CONCORD, N.C. – The World Karting Association Mazda / Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series renewed its 2012 season this past weekend with the second annual Zoom Zoom Nationals at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C.
The doubleheader national event, which featured the Man Cup Series on CMP’s 0.7-mile Sprint Course and the WKA Vega / TS Racing Road Racing Series driven by Mazda’s Johnny Jacumin Memorial on the 2.3-mile Main Course, saw approximately 840 entrants between the two shows.
The Man Cup’s Zoom Zoom Nationals produced 602 of those entries, making it the best turnout outside the state of Florida in the series’ history. The event marked the first time a Manufacturers Cup national had over 600 entries at a venue other than Daytona or Jacksonville. The previous high was 577 at New Castle Motorsports Park this past September.
While some senior classes were not as well attended compared to recent events, the junior divisions continue to thrive.
Twenty-seven youngsters started both Yamaha Rookie mains; the pair of Cadet fields had over 40 entrants; Komet Sportsman boasted its best turnout in over a year with 24 starters; Yamaha Sportsman 1 and 2 were the weekend’s largest divisions at 45 and 46 starters; and the Komet Jr and Yamaha Jr divisions each had between 35 and 40 entrants.
Holden scores a hat trick
Once racing kicked off Saturday morning after a full day of Friday practice, racers looked either to continue success from the Daytona season opener or kick start their seasons after an average or disappointing Margay Sprint Championships.
One driver who had a terrific Daytona KartWeek, which produced his first Man Cup triumph and other top-five results, was Zach Holden. The Indiana Arrow racer proved his Daytona success was not fluke by becoming the only driver to score three main event wins at Kershaw.
Holden bested stout fields in Cadet Final 1, Yamaha Sportsman 1 and Yamaha Sportsman 2 to score the hat trick. He also captured a fourth-place result in Komet Sportsman. After this past weekend’s success, Holden appears in the drivers seat to challenge for his first WKA Triple Crown championship.
Chelootz, Jarsocrak, Verhagen all win twice
The Zoom Zoom Nationals saw three competitors wheel their mounts to a pair of Manufacturers Cup national triumphs.
Top Kart pilot Mason Chelootz raced to wins in the pair of Komet senior classes, Komet Lite and Komet Heavy.
Pennsylvania’s Brandon Jarsocrak had his best Man Cup weekend with a sweep of the Yamaha Jr mains on his Haase chassis.
And after winning the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award in both Yamaha Rookie classes at Daytona but experiencing bad luck in the finals, Alex Verhagen flexed his muscle at Kershaw and won both Yamaha Rookie finals. Verhagen again captured the Fast Time award in both divisions.
Here’s a rundown of the 20 main events from CMP Man Cup action.
New Jersey Sprint Series
Yamaha Rookie Final 1
Alex Verhagen dominated the 11-lap final for his first of two wins on the weekend. After winning the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award at a quick lap of 55.898, Verhagen wheeled his Haase chassis to convincing wins in the pre-final and final.
Verhagen crossed the stripe over eight seconds in front of New Jersey Top Kart racer Tyler Ferris. Samuel Paley was third, followed by Nicholas D’Orlando and Sam Mayer. Kyra and Kaylen Frederick finished sixth and seventh, while Caleb Tate, Jason Welage and Max Kaeser filled the top 10.
Mike Doty Racing
Yamaha Rookie Final 2
Verhagen made it a clean sweep on the weekend in Yamaha Rookie with the Fast Time award, pre-final and final victory in the Sunday version of the class.
The Ridgefield, Conn., racer had to work hard for the main event triumph in Final 2. Verhagen negotiated a thick batch of lap traffic over the last couple circuits in the 11-lap main with Sam Mayer hot on his heels. One wrong move by Verhagen would have produced a Mayer challenge, however, the Haase racer stayed focused and drove a flawless race to accomplish the weekend Rookie sweep.
Mayer crossed the stripe a couple of kart-lengths back for the runner-up finish. Welage improved from his eighth-place run Saturday to take third. T. Ferris took fourth and Paley fifth. Sixth through 10th showed Lance Carboy, Kaeser, Joey Maffo, Kaylen Frederick and Connor Ferris.
RLV Tuned Exhaust Products
Cadet Final 1
The weekend’s first Cadet final saw 40 youngsters take the green flag and a fierce battle for the win between Zach Holden and Brandon Lemke. Holden and Lemke, both of whom scored wins at Daytona, raced hard throughout the 11-lapper with Holden pulling his Arrow ahead at the end to score his first of three weekend victories.
Holden, who also won the pre-final, crossed the line 0.092 seconds in front of Lemke for the win. Another Daytona Sportsman winner, Jared Cordova, was third, ahead of PCR racer Leonardo Stoia. Kaden Harter had a strong run on his Birel to round out the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Kaleb Allison, Adam Sturgill, David Malukas, Michael D’Orlando and Grant Griesbach. PCR driver Braden Eves won the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award but finished a disappointing 23rd in the final.
Grand Products / Top Kart
Cadet Final 2
Braden Eves’s bad luck in Saturday’s Cadet final turned into his first Manufacturers Cup feature victory in Sunday’s Cadet Final 2. Eves and his PCR bested Pole Award and pre-final winner Mitch Goldfarb in the 11-lapper, crossing the stripe nearly 1.5 seconds ahead of the Birel pilot.
Michael D’Orlando garnered one of his best Man Cup finishes with a third-place result. Kameron Chandler was fourth and John Paul Southern Jr. had a nice run to round out the top five of 42 starters. Kaden Harter, Jared Cordova, Johnny Smith, Simon Sikes and Leonardo Stoia finished sixth through 10th.
Adkins Speed Center
The Komet Sportsman division saw a nice increase in entry count with 24 starters for the Saturday show. Merlin racer Brandon Lemke bested PCR driver Leonardo Stoia for the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award. The qualifying round was the only time Stoia would be beat all day in the KPP-powered division. The PCR pilot went on to win over Zach Holden in the seven-lap pre-final and race to a comfortable 1.4-second triumph in the 11-lap final.
Johnny Smith finished second to continue his strong Saturday. David Malukas captured his second third-place result of the 2012 season on his MKP Birel. Holden was fourth, marking the first time he’d been beat in final competition in three races Saturday. Austin Schaff completed the top five.
Komet Jr Lite
Florida Tony Kart racer Ashley Rogero picked up her first win of the 2012 Manufacturers Cup season Sunday with a dominating victory in Komet Jr Lite. Rogero drove an equally impressive race in Saturday’s Komet Jr Heavy to cross the finish line first, but then get disqualified in post-race technical inspection.
All was well in tech on Sunday and Rogero left CMP with one victory and left little doubt who had the strongest KPP Junior package at the South Carolina venue.
Rogero crossed the stripe three seconds in front of Merlin racer Kyle Kalish, who had a big gap over third-place Mike McAndrews. Brandon Jarsocrak was fourth and 2011 Triple Crown champion Joel Jens fifth.
Sixth through 10th in the 34-kart field were Grant Quinlan, Jared Thomas, Garrett Johnston, Corey Towles and Kyle Kirkwood.
Orlando Kart Center
Komet Jr Heavy
The previously mentioned problem in post-race tech for Ashley Rogero handed the Komet Jr Heavy score to Arrow racer Kyle Kirkwood, who raced at CMP fresh off being awarded the highly sought-after A.J. Allmendinger-backed Walldinger Racing scholarship.
Kirkwood, a Florida driver making his first WKA start, won over series veterans Mike McAndrews and Kyle Kalish. 2011 Triple Crown winners Joel Jens and Grant Quinlan rounded out the top five. Jared Thomas was sixth, Ryan Raffa seventh, Brandon Jarsocrak eighth, Clay Vaneerd ninth and James Bennett 10th.
Texas Top Kart racer Mason Chelootz swept the day in Komet Heavy with the Streeter Super Stnads Pole Award and dominating wins over his teammate Raquel Martinez in the pre-final and final.
Martinez crossed the line 5.7 seconds late of Chelootz but had a big advantage over third-place finisher Jacob Donald. Patrick Olsen was fourth and John McCusker fifth.
Mason Chelootz completed the sweep of the Komet senior divisions with a Sunday afternoon triumph over Jacob Donald in Komet Lite. Chelootz played the bridesmaid to Donald in qualifying and the pre-final before taking control in the 13-lap main. Chelootz and his trusty Top Kart won by nearly three seconds over Donald, who made a late-race pass on Raquel Martinez for the runner-up position. Martinez held on for third, Patrick Olsen fourth and Tony Jump fifth in the short seven-kart field.
Grand Products / Top Kart
Cal Stewart made it two-for-two on the season in Parilla Leopard with a 0.398-second triumph over Robert Bujdoso in the 15-lap main. Stewart, an Illinois racer on a Merlin chassis, took command early in the race and hit his marks down the stretch to deter any major challenge by Bujdoso and his PCR.
Senior rookie Logan Bearden finished a strong third on his Haase, while pre-final winner Chris Wehrheim took fourth. Mason Chelootz rounded out the top five in the 20-kart contest, one of the shortest Leopard fields since the class debuted in Man Cup in 2010.
TaG Final 1
Man Cup veteran Tommy Andersen raced his Kosmic to a big TaG victory in Saturday’s 33-kart competition. Andersen swept the day in the class, picking up the Pole Award, pre-final win and capping things off with a 1.669-second feature victory over defending race and class champion Robert Bujdoso.
Mason Chelootz was third, Trenton Walko fourth and Chris Wehrheim fifth. Senior rookie Raquel Martinez had her best run of the Man Cup season with a sixth-place result. Jacob Knueven was seventh, Robby Seward eighth, Arie Ouimet ninth and Hunter Armstrong 10th.
OTK Kart USA
TaG Final 2
After a pair of runner-up finishes Saturday, Robert Bujdoso put his PCR out front in Sunday’s TaG Final 2 and ran unchallenged to his first triumph of the 2012 Man Cup season.
Bujdoso, who was honored as a double national champion at the 2011 Manufacturers Cup Awards Ceremony Friday night at Kershaw, put himself in good position for another title with the 2.285-second win over Pole Award and pre-final winner Mason Chelootz in the TaG weekend capper.
Scott Kopp took third, Chris Wehrheim fourth and Logan Bearden netted his second top-five result of the weekend with a fifth-place run. Sixth through 10th in the 40-kart field were Raquel Martinez, Tommy Andersen, Jacob Knueven, Cody Gardner and Hunter Armstrong.
TaG Masters Final 1
Youngstown, Ohio’s Brian McHattie wheeled his sleek-looking Exprit to a clean sweep of Saturday’s version of TaG Masters, capturing the Pole Award, pre-final and final.
McHattie had control of the 15-lap final from the drop of the green flag, pulling out to a healthy advantage over Bobby Cummings and maintaining the gap throughout the race. Cummings crossed the line second but was disqualified in post-race tech. Cummings’ misfortune in the tech room gave the runner-up spot to Man Cup veteran Kim Carapellatti. Defending TaG Masters champion John Ferris III took third, Scot Carapellatti fourth and New England’s Russ Hamel fifth.
Margay Racing Products
TaG Masters Final 2
John Ferris III found some speed between Saturday and Sunday and proceeded to turn a distant third-place result to Brian McHattie in Saturday’s main to a sweep of the in the Sunday version of TaG Masters.
Aboard his familiar No. 2 Top Kart, Ferris earned the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award over Chuck Tate before making it look easy in the pre-final and final. The New Jersey chauffeur won by 2.6 seconds over Kim Carapellatti in the 15-lap main. Tate had his best run of the weekend to take third. Francois Brun-Wibaux was fourth and Tony Buffamante fifth.
Comet Kart Sales
Yamaha Sportsman 1
One of the better races Saturday came in the Yamaha Sportsman contest. Arrow racer Zach Holden fended off fierce challenges from several counterparts to earn his second win of the day.
Holden raced hard and bested runner-up Nick Luedeke, third-place Leonardo Stoia, Kaleb Allison and Johnny Smith. Garrett Moran and David Malukas were sixth and seventh. The top seven all crossed the stripe within one second of one another.
Jack W. Miller took eighth, Braden Eves ninth and Thayne Chapin 10th in the 45-kart main. Stoia won the Pole Award and pre-final.
MRP / Birel
Yamaha Sportsman 2
Zach Holden made it two-for-two in the Yamaha Sportsman classes with another close victory in Sunday’s 11-lap main. Holden won over pre-final victor Jared Cordova by a close margin of 0.148 seconds. Pole Award winner Nick Luedeke put together another strong run to take third. David Malukas worked his way through the field after starting ninth to finish fourth. Leonardo Stoia rounded out the top five.
The second half of the top 10 in the 46-kart field were Kaleb Allison, Braden Eves, Michael Cruz, Thayne Chapin and Simon Sikes.
The triumph gave Holden his third win of the weekend and fourth of the Manufacturers Cup season, the most of any driver after two rounds of the prestigious series.
Woltjer Racing Engines
Yamaha Jr Lite
Pennsylvania Haase racer Brandon Jarsocrak followed Joel Jens in Yamaha Jr Lite qualifying and the pre-final before flexing his muscle in the 13-lap main. Jarsocrak wrestled the lead away from Jens early in the race and proceeded to win the main by nearly a half-second margin.
Maidstone, Ontario’s Grant Quinlan drove to his best finish of the season to date with a third-place result, just 0.762 seconds off the winner. Skylar Robinson was fourth and Mike McAndrews rounded out the top five.
Six through 10 in the 40-kart field were Kyle Kirkwood, Garrett Johnston, Jake Johnston, Jared Thomas and Emerson Reed.
Verde Speed Resources
Yamaha Jr Heavy
In a similar story to Saturday’s Yamaha Jr action, Brandon Jarsocrak put himself in the top five in the Yamaha Jr Heavy qualifying session and pre-final before moving to the front of the deep 40-kart pack in the final and winning the main by about a half-second gap.
This time Kyle Kirkwood’s Arrow was a few kart-lengths off Jarsocrak’s Haase when starter Denny Long’s checkers waved. Jared Thomas capped a strong weekend aboard his Tony Kart with a third-place podium finish. Joel Jens was fourth and Jake Johnston fifth.
The latter half of the top 10 saw Kyle Kalish, early race leader Mike McAndrews, Skylar Robinson, Emerson Reed and Zane Smith.
Yamaha Supercan Lite
Arrow racer Collin Griffin picked up his first Man Cup win in an exciting Supercan Lite final. Griffin waged a spirited battle with Patrick Olsen and Dakota Pesek in the 13-lapper. Pesek led much of the race after wining the pre-final before giving way to Griffin and Pole Award winner Olsen late in the affair.
Olsen and Pesek battled hard for second while Griffin scooted away. Pesek crossed the stripe second but was relegated to third for an unsafe last-lap pass on Olsen. The Pesek penalty gave Olsen second. Brian Krummel and Tony Jump finished fourth and fifth in the 21-kart field.
Yamaha Supercan Heavy
Long Island’s John McCusker scored his first Manufacturers Cup national victory after several years of trying in Sunday’s Supercan finale.
Once again Dakota Pesek’s Arrow looked to be the combination to beat after his Streeter Super Stands Pole Award and pre-final win; however, McCusker’s Haase had the speed when it counted as he passed Pesek and inched away over the last few laps to take the win by a decent 0.402-second gap.
Pesek held on for second while Jackson Mears garnered his first podium of the weekend with a third-place result. Saturday Supercan victor Collin Griffin was fourth and Brian Krummel notched his second podium of the weekend by rounding out the top five.
A good field of seven Kid Karts made laps throughout the three-day event and gained valuable experience on CMP’s fast 0.7-mile Sprint Course. Jada Abed, Cameron Christ, Elizabeth Gray, Conan Ori, Don Whorton, Jake Williams and Conner Zilisch made up the Kid Kart field. The seven racers all looked good and should be primed for a move to the Yamaha Rookie Sportsman division in the near future.
WKA Manufacturers Cup Series competitors have about six weeks to prepare for round three of the six-race national tour. The series will hit the halfway mark of the 2012 season May 4-6 at the Pittsburgh Int’l Race Complex (formerly BeaveRun) with the running of the CRG America Nationals.