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CKI Grand Championship - Sunday Report

10/12/2009

Championship Karting International program completed its inaugural series at the Oklahoma Motorsports Complex, crowning five new national champions. A bitter cold swept the Norman, Oklahoma area however the racing on track kept people excited throughout the day. No one could predict the number of interesting and shocking events that took place on Championship Sunday during the Prefinal and Final races that helped decide who would land on top of the point standings. In the end, Arie Ouimet and Tristan DeGrand became the first KF2 and KF3 national champions in the United States while Michael Hogg and Taylor Miinch took home the IAME division titles.

KF2
Possible the cold temperatures to blame but both Tony Kart drivers Alex Speed and Will Martindale had trouble before the green flag. Martindale sat on pit lane trying to fire his engine while Speed lost power while on track. Both were able to get fired and going but started from the tail of the field. After getting the green flag, Gregory Liefooghe (Intrepid) came away with the early lead as pole sitter Arie Ouimet (CRG) fell back to third behind Brett Felkins (Intrepid). Ouimet began his charge forward on lap three, getting by Felkins for the second spot and then Liefooghe on lap five. Lap after lap, Ouimet stretched out his lead while eyes were on the Speed as he worked his way through the field. Speed worked his way into the top-five before the halfway mark. Once getting by Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) for fourth, Speed went after Liefooghe and Felkins. On lap 11, Speed got inside of Liefooghe for third at turn 11. Liefooghe fought back but Speed was able to power away for the position. When crossing the line to complete lap 12, Speed was able to draft by Felkins for the second spot. With a solid lead established, Ouimet went on to take the Prefinal win by just under two-seconds over Speed. Felkins held to third with Liefooghe and Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart) completing the top-five.

Veteran David Jurca (492) return to CKI to score the IAME Senior main event win, finishing ahead of former teammate Michael Hogg (415) who scored the championship
(Photo: On Track Promotion - otp.ca)

With $3k on the line for the winner and the KF2 championship up for grabs, tension was high as the KF2 field hit the track for the main event. As the field went through the opening corner, Ouimet was out to a good lead as Speed was able to work back by Speed for second after Liefooghe had taken the spot briefly. Felkins, however, was slow at the drop of the green from the third grid position and left room for Wehrheim to slide underneath. That sent him back to tenth by the time they exited the corner and later darted off to pit lane when the engine would not run 100%. After starting sixth, Martindale was able to get through the turn one situation and cross the line third ahead of Liefooghe. Up front, Ouimet had an eight-tenths lead over Speed and Martindale however by the halfway mark, Speed had cut that in half with the fast lap of the race. Just a few laps later, Speed was all over Ouimet’s rear bumper and was able to draft by for the lead. From there, Speed put down consistent laps to distance himself from Ouimet. With the checkered falling on the lap-26, Speed had pulled out to a 1.424-second lead for the victory. Ouimet however earned the gold with his second place run, taking the national championship and awarded the Bondurant Champion Race Series weekend prize. Martindale completed the race podium in third with Liefooghe finishing fourth in his first CKI KF2 event. Wehrheim was able to beat out Menezes for the fifth spot, helping him clinch the number two plate for 2010.

IAME Senior
Kyle Wiegand (Top Kart) and Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) led the IAME Senior field to the green flag with Wiegand passing the field. Ruscitti’s outside line was unfavorable as he slid back to fourth. As they went through turn seven, Cole Foftsgard (Tony Kart) spun sideways around mid-pack, collecting both point leader Neil McCoy (Top Kart) and Neil Alberico (Top Kart). All were able to continue but fell to the tail of the field. As they came around the line for the first time, Wiegand had a solid lead with David Jurca (Italkart) into the second spot. With a little push from behind entering turn one, Jurca ran wide and a host of karts slide underneath to put Jurca back to sixth. The same lap, Ruscitti went wide in turn six, sending him back a few positions. Out front, Wiegand established a 1.7-second lead over Michael Hogg (Top Kart) in just three laps. The fight on track to watch was third as Jurca eventually worked himself into the position and looked to cut into the lead first and second held. On lap six, the championship chase changed drastically with McCoy retiring with a lost chain. As the race went on, the top three ran quicker and quicker but no one was able to gain much ground. Wiegand led all 16 laps to take the win by 1.636-second over Hogg with Jurca a strong third. Ryan Kinnear (Intrepid) spent most of the final laps holding off a charging Alberico. As the two came to the line, both played a chess game to try not to cross fourth and start on the outside line for the Final. Taking advantage of the contact, Ruscitti charge from sixth to cross the stripe fourth with Kinnear ahead of Alberico.

Nick Lucido was awarded the Stock Moto victory following a disqualification in the tech barn
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

The first half of the field got through the opening corner cleanly while the second half scramble to avoid a sliding Kinnear. That shuffled up the field while up front Jurca was able to show the way the first time by the stripe with Wiegand and Hogg trailing. McCoy benefitted from the opening lap skirmish to find himself in the fifth position trailing the leaders behind Alberico. McCoy was on a charge as he worked up to third by lap three. At the same time, Jurca and Hogg had a good lead with McCoy looking to make up the distance they pulled out to. Posting the fast lap of the race, McCoy began to close in on Hogg. On lap 12, McCoy was able to pull the trigger on Hogg to take over the second position. McCoy continued to charge forward, knocking into Jurca’s lead. Jurca stepped up to the plate, posting fast laps of the race in consecutive circuits to maintain his lead. Jurca would go on to take the checkered flag by 1.771-seconds over McCoy to take home the $2,500 winner’s check. Though the second place was a great run from the tail of the field, McCoy’s DNF in the Prefinal cost him a shot at the title as Hogg’s third place podium finish gave him the national championship. A great battle for fourth ended with Kinnear - bouncing back from a tough opening lap - able to hold off Ruscitti and Wiegand.

Stock Moto
Much like the heat races from Saturday, the Stock Moto Prefinal was a battle between Brett Felkins (Intrepid) and Nick Lucido (CRG). The 16-lap race came down to Felkins holding off Lucido by 1.270-seconds as Mike Jones (Zanardi) continued to out-run Jason Lee (Top Kart).

The feature saved the best for last for the local option class with $1,000 on the line for the winner. Felkins and Lucido went back and forth through the 22-lap event. Coming to the white flag, Lucido led the way and went into turn one a little wide, leaving Felkins room for a late braking move. Lucido tried to charge back but got out of turn eight a little slow, giving room for Felkins to pull away to the win. Lucido had to settle for second with Jones running alone in third as Lee lost laps after pulling off with a broken coil wire. In technical inspection however Felkins was removed for a gasket issue. That moved Lucido to the number one spot with Jones and Lee completing the podium.

Scoring the main event win in dominant fashion, Tristan DeGrand sealed the deal in the KF3 division for the title
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

KF3
Tristan DeGrand (Kosmic) and Phil DeLaO (CRG) led the field to the green flag to begin the 15-lap Prefinal for the first of two races to decide the national championship. DeGrand looked to make an left to right entry into the opening corner and spun. Alessandra Madrigal (Kosmic) went from the third spot into the lead and established a solid lead with the rest of the field shuffling around. DeLaO fell a number of positions and before they reached to the line for the first time was involved in contact with Broc Yocom (Intrepid) and Evan Komar (Maranello). This gave DeGrand three positions early as he began the battle back toward the front. The fight for second saw three drivers with Kiel Spaulding (Top Kart), Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) and Phillip Orcic (Kosmic). By lap three, Orcic was up into the second position and began his quest toward the leader with Miinch and Spaulding fighting it out for third. With the top four set, DeGrand was on the charge with the fast laps of the race, up to fifth by lap seven and on the bumper of Spaulding for fourth. DeLaO kept close and would make the same pass one lap later. Next time by, Miinch tried to defend off DeGrand as they cris-crossed into turn one. DeGrand however was too quick and won the position. Miinch tried to hold off DeLaO as well but he too would take a position, now into fourth with Miinch back to fifth. Up front, Orcic cut into Madrigal’s lead lap after lap, knocking it down to just eight-tenths with three laps to go. Receiving the two to go signal, Orcic worked himself on Madrigal’s bumper and began pressuring her for the lead position. Orcic looked to draft by as they grabbed the white flag however a yellow in turn one for Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) spun stopped his progress. Looking around the rest of the 12 corners, Madrigal was able to hold Orcic off at the line by just 0.102-seconds for the Prefinal win. DeGrand and DeLaO finish third and fourth with Miinch into fifth. Orcic however would lose his second spot when he came in off the track too wide at the rear tires, moving the rest of the field up one position and putting him at the tail of the field for the main event.

Things were interesting at the start of the KF3 Final as the outside line with DeGrand got a better jump at the wave of the green flag. As they approached the first corner, DeLaO looped around collecting Evan Komar, Sharkey, Orcic and Broc Yocom (Intrepid). Coming around to the stripe the first time, DeGrand was shuffled back to third as Spaulding and Miinch were both able to work by to show the way. It didn’t take long for DeGrand to bounce back as in two laps he was at the point. The championship became an almost clinch for DeGrand as Miinch was given the meatball flag for a lose bumper while running second on lap five but retained the second spot in the points. With Miinch on the sidelines, DeGrand still wanted to seal the deal with a win as he muscled on, pulling out to a seven-second victory and the national championship. Spaulding was on course for a podium run until he retired on lap nine with an expired engine. This put Madrigal in the second place, where she stayed until the checkered flag with Madeline Komar (Maranello) with her best run on the season to third, putting her in the same position in the point standings.

Though Taylor Miinch (320) locked up the title, Alessandra Madrigal became the first female winner in CKI history with the victory in IAME Junior
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

IAME Junior
A number of karts off track spun off track as the field shuffled into the opening corner to begin the Prefinal. Tristan DeGrand (Kosmic) spun around from the third position, collecting a number of other drivers. Meanwhile, out front, pole sitter Alessandra Madrigal (Kosmic) showed the way across the line for the first time but Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) was quick to strike as he drafted by into turn one. Madrigal was back to the lead the next time across with Geise following behind both in the third position. On lap four, needing to gain as much points as possible, Geise went by point leader Miinch for the second spot. The top three held their positions until lap 11 when Geise decided to pull the trigger on Madrigal. She would not go so quietly as she struck back to assume the point again. Holding on for the remaining laps, Madrigal took the win by 0.146-seconds over Geise with Miinch a close third. Raquel Martinez (Top Kart) had a great

Things were shaken up in the opening corner as Madrigal went wide from the pole position spot, sending Geise off and to the rear of the field. With the shuffling, Blake Berryhill (Intrepid) came away with the lead but was short-lived as Miinch quicker took over the position as they crossed the start/finish line for the first time. Madrigal recovered from the bad start to work back up to second by lap three and onto Miinch’s bumper. Not long after, Madrigal was into the lead with a draft by Miinch for the position. The driver on the move however was DeGrand who started ninth in the race. Up to fifth by lap five, DeGrand posted the fast lap of the race on lap eight to close in on the top three. Miinch retook the lead briefly before Madrigal got some drafting help from DeGrand. Both went by Miinch and continued to draft away to make it a two driver battle for the win. The two swapped the lead a few times before Madrigal made a deep move into turn one on lap 19. A little contact on the exit allowed Madrigal to pull away a few kart lengths. With the advantage, Madrigal went on to become the first female winner in CKI history with the IAME Junior feature victory. DeGrand held on to second with Miinch crossing in third position, clinching his first national championship. A great drive was put in by Geise as he muscled his way back up to fourth edging out local driver Berryhill in his first CKI event.

Josh Saurino (57) took home the championship despite losing out to the feature win by Gresham Wagner (05)
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

Cadet
Contact through the opening corner of the Cadet Prefinal took out two drivers as Parker Thompson (Tony Kart) and Hunter Corbitt (Birel) climbed on another and retired while Ashley Rogero (Kosmic) fell back to the tail of the field from contact. The front three of Gresham Wagner (Birel), Zane Smith (Top Kart) and Josh Saurino (Top Kart) however broke away from the field. The three ran close, shuffling for the lead numerous times but ran smart in not trying to take one another out of the race with any unnecessary moves. At the white flag lap, Wagner shuffled back from first to third as Smith took over the point bringing Saurino with him. Wagner looked to come back inside Saurino in turn eight however the two locked up bumpers at the exit of the corner. After getting separated, the two continued on however Smith was well ahead going on to take the win by 2.708-seconds. Wagner edged out Saurino at the line for second. Cole Glasson (Top Kart) had a great run from 11th to fourth as he edged out Austin Osborne (Birel) up from fifth. Point leader Austin Schoonmaker (Kosmic) was as high as fourth but fell to seventh by the end of the 12 laps, giving Saurino the point lead heading into the Final.

The main event for the Cadet division was above and beyond one of the best races of the year. As you typically see in the category, the race is determined in the closing stages of the race. This 15-lap event was no different as the usual suspects from the weekend out front. Pole sitter Smith, Wagner and Saurino entered the event all with a chance at the title. The trio shuffled things through the majority of the race but everything was on the line in the final lap. Saurino was leading the way as they reached the white flag with Smith and Wagner running side by side through the turns one, two and three. Wagner came away with the position and began running down Saurino who ran a defensive line around the final corners. As the came through the final corner, Wagner got a great run to get alongside Saurino with Smith making it three wide. As they came to the line, Wagner won the race to the checkered flag to take the victory over Saurino by 0.090-seconds with Smith just 0.154-back of Wagner. Schoonmaker got help to run inside the top-five for the first half of the race but lost ground to the second pack and ended up finishing 10th. Thompson ran up from last to end up fourth with Osborne crossing the line fifth.

The event put a close on the new national championship program as the focus now turns to the CKI-PRI All-Stars event in Orlando during the early portion of December along with plans for the 2010 season. For now, the new six national champions - including KZ2 title winner Gary Carlton - will ride high for the next few months before turning their focus on repeating next year starts to fill their thoughts.

Article Credit: ekartingnews.com
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