The final day of the World Karting Association Daytona KartWeek by Cometic Gaskets went into the books Wednesday. It was another beautiful day over the Daytona International Speedway as the temperatures warm-up as did the action on the track. Once again, no red flags were displayed on the sprint track as everyone for the most part kept their heads on all day and no series incidents took place. With nine race groups on the schedule for the day, putting the total for the event at just over 500 entries, the pace of the day was smooth with the racing completed in time for everyone to enjoy the final sunset of the event. New drivers showed the way on day two as three different drivers took victories in the TaG divisions, along with KPP and Yamaha for the Senior drivers. Nick Neri however was the big winner of the Junior divisions as he took both feature wins on the day.
Yamaha SuperCan Heavy
With 30 karts in the Yamaha SuperCan Heavy group, there are a number of contenders capable of winning the opening round. Split into two groups, the first karts on track were paced by yesterday’s pole winner Tony Jump (Margay) before Senior rookie Colton Ramsey (Merlin) bettered his time. The second group had three drivers better their times as Mark Dismore Jr. (Arrow) took the Streeter Super Stands pole award with his 44.908 lap. Corey Reeves made it an Arrow front row, just 0.077-seconds off Dismore’s time. Ryan Phillips put the American Bandit machine in the third spot, moving Ramsey and Jump to fourth and fifth. Day one winner TJ Koyen (Merlin) was only able to record a fast lap to put him tenth in the order.
A very clean start as all 30 karts got through the opening corner for the Prefinal. The field, led by Dismore, filed into position behind him for the opening laps. Ramsey was the driver to make the early challenge, first getting by Phillips for third. Once pressured by Ramsey, Reeves made a move on Dismore with two to go, dropping the pole sitter back to third. Ramsey got inside of Reeves as they went through turn nine. Coming to the white flag, Reeves wouldn’t give way as they went side-by-side into turn one. On the exit, Ramsey spun off track to end his race one lap too soon. Reeves retained the lead and held on for the win. Phillips was able to move up to second with Ryan Stewart (Birel) posting the fast laps of the race to advance from 14th to third. Jump ended up fourth with Dismore back to fifth.
As we continue to see, the Yamaha SuperCan division provides some of the best racing in the Manufacturer’s Cup Series. The Final for Heavy was no different. Six drivers involved in the lead pack with Reeves, Stewart, Dismore the early favorites. Stewart took the early laps before Reeves regained the spot. Dismore then took his turn at the point, all before the 3/4-mark of the 14-lap event. The final few laps were a major shuffling of positions. Phillips slowly worked himself forward, posting the fast laps of the race, finding himself third after Reeves was shuffled back. Dismore would also go backwards, moving Phillips on the bumper of Stewart. Receiving the white flag, Phillips tried a move on Stewart however it failed and he went straight off the track, losing a possible win and podium finish. From there, Masters champion Jeff Jewell (Haase) had worked his way to third and inherited the second spot. Putting some pressure on, Jewell was unable to make a move, allowing Stewart to take the victory. Jump moved up to third with Reeves and Dismore completing the podium.
Split up into three groups for qualifying, the early pace setter for the Cadet Sportsman group was Canadian Grant Quinlan (Birel). Making his first Manufacturer’s Cup start this weekend, his lap time held through the first two groups. Californian Zane Smith (Top Kart) however better Quinlan’s time by nearly two-tenths, posting a 45.882 for the pole positions. Quinlan held to second as Leonardo Stoia (PCR) was third quickest ahead of day one winner Austin Osborne (Birel). Matt Solarczyk (Birel) completed the fast-five.
Quinlan got the jump at the start of the Prefinal as Smith was shuffled back to fourth by the time they exited the opening corner. The front for of Quinlan, Osborne, Wagner and Smith broke away from the pack as a line of karts fought for the fifth spot. Quinlan would go on to lead all eight laps to take the win over Osborne by just 0.102-seconds. Smith was able to work around Wagner for third as Tyler Moneypenny (Arrow) put in a great performance from 11th to fifth. Quinlan’s win however would be removed as his carburetor was found to be incompliant, handing Osborne the win and the rest of the field up one spot.
The Cadet group provided another thrilling Final as the 14-lap event came down the wire. The lead group was four for most of the race with Osborne, Wagner, Smith and Moneypenny. The trio stayed in line for the first half of the race but when they began shuffling, a group of three was able to reel them in at the two to go signal. Not much movement took place until the final corner. Running an inside line, Smith bunched up the field behind him. As the field made their way to the checkered flag, they spread out to four wide. At the line, Smith took the win by 0.117-seconds over Wagner and Emerson Reed (Merlin) who went from outside the top-five to third. Osborne crossed in fourth with Rogero falling back to fifth. Quinlan bounced back from his DQ as he worked himself from 30th to 10th at the end.
TaG Heavy/TaG Masters
For the first time in recent history, the Manufacturer’s Cup Series ran two classes in the same group, similar to the road racing program. The TaG Heavy and TaG Masters took to the track with two separate qualifying groups. Day one winner Jacob Sekey (Arrow) continued his torrid pace, grabbing the Streeter Super Stands pole award with a 41.360. Sekey edged out Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon by just over a tenth, making it an Arrow front row. The top Masters driver in the session was defending champion John Dixon (Birel) as he ended up third overall. Hunter Short (Kosmic) improved on his qualifying performance from day one to end up fourth while Senior rookie Robert Bujdoso (PCR) rounded out the fast-five. The second best TaG Masters driver was Jeff Jewell with the 10th fastest lap overall, followed by Kim Carapellatti (Margay) and James Perkins (Gillard) with John Ferris III (Margay) the fifth fastest in the class, 15th overall.
After a few false starts, the eight-lap Prefinal got underway with Sekey and Wheldon on the front row. Sekey got the jump over Wheldon as the field shuffled around a few spinners, including Masters drivers Perkins and Jewell. Sekey and Wheldon broke away from the field as Wheldon sized up the winner from day one. On the final lap, Wheldon dived inside at turn one despite a tight line by Sekey. Wheldon came out with the lead however Sekey came back at turn three. Wheldon fought him off and retained the lead as they went through the turn four and five section. At the line, Wheldon took the win by 0.116-seconds. Dixon was a close third overall, taking the Masters Prefinal win by over nine seconds ahead of last year’s winner John Crow (Birel) and Ferris. Completing the top-five in Heavy was Bujdoso, Short and Billy Lewis.
With Wheldon and Sekey on the front row, the duo led the field to the green flag. On the outside line, Sekey was shuffled back to fourth as Dixon and Short each were able to get by. Out front, Wheldon was quick on the cold tires and pulled out to a solid lead over Dixon. Sekey was able to grab back third by lap three and retook second from Dixon a few laps later. Wheldon however was just too consistent despite Sekey posting a faster best lap, just one-hundredth better. The Brit took the victory by 1.135-seconds. Dixon ended up third overall once again, taking the Masters win by over eight-seconds over Crow. Bujdoso, Lewis and Jason Karr (Arrow) completed the podium in Heavy while Stempfley, Perkins and Ferris filed the Masters steps.
Komet Piston Port Jr. Lite
Forty drivers entered the KPP Jr. Lite division with three separate groups looking to post the fast lap of the class. Logan Bearden (Birel) was the first pace setter as the quick driver in group one. His time was eclipsed in the second group by Aidan Landauer (Merlin). The last group however contained a number of heavy hitters. When the checkered flag waved on the session, a 42.474 lap by Nick Neri (Tony Kart) edged out defending class champion Sam Beasley (Arrow) by 0.043-seconds for the pole position. Kyle Smith (PCR) was third in the order with day one winner Sage Karam (Birel) recording the fourth fastest lap. Austin Self (Birel) completed the fast-five as Jake Cole (Merlin) also bumped down Landauer and Bearden to seventh and eighth.
The Prefinal for the KPP Jr. Lite group was decided in the first few corners. Neri was able to break away cleanly from the field as Beasley and Karam followed in behind. Posting the fast laps of the race, Neri went on to take the flag-to-flag win by just over two seconds. Karam ran close to Beasley but was unable to make any pass attempts and settle for third. Self lost the fourth spot in the early going but retook it and held on to the checkered with Landauer ending up fifth.
Putting in a class sweep, Neri was unchallenged all day to score the Final victory in another flag-to-flag win. The race began with three-wide action through the opening corner with everyone exiting cleanly. The craziness of the opening corners spread out the front of the field with Neri leading Karam, Beasley and Self. Karam kept pace with Neri for most of the race until his exhaust continued to make a louder noise. The lost of horsepower from a broken pipe allowed in the closing laps allowed Beasley to take over second. Neri posted the fast laps of the race en route to a two-second victory. Beasley crossed the line in second while Karam held on to third ahead of Shawn Sharkey (Merlin). Karam however would be removed in tech for the broken exhaust, moving Sharkey to third, Smith to fourth and Landauer to fifth. Self had a tough run, getting shuffled back to 17th at the end of the 14 laps.
The new Rotax division for Senior drivers made their Manufacturer’s Cup Series debut with Estonian Kenneth Hildebrand taking the pole position. The 2005 Rotax Grand Finals Junior champion posted a lap of 41.674 to better Florida’s Keith Spicer (Kosmic) by just under two-tenths. The Birels of Andy Dunne and Matthew Powers filled up third and fourth as Rotax Max Challenge USA podium finisher Victor Pedrosa (Arrow) rounded out the fast-five ahead of NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray (CRG).
Opening lap contact put Spicer and Pedrosa further back in the field as Hildebrand was able to get away from the rest of the field. The Estonian went on to lead all eight laps for the near four second win. TJ Koyen (Merlin) jumped from seventh to second in the race as McMurray crossed the line third. Dunne was fourth at the flag while Powers ended up fifth.
Hildebrand held the advantage at the start of the Final as Koyen was shuffled out at the start of the race. McMurray slid into second with Powers, Drew Cattell (CRG) and McLaughlin making up the early top-five. Powers ran into trouble early as his carburetor came loose, forcing him to give up a number of positions before he eventually retired. Out front, Hildebrand was on rails, running the fast laps of the race to earn himself the victory by nearly four-seconds over McMurray. Pedrosa was the second quickest driver on the track, able to work himself up from eighth to third at the line. Dunne regained his spots lost at the start to end up fourth with Spicer working up to fifth from his ninth grid position.
Yamaha Jr. Heavy
Scoring his second Streeter Super Stands pole award of the day, Nick Neri (Tony Kart) posted the fast lap of the opening group for Yamaha Jr. Heavy. His 43.980-lap held through the last two group sessions, just 0.031-seconds quicker than Austin Self (Birel). Defending class champion was just five-hundredths back of Neri for the third quickest lap of the session while day one winner Sage Karam (Birel) was fourth on the chart, ahead of Kyle Crump (Margay).
From the pole position, Neri went untouched to score the win in the eight-lap Prefinal. With the field battling for the second position, Neri was able to escape early and cruise to a 1.619 win. Behind him, Self was second through the opening corner but would be shuffled back to fourth by the time they crossed the line. That same lap, he would spin around in turn one, losing even more positions. Karam was second for most of the race but looked to loose some grip on the exit of several corners as Beasley was able to reel him in after losing ground early. Beasley crossed the line second with Karam just edging out Dakota Pesek (Arrow) for third. Jack Manley (Arrow) won the battle for fifth with a number of drivers behind him, including Kyle Smith (PCR) from the LCQ who finished 10th and Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) in 11th from 22nd.
With one win already earned on the day, Neri completed the day two sweep for the Junior categories with the victory in Yamaha Final. Getting the jump at the drop of the green, Neri paced Karam in the early going. Once again the fastest kart on the track, Neri continued to lead all 14 laps with Karam - day one double winner - unable to make any move. Beasley ran alone in third Pesek holding on to fourth. A great drive by Jonathan Kotyk (Arrow) who advanced up from 19th to end up on the final podium spot, edging out Sharkey for the trophy. Junior rookie Kyle Kalish (Merlin) also put in a strong performance, finishing behind them in seventh after starting 15th.
Komet Piston Port Lite
A great qualifying session was put in by the KPP Lite category as the provisional pole was a revolving door. Tony Jump (Margay) looked to have it locked away until Bill McLaughlin Jr. (Birel) stole the spot on his last lap. In the second group however, Patrick Olsen (Birel) came through on his final circuit to secure the pole with a 42.774, which was 0.059-seconds better than McLaughlin. Jump was pushed back to third in the order with Senior rookie Shinya Michimi (Merlin) and day one winner TJ Koyen (Merlin) completing the fast-five.
From the drop of the green, the Prefinal was all Olsen as he went on to lead all eight laps for the win. Olsen got away early as the rest of the field fought it out for second. McLaughlin held the spot before getting shuffled out. At the checkered, Michimi held the spot across the line ahead of Colton Ramsey (Merlin) and Koyen. Jump fell back to fifth in the run while McLaughlin ended up sixth.
Putting in his own sweep on the day was Olsen as he led all 14-laps to take the Final in KPP Lite. Some opening lap contact allowed Olsen and Ramsey to break away as Michimi was shuffled outside the five. Jump, Stewart and Koyen looked to chase down the front duo until they made some racing contact, putting Stewart back in the field and putting McLaughlin up into fifth. Up front, Ramsey pressured Olsen throughout the race but would come up short at the line by 0.235-seconds with Olsen taking the checkered flag. Jump, Koyen and McLaughlin would run spread out, crossing the stripe in that order.
Yamaha Sportsman Lite
Last year’s Yamaha Sportsman Heavy champion Kyle Tilley (Margay) was able to score the Streeter Super Stands pole award. A 45.702 lap time was 0.028-seconds better than that of Brandon Jarsocrak (Haase). Ashley Rogero (Tony Kart) and defending class champion Mike McAndrews (Margay) filled up row two for the Prefinal as Emerson Reed (Merlin) rounded out the fast-five ahead of day one winner Gresham Wagner (Birel).
The fight for the Prefinal win came down to four drivers. Jarsocrak, Rogero, Tilley and McAndrews fought it out to the final corner when contact was made. The result was McAndrews going off into the tire barriers for a second time this weekend and still walking away. At the line, it was Jarsocrak who edged Rogero for the win by just 0.005-seconds. Wagner moved up to third with Andrew Granata (Birel) and Tilley completing the top-five.
The Yamaha Sportsman field shuffled up the running order early as Wagner was the leader the first time by line. Jarsocrak was second with Tilley completing the lead pack. Contact later one put Wagner out of the group and outside the top-10 with Tilley inheriting the lead ahead of Jarsocrak. Tilley would go on to lead the remainder of the race to score the win while Jarsocrak was the provisional second. Officials however ruled his contact with Wagner deemed a penalty, thus moving him behind Wagner in the final running. Luckily for him, Wagner put his head down and drove back to the fifth position behind Reed and Rogero - putting them second and third, Wagner fourth and Jarsocrak on the podium in fifth. McAndrews was able to bounce back from his disappointment in the Prefinal, coming from 29th on the grid to end up ninth.
The second new class of the day - Parilla Leopard - saw Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon (Arrow) better his TaG Heavy performance by one position to score the inaugural pole position. The 41.304 lap time was over two-tenths quicker than day one TaG runner-up Mike Giessen (Haase). Michele Bumgarner (Margay) was a late entry for the class and was third in the order with Jamie McMurray (CRG) and Sean Meier (Kosmic) completing the fast-five.
Not much action at the front of the field for the Prefinal as Wheldon would run away to a 1.103-second win. Posting the fast lap of the race by nearly two-tenths, Wheldon went flag-to-flag for the victory. Giessen and Bumgarner slotted into a comfortable second and third, working out their game plan for the Final. McMurray grab one spot for fourth early on, finishing there ahead of a charging Jacob Duvall (Arrow) up from ninth to fifth.
The last race of the event got underway with enough daylight left in the day for a solid ending to the event. The opening corner however was not so great as Bumgarner was forced wide, pushing her out into McMurray and causing a scattering of karts. McMurray spun around and rejoined at the tail of the field while Bumgarner fell outside the top-10. Up front, Wheldon got the jump on Giessen who put himself on the Brit’s bumper. Putting his ride inside of Wheldon, Giessen took over the lead near the halfway mark. From there, Giessen proved to have the fast Leopard of the weekend, pulling out to a 0.886-second victory over Wheldon. Patrick Soares benefitted from the opening lap skirmish to take over third early on and held off Sean Donnelly (Merlin) till the end. Behind them was a great battle for fifth as Christopher Grektorp (Gillard) held off a charging Bumgarner and Jamie Sieracki (Merlin) for the final podium spot.
After earning their second Manufacturer’s Trophy at the banquet Monday, Birel kicked off their defense with a total of 8 wins out of a possible 20 classes. Arrow scored 4 to sit second after the opening round while Merlin, Haase and Tony Kart each having 2.
The event now complete, the start of the 2010 season is underway for the many competitors on hand in Daytona as we turn the page on the 2009 calendar. The next few months will be the ‘off-season’ for most with the next Man Cup event set for Michiana Raceway Park on the first weekend of May. But for now, those able to score a victory at Daytona will now go down in history for the achievement, leaving drivers winless this year a wait of 364 days before their next chance to become a Daytona International Speedway winner. To discuss the event, visit the Official Discussion Thread.