Text & photos: EKN
You couldn’t ask for much more from a mid-August summer day in Indiana. Nice race groups housing 12 categories took to the track at the popular New Castle Motorsports Park, running the extended ‘SKUSA Super Mile’ layout that leveraged the facility’s full configuration that includes the ‘oval turn’ and the “ski-jump”. Three-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg took a major step towards securing an unprecedented fourth-straight X30 Senior title, as the Rolison Performance Group leader drive took an impressive win over Croc Promotion USA / Musgrave Racing Company’s Billy Musgrave. The Croc Promotion camp laid the smackdown in Pro Shifter 1, led to the win by Texan Jake French, who dominated the action. Musgrave was second to his teammate in the IAME SSE 175cc category, ending the day with a historic performances in SKUSA’s Pro classes. All in all, the on-track action was tremendous with overtaking highlighting several different sections of the track.
The championship chase in the Pro Shifter category was tight coming into the weekend with three drivers separated by only 25 points with two rounds of racing ahead. None of the trio would have a say in who would end the day on top of the podium with the victory as Croc Promotion USA drivers Jake French and Billy Musgrave dominated the day. French swept the action from start to finish, setting fast time in Qualifying (1:11.438). Musgrave was second in the session and was right there in both the Prefinal and Final. French never put a wheel wrong, leading all 10 laps of the heat and 16 laps of the main event for the sweep. Musgrave kept on the pressure, placing runner-up for a 1-2 finish for the Croc Promotion chassis and grabbing the 10 bonus points for the fast lap of the Final.
Kyle Wick (CRG Nordam), third in the point standings, did what he needed to do by earning the most points out of the three contenders. Wick placed third for his third podium of the season, gaining points on both point leader Andrew Bujdoso and AJ Myers. Bujdoso, running on the Checkered Motorsports “BTM” chassis, fought with Hunter Pickett (GFC) for the fourth spot, coming up 11 thousandths short at the checkered flag for the position, losing 10 crucial points. Behind him, Myers (CRG Nordam) fought back from dropping off track after lap one, ending up sixth. Bujdoso’s race was his worst round of the five, same for Myers, thus giving Wick a 20 point gain. The three go into the final round separated by only eight points when factoring the drop with Bujdoso on top of Wick and Myers.
The Pro Shifter 2 victory was decided on the final circuit after Calvin Ming (MRC / Croc Promotion) set the pace all day. Ming scored his first pole position of the season before leading all 10 laps of the Prefinal. Championship leader Race Liberante (J3 / CompKart) had issues in Qualifying and retired early in the Prefinal with engine issues. The California native charged his way forward through the field and was able to run down Ming. On the final circuit, Liberante was able to work past for the lead and score his third victory of the season.
Ming had to settle for second after leading all but the final circuit. Title contender Max Hewitt (CRG Nordam) was third early until engine issues put him on the sidelines on lap 10. Dalton Egger (RPG / Kosmic) drove to the third step of the podium over Utah winner Mark Snyder (Formula K) and Graig Alvarez Jr. (CRG). The title is not locked yet for the three-time winner Liberante, who has two DNFs as well on the year. Hewitt still has a mathematical chance, out by 121 points going into the final round or 101 when factoring in the drop.
Fifty drivers took to the “SuperMile” track Saturday in the X30 Senior category, all vying for the victory with the title chase down to just two. Trey Brown (Nash / FA Kart) struck first, posting fast time in Qualifying (1:15.684) ahead of Jacob Gulick (RPG / Kosmic). Point leader Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) was third in the order with top challenger Brandon Jarsocrak (MDR / Kosmic) back in 20th. Norberg jumped out front in the Prefinal, scoring the win ahead of Brown and max points for the race. Jarsocrak fought forward with fast laps of the race, up 14 spots to sixth. As expected, the start to the Final was intense with the top six muscling away from the rest of the field, including Norberg and Jarsocrak.
Norberg dropped down to fifth early but fought his way back to the front by the halfway point, taking over the lead from Billy Musgrave (MRC / Croc Promotion). From there, Norberg went unchallenged to score a third straight SKUSA Pro Tour victory and unofficially clinch his fourth straight championship. Musgrave grabbed an impressive runner-up, becoming the first driver to earn a podium finish in both headline divisions on the same day in SKUSA Pro Tour history. SKUSA #2 plate holder Samuel Lupien (RPG / Kosmic) was stellar in his 2019 debut, posting the fast lap of the race to a third-place result ahead of Brown. Braden Eves (Crosslink / Exprit) was fifth, as he and Oliver Hodgson (J3 / CompKart) were able to work past Jarsocrak in the late stages of the 16-lap race.
Adding his name to the history books, becoming the first driver to secure his fourth SKUSA Pro Tour championship is Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) in the G1 division. Musser was able to sweep the round, earning a fifth victory on the season to wrap up his third-straight, fourth of his career. The win was not without a fight, as former SKUSA champion Ryan Kinnear (PGR / Ricciardo) stepped up the pace in the Final. The two fought until the final circuit, with Musser able to extend his lead over the ski jump to secure the win. Kinnear settled for second with John Crow (MRC / Croc Promotion) completing the podium in third. Brett Harrelson (Nash / CRG) became the inaugural G2 winner with the class debut at the SKUSA Pro Tour. Harrelson drove a solid race, running unchallenged for a sweep on the day over Ken Schilling (Aluminos) and Gunnar van der Steur (SodiKart).
Matt Johnson (Nash / FA Kart) was another driver to stamp his name on the championship trophy a day early, scoring a third straight victory in the X30 Master class. Johnson drove away to the Prefinal win and found himself in a duel during the Final against former SuperNationals winner Renato Jader David (Orsolon / Tony Kart). Johnson was able to prevail on the final circuit, scoring the victory to claim the provisional title. David settled for second with Jonathan Silva (FW / CompKart) winning the battle for third over Adam Pettit (Solo Kart) for his first podium of the season. Miguel Mier (Crosslink / Exprit) completed the top-five. John Bonanno (J3 / CompKart) dominated the day in the X30 Super Master class, only to be removed after scoring the victory for his exhaust coming in too short. That gave Kim Carapellatti (CompKart) the win ahead of brother Scot Carapellatti (Tony Kart) with point leader Jon Persing (Nash / FA Kart) placing third.
The points breakdown in the KA100 Senior class will be one to watch as we go into Championship Sunday. Austin Osborne (IRM / Tony Kart) became the first driver to double up in the win column. The day was not what Osborne pictured to begin the day, sitting 12th after Qualifying with Garrett Adams (Comet / FA Kart) on the pole position. Adams went on to hold off Matthew Mockabee (Energy Kart) for the Prefinal win as Osborne worked up to sixth. That put him in the lead group for the Final, which was led by Adams during the first half. Osborne worked his way forward and took over the lead with six laps to go.
On the final circuit, Adams and Nick Ramirez (PGR / Ricciardo) fought for the second spot, giving Osborne the gap he needed to cruise to the victory. Ramirez grabbed the second spot from Adams, earning his best finish of the year and put him in a better position for the title chase going into Sunday. Mockabee and Nick Persing (Nash / FA Kart) completed the top-five. Point leader Blake Hunt (KSNA / Tony Kart) had issues in Qualifying and the Prefinal but fought back to eighth in the order. Osborne now leads the standings by 34 points over Persing with Ramirez third and Hunt fourth, all within 79 points of each other.
Kyffin Simpson (SCR / Tony Kart) did what he needed to do for a shot at the KA100 Junior title, win on Saturday. Simpson was part of a three-driver breakaway in the Final with Prefinal winner Logan Adams (Comet / FA Kart) and Connor Zilisch (LAK / Tony Kart). Adams led the majority of the race while Simpson positioned himself into the right spot at the right time. On the final circuit, Simpson dove to the inside for the lead on Zilisch, and parked it, stopping the momentum of both behind him. That eliminated the chance of a drag race, with Simpson coming away with his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Zilisch ended up second with Adams in third. Jacob Yesnick (Fullerton) was fourth, beating out Adam Maxwell (Top Kart). Point leader Ethan Ho (Tony Kart) was back in ninth at the checkered flag and now finds himself trailing Simpson and Zilisch in the standings. All three are now separated by 65 points.
The X30 Junior category welcomed a first-time winner in Bryson Morris (RPG / Kosmic). Title contender Branyon Tiner (RPG / Kosmic) set fast time in Qualifying and was among a large group fighting for the win in the Prefinal. Contact shuffled up the group with Luke Lange (SCR / Tony Kart) coming away with the win. He along with point leader Freddie Slater (Supertune / Tony Kart) and Connor Zilisch (LAK / Tony Kart) made up the lead group. Slater led late and ran a defensive line. Contact was made with two laps to go coming out of the ski jump and allowed Lange to break free with Bryson Morris (RPG / Kosmic). Morris timed it just right on the final lap and edged out Lange at the line by 43 thousandths of a second for his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Slater ended up third with Cole Morgan (Supertune / Tony Kart) fourth and Ignacio Montenegro (Nash / Tony Kart) fifth. With the results shaking out as they did, Slater securing the provisional title with all other drivers more than 320 points off going into the Championship Sunday.
The victory for the Mini Swift was the last result decided on the day after penalties and protests. On-track, a three driver battle occurred with point leader Kai Sorensen (Supertune / Tony Kart), Prefinal winner Caleb Gafrarar (PSL / Birel ART) and hard charger Christian Miles (KSNA / Kart Republic) – who came from outside the top-20 to finish second in the Prefinal. The Final came down to a final drag race to the checkered flag. Sorensen led coming out of the I-70 corner with Miles trying the slingshot. They both drifted toward the left, with Miles trying the inside line. He had to back out as Sorensen ran down to the grass, and came across the line first. Miles still ended up second with Gafrarar in third.
Officials laid down a 10-second penalty to Sorensen for ‘Impeding/Reckless Conduct’, thus removing the win and putting him down to 10th in the final order. That promoted Miles to the top of the podium for the first time in SKUSA Pro Tour competition. Gafrarar was moved to second with Anderson Leonard (Supertune / Tony Kart) up in third. Parker DeLong (Nitro Kart) and Miguel Costa (Kart Republic) completed the top-five. Now, Sorensen’s lead is only four points going into Championship Sunday ahead of Miles, jumping from fifth to second in the standings after five rounds.
Aryton Grim (Nitro Kart) added his name to the first-time winners’ list after scoring the photo finish in Micro Swift. A great five driver lead pack formed in the Final with point leader Jack Iliffe (Tony Kart) and Prefinal winner Spencer Conrad (Nitro Kart) taking turns at the point. Grim never led until the final few feet, beating Iliffe to the line by 66 thousandths. Conrad completed the podium in third with top qualifier Austin Olds (Top Kart) and Caleb Tarter (Nitro Kart) rounding out the top-five. Iliffe was able to extend his points lead going into Championship Sunday to 137 points ahead of Graham Trammell (Kosmic) and Logan Chambers (Ricciardo).
All 12 categories go back to battle the New Castle Motorsports Park on Championship Sunday to decide the final winners of the 2019 SKUSA Pro Tour, and this year’s title winners.