Photos by NCRM; mouse over photo for caption
CONCORD, N.C. – The WKA Mazda / Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series closed its 2013 season this past weekend at the beautiful GoPro Motorplex, where 17 racers drove to national 2-cycle sprint wins at the new Mooresville, N.C., venue, which is nearing the end of its inaugural season.
Heading into the weekend a number of big stories outlined the RACERSITES Nationals. Bridgestone and its distributors posted a myriad of prizes and incentives for every class, including free YLB tires to every TaG entrants, eight sets of Bridgestones for this December’s Daytona Sprint Championships and seven $50 credit certificates toward Daytona entry fees that will be awarded to the best overall finisher in seven divisions.
Brandon Lemke simply needed to start the weekend’s Junior Sportsman races to earn a coveted Triple Crown championship, WKA’s most prestigious driver award since 1996. Lemke earned one race win in Cadet Sportsman 2 on the weekend and put the finishing touches on one of the best Manufacturers Cup seasons in recent memory.
Lemke will become the first Man Cup racer to win a Triple Crown since Joel Jens, Grant Quinlan and Sam Beasley did it in 2011.
Three top Sportsman racers from the 2012 and 2013 seasons advanced to the Junior ranks for the first time in WKA national competition. Zach Holden, David Malukas and Neil Verhagen all bypassed a final opportunity to race Sportsman to move up to the full-size chassis and the Junior ranks.
All three racers found success. Malukas won Saturday’s Komet Junior 1 main event by a big 3.5-second margin and Verhagen made an exciting last-turn pass on Malukas to win Sunday’s Orlando Kart Center Komet Junior weekend capper. Holden was consistent all weekend, recording finishes of second (twice) and third.
Maks Kowalski, John Paul Southern Jr. and Giovanni Bromante all scored double wins in the Sportsman ranks.
Kowalski won two sets of Bridgestones for the Daytona Sprint Championships in the Yamaha Rookie division. The Birel racer won Saturday’s New Jersey Sprint Series Yamaha Rookie Sportsman 1 over Mark J. Fineis. The win awarded Kowalski with one set of Bridgestones.
He drew the No. 1 out of a hat Sunday morning, meaning the winner of Sunday’s Mike Doty Racing Rookie final would win the second set of tires Grand Products had posted for the Rookie category. Kowalski proceeded to back up Saturday’s win with another big triumph over Tyler Ferris and Griffin Kunz.
Southern rode his Checkered Motorsports PCR to a sweep of Yamaha Sportsman with wins in MRP / Birel Yamaha Sportsman 1 and Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Sportsman 2. Southern bested Lemke in Saturday’s main and won Sunday over Sam Mayer with Lemke taking third.
Bromante raced his Top Kart to a sweep of GT7 Motorsports Komet Sportsman. The finishing order was identical each day with the New Yorker triumphing over Lemke, Southern and Mayer. Lemke scored the Streeter Super Stands Pole Award in both classes.
Lemke and New Hampshire’s Lance Fenderson split the Cadet finals. Fenderson raced his Top Kart to his first ever Manufacturers Cup triumph in Saturday’s KoeneUSA.com Cadet Sportsman 1 final. Bromante and Lemke finished second and third.
Lemke broke through with a RACERSITES Nationals win in Sunday’s Grand Products / Top Kart USA Cadet contest. In a terrific race, Lemke wheeled his Merlin to the victory over Bromante and Fenderson.
While new Junior racers Malukas and Verhagen split the Komet Junior mains, a couple of Junior veterans won in Yamaha Junior, which were the largest classes of the weekend at over 20 entrants.
Virginia’s Gresham Wagner raced his Arrow to his first Man Cup win of the season in Saturday’s Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha Junior 1. Wagner won by a tight 0.170-second margin over Holden and PCR racer Braden Eves.
Sunday’s best race of the day belonged to Verde Speed Resources Yamaha Junior 2. Malukas and point leader Brandon Jarsocrak battled for the win on the last lap until the two made contact in turn 11 coming to the checkered. The contact allowed Birel pilot Matt Solarczyk to sneak past both racers and drag race Holden, Malukas and others down the front stretch to a big win. Holden took second and Malukas settled for third. Verhagen and Austin McCusker completed the top five.
Wisconsin’s Patrick Olsen swept HYTORC Komet Pro to take the $300 prize. Olsen won Saturday over Kody Evans while Darren Brubaker finished second to Olsen in Sunday’s contest.
Derek Hughes drove his plain black Arrow to a bit of a surprise victory in Saturday’s Yamaha Senior main. Hughes bested Olsen and Evans for his first Man Cup victory of the season.
Sunday’s Zero Error Racing Yamaha Senior main saw a Top Kart breakaway with Dakota Pesek, Chase Jones and Olsen outrunning Evans and Hughes to the top-three positions. Pesek’s win marked an appropriate close to another Yamaha Senior national championship season for the Ohio driver.
TaG racing saw the Rotax engine dominate in Saturday’s events. Florida FA Kart racer Roger Ralston Jr. scored Saturday’s TSRacing.com TaG Senior main event win over Tony Kart pilot Dustin Stross and local runner Dusty Davis. Garrett Johnston was the first non-Rotax across the stripe for fourth and his twin brother Jake Johnston in fifth.
Scott Roberts wheeled his Rotax-powered Tony Kart to the win in Saturday’s DRT Racing TaG Masters. Roberts won over Scott Ferris and Chuck Tate.
Ten pounds was added to the Rotax for Sunday’s racing while five pounds was reduced from the Parilla X30. With the weight change the engines were very close in Sunday’s OTK Kart USA TaG Senior 2 main.
Derek Dignan switched from his Rotax to an X30 and scored the win over Jake Johnston, another X30 racer. But the fastest kart on the track was Ralston on his Rotax. The Florida racer nearly had Johnston passed on a couple of occasions but lost momentum when not being able to complete the pass in the turn 8 hairpin. Ralston went on to settle for third.
RACERSITES owner Chuck Tate scored a big victory in the event his company sponsored with a dominating performance in Sunday’s Margay Racing Products TaG Masters program. Tate raced his Tony Kart to a big win over Scott Roberts, who challenged the North Carolina driver for a time before experiencing problems on his Tony Kart that allowed Tate to drive away. Steve Schiewer finished third. Tate and Roberts were both racing Rotax engines.
Dignan and Jake Johnston split the Parilla Senior main events. Dignan won over Garrett Johnston and Mark Boos in Saturday’s Grand Products / Top Kart Parilla Senior 1.
Sunday’s Franklinkart.com Parilla Senior 2 feature saw twin brothers Jake and Garrett Johnston dominate the show. Jake held on for a big victory over his brother with Dignan crossing the stripe in third.
Top Kart officially clinched the 2013 WKA Man Cup Manufacturer Championship over Tony Kart. This marks the second consecutive season Top Kart has won the prestigious award.
Grand Products Daytona awards were won by the following racers. Certificates will be mailed to winners in the coming weeks.
DAYTONA BRIDGESTONE TIRE SETS
Yamaha Rookie: Maks Kowalski (two sets)
Yamaha Sportsman: John Paul Southern Jr. (1st Saturday); Simon Sikes (9th Sunday)
Yamaha Junior: Gresham Wagner (1st Saturday); Emerson Reed (7th Sunday)
Yamaha Senior: Derek Hughes (1st Saturday); Brett Schneider (8th Sunday)
DAYTONA ENTRY FEE $50 COUPONS
Rookie: Maks Kowalski
Cadet Sportsman: Brandon Lemke
Komet Sporstman: Giovanni Bromante
Yamaha Sportsman: John Paul Southern Jr.
Komet Junior: David Malukas
Yamaha Junior: Zach Holden
Yamaha Senior: Patrick Olsen
The Daytona Sprint Championships entry form will be posted next week.