What an incredible week of racing it was at the SKUSA SuperNationals XIII in Las Vegas. With over 400 drivers representing some 24 countries, many of the best karters in the world battled it out on the track only feet from the Rio Hotel and Casino. Among all of these talented racers were a handful of legendary drivers including seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher, current F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Nelson Piquet Jr., as well as former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon. While overall, the race Gods my not have smiled broadly on our boys from the North, there were however some great finishes. Most notably Craig Sender and Steve Perdue who raced hard to take home the 6th and 7th spots in the very competitive S4 class. Following closely behind Sender and Perdue was the #55 of Tony Helsel with a respectable finish in 15th, and Alex Raine taking home the 17th spot. Additionally Oregon’s Joey Wimsett, while struggling most of the weekend, never gave up and drove hard to a 9th place finish in Tag Sr. Following Wimsett from the North was Seattle’s Stepanova Nekeel who battled his own adversity most of the week, but come Sunday was able to mount a formidable display of driving to get to the 13th spot from deep in the field. Perhaps the hard luck story of the weekend was Chris Barkely, who after being fast all week, and holding the fourth position in a break away pack, found himself getting collected in an “on track” incident involving Memo Gidley and others. This unfortunately lead to an eventual DNF. There were some close calls and some fierce battles as our boys raced hard and never gave up. A big congratulations to all the Northwest racers who participated in the SKUSA SuperNats XIII. Other drivers included Derek Wang, Super Pro’s Brad Weiss, Geoffrey Roberti and Mike Daniel who gave it their all! We apologize if we’ve left out any racers names, please drop us an email and let us know who you are and how your weekend went at Info@northwestkartingnews.com
After a brief break for driver introductions it was time for the feature race of the event, the SuperPro class. Starting from the pole position Bas Lammers led the 44-car field to the traditional standing start. Upon the lights going out, Lammers and Jeremy Iglesias led the way into and out of turn one. The order changed before the completion of lap one as Norman Nato took over second place ahead of Iglesias and Davide Fore. Iglesias lost a further place a lap later, as Fore took over third place. Not far behind, current World Champion Arnaud Kozlinski held fifth place, right in front of defending race winner Jonathan Thonon. The order continued change throughout the opening stages, with Kozlinski and Thonon making their way up to fourth and fifth. Out-front Lammers was able to build a multi-kart gap by lap five, as Nato and Fore diced for the runner-up position. Behind the lead pack, lots of attention was focused on seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher battling for a place inside the top-10 with shifter kart standout and former winner at the Rio Ron White. Thonon and Fore’s chances at the win vanished when the duo got together while battling for position. With 10 laps to go, it was becoming more apparent that Lammers was the driver to beat, establishing a full second advantage over Nato, who in turn was a second ahead of Igelsias. As the 25-lap race entered the closing stages, the best battle in the front of the field featured Iglesias, Kozlinski and ’07 winner Marco Ardigo fighting for third through fifth. Intrepid’s Lammers was not to be denied in the end, converting his pole position into a first-ever $10,000 SuperPro SuperNationals win. Nato and Iglesias joined in the podium celebrations to complete the 1-2-3 for Intrepid, leading Kozlinski and Ardigo to the checkered flag to complete the podium.
SuperSunday at the 13th Superkarts USA! SuperNationals got underway with a large group of TaG Senior race pilots taking to the track for the Last Chance Qualifier. With the top-six advancing to the final, Kyle Shriver got the jump from the pole when the green flag waved. While several karts at the back encountered problems, the lead group got through the opening turn hairpin unscathed. Shriver quickly established a gap on Neil McCoy and AJ Whistler. Attention was however focused on the fight for the final transfer place in sixth. Early on Daniel Morad held the position, but he was able to work his way forward, leading to a last gasp battle between Matt France, Justin Miller and Troy Dede. Fighting for the position throughout the final lap, contact between Miller and Dede led to France securing sixth place. Out front, Shriver scored an easy one and half second win in his Tony Kart chassis over Pier-Luc Ouellette, Morad, Whistler, McCoy and France.
The TaG Senior class rolled out for its 25-lap race, with former Indy 500 and IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon leading the 40-car field to the green flag. The order however immediately shuffled, with first Gustavo Menezes, then Andre Nicastro running out front. Behind the duo, Wheldon ran in third place in the opening two laps, ahead of Taylor Miinch. The order continued to shuffle from corner to corner, with Wheldon moving up to P1 by lap five. With the top-four of Wheldon, Nicastro, Miinch and Menezes running nose-to-tail, the fans on hand in Las Vegas witnessed multiple passes for the lead in the opening 10 laps. Behind the fight for the lead, Wes Phillips battled Justin Coplen for fifth place. As the halfway mark passed Nicastro, Miinch and Menezes - each having shared the lead - were able t pull out a small gap on Wheldon. With the lead being swapped several times in the closing stages, the fight for the win came down to the final few corners. Nicastro, having given Menezes a push through the final corners to take over the point was first to the stripe, taking the provisional win via the black and checker flags ahead of Taylor Miinch and Menezes. That was quickly altered, as the Race Director gave Nicastro a two place penalty, giving Top Kart’s Miinch his first SuperNats win in his Senior debut over fellow Senior rookie Menezes. Completing the top-five behind Nicastro were Wheldon and Phillips. During the podium celebrations, Menezes was further awarded the Jim Russell Championship Series Future Driver Selection scholarship, earning a free entry into the shoot-out for the Future Driver with Allan McNish ride in the 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series.
The S3 Last Chance Qualifier witnessed 18 drivers battling for the six final places in the main event. Jack Bradley, making the most of clean track ahead, held the lead throughout the opening few laps with Bryce Miller and Alec Gumpfer in hot pursuit. Behind the lead trio, the fans on hand were busy keeping an eye on Chris Jennings, Ryan O’Connell and Eduardo Pena fight for the final transfer place in sixth. Gumpfer, following a late race charge scored the win over Bradley and Miller. Adolfo Anquiano finished fourth in front over Jennings, while O'Connell secured his place in the finals with a sixth place result.
Bringing yet another highly-successful SuperNationals at the Rio to a close as the final main event of the day, Tom Dyer and Jacob Neal led the 40-car S3 field to the standing start. Getting a clean launch, Dyer held the lead through the often treacherous first turn hairpin. Behind the leader Neal, Memo Gidley, Tyler Bennett and Kyle Wiegand slotted into the top-five. As expected, the opening laps featured the top few drivers running virtually nose-to-tail. Former Champ Car driver Gidley was the first to make a move, passing Neal for second place. The fight for position continued to heat up as Dyer and Gidley swapped the lead on back-to-back laps, while Bennett worked his way into third. Bennett was unable to hold the position, following some contact with Wiegand. Benefitting from the incident, Christopher Barkley took over fourth place. Greatly entertaining the fans on hand in Las Vegas, Dyer and Gidley continued their dice for the win lap after lap. That all changed just past the halfway mark when Gidley’s chances ended when he and Wiegand connected while fighting for position. Keenan Schimtke, having avoided the incident, took over second place ahead of Neal, Brian Keck and Clinton Schoombee. The driver on the move in the final few laps was however Bennett, having recovered from his early race incident to move up to fourth. Out front it was all Dyer, however, entering the closing stages with a three second lead. The GP race pilot, running unchallenged at the checkered flag, scored his second career SuperNationals win. Schmitke and Bennett joined in the podium celebrations, finishing second and third in front of Brian Keck and Jacob Neal. Capping of a great charge back up the charts, Bennett was named the Jim Russell Championship Series Future Driver Selection scholarship winner for his drive in the main event, earning a free entry into the shoot-out for the Future Driver with Allan McNish ride in the 2010 Jim Russell Championship Series.
The exciting KF2 class was up next with numerous drivers from overseas going head-to-head for their SuperNationals title. After the first start was waved off, Nicolaj Moller-Madsen got the hole shot, retaining P1 ahead of Joel Johansson. Behind the duo, Yu Kanamaru was third early on, before multiple SuperNats winner Alex Speed took over the position. With the lead trio, just ahead of Guilherme Silva and Brandon Maisano, the top-five ran unchanged for all of one lap, before Speed slowed with a mechanical issue. Silva moved up to P3, who quickly moved another position, passing Johansson for second place. With Moller-Madsen steadily pulling away, the fight for third through fifth heated up as Maisano, Johansson and Kanamaru were regularly getting alongside one another. That trio was soon joined by a hard charging Gustavo Menezes. As the 25-lap entered the second half, Silva and Maisano began trading places, just ahead of Kanamaru. The order among the trio continued to shuffle with all three drivers taking turns out front of the fight for position. Denmark’s Moller-Madsen running a nearly perfect race in his Energy chassis, scored a comfortable victory over Kanamaru and Maisano. Completing the top-five in the first KF2 race at the SuperNationals were Menezes and Johansson.
Just as some clouds rolled over the Las Vegas area, the S4 cars lined up for their standing start. Todd Edgington, starting P1, held his advantage through the opening sequence of turns. Behind the leader Ryan Pool was the driver on the move, taking over second place ahead of Kyle Hathcox, Jared Woolf and Jamie Wilson. By lap three, the order among the lead pack had already changed, with Hatchcox finding a way past Pool into second place. The fight was not over though as Pool reclaimed the position a few laps later. Behind the top-five, Mike Jones was the driver on the move, working his way from deeper in the field up to sixth place. The charge came to a premature end however, as prior to the halfway mark of the 25-lap race he suddenly slowed as the carburetor again fell off his Honda powerplant, giving Jeff Littrell the opportunity to crack the top-five. Within another lap or two, the order up front further shuffled, as Pool spun and Littrell found a way past Both Wolf and Wilson took over third place. Upon taking over second place, Littrell rapidly closed the gap to Hathcox. As the duo battled for the win, the order behind the top-two changed on more than one occasion, with Craig Sender joining the top-five. Greatly entertaining those on hand, the fight for the win went all the way to the checkered flag. Tony Kart’s Littrell in the end captured his third SuperNationals title by 0.171s over Hathcox. Woolf joined the top-two on the podium with a third place finish, while Edgington and Pool completed the top-five. Jim Inglerbright took home the Bondurant Breakthrough Award with the 11th place result.
The penultimate race of the 2009 edition of the SuperNationals featured the G1 karts taking to the track. With Kelly Baker and Antonio Dettori starting from the front-row, it the duo holding the advantage through the opening sequence of turns. Not far behind, Doug Cox, Fernando Diaz and Robert Marks slotted into the rest of the top-five. Pushing their MG Tires hard over the first few laps, Baker and Dettori were able to establish a one plus second gap on third place. Thanks in part to Cox and Diaz dicing for position, that gap steadily expanded throughout the first half of the 25-lap race. Following some sustained pressure, Dettori passed for the lead on lap 10. The next change among the top-five took place, when Andre Martins took over fifth place from Marks. The order further shuffled when Diaz suddenly fell down the charts. Out front, the fight for the win once again came down to the final lap, with Baker closing on Dettori. The Energy chassis race pilot met the challenge, scoring his first SuperNationals title by 0.255s over Baker. Cox completed the top-three, leading Martins and Marks to the checkered flag.
Utilizing the rolling start procedure, it was Larry Fraser and Kip Foster lined-up P1 and P2 for the 25-lap race. After the initial start was waved off, the action immediately heated up when the green flag finally did wave. While Fraser held the his P1 starting position, he was quickly under pressure from Billy Cleavelin, Kipp Foster, JP Chadoux, Eric Jones and John Crow. The order did not remain constant however, as Cleavelin took over the lead by lap five. Despite battling for position, Cleavelin and Fraser steadily pulled away from Chadoux in third place as the race progressed. The start of lap eight witnessed another change up front, as Fraser got to the inside of Cleavelin for the lead. Behind the duo, the second half of the race featured plenty of movement among the top-five, with Chadoux, Jones, Ty Matta, Foster and Ethan Wilson all running in close formation. The race took a dramatic turn on lap 17, when Fraser he suddenly retired when his chain fell off. As a result, Cleavelin took over a commanding lead over Matta and Jones. The fight for the final two podium positions continued, with Matta, Foster, Chadoux dicing for position. When the checkered flag waved, CRG’s Cleavelin had scored his second consecutive TaG Master Supernationals title. Foster and Chadoux joined in the podium celebrations, crossing the Strip in second and third, ahead of Matta and Jones. Ethan Wilson took home the Bondurant Breakthrough Award with his 11th place finish.
The second group of drivers looking for a place in their final were the TaG Junior Last Chance Qualifier race pilots. Getting a good launch, Frederico Paoloni moved to the point on the opening lap, his run was short lived though, as Reid Arnold over first place. While the battle for the win was proving entertaining, many were busy watching the multi-kart dice for the sixth and the final transfer spot. Nicolas Silva, Scott Hargrove, Emily Maddison and Austin DeMent went head-to-head lap after lap, with the order coming down to the 12 and final lap. Behind the race winner Udell, Arnold, Tejeda and Harrgrove, Roman Lagudi crossed the stripe in sixth.
After two aborted attempts, the TaG Junior main race at the SuperNats got underway with the polesitter Jake Dennis retaining the to spot ahead of Kiel Spaulding, Pierre Gasly, Yago Cesario and Yuri Cesario. Attacking the temporary road course at the Rio Hotel & casino, Dennis and Spaulding began slowly pulling away from the fight for third place man Gasly. That was short lived however, as Gasly not only responded, but found a way past Spaulding into second place. Behind the lead trio, Yago Cesario and Marcus Brodie began working together, making it a five-car battle for the win as the 20-lap race passed the halfway mark. With Gasly, Dennis and Spaulding all having taking a turn in the lead, and Brodie part of the mix as well, the win was not decided until the checkered flag waved. In the end, Vemme’s Brodie scored his first SuperNationals tirle via a .0113s win. Dennis and Spaulding took home second and third place, crossing the stripe in front of Gasly and the hard charging Austin Self. Following tech, Brodie was removed from the results with an engine infraction, giving Dennis the victory.
The first main race of the 13th SuperNationals witnessed the S5 group taking to the temporary road course at the Rio Hotel & Casino. Corey Neveau and Kiel Spaulding started on the front-row, and following a clean launch from the standing start, led the field into and exiting the first turn. While Neveau retained the top-spot for the first two laps, Spaulding worked his way into the lead on lap three. Behind the duo, the early stages of the 20-lap race featured Dylan Kwasniewski, Lukas Johnson and Reid Arnold completing the top-five. As the field passed the halfway mark, the best battle for position among the lead pack, featured AJ Myers, Arnold and Johnson fighting for fourth, fifth and sixth. As the laps ticked off, Spaulding steadily increased his advantage over Neveau. That advantage increased, when Kwasniewski found a way past Neveau, taking over the runner-up spot. Spaulding in the end was unbeatable in his Tony Kart, capturing his first-ever SuperNationals win. Kwasniewski and Neveau completed the top-three, leading Myers and Johnson to the stripe. Kaylee Granberg earned the Bondurant Breakthrough Award with her 11th place finish.
With the 13th annual Superkarts! USA SuperNationals now in the books, those who witnessed history or those who were unable to now have 360 days to prepare for what is to come in 2010. The SuperNats will close out the new SKUSA Pro Tour following events in Northern California and the Midwest. Not only will winning at the Vegas event important, it will decide new champions of the established program. For photos, head over to www.ontrackpromotions.com Complete coverage including results and other links can be found at the EKN Event Page.