CONCORD - The final race of the national points season for the first of WKA’s National Series came to a conclusion this past weekend as the Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series crowned their Grand National Champions for 2015 in the Top Kart USA Grand Nationals at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, Pennsylvania. Leading the way to nobodies surprise were Jason Welage and Brandon Lemke, with both drivers securing 2 Eagles each in their quest for their respective overall titles. Both competitors have found numerous successes multiple times throughout the course of the season from Daytona through the most recent event at New Castle.
For Welage, the Ohio driver placed his name in the record books as the winner of the 1st Grand National for the all new IAME Swift Cup Class, a Local Option class that grew with each passing event in 2015. While not deemed an official national points class this season, as it was a developing class in 2015, this class contained all the elements of a national caliber class quickly with great competition at each event. Welage bested Luca Mars on Sunday, with Ty Gibbs, Gage Rodgers, and Madison Campeau completing the top 5. Rounding out the top ten in the 15 kart class were Tyler Ferris, Caleb Bacon, Pauly Massimino, Annie Rhule, and Owen Mahle.
Welage came back strong Sunday to claim a second Eagle, taking the DRT Racing Pro TaG Sportsman Final, thus earning another $500 for his efforts as well. Once again, Luca Mars was shadowing Welage to the stripe, earning $250 for his second place effort, while Madison Campeau turned in another solid top five run, and laying claim to a set of Bridgestone Tires by virtue of her third place finish. Rounding out the top five were Connor Ferris and Robert Noaker III, with Caleb Bacon, Thomas Schrage, Pauly Massimino, Jamie Newton, and Ty Gibbs completing the top 10.
Much like Welage, Brandon Lemke scored a Grand National win in one of the four Money Classes, taking the top honors in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Junior Class. Lemke fended off the efforts of Zach Holden for the top honors, earning $500 for his run, while Holden took home $250 for the runnerup spot. Sam Mayer rode home third, earning a set of Bridgestone Tires with Leonardo Stoia returning to the series for a 4th place run. Savannah Fitzgerald completed the top 5.
Lemke wasn’t done for the day though, as he once again engaged in a battle with Holden for top honors in the Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha Junior Final. And much like the Pro IAME Junior race, it was Holden and Sam Mayer chasing Lemke across the stripe. John Paul Southern Jr and Gold Cup Series regular Matt Miller, making a rare 2 cycle appearance this season, rounded out the top 5. Completing the top ten were Marina Walters, Tahlon Yockel, Brody Warren, Ariana Gnad, and Austin Schulz.
Alexander Kardashian maintained the good momentum for the season, snaring the Hytorc of Texas Pro Leopard Senior finale for the year, thus laying claim to an eagle, as well as the $1,000 top prize that went with the win. Garrett Johnston came home second for a $500 payday with Rylee Osborn getting a set of Bridgestone Tires for third.
Johnston and Kardashian swapped spots in the Tillotson Pro X30 Senior Main Event with Johnston taking the $1,000 payday on Sunday. Kardashian came home second for the $500 payday, thus giving both drivers a good paying weekend, each netting an Eagle and $1,500. Abby McLaughlin chased the pair across the stripe for third, along with a set of Bridgestone Tires.
The New Jersey Sprint Series Yamaha Rookie class found Donald Whorton II hoisting the Eagle on the podium Sunday, as he topped Owen Mahle, Isaac Beekman, Lucas Smalec, and Charlie Knoll for the top honors.
Not to be outdone in his home state, Robert Noaker III came on strong in the Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Sportsman Final, topping a strong field of young competitors, including 2 time weekend winner Jason Welage, with Madison Campeau having an awesome top five weekend with her third podium finish of the day. Tyler Ferris and Nic Sheppard completed the top five with Ian Hornish, Pauly Massimino, Annie Rhule, Joshua Warren, and Thomas Schrage completed the top 10.
Dakota Pesek finished what he started this year, taking top honors in the Zero Error Racing Yamaha Senior Pipe finale. While battling Derek Hughes all season long, issues for Hughes relegated him to a 4th place finish on Sunday with Rudy Agras and Patrick Healey making up the top 3.
By far, one of the most impressive seasons was turned in by the CRP Racing Kid Kart Class. With strong fields all season long, the young competition never disappointed the crowds on hand. And this past weekend was no different with Benjamin Maier taking the Eagle for the young class. Adam Brickley rode home second for the final event of the year with Sofia D’Arrigo holding up the competition for the girls with a third place finish. Hoyt Mohr and Austin Olds completed the top 5 with Danny Dyszelski IV, Ava Dutton, Sam Corry, Aubrey Adams, and Wyatt Ervin completing the top ten.
Congratulations also go out to all the Streeter Super Stands Fast Time award recipients.
With the national points season in the books, final points will be tallied once the remaining Super Divisional at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway in Sheridan, Illinois is accounted for, that event happening the weekend of September 18-20.
Once tallied up, the 2015 national champions will be declared, with plans for the annual awards presentation to be held in Daytona Beach, Florida as part of Daytona KartWeek in December.
More information with regards to the awards presentation, as well as the class and race structure for Daytona will be coming shortly.
On behalf of the World Karting Association, congratulations to all of the 2015 Grand National Race Winners, and top ten finishers. A great thanks to all sponsors for their efforts this season, and to all the competitors, Moms and Dads, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and everyone who helped not just bring some stability back to the Mfg Cup program, but have become a huge part of what is guaranteed to be a spectacular 2016 season, beginning with Daytona KartWeek!!!!