Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SpringNationals
High grip and ultra-competitive racing was the theme for the opening day of action at the SKUSA SpringNationals. The tough conditions made it tough on the drivers and put the mechanics to work trying to eliminate grip, and this separated the field into the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in terms of workable chassis set-up. The weather was perfect, with warm temperatures, blue skies and a light breeze. The Dallas Karting Complex has offered up an incredible atmosphere and with over 240 drivers in the paddock, the main events had everyone fired up. The arrival of a group of European factory drivers turned the S1 class into international warfare, while the 40-kart TaG Senior field battled from front to back. Jordan Lennox steered his PSL Karting CRG to the win in the S1 Pro Stock Moto class, just outrunning Nick Neri (OGP/Tony Kart), while Jake Craig (2Wild Karting/Tony Kart) bested a full field of TaG Seniors, including DKC/SodiKart USA team pilot Louie Pagano. The SKUSA Pro Tour is now underway, and the journey to the #1 plates has begun.
Local knowledge is always beneficial at a race of this level and national frontunner Louie Pagano was a perfect example of this fact as he drove his DKC SodiKart to the pole in TaG Senior with a time of 55.195 seconds. The California driver is the team pilot for the Dallas Karting Complex squad, so he’s got a few laps on the track here in Caddo Mills. 2Wild Karting’s Jake Craig (Tony Kart) was right there during the timed session, less than a tenth of a second off the pole pace. Italian Motors drivers Yurik Caravalho and veteran David Jurca had their Italkarts dialed in, sitting third and fourth on the grid for the start of heat one. Jake Preston (FA Kart) was wicked fast as well, delivering his best career Pro Tour effort to complete the fast five.
In the opening eight-lap heat race, Pagano jumped out early and set the pace, but was challenged by the 2013 TaG Junior champion Carvalho. Craig was shuffled out of the top-five and allowed the rookie to step as the challenger. The Brazilian led for a brief lap until the veteran Pagano retook the top spot, going on to score the win. Jurca made it Italkart 2-3 with privateer Dustin Stross (Tony Kart) up to fourth over Matt Johnson (Tony Kart).
The second heat got off to a chaotic start, with three separate incidents occurring in the space of the two opening laps. This all happening behind Pagano, however, as he continued to set the pace out front, but Jurca kept him honest by remaining within a half-second for the entire eight-lap duration. Craig and Carvalho went at it in the late-going, swapping the third position with some pod-to-pod contact. Craig would come out on top at the stripe. Travis Lowe (Kosmic) continued his recovery from a rough qualify effort take fifth in the second heat, putting him on the inside of the third row for the start of the final alongside Roger Ralston Jr. (FA Kart). The best run of the race was delivered by Andrick Zeen, who is wheeling an American-made Margay this weekend. The SoCal driver started dead last after an incident on the opening lap of Heat One, and he drove from 40th to 17th, making passes in virtually every corner of the race track.
Escaping the opening corners was priority number one for many of the drivers in TaG Senior. The main event start was loaded with contact, and karts scattering over the course. When the dust settled, it was Pagano and Craig escaping with the top two positions and Lowe in third. Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart) was up to fourth with Zeen running an amazing fifth after starting 17th. The lead duo stretched out a solid advantage over Lowe, making it a two-man show for the first feature win of the season. Pagano led the first half, before Craig took over the position.
From there, he powered his 2Wild Tony Kart away to a 2.5-second advantage for his first Pro Tour victory. Pagano notched another runner-up finish for his resume, earning solid points in the championship chase. Zeen worked past Wehrheim in the closing stages of the race to make it four west coast drivers in the top-four, as Lowe completed the podium. Brenden Baker (ART GP) was the top rookie in the Final, just one position ahead of another SpringNationals debut by Kyle Kalish (Merlin), up from 20th to seventh. Carvalho was eighth over Lloyd Mack Jr. (Tony Kart) while Luke Waller (Intrepid) capped the top-10. Jurca, was in the hunt all day, had a motor issue on the warm-up lap of the final and retired before the green flag.
Author: David Cole ( EKN )