03.14.2013 - Pro Gas Animal makes strong debut at Jacksonville Gold Cup opener; Clone and Animal classes provide great competition

sportsman gas

Photos by KRAPP

CONCORD, N.C. – The WKA RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup Series kicked off its 2013 season with the Coyote Motorsports Nationals this past weekend at the popular 103rd Street Sports Complex in Jacksonville, Florida, a longtime WKA national event venue that has hosted the past three Gold Cup openers.

This year’s Gold Cup opener included a number of differences from last year’s. For one, after a two-year hiatus, the Gold Cup returned to a 4-cycle-only series. Last year the series included the X30 Senior and Junior TaG divisions, as well as Komet Sportsman. The year prior, a handful of 2-cycle classes was added to the series as local options.

This year the only karts circling the track at a Gold Cup national will be powered by Briggs Animal, LO206 or Clone powerplants, as was the case at Jacksonville.

The other key difference from last year was that Clones weren’t the only gas-powered 4-cycle engines on the track. Three new gas-powered Animal divisions made their debut, titled Pro Gas Animal for Senior, Junior and Sportsman racers.

The Pro Gas divisions featured very respectable entry counts for their debutant show. Ten racers entered a very competitive Senior Pro Gas Animal division each day, while Sportsman Pro Gas Animal was the largest class of the weekend with 12 entrants on Saturday and 13 racers on Sunday. The weekend kicked off with a special Sportsman Pro Gas Animal 10-lap shootout race, which saw a dozen youngsters take the green flag.

Clones made up a good portion of the entry count at Jacksonville. Senior Clone started 13 karts Saturday and 11 Sunday. The racing was close and exciting as the underpowered Clone engine kept most of the top-10 contestants close and competitive throughout each day’s program.

Methanol-powered Animal classes continued as the backbone of the Gold Cup Series at Jacksonville. The four Junior divisions provided exciting racing and stiff competitions, while Animal Lite, Medium and Heavy, as well as Friday night’s Money Race, offered fans some fast-paced action and wheel-to-wheel action.

Here’s a rundown of the racing at the Jacksonville’s Coyote Motorsports Gold Cup Nationals.

Friday Money Race / Sportsman Shootout
Twelve drivers officially opened the 2013 Gold Cup racing season in a special 10-lap Sportsman Pro Gas Shootout event, which awarded trophies to the top-five finishers and gift certificates to various kart shops.

Bandit racer Jason Alder scored the first win of the new season with a close victory over Georgia’s Dylan Murry. David Kalb Jr. finished third on his brand-new Margay chassis. Zach Wells was fourth on his MGM and Cameron Clifford rounded out the top five.

junior animalTyler Sandmeyer continued to prove he’s a wheelman at Jacksonville with his win in the Animal Heavy Money Race. Sandmeyer, on his familiar No. 1 MGM, bested MGM teammate Zachary Linsell for the score. Florida’s Rob Hindery was third on his Razor, Josh Stiefel fourth on a Coyote and Dylan Zobkiw rounded out the top five on his Coyote.

LO206 Kid Kart
Three kid kart teams made the trip to Jacksonville. Tanner Carter won both days, but had some stiff competition in both main events. Dalton Smith and Riley Smith were both on Carter’s back bumper in Saturday’s feature. Both drivers looked to have a shot at the top position before Riley spun out last in the race in turn seven. Carter held the lead over the final laps to take a 0.130-second victory over Dalton Smith.

On Sunday you could have thrown a blanket over the top-three racers. Again, Tanner was able to fend off challenges from the two Smiths. This time Riley held on for second, finishing only 0.180 seconds back of Carter, while Dalton crossed the stripe third, less than a half-second back of the winner.

Sportsman 1
Pennsylvania racer Jason Alder backed up his Friday Sportsman Pro Gas Shootout win by bolting on the methanol-powered Animal and scoring the win in Saturday’s Performance North Sportsman 1 Lite main. Alder wheeled his Bandit to his second win of the weekend – but first win in national points classes – over New York Coyote racer Nick Fauci. Maryland’s Matthew Miller was third, about one second back of the winner, while Camden Gruber and Evan Bovee filled the top-five slots in the seven-kart field.

Fauci had been close all weekend and finally broke into the winners’ column in the weekend’s second-to-last race, Sportsman 1 Heavy. Fauci battled hard with Miller and Alder throughout the 10-lapper, and made a slick last-lap pass on Alder to earn the victory. Alder was unable to win his third race of the weekend and had to settle for third. Riley Kelley was fourth and Gruber fifth.

Only two Sportsman 1 Clone racers were in attendance. The participants were Nick Torres and Cale Hall. Torres won both days over Hall. He had a fairly easy time of it Saturday, finishing over 10 seconds in front. On Sunday, Hall was able to keep pace with Torres but ended up falling a little over a second short of the winner. Both drivers were on Razor chassis.

Sportsman 2 / Sportsman Pro Gas
Adam Cornell swept the Sportsman 2 Animal divisions. Cornell secured his first win of the weekend in Saturday’s Van-K Wheels Sportsman 2 Lite, which saw him make a last-lap pass on MGM pilot Zach Wells. Joshua Stark was third on his Coyote, Cameron Clifford fourth and David Kalb Jr. fifth.

Cornell made it a clean sweep in Sunday’s Sportsman 2 Heavy program. The Pennsylvanian scored the Pole Award, won the heat and the 10-lap main event. Stark was second, Kalb third, Clifford fourth and Wells rounded out the top five.

senior pro gas startDylan Murry and Zach Wells split the Sportsman 2 Clone mains. Murry made a sweet last-lap pass on Wells to win Saturday’s feature. Wells returned the favor Sunday and fended off Murry in another tight race. Cody Hall was third in both races.

Matthew Miller earned a big win Saturday in Baker Racing Engines Sportsman Pro Gas Animal 1. Miller timed fastest on his Bandit chassis and backed up his Pole Award with a 0.123-second win over Dylan Murry. Nick Fauci was third, Alex Vrabel fourth and Cody Hall fifth in the 12-kart field.

Sunday’s Baker Racing Engines Sportsman Pro Gas Animal 2 main saw Cody Hall and Murry race nose-to-tail throughout the 12-lapper. The pair, both on Razor chassis, pulled away from the rest of the field to settle the race on their own. Murry took a number of shots at Hall on the final lap but Hall was able to hold on for the big win – his first and only triumph of the weekend.

Miller crossed the stripe third, well ahead of fourth-place Fauci. Alder rounded out the top five in the competitive 13-kart field.

Razor pilot Tanner Lee was the top winner on the weekend. Lee scored wins in five of the eight Junior classes offered, including a sweep of Junior Clone, Junior Pro Gas Animal and a big win in Junior Heavy.

Lee became the first-ever winner of Junior Pro Gas, sponsored by Razor Chassis / Roberts Kart Shop and Margay Racing Chassis, and now has the hole shot on the brand-new chassis that will be awarded to the winner of the division’s points champion. Lee bested Michigan’s Tyler Woods and Joey Pendergrass in both days’ Junior Pro Gas mains.

The Lee team strapped on the Clone and proceeded to best Davis Packard in Junior Clone 1 and Junior Clone 2. Five karts started each main event. In Junior Clone 1, Evan Cowen was third, Chris Newman fourth and Rafael Leon fifth. In Sunday’s Junior Clone 2 weekend capper, Lee led the way over Packard, Newman, Leon and Cowen.

Lee scored the MGM Chassis Co. Junior Heavy victory by a 2.5-second gap over defending Restricted Junior national champion Sarah Luoma. Georgia’s Connor Tebbe was third on his sleek black and green Razor. Jason Yarbrough was fourth and Tyler Steifel fifth, both on Coyotes.

Florida racer Jason Yarborough won two of the three races he started at Jacksonville. Racing a pristine No. 24 Coyote, Yarborough banked wins in Junior Lite and Junior Medium, the most competitive of all the Junior mains.

Yarborough’s win in Junior Lite came by a tight 0.274-second gap over fellow Coyote pilot Luoma. Tebbe was right there in third, only 0.546 seconds back of the winner. Tyler Stiefel finished fourth and Haley Kummer fifth.

clone seniorYarborough won a tight race in Junior Medium to finish off the weekend. He finished just ahead of Lee, who was denied of a sixth win on the weekend. Austin Yarbrough (no relation) was third, Tyler Stiefel fourth and Tebbe fifth.

Austin Yarbrough made for an interesting story. The Georgia racer is a top Southeast dirt wheelman who was looking to get some experience on a paved road course. An ad on Facebook led his Austin Yarbrough Racing team to contact D.J. Keener of Bandit Karts. The two struck a deal, and Keener put a Bandit together for Yarbrough to race on Sunday at Jacksonville.

Yarbrough couldn’t race the Coyote Nationals on Saturday because he was busy competing in round two of the Tri-State Pro Series at Thunder Valley Motorplex in Neeses, S.C., arguably the most competitive dirt karting series in the country.

Yarbrough nearly won a couple races at Neeses Saturday night, but he broke through Sunday by scoring the big win in Restricted Junior over Tyler Stiefel. Tyler Woods was third and Haley Kummer fourth.

Great to see a dirt racer try his hand at asphalt sprint racing… once a common occurrence but a rarity this day in age.

The traditional senior methanol Animal features saw five different winners.

Michigan’s Scott Kleman and Pennsylvania’s Zachary Linsell were the class of the field in Coyote Motorsports Animal Lite. Kleman had a little bit more than Linsell in the main, racing his Coyote to the win by a couple kart-lengths over Linsell’s MGM. Home-state racer Rob Hindery was third, Matthew Horst fourth and Cayla Chapman fifth.

Tyler Sandmeyer made it look easy in Animal Heavy. The Maryland racer gave MGM another win with a comfortable victory of Matthew Darden. Sean Meier was third on the Coyote house kart, Paul Headley had a strong run going but had to settle for fourth. Tim Stiefel bested his son, Joshua, to take the last slot in the top five.

Joshua Stiefel made an engine change Saturday night and found some speed on Sunday. The Western New Yorker bested fellow Coyote racer Cayla Chapman in a close race in win Margay Racing Products Animal Amateur Medium, a class reserved for senior racers who have not won a Gold Cup national championship. Headley took third, Clint Hall fourth and Darden fifth.

Defending class champion Tim Stiefel won Target Dist. Animal Masters by a healthy margin over Robert Hoskinson. Connecticut’s Dave Barry, who says he’s relocating to North Carolina sometime in the next year, took third.

One of the most competitive races of the weekend was Sunday’s Animal Medium. A pair of MGM’s got the best of a pair of Coyotes in the 12-lap main with Linsell and Sandmeyer finishing one-two ahead of Kleman and Meier.

pro gasSandmeyer led early before getting loose and letting the trio past him. He made it back by Meier and Kleman and pulled up behind Linsell with a couple laps to go. Sandmeyer made an inside move on Linsell into turn six. The pair went side by side but Linsell was able to fend off the challenge. Sandmeyer had one more shot at Linsell at the end of the straightaway but wasn’t able to muster up enough speed to get past his teammate. Douglas Schmidt rounded out the top five.

Matthew Horst was a mid-pack runner in Animal but he certainly had the Clone figured out. The Razor pilot swept the competitive Senior Clone mains, besting Matt Kessinger and Tyler Sandmeyer both days.

Kessinger and Sandmeyer had enough to hang with Horst in both races but Horst clearly had a bit more than them and the rest of the field, winning Saturday’s main by a half-second margin and taking Sunday’s race by nearly three-tenths of a second gap.

Ageless veteran Dicky Wilson was fourth in Senior Clone 1 on his CKI chassis. CKI’s John Klutz was in attendance all weekend to crew for Wilson. Patrick O’Neal took fifth Saturday on his Coyote.

On Sunday, Matt Travis was fourth behind Horst, Kessinger and Sandmeyer. Local Jax runner Brad Farmer took fifth on his black Coyote.

It was great to see 10 karts start the new Senior Pro Gas main events. Rarely do brand-new classes start more than a handful of karts.

Local racer Michael Greiner got the best of the field in Saturday’s Coyote Motorsports Senior Pro Gas Animal 1. Greiner, on a Margay, and Patrick O’Neal’s Coyote had a terrific battle going in the race before O’Neal ran into mechanical problems with a couple laps to go and retired from the race. Greiner cruised to the win from there. Jeffrey Beatty was second, Chris Osgood third, Meier fourth and Hoskinson fifth.

An up-and-down weekend for Jacksonville resident Sean Meier ended on a high note when he wheeled his Coyote to the win in Coyote / Margay / Razor-sponsored Senior Pro Gas Animal 2. Meier raced hard with Greiner and O’Neal throughout the 12-lapper, pulling ahead on the final circuits to earn his one and only win of the weekend. Greiner was second and O’Neal third.

Joey Kuley made his return to Gold Cup after a couple years of running the WKA Road Racing Series. Kuley rented a Pro Gas Animal from for Sunday’s race and had a good run to take fourth. Beatty rounded out the top five.

Corey Towles won the John Beehan Memorial LO206 Medium local option. Michael Clark was second and Andrew Petty third. The race was named in honor of Beehan, a longtime North Florida Kart Club volunteer who recently passed just a couple weeks ago. WKA’s condolences go out to the Beehan family and all his NFKC friends.

Next up for the Gold Cup is the Michigan Kart Supply Nationals May 24-26 at Michiana Raceway Park near South Bend, Indiana. The official entry form will be released in the next week to 10 days.

Thanks and much appreciation to event sponsor Coyote Motorsports and to all Gold Cup sponsors, racers, families and teams for competing at Jacksonville this past weekend. It was a long drive for many, and your devotion to the series is much appreciated. WKA hopes to see a great field and more strong 4-cycle sprint racing and MRP in May and throughout the rest of the season, which will end with a much-anticipated return to Rockingham Speedway Oct. 4-6.