***Original stories written by David Cole of ekartingnews.com
The threat of rain haunted the Wolf Paving Raceway all day long as the first round of competition completed Saturday in Dousman, Wisconsin. The seventh round of the Bridgestone WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at the AMK Race Products Nationals completed qualifying, two rounds of heat races and a main event for all eight categories before the clouds really opened up with rain as the podiums completed. The Badger Kart Club circuit, including the new addition, providing some exciting racing all day, highlighted by two victories for Top Kart driver Alexander Kardashian.
His first victory came in the FranklinKart.com Yamaha Senior division. Kardashian (AMK / Top Kart) swept the event, leading from qualifying through the two heat races en route to the main event victory. A solid field of 18 kept things close throughout the day, including Top Kart teammates Dakota Pesek and Brandon Lemke. Kardashian and Pesek got away at the start of the main, and the two pulled out to a solid lead as the rest of the field fought for P3. Kardashian led all 16 laps, inching away from Pesek for a 1-second advantage. BKC veteran Tommy Andersen (Merlin) was in the third spot until late when Lemke took back the position, securing the podium finish. Andersen fought off Braden Eves (Zero Error / Vemme) for the fourth spot.
The second, in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Senior class, was one he fought for. Braden Eves (Zero Error / Vemme) was the driver to beat, earning fast time in qualifying and winning both heats to secure the pole position. Kardashian was back in P5 on the grid after missing heat two with a mechanical issue. Eves was joined at the front by Brandon Lemke (Top Kart) as the two went back and fourth early. Kardashian put himself into third and began reeling in the top two with 12 less laps on his tires, posting fast laps of the race. Once by Eves, he set his sights on Lemke. On lap 16, Kardashian worked around Lemke for the lead and drove to his first victory on the year in the class. Lemke settled for second with Eves crossing in third. In tech, Eves was removed from the results for an exhaust infraction, thus promoting Lane Vacala (CompKart) to the third step of the podium. Dylan North (CompKart) and Josh Hotz (Merlin) completed the top-five.
Colin Neal put in a stellar performance in the Woltjer Racing Engines Pro IAME Junior division, securing his first class victory. Neal took over as the lead contender in the heat races after Connor Ferris (Top Kart) qualified on top. The MDD / Vemme driver won both heat races, and started the main event from the pole position. Merlin drivers Kyle Thome and Austin Schaff fought for the second position early, allowing Neal to pull out to a comfortable lead in the opening laps. Schaff put himself into the second position by lap five, however, was not able to close in on Neal in the 16-lap event. Neal scored the victory by three tenths over Schaff with Thome rounding out the podium. Bryce Aron (Kosmic) was a close fourth with Kaden Wharff (Top Kart) placing fifth.
Also scoring a first career victory was Taylor Maas in the Comet Racing Engines Yamaha Junior division. Maas was in contention from the beginning, pushing forward from her sixth spot in qualifying. She finished second to Jack Dorsey (FA Kart) in the opening heat, flexing her muscle in Heat #2 with the win. Starting outside Dorsey on the front row for the main event, she was shuffled back to third behind Tyler Ferris (Top Kart) and top qualifier Emory Lyda (Merlin). Maas moved to second quickly and worked past Ferris on lap five. From there, the Merlin driver led the way with Ferris on her bumper. Unable to make any maneuver, Ferris set up for a drag race to the line. Maas was able to win the race, securing her first WKA victory with Ferris off by 46 thousandths of a second. Elliot Budzinski (Tony Kart) climbed from eighth to the third step on the podium ahead of James Lynch (Tony Kart) and Colin Neal (Vemme).
The IAME USA East Pro Swift Sportsman was a toss up all day. Connor Zilisch (Energy) secured fast time in qualifying while Thomas Schrage (PCR) and Santiago Trisini (Benik) secured the heat wins. Those three filled the first three spots on the main event grid, but sitting fifth was Logan Adams (Benik). Along with Annie Rhule (Energy), the top-five got away with Trisini at the point. Adams worked his way forward, taking over the lead on lap eight with Zilisch following him through. Zilisch took the lead from Adams with three laps remaining. Adams waited till the final circuit, making his move early one. Zilisch tried to fight back, but went off track at turn nine, ending his chance at the victory. That gave Adams the space he needed to reach the checkered flag first for his first WKA victory. Trisini made it a Benik 1-2 with Rhule completing the podium. Schrage finished fourth with Zilisch back in fifth.
The first class on the lineup was the Allison Racing Engines Yamaha Sportsman class. The nine drivers that made up the field were all able to claim the victory, with a majority of the day spent with the group running nose to tail. In the main event, pole sitter Connor Zilisch (Energy) – who won two heat races – broke away with Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) on his tail. It was decided on the final circuit with the two fighting for the lead entering turn five. Slight contact slowed Mateo’s pace, allowing Zilisch to get away and reach the checkered flag first for his second victory of the season. Rubio-Luengo settled for second with Garrett Adams (Benik) joining him on the podium. Logan Adams (Benik) drove to fourth over top qualifier Annie Rhule (Energy).
Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) came back later in the day to secure victory in the CRPRacing.com Mini Swift division. Mateo swept the action on the day, hounded by Logan Julien (Tony Kart) and Caleb Gafrarar (Parolin). Both Julien and Gafrarar wanted to be in the second spot, with Julien eventually winning the spot. The local driver tried Mateo on the final circuit, drag racing to the line and missing out by 41 thousandths as Rubio-Luengo scored his third victory of the season. Gafrarar settled for third with Danny Dyszelski (Benik) charging to a close fourth. Cameron Myers gave ‘Made in the USA’ Margay a fifth place result.
The Briggs 206 Senior class featured two drivers. Eric Fagan (Track Kart) swept the action on the day, with the category running at the same time as the Yamaha Senior division. Fagan was able to hold off a charge from David Kalb Jr. (Eagle) in the main event to earn his third victory of the sea
The final day of the Bridgestone WKA Manufacturers Cup Series AMK Race Products Nationals welcomed rain showers to begin the action. Round Eight of the 2017 championship season, and final step in the Mid-Season Shootout, was contested at the Wolf Paving Raceway – home of the Badger Kart Club. Rain welcomed the racers in the morning, making it a wet warm-up and qualifying session. The rain stopped falling through the middle part of qualifying, with the first two Prefinals contested on wet tires. With the track dry for the rest of the day, WKA champion Braden Eves (Zero Error / Vemme) matched the two-win performance by fellow WKA title winner Alexander Kardashian (AMK / Top Kart), scoring both Senior triumphs on Sunday.
Eves began with drive forward in the FranklinKart.com Yamaha Senior division. A flat tire in the Prefinal cost him a chance to battle for the race win. Saturday winner Kardashian went on to score the race win while Eves was scheduled to go from sixth on the grid due to the unique point structure of the Sunday events in WKA. Eves got a great start and was into second by the completion of the opening lap, slipping back to third behind Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) and Kardashian. Eves took back second helping Kardashian to move into the lead. Then on lap 15, Eves assumed the top spot and held on to the checkered flag for his second victory of the season. Kardashian settled for second with Pesek in third, securing the Mid-Season Shootout title. Michael McAndrews (Fullerton) came from 13th to fourth, working past Michael Geringer (Merlin) late in the race.
Eves started on the pole position for the main event in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Senior division. Brandon Lemke (Top Kart) and Kardashian shuffled Eves back to third. The two fought for the second position, however, kept Lemke within site. Eves was able to secure the second spot from the Prefinal winner, putting his focus on Lemke. Coming to the white flag lap, Eves grabbed the lead and held on to the checkered flag for his second victory on the day, and second on the year in the category. Lemke crossed second with Kardashian third. Josh Hotz (Franklin / Merlin) and Dylan North (CompKart) completed the top-five.
Austin Schaff (Franklin / Merlin) was able to fight back from electrical issues to go from zero to hero in the Woltjer Racing Engines Pro IAME Junior category. Schaff started the Prefinal last, working up to third to earn a P8 starting spot in the main event. It took him seven laps to climb to the top, and once there, never relinquished the top spot. The win was Schaff’s first on the season. Top qualifier Kaden Wharff (Top Kart) appeared to have the pace to challenge, coming up a few laps short after securing the second spot. Bryce Aron (Kosmic) drove to his first podium finish in third, working past Prefinal winner Kyle Thome (Franklin / Merlin) with championship leader Pauly Massimino (Top Kart) in fifth. Massimino took home the big prize on the day, earning the ticket to Italy for the Mid-Season Shootout winner.
Throughout the season, we have seen the most dramatic racing in the Comet Racing Engines Yamaha Junior division. This was the category when they began the Prefinal, a handful tried dry Bridgestone tires, including Tyler Ferris (Top Kart) and Colin Neal (Vemme) on the front row. They washed out at the first turn, with the rain tire karts showing the way. Elliott Budzinski (Tony Kart), as he showed in Pittsburgh, mastered the wet, drying track to the race win, earning the pole position for the main event. He was joined at the front by a large pack of karts. He and Neal, who started fourth due to the unique point system, battled for the lead early on. They settled down for the middle portion of the race, but with four laps remaining the fireworks began. Contact between Neal and Budzinski sent them off course, with Elliott receiving the worse damage and unable to continue. Neal rejoined, out the top-five. This handed the lead to WKA Winter Cup champion Jack Dorsey (FA Kart), going on to earn his first Manufacturers Cup victory. The fighting continued for second, with Ferris coming up from seventh to earn the spot – along with the Mid-Season Shootout title – ahead of Brian Rettig (FA Kart), who also put in an impressive performance coming from 14th on the grid. Arie Venberg (Merlin) and Emory Lyda (Merlin) rounded out the top-five.
The IAME USA East Pro Swift Sportsman saw Connor Zilisch (Energy) earning his second victory of the season to tighten up the championship heading to the series finale. Zilisch started second but fell behind Logan Adams (Benik), who started fourth with polesitter Annie Rhule (Energy) slipping back. Zilisch took over the lead on lap five, as the top-five spaced out. A two-minute light rain put the pressure on the drivers not to slip off the course, and also kept the spread out in the remaining laps as Zilisch crossed the line first. With the win came the Mid-Season Shootout title, and a trip to Italy. Adams ran second with Santiago Trisini (Benik) up to third ahead of Schrage and Rhule.
Logan Adams locked up his second victory on the weekend, winning Sunday in Allison Racing Engines Yamaha Sportsman. Brother Garrett Adams (Benik) started on the pole position for the main event after winning the Prefinal. Logan, starting third, took over the lead on lap three, losing it for a lap to Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik), before retuning to the point. He remained in the lead with Mateo waiting for the next opportunity. Rubio-Luengo closed up on the final circuit, coming up 21 thousandths short at the line with Adams earning the checkered flag. The consolation prize for MRL – winning the Mid-Season Shootout. Annie Rhule (Energy) came from eight to finish a close third ahead of Sam Hinds (FA Kart) and Garrett Adams.
The same top three filled out the front of the field in the CRPRacing.com Mini Swift lead pack. Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) set fast time in the wet and won the Prefinal in the dry. Logan Julien (Tony Kart) and Caleb Gafrarar (Parolin) joined him again, as they battled for the main event victory. Julien became the lead challenger, attempting a few times to work past Mateo. On lap 15, the two went side by side into turn one, making contact and pushing into the barrier. Both were able to walk away, however, unable to continue. This put Gafrarar in the lead with Danny Dyszelski (Benik) now as the lead challenger. Danny looked, but did not complete a pass as Gafrarar earned his third victory of the season to help put him back in the title chase. Dyszelski was a close runner-up as Sofia d’Arrigo (Nitro Kart) finished third, each earning their first podium finish of the season. Championship leader Ben Maier (Nitro Kart) was fourth, securing the Mid-Season Shootout and the Italy ticket, while Cameron Myers put the ‘Made in USA’ Margay in the top-five.
David Kalb came out the winner in the Briggs 206 Senior category. Eric Fagan was top qualifier and Prefinal winner. The two were nose to tail when they were lapped by the Yamaha drivers late in the Final. Contact with one of them ripped off the valve stem on the left front of Fagan’s Track Kart, allowing Kalb to take the victory in his Eagle kart. The WKA Manufacturers Cup Series will wrap up the 2017 season at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina with the Grand National event on October 13-15.