CONCORD, NC - For families, competitors, race officials, and fans, the second event for the WKA Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series at Pittsburgh International Race Complex was already going to be greeted on a somewhat somber note, with the news of the passing of WKA Hall of Famer Kyle Adkins, whose son Brandon not only participated on the series for many years, but also had been a past employee of the facility.
The news became more bleak in the karting world, as just a short time later, yet another proud karting Dad, Kevin Pesek, passed away. The father of past WKA National Champion Dakota Pesek, who currently competes in the Franklinkart.com Yamaha Senior class, Kevin never missed an event, and was one of the strongest supporters of his son and his racing career.
Fighting through the challenges of losing a Dad, as well as wet track conditions, a determined Dakota Pesek willed his way to the top shelf of the podium in Sundays finale for the class, thus hoisting both hands straight up in the air, pointing to the heavens, motioning to his Dad, "This one is for you, Thanks Dad!!"
Pesek's victory immediately extinguished all other challenges anyone may have been dealing with throughout the weekend, from wet weather to poor luck on the track, or anything else, thus placing what the organization, the series, and its competitors place squarely in perspective, FAMILY.
Coming off a second place finish to Braden Eves on Saturday, Pesek's win also netted him the weekend's Overall Championship, garnering the hardware from Trinity Karting Group. Nick Landi, Alexander Kardashian, Eves, and Jake Venberg rounded out the top 5 on Sunday, with Kardashian taking the Comet Kart Sales Pole Award. Following Eves and Pesek on Saturday were Kardashian, Venberg, and Derek Hughes, with Eves collecting the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Award.
Eves victory on Saturday was the first of 2 for the weekend, as he also claimed Sundays win in the KartSport North America Pro IAME Senior class, topping Kardashian, AJ Myers, Brandon Lemke, and Nick Landi. Lemke claimed the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Award. Saturdays action found Lemke taking the top honors, with Eves coming home second, followed by Kardashian, Myers, and Ryan Raffa. Eves took the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Award. Eves success also netted the Overall Weekend Champions Award, sponsored by Trinity Karting Group, as well as earning $1,000 for his efforts. Lemke received $500 for the weekend, while Kardashian won a free set of Bridgestone Tires.
Eves wasn't the only driver to score more than 1 win for the weekend, as Connor Zilisch, Eric Fagan, and Mateo Rubio-Luengo also doubled up for the weekend.
For Zilisch, his weekend began with the win in the Allison Racing Engines Yamaha Sportsman Class, topping Logan Adams, Thomas Schrage, Annie Rhule, and Sam Hinds. Luengo, the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Winner, wound up 6th, but rebounded in a big way, taking the Day 2 activities over Zilisch, Schrage, Rhule, and Garrett Adams. Zilisch not only netted the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Award, but was also the weekends Overall Champion, receiving the Trinity Karting Group award.
Later in the day on Saturday, Zilisch took the IAME USA East Pro Swift Sportsman top honors, becoming the only driver to take 2 wins in a single day for the weekend. Brent Crews chased Zilisch across the line, followed by Ashton Chilton, Logan Adams, and Annie Rhule. Chilton improved from third to the top step on the podium Sunday, taking the win, as well as the Overall Weekends top honors, netting a $500 payday. Crews, a runnerup for the second straight day, netted a $250 payday, with Zilisch gaining a set of Bridgestone Tires, by virtue of his 4th place finish on Sunday. Nestled in between Crews and Zilisch was Logan Adams in third, while Isaac Beekman rounded out the top 5. Zilisch also swept the Comet Kart Sales Pole honors both days.
Eric Fagan enjoyed a weekend sweep in the CIK LO 206 Senior class, topping Pennsylvania stalwart Zach Linsell on Day 1, with David Kalb Jr, Jeremy Warren, and Evan McCorquadale rounding out the top 5. Day 2 action found Kalb chasing Fagan to the line, with Warren, Dustin Demattia, and McCorquadale rounding out the top 5. Linsell and Kalb took the respective Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Awards, while Fagan took the Trinity Karting Group Overall Weekend Championship top honors.
Colin Neal and Elliott Budzinski shared the honors in the Comet Racing Engines Yamaha Junior class, with Neal taking the Day 1 honors over Caiden Young, Tyler Ferris, Arie Venberg, and Matthew Mockabee, while Budzinski fended off runnerup Young on Sunday, with Ferris, Neal, and Evan Stamer completing the top 5. Consistency paid off for Young, as the pair of second place finishes netted the young driver the Trinity Karting Group Overall Weekend Title. Tyler Ferris swept the Comet Kart Sales top qualifying efforts for the weekend.
The CRPRacing.com Mini Swift class also found parity in the win column, with Mateo Rubio-Luengo and Caleb Gafrarar sharing the weekends top honors. For Luengo, the Sunday win marked his second for the weekend, as Elliot Cox, Gafrarar, Danny Dyszelski, and Ben Maier chased the 2 time winner across the stripe. Gafrarar, the Saturday Comet Kart Sales Fast Time winner, rebounded for a weekend ending win on Sunday, besting Maier, Miles Murray, Charlie Knoll, and Christian Rutty. Cox, the Comet Kart Sales Fast Time winner on Sunday, rode home 6th. With his win and 3rd place finish, Gafrarar netted the Trinity Karting Group Overall Weekend Title.
Keeping with the multiple win theme were Pauly Massimino and Tyler Ferris in the Woltjer Racing Engines Pro IAME Junior class. Massimino took the Day 1 action over Tahlon Yockel, Colin Gasparini, Ferris, and Madison Campeau, with Ferris topping Yockel, Massimino, Gasparini, and Alex Yankowski on Day 2. Yockel and Kaden Wharff took the respective Comet Kart Sales Fast Time Awards, with Massimino garnering the Trinity Karting Group Overall Weekend title, and also a $500 payday. Yockel netted a $250 payday with Ferris gaining a set of Bridgestone Tires.
The Kid Kart Class also made their first appearance of the season as an exhibition class. Special thanks to Colton Guiher, Lewis Beckham, and Parker Garrigus for joining the national classes this past weekend as well, as future hopefuls in the sport.
The Keystone State Nationals also marked Race #1 for the Bridgestone Mid Season Shootout. The 3 race program, run within the confines of the Mfg Cup Point System, but separate from the season ending championship, will continue July 14-16 at New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana for the TEAM EMPOWER Natonals, with the third and final stop on the tour taking place August 25-27 at Wolf Paving Raceway in Dousman, Wisconsin.
High Point Earners in Mini Swift, Pro Swift Sportsman, Pro IAME Junior, and Pro IAME Senior classes will receive an all expense paid trip, less travel, to the ROK Cup International Final in South Garda, Italy in October, for classes that utilize Bridgestone Tires.
High Point Earners in Yamaha Sportsman, Yamaha Junior, Yamaha Senior, and CIK LO206 Senior will receive a free entry, race tires, and a drivers pit pass to the season ending WKA Grand National event for the Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series October 13-15 at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Entry Information for the TEAM EMPOWER Nationals at New Castle will be released shortly.