Atwater, Calif. (Written by Francesca Tripoli. ALL PHOTOS BY MELANIE MILLER) - As the WKA West Super Series, presented by Bridgestone, RLV, & Grand Products moved to Atwater Kart Club, 89 drivers came out and brought their A game for Round 6! As the end of the 2012 Series draws to a close, that championship trophy seems more within each competitor’s grasp and it is a relentless fight to the finish to determine who it belongs to! As the sun came up on Race Day Sunday, drivers and spectators knew it was going to be a warm day but no one could have foreseen the intense heat that came later that afternoon. In an odd event in the Clone Pre-Final, all Clone drivers were able to walk away without serious injuries after a racing incident turned into a small brush fire on the back stretch of the track and claimed a kart before the flames were able to be put out. Great thanks go out to Atwater Fire Department, Atwater Kart Club, track officials and everyone who helped to put the fire out!!!
Starting off the event with KPV1 Qualifying, Jason Pettit shot onto the track like a bullet and made sure that the rest of his class understood that he was there to hold onto his first place reign from Round 5 and set the fast lap with a 35.094, just 5 thousandths ahead of Roy Fulmer who was putting the pressure on Pettit for sure!! Heading into the first Heat Session, Fulmer dominated by taking the pole position from Pettit and making Chase Farley and Carter Herrera work to keep up with them! After some seriously great driving from those guys, they set out to take the Green for the Pre Final and it was Pettit who reclaimed his first place spot and Herrera followed suit, leaving Fulmer to sit tight in the third position, just ahead of Farley and Mikey Prinzo. Pettit knew that he needed to create some space between himself and the rest of the pack for the Main Event where he was trailed closely by Herrera up until the last lap where Herrera got caught up and landed himself in the fifth spot behind Fulmer, Farley and Calvo. Proud started sixth and attempted to make his way up to the front but he was unable to get by Freese and Clayton Williams who led Proud and Richard Stock into the scales from the finish!
Atwater Kart Club welcomed 5 Kid Kart drivers to the track Sunday. Cody Batterton set the time to beat in Qualifying at 45.592 and left the off pole spot open to the Round 5 winner Alec Acevedo who took that with a 45.749! Batterton held off Acevedo in the Heat Session and left the door open for Alec Bridgman to slide up into second, leaving Acevedo to start the Pre Final in the third spot followed by Anthony Fossen and Race Godeloson who maintained their places all the way through to the starting for the Main Event. Acevedo reclaimed his pole position over Batterton who was out of the race after the third lap around leaving Bridgman to slide into the second position followed by Godeloson.
KPV 2 opened with Sonny Cervelli setting the fast lap in Qualifying with a 32.612 but felt the intense pressure from Blake Murdock, who was just one tenth off of Cervelli, and Rocha who was just two tenths off of Murdock. These three continued to hold their spots through the day with Grayson Browne, Danny Rubino and Harrison Mills driving vigorously to catch the pack!! Cervelli had built himself a great lead over Murdock and Rocha in the heats, where it looked like Murdock was definitely going to give Cervelli a run for his money and the first place win!! The excitement was building as the spectators were pressed up against the fence to see who was going to walk away the win!! Cervelli fought hard in the Final to keep his spot, holding off Murdock, who gave it his best shot, but Cervelli did not leave any room for Murdock to get by and by driving his line, Murdock secured his second place win, leaving Rocha, Browne and Rubino to fall in line behind them.
10 drivers made it out to drive in the Spec PRD class in Atwater, where there was nothing short of excitement. Local hot-shoe & newcomer to the WKA Series, Kolby Araki, jumped out to the front in Qualifying to set a fast lap time of 31.921. David Vasquez came in next with a 32.049 and Matt Chase drove in just two tenths shy of Vasquez! The green flag was out for the first Heat Session as Vasquez made his way into the first place spot past Araki who fought hard to try and take back his spot with Shelby Sander hot on his trail, working for a promising result on her birthday weekend!! Vasquez and Araki pulled away and built a cushion between themselves and Sander who had Ashlie Couch and Ryan Casner to deal with in the fight for third. Sander lost a few positions in striving to hold off Couch and Casner in the Pre Final, while Matt Chase took advantage of the shift in placing and jumped into the third spot behind Vasquez. Up front, Vasquez and Araki gave each other some serious pressure and some incredible driving, but Vasquez was not going to let Araki get away with that one!! Vasquez takes his spot back in the Main Event, showing Araki his bumper all the way through to lap eight where Araki maneuvered his way to the front, where it looked like he was going to be victorious! The White Flag flew and Vasquez made a clean pass back up to first just in time to take the Checkered Flag in front of Araki!! Chase managed to hold off the group and maintained his third place reign over Couch and Casner who had been mixing it up all day looking for any way to get past him. This was yet another great job by all the competitors. Round 7 looks to be highly anticipated!!
Formula 80 Masters/80 Senior
Round 6 of the WKA West Super Series brought a small class and a short day for the Formula 80s but these guys still came all the way out to Atwater Kart Club to defend their points. Formula 80 Master driver Chuck Hastings showed off his skill with a 31.548 pole qualifying time while Formula 80 Senior driver Josh Cole took the spot next to Hastings on the grid for the first Heat Session with a 32.689 (pole for the Senior class). Master driver Wayne Bundy started out front, leading Hastings around the track all the way up to the fourth lap when Bundy slipped back to second and worked hard to close the gap between himself and Hastings but could not get close enough to take the win in the Pre Final! The three 80 shifter drivers, Hastings, Bundy and Cole decided not to run the Main Event to save their equipment for Round 7, with their Pre-Final results becoming the event results.
Jr. 1 2-Cycle
A full field of 12 karts showed up to run the Jr 1 2-Cycle class. With such talent throughout the class, it was anyone’s race! After a 5 minute qualifying session, Carter Herrera took the top spot with a 36.207 time to beat, while Oliver Calvo qualified just five hundredths off of Herrera! Ammon Young laid out a 36.380 for third, which set Wyatt Couch, Anthony Freese and Clayton Williams in the path behind them. If Herrera thought this was going to be an easy day, Calvo and Couch were there to show him that he was going to have to work to maintain his spot, & shake them off of his trail as they took to the first Heat Session. Young held tight to his fourth spot in hopes that Williams wouldn’t be able to find a way by! Into the Pre Final, Young broke away from the pack and Williams slid a few spots back behind Matthew Proud, Eric Nascimento and Freese who entered the Main Event in that order. Herrera felt the pressure that Couch had been putting on him but he did not waiver and took home the win, while Calvo and E Nascimento battled it out behind them up until the sixth lap where E Nascimento retired from the race, and gave Couch the second place finish with Calvo third, Proud fourth and Williams back up to fifth.
Record-setting 34-karts in Clone Senior put on certainly the most eventful races of the entire WKA West Super Series Event. Pole setter Jerry Van Devsen ran a 37.180, making that the best time for the Sr drivers! Rob Nascimento was coming for Van Devsen with a time just two tenths off and RJ Kahler, with Cole Nelson and Jon Ban right behind him!! Van Devsen held off the field for the first Heat Session but knew that any slight mistake would have left enough of an opening to cost him that spot, while Nelson had been working his way up to Van Devsen! R Nascimento slid back a few spots at the same time as Nelson barreled out to make it up past Kahler for the second place spot, which left Ban sitting behind Kahler and putting Michael Ostrowski in between Ban and R Nascimento on the grid for the Pre Final. One lap into the Pre Final, several karts tangled in Atwater’s signature “sweeper”, leaving them over the top of the corner in the brush. As the ambulance rolled out from a precautionary red flag, flames came up from the brush where the karts sat and sent drivers running to grab anything to help put the fire out and as the flame grew larger. The fire claimed one kart before the Atwater Fire Dept. was able to extinguish the flames. After deciding to cut their losses with the Pre Final, all the Clone competitors took to their pits with heavy hearts knowing that there was one driver who would be left kart-less.
As the thunder of 33-Clone Sr drivers hit the track for the Final, Van Devsen started third for the Main Event and had to work to get by Ban and Nelson who were ahead at the start and maintained their pull on Van Devsen until the ninth lap where Van Devsen pushed by them. Up to that point it was very close for the front pack!! Nelson had been hot on the path for top spot and was not going to let anyone get in between his #25 kart and that second spot while trying to advance!! Ostrowski made his way up to the third position all the while having fought off Jonathon Leach and R Nascimento who had been too close for Ostrowski’s comfort! Austin DeMent, who ran Super Sportsman in Monterey, CA for the previous round, mixed it up in the middle of the field with Lizzie Tidwell. Tidwell had been looking for her way around DeMent while Ryan Casner, driving double-duty this weekend running two classes, had been hot on her bumper and Tidwell definitely felt the pressure but held the boys off and finished in the thirteenth position out of thirty three karts! Behind that group were Ryan Troutwine, Steve Lewis, Nick Grossi and Haley Brooks who all remained very tight together as they saw the White flag start to wave!! Kenny Kirschiner gave birthday girl Alexys Burns a run for her money, all the while Burns had been struggling to hold off Vinny Cervelli who was the 34th entry to break the Clone Sr entry record! Van Devsen held off Nelson which positioned him second, just ahead of Ostrowski but with a disqualification on improper flywheel in Tech, Ostrowski moved up to the second spot, with Leach in third, R Nascimento in fourth and Kahler who rounded out the Top 5 heading to Stockton in October!!!
Super Sportsman/ Clone Jr/ TaG Master/ TaG Senior
After running the practice and qualifying sessions on their own, the three TaG drivers decided to run with the Clone Jr and the Super Sportsman class for the Heats and Main Event. TaG Master drivers Corey Mitchell and Dennis Goodson set out to take the win home in Round 6 and Mitchell had a great head start qualifying with a 32.123 and Goodson just four tenths off of him! Wayne Ash was the champ from Round 5 in Monterey, CA and the only TaG Senior entry and ran a 32.985 fast lap. Super Sportsman drivers Nick Robertson and Bryan Parmenter battled it out, having left with Parmenter ahead of Robertson in Round 5 and Robertson was ready for his comeback and laid out a 33.913 fast lap, Parmenter had an unbelievably close time of 33.918 and Clone Jr driver Jake Pipal, the only entry for his class, put down a 38.533!! The combined class took to the track for the first Heat Session and Mitchell jumped to the front position with Goodson who tried hard to catch him while trailed by Robertson who had been working hard to hold off Parmenter! This group headed straight into their Main Event and skipped their Pre Final round due to the fire. Once again Mitchell took the lead and battled with Goodson and held out to take home the win for the TaG Masters! Parmenter held off Robertson until the sixth lap where it looked like Robertson was going to have the upper hand but Parmenter prevailed for the Super Sportsman win and Jake Pipal took home the win for the Clone Jr!!
Big thanks go out to series sponsor RLV, who provided track-side support all weekend, Track Warrior Photos, Melanie Miller Photography, series sponsors Bridgestone and Grand Products. The 2012 WKA West Super Series next travels to Stockton for the final round of the 2012 season, scheduled for October 21st. Entry Forms, pit space and Saturday practice information can be found at www.WKADistrict10.com.