CONCORD, N.C. – The fourth round of the 2013 RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup Series goes off this weekend with the GT Machine Grand Nationals marking the second straight WKA national event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in western Pennsylvania.
The stars of WKA’s 4-cycle sprint series will take to Pitt’s Wilson Circuit for the fifth consecutive season and ninth time since 2003. The PIRC venue has become a popular destination for national kart racing and improvements continue to be made to make it one of the best, most respected sprint karting facilities in the United States.
The stakes have never been higher for a Gold Cup show at Pittsburgh. This weekend’s show marks the annual GT Machine Grand National event for the Gold Cup Series, meaning prestigious Grand National Eagle trophies will be on the line for every national division.
The Senior Pro Gas divisions are expected to be dandies with a considerable amount of money on the line. A nice $500 prize has been dangled in front Senior Pro Gas racers for Friday night’s Animal Heavy Money Race and Saturday and Sunday’s Senior Pro Gas main events.
If a driver can win each of the three races, he or she will earn a $500 bonus, meaning one driver has the potential to leave western Pa., with a cool $2,000 check in their possession.
The Senior Pro Gas class has averaged about 15 entrants at South Bend, Ind., in May and Camden, Ohio, last month. Another strong turnout is expected as the class nears the 20-entry mark in its first season on the Gold Cup circuit.
Jeffrey Beatty enters Pitt as the Senior Pro Gas point leader. Only Beatty and Patrick O’Neal have started all six finals to date. Michael Prokup Jr. and Josh Stiefel sit third and fourth and when drops are applied, they may be back in the thick of the points battle. A brand-new Margay, Coyote or Razor chassis with all the bells and whistles, minus the gauge, will be awarded to the class’s national champion.
Sportsman Pro Gas has been another highlight of the 2013 RLV Gold Cup campaign. The new division has averaged 12 to 14 entrants at each of the opening three Gold Cup nationals this year, and like the Junior and Senior Pro Gas divisions, a brand-new, turn-key go-kart will be awarded to the division’s national champion.
The points are close heading into Pittsburgh. Georgia’s Dylan Murry has two wins on the season and holds a 65-point lead over New York’s Nick Fauci. Matthew Miller is 95 points back in the third position with Jason Alder and David Kalb Jr. rounding out the top five.
This weekend’s fourth round marks a key event in the national championship points race. The championship cannot be won this weekend, but it certainly could be lost. Drivers with a shot at the championship and the brand-new Coyote, Margay or Razor chassis will need to play it smart and position themselves for race wins while not getting too anxious and perhaps finding themselves out of the action, which could cost a shot at a title.
In October at Rockingham Sportsman Pro Gas racers will be gunning for two special awards. If eligible, the winner of Saturday’s Sportsman Pro Gas feature at The Rock will earn one free entry fee at every Gold Cup national in 2014, a value of over $300 based on the first-level entry prices.
The winner of Sunday’s Sportsman Pro Gas main event at Rockingham will win one set of Bridgestone tires at every Gold Cup national in 2014.
Eligible drivers must have competed in at least one class in three of the four national events heading into Rockingham.
Sportsman drivers currently eligible for the entry fee and tire awards at Rockingham are Dylan Murry, Nick Fauci, Matthew Miller, Jason Alder, David Kalb Jr., Alex Vrabel, Cody Hall, Joshua Stark, Zach Wells, Camden Gruber, TJ Vargo, Cole Hicks, Nick Torres, Riley Kelley, Cale Hall, Adam Cornell and Cameron Clifford.
Fauci, Miller and Alder have their own battle going on in Sportsman 1 Lite and Heavy. Fauci enters Pittsburgh leading the points in both classes over Miller and Alder. Sportsman 1 Lite shows Fauci only 20 markers ahead of Miller with Alder only 40 points out of the lead.
Fauci has a little more of a cushion in Sportsman 1 Heavy with a 95-point lead over Miller. Fauci has won all three Sportsman 1 Heavy finals this season thus far.
Adam Cornell is only 10 points ahead of Zach Wells in Sportsman 2 Lite. Cornell took the first two wins of the season before Wells bested the field at Camden. Sportsman 2 Heavy shows Kalb out front after he’s won the last two rounds in the class. Kalb has a 60-point lead over Cornell with Wells in third.
Several drivers have a shot at national championships in the Junior divisions.
Ohio’s Sarah Luoma enters the GT Machine Grand Nationals leading Junior Lite and Junior Heavy. Luoma holds a 115-point lead in Junior Lite over Tyler Stiefel. Junior Heavy shows Luoma ahead by 50 markers over Tanner Lee.
Lee has the point lead in Junior Medium by a cool 110-point gap over Luoma. Stiefel sits third.
Tyler Stiefel leads Restricted Junior over Tyler Woods and Demattia.
Lee also leads Junior Pro Gas and Junior Clone. Lee has clinched Junior Clone as long as he enters either Pittsburgh or Rockingham. In Junior Pro Gas Lee is battling Tyler Woods and Demattia for the title.
The Junior Pro Gas division, while it hasn’t featured great entries this year, will still award the national champion with a brand-new kart. It appears the battle for the title and go-kart will come down to Lee, Woods and Demattia.
Keep an eye on Dustin Demattia in these Junior classes. Demattia missed the Jacksonville opener but has run well since. With Jacksonville as his drop he may be able to come back and win some championships if things go his way at Pittsburgh and Rockingham.
In Senior racing, Scott Kleman leads Animal Lite and is tied with Tyler Sandmeyer in Animal Medium but has withdrew his entry for this weekend’s event because he and his wife are expecting a child any day.
This should give Sandmeyer the inside road on the Animal Medium championship, while Kleman will likely still be able to win Lite because he has over a 150-point lead over Cayla Chapman.
Sandmeyer is in control of Animal Heavy and has won every outing in the class thus far.
Animal Amateur Medium shows Joshua Stiefel with a 20-point lead over Paul Headley. Ryan Bavineau sits third.
Tim Stiefel has all but clinched Animal Masters for the second consecutive season and Patrick O’Neal has a commanding lead over Matthew Horst in Senior Clone.
Pittsburgh International Race Complex gates swing open Thursday for parking, pre-tech and registration. A full day of practice will greet racers Friday before the Moto Option Friday Night Thunder Series, which includes 10-lap Shootouts for Sportsman Pro Gas and Junior Pro Gas and the big $500-To-Win Animal Heavy Money Race.
National racing goes off all day Saturday and Sunday. Click here to view the GT Machine Grand National entry form, which includes the weekend schedule, directions, lodging and other important information.