

Speed outran Leesmann and Schoombee in the first heat, while Rocky Mountain Kartworks’ Daniel Bray (GP) advanced up to a strong fourth, showing his speed potential. Allmendinger maintained his position in the front half of the grid with a fifth place finish. McMurray would retire early when he lost his chain. The top-three drivers matched their results in the second heat race, but it was an event that would start with Allmendinger on the sidelines due to a mechanical, pushing him to 12th on the main event grid. Nic LeDuc (Energy) finished fourth to lock in the outside of the second row for the start, while STA Racing’s Jason Toft came back from a Heat #1 DNF to get himself back in the hunt. McMurray was seventh in the final tally.

The main event was a wild one, as the racing behind the rapidly-escaping Speed was great entertainment. Speed would go on to a 5.054-second triumph, but the fight behind him was non-stop. Schoombee would take control of second, but Toft would not be denied and he eventually slipped through to take over the runner-up position. Schoombee would then need to deal with a charging Allmendinger, who was a man of a mission from the tail of the grid, working quickly into the lead fight. Allmendinger eventually took over third, grabbing the final step of the podium. Schoombee held on to take a solid fourth, while McMurray drove a strong race to complete the top-five.

The S2 class gives us a look at the future of the S1 category as drivers get the opportunity to continue their development before earning their ‘A’ license, which is needed to run in S1. Young Lukas Johnson (Birel) has ‘S1’ written all over him, but this season in S2 will be a great chance for him to hone his racecraft. Johnson topped qualifying with a 1:10.905, a time that was the fastest of anyone on the day, even the S1 drivers. Derek Crockett (GP) was second in the order ahead of Evan Batt (Tony Kart). Once the wheel-to-wheel racing got underway, Johnson would stay up top on the opening heat, only to get dropped a position for jumping the start. Crockett would assume the power position in the second heat, which featured a last lap pass in the hairpin that put the St. Louis driver on the pole for the main. In the final, he and Johnson set about pulling away from the field, that is, until Johnson coasted to a stop on the sidelines with a electrical failure. In the absence of his primary challenger, Crockett pulled away to a big 9.109-second victory over Batt. Rocky Mountain Kartworks’ Cory Milne (GP) advanced up to third, while Josh Lane (Energy) ended up fourth after getting docked a spot after he was deemed to have jumped the start. Jack Bradley (Birel) rounded out the top five.

While the TaG Senior and S1 races provided thrilling action, the S4 Stock Motor Master drivers kicked off the main events in style. Aluminos’ Jonathan Allen (GP) came out of the gate strongly as the fastest driver in qualifying, turning a 1:13.384 to take the pole for the first heat race. Allen led the first heat until he spun at start-finish after hanging a wheel, handling the lead to Phil Dunford. The GP driver would the follow suit, spinning himself as he received the white flag, gifting the lead and the heat race win to Kurt Mathewson (GP), one of the Midwest’s top Stock Moto and G1 drivers.

Phil Conte (CRG) was second in the last heat race and started on the off-pole for the main, and he jumped quickly to the lead in the 16-lap race. Mathewson would pressure Conte at every corner on every lap, making the Californian work for it all the way to a 0.158-second victory and the Pro Tour point lead. Allen would come back from his heat one spin to complete the podium in third. Christiaan Bouhuys (Tony Kart) and Luke Bianao (CRG) completed the top-five.

When the SKUSA Pro Tour kicked off at the SpringNationals back in April, Fernando Diaz (GP) stepped up as the man to beat for the G1 national crown. After winning one main and then dropping out of the second while leading, Diaz returned to Pro Tour action in Shawano and picked up where he left off. Diaz swept the day, topping qualifying and winning both heats before slowing slipping away in the final. PP Matro (CRG) was Diaz’ primary competition in virtually every session, while Eduardo Martins was also in the challenger seat for a time during the second heat. In the main, Mastro kept Diaz in his sights but despite closing in to just a couple of kart lengths, Diaz would not be challenged. Diaz eventually crossed the line 6.379 seconds ahead of Mastro, while Roy Montgomery (CRG) would drive to third ahead of David Conyers (GP) and Darrell Tunnell (CRG).

The S5 Stock Moto Junior class grew from five drivers at the SpringNationals to eight here in Shawano, and with the current national count, over 20 entries will be expected for the SuperNationals in November. On this day, Austin Schimmel (GP) was the top dog, at least until the final couple of laps. Schimmel set the pace all day after topping qualifying by almost a full second. SpringNationals race winner Daniel Langon (GP) was second quick in the timed session, coming in ahead of fellow Tour winner Christian Schuerman (GP). Schimmel would win both heat races, the second coming over Langon which would put the two GP drivers on the front row for the main. In the final, Schimmel took control early but would get chased down and eventually passed by Schuerman during the final laps for the victory. Schimmel’s impressive day came to an end on the final circuit when he lost his chain, putting him on the sidelines and fifth in the eventual order. Alex Tartaglia (Intrepid) finished second overall, while Grant Prejean (Birel) completed the podium. Joe Reed (GP) was fourth.

Luis Tyrrell (Wildkart) arrived at the SummerNationals with the TaG Junior point lead, but his day would not get off to the best start as he was on the sidelines in qualifying before logging even a single lap. This opened the door for ‘The Flying Farmer’ Kart Weber (Birel), who posted a time of 1:14.427 to take the pole for the first heat race. Pennsylvania’s Trent Walko (Kosmic) was making his SKUSA debut was timed in second quick, finishing up ahead of Emily Maddison (Tony Kart), Emmanuel Mestre (Tony Kart) and Maxx Marian (Tony Kart). Weber would command the opening six-lap heat race ahead of Mestre, just as Tyrrell was coming back through the field to third. In the second heat, which would set the grid for the main, Tyrrell nipped Weber for the win and the pole. In the 12-lap final, Tyrrell took control immediately to take the win. Weber would finish second on-track but would lose the position in tech. This advanced Mestre to second and Austin Thomas to third. Marian ended up fourth ahead of Walko.

The TaG Cadet class was all Colton Herta (BA-1) as the young driver topped every session enroute the main event win. In the 12-lap final, Herta pulled away to a dominant victory, but the battle behind him was exciting. Noah Grey (FA Kart) would come out on top of the scrap with Parker Thompson (Tony Kart) and Christian Brooks (BA-1). Tate Holleran (BA-1) would end up fourth in the final tally as Brooks found trouble in the tech barn.