***ORIGINAL STORY WRITTEN BY DAVID COLE OF EKARTINGNEWS.COM***
NEW CASTLE, IN - The opening round of racing for the 2017 WKA Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series Team Empower Nationals went into the books Saturday at the New Castle Motorsports Park. The fifth round of the 2017 championship chase marked the halfway point of the season, with a solid turnout of competitors in all eight categories, nearly reaching the 150 mark for the day. After cloud covered the New Castle, Indiana area for much of the morning, the skies cleared and the humidity rose, making for a challenging day for the competitors chasing the right setup.
Five drivers had the pace to compete for the win in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Senior division. Top qualifier Braden Eves (Zero Error / Kosmic) and double heat race winner Brandon Lemke (Top Kart) were joined by Daytona winner Brandon Jarsocrak (KSNA / Praga), Garrett Johnston (Top Kart) and Alexander Kardashian (Top Kart). In the end, it came down to the 3 B’s. They shuffled for the lead throughout the main event. Coming to the white flag, Eves made a great move at the I-70 corner to go from third to first. That shuffled them up taking the white, and Jarsocrak emerged from the first turn with the lead. He held the advantage throughout the last mile, crossing the line first for the victory. Eves came in a close second over Lemke with Kardashian placing ahead of Johnston.
Eves came into the weekend leading in both championships, including the FranklinKart.com Yamaha Senior division. Eves (Zero Error / FA Kart) found himself battling with Alexander Kardashian (Top Kart) in qualifying and the heat races. Kardashian set fast time in qualifying and won Heat #2 with Eves taking the opening heat. Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) and Jake Venberg (Merlin) joined them at the front in the main event. The two Top Kart drivers locked up and were able to get away, deciding the race on the final circuit. Kardashian led going into the final corner, driving the defensive line. Pesek pulled a ‘Cole Trickle’, running the outside line and making it hold through the corner. Kardashian had to pinch the exit, slowing his pace. This allowed Pesek to carry the momentum into the lead and to the victory by 32 thousandths of a second. Kardashian settled for second with Eves beating Venberg for the third podium step. Marina Walters (Top Kart) completed the top-five.
Last year at the season finale, Tyler Gonzalez walked away with two wins on the weekend in the Woltjer Racing Engines Pro IAME Junior. Today, it was a dominating performance by Junior rookie Tyler Maxson (SCR / Tony Kart). After qualifying second, Maxson went on to win both heat races before dominating the main event with a 5.6-second advantage. Top qualifier Connor Ferris (Top Kart) won the battle for runner-up ahead of Tahlon Yockel (Tony Kart) and Spike Kohlbecker (Margay). Point leader Pauly Massimino (Top Kart) drove to fifth.
Colin Neal (MDD / Tony Kart) and Elliott Budzinski (Kart Craft / Tony Kart) came into the weekend tied for the championship and in the win column with two victories a piece. They broke both ties with a showdown to close out the day. A red flag came out with five laps remaining in the main event, involving top qualifier Zack Pretorius (Comet / FA Kart), double heat race winner Spike Kohlbecker (Margay) and Tyler Ferris (Top Kart). The incident bunched up the field for a shootout to determine the day’s winner. Neal and Budzinski came out as the top two drivers, with Neal holding the advantage at the checkered flag for his third victory of the season. Budzinski came 41 thousandths short at the line with Matthew Mockabee (Comet / Tony Kart) joining them on the podium. Junior rookies Kaden Wharff (Top Kart) and Donald Whorton (FA Kart) completed the top-five.
The IAME USA East Pro Swift Sportsman came down to two drivers. Santiago Trisini (Benik) and Annie Rhule (Energy) were able to get away from the field early and maintain an advantage while the rest of the field battle for position. Trisini led for most of the race with Rhule waiting for an opportunity to work past. On the final lap, Rhule made her move but Trisini fought it off, going on to take the checkered flag for his first victory of the season. Rhule settled for runner-up with Connor Zilisch (Energy) winning the battle for third over Chloe Chambers (Benik) and Logan Adams (Benik).
Anyone in the Allison Racing Engines Yamaha Sportsman field had the chance to win. For Sam Hinds, it was his turn. Most of the field ran together until five drivers broke away. Hinds (FA Kart) led with the Adams brothers Garrett (Energy) and Logan (FA Kart) working together. Double heat race winner Connor Zilisch (Energy) tried to break up the trio at the front, but could not stay ahead of them. Coming down to the finish, Hinds led with Garrett on his bumper. The two drag-raced to the line with Hinds able to reach the line first by nine thousandths of a second. Logan completed the podium with Chloe Chambers (Benik) able to take fourth away from Zilisch.
The CRP Racing Mini Swift also welcomed a first time winner with Ben Maier taking the victory. Four drivers battled for the lead position throughout the main event, all taking a turn at the point. Christian Miles (Formula K) appeared to be the quickest driver coming off the Heat #2 win with top qualifier and Heat #1 winner Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) right there. Indy driver Elliot Cox (Energy) joined the fight with Maier emerging at the end of the race as the driver to beat. Coming to the checkered flag, Maier was able to edge out Mateo by eight thousandths of a second. Cox completed the podium in third with Miles ending up fourth. Danny Dyszelski (Benik) rounded out the top-five.
David Kalb Jr. went from zero to hero on the day in the Briggs 206 Senior division. Kalb (Eagle) was shuffled off the track in the opening heat race, placing 10th. Up front, three drivers each led a session with Zach Linsell (MGM) posting fast time in qualifying while Track Kart drivers Eric Fagan and Evan McCorquodale each took a heat race win. Kalb worked his way forward in Heat #2, placing third, helping to move him up on the main event grid. Kalb was the quickest kart on the circuit in the main event. Once joining the top three, Kalb worked his way to the point. Once there, he held the enough gap on the final circuit to cruise to the victory, his first on the year. Fagan drove to second with McCorquodale third. Linsell ended up fourth with Dustin DeMattia (Keener) placing fifth.
The final day of action completed Sunday at the New Castle Motorsports Park for the WKA Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series Team Empower Nationals. The New Castle, Indiana facility provided great weather all weekend long with warmer conditions all day. The racing all weekend was great, with many of the races coming down to the wire. In the end, six of the eight classes saw drivers double up in the win column.
Brandon Jarsocrak notched his third victory of 2017 at the Manufacturers Cup, coming out of the 20-lap battle in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Senior as the top driver. Top qualifier and Prefinal winner Brandon Lemke (Top Kart) led the majority of the race with Braden Eves (Zero Error / Kosmic), Alexander Kardashian (Top Kart) and Jarsocrak. Kardashian led early with Lemke taking over. It looked as they would be able to lock up and get away, however the rest of the lead pack, including local guest Zach Holden (Comet / Tony Kart) would not let that happen by breaking them up. Holden retired at the halfway point with a broken chain, holding up South African driver Fabienne Lanz (VSR / Tony Kart), thus making it four at the front. Coming to the white flag, Lemke and Jarsocrak went back and forth for the lead. Jarsocrak took over the point at turn one, and Eves went on the attack for second on Lemke. This gave ‘Money’ enough space to reach the checkered flag first. Eves edged out Lemke for the second spot with Kardashian placing fourth. Lanz followed back in fifth.
Braden Eves (FA Kart) and Saturday winner Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) came away as the top two drivers in the FranklinKart.com Yamaha Senior. Eves set fast time in qualifying with Pesek coming away from the Prefinal battle with the win. The two were able to break away from the field in the 18-lap main event. The drag race to the line went to Pesek by 24 thousandths, earning his second win on the weekend and third straight counting the Sunday victory at Pittsburgh. Tyler Trent (Tony Kart) won the battle for the final step on the podium with Jake Venberg (Merlin) and Marina Walters (Top Kart) placing fourth and fifth.
It was a dramatic day in the Woltjer Racing Engines Pro IAME Junior division. Round Four winner Tyler Ferris (Top Kart) set fast time in qualifying and came away with the Prefinal win after both Saturday winner Tyler Maxson (Tony Kart) and Connor Ferris (Top Kart) retired early while leading. Each started at the back of the 21-kart field in the 20-lap Final. Up front, Junior rookie Kaden Wharff led a Top Kart train of Ferris and Pauly Massimino while fellow rookie Caleb Bacon (Tony Kart) looked to move forward. Everyone however was watching the progress of Maxson, who continued to click off the fast laps of the race. By the halfway point, Maxson was stalking the top-five, and lap 18, took the lead from Wharff. Maxson went on to take the second victory of the weekend with Bacon able to edge out Wharff at the line for second. Tyler Ferris ended up fourth with Massimino in fifth.
Sunday was a notable day for the championship chase in the Comet Racing Engines Yamaha Junior class. Championship leaders Elliott Budzinski (Tony Kart) and three-time winner Colin Neal (Tony Kart) each had issues in the main event. Budzinski retired early after contact while Neal, who won the Prefinal, was leading the main event until a chain broke with four laps to go. This left three drivers to fight for the victory – top qualifier Spike Kohlbecker (Margay), Tyler Ferris (Top Kart) and Caiden Young (Tony Kart). Coming to the line, Kohlbecker was able to lead out of the I-70 corner. Ferris set up for a pass on the inside down the stretch, but switched back to the outside as Kohlbecker drifted to the left. This slowed Ferris progress enough in the slingshot attempt to give Kohlbecker the advantage at the checkered flag by 87 thousandths of a second. Young followed closely in third with Jack Dorsey (Tony Kart) beating Zack Pretorius (FA Kart) for fourth.
Santiago Trisini (Benik) was one of the six double winners on the weekend, scoring the Sunday victory in the IAME USA East Pro Swift Sportsman division. Four drivers made up the lead pack with top qualifier and Prefinal winner Chloe Chambers (Benik) getting away at the start thanks to a rough opening corner that included a flip by point leader Ashton Chilton (Nitro Kart). He and everyone else walked away unhurt as the race continued. The trio ran her down by the halfway point with Trisini taking over the point. From there, he led the group for the remainder of the race and won the race to the checkered flag for the victory. Thomas Schrage (PCR) took second with Chambers in third. Connor Zilisch (Engery) was a close fourth with Elio Giovane (Benik) winning the battle for fifth.
The Allison Racing Engines Yamaha Sportsman division went down to the wire. Garrett Adams (FA Kart) and Saturday winner Sam Hinds (FA Kart) led the majority of the race with Chloe Chambers (Benik) and Annie Rhule (Energy) looking to make a move. It was not until the last push to the checkered flag that anything happened. Adams and Hinds went side-by-side with Chambers pulling the slingshot, going from third to first by the checkered flag to score her first WKA victory in her first event with the series and visiting the New Castle circuit for the first time. Adams was off by 46 thousandths with Hinds in third. Rhule was fourth with Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) in fifth.
It was four drivers in the hunt early for the CRPRacing.com Mini Swift category until it came down to two at the end. Saturday winner Ben Maier (Nitro Kart) and Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik) were the two left standing at the end, with Maier winning the race to the checkered flag by three hundredths of a second. Sebastian Ng (Nitro Kart) was able to make a run at the end of the race to steal third away from Christian Miles (Formula K) and Elliot Cox (Energy) who faded away at the end.
The victor in the Briggs 206 Senior class was decided off the track. On the track, it was a three wide finish with Evan McCorquodale (Track Kart) crossing the line first by four hundredths of a second over David Kalb Jr. (Eagle) and Eric Fagan (Track Kart). In tech, McCorquodale failed a muffler measurement, and had the win removed. This put Kalb on top of the podium for a second time this weekend. Zach Linsell (MGM) was moved to third ahead of Kyle Fogt (CompKart) and Dustin DeMattia (Keener Kart).