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SKUSA SummerNationals: What to watch for

Over 250 drivers in New Castle, Indiana and we're bringing live on-board video to Facebook this weekend.

The largest midwest karting event that you will see this year is upon us. The SKUSA Pro Tour has made their stop in New Castle, Indiana at the favorite New Castle Motorsports Park. Over 250 entries are in attendance this weekend at the 1-mile circuit just outside of Indianapolis.

Kart360 will be On Location beginning Saturday morning with full results, photos, and reports beginning with qualifying. Our presenting sponsor this weekend is ORG North America, makers of some of the sharpest race suits you’ll find anywhere. Please check them out on Facebook and Instagram!

Catch the live stream in X30 Senior and more, this weekend

The highlight of the weekend will undoubtedly be the huge category in X30 Senior, which will run as one massive single category through the Pre-Final and Final both days. Luckily for you, you can watch it from a very unique perspective.

The start of an X30 Senior race on Sunday at the 2016 SummerNationals.

We’re bringing with us this weekend some serious video technology and our plan is to give our Facebook fans the perspective of the driver on Saturday. We’ll go live for multiple categories via Facebook Live and also post the on-demand video to YouTube later.

Compkart has graciously sponsored the live feed in X30 Senior and we’ll hook up one of their drivers with the equipment so our viewers around the web can watch what it’s like to compete against 55 other karts. Their race Saturday is expected to start at 4:35pm Eastern and will run for a lengthy 25 laps.

Likewise, Benik Kart has stepped up in Mini Swift which will be the first live stream of the weekend when they roll off the grid on Saturday around 1:50pm Eastern.

Lastly, we’ll have ORG North America athlete, Jake French, in front of the lens as he pushes for the S1 shifter title, live online.

Craig vs. Norberg vs. Holden vs. Jarsocrak

In X30 Senior, the season comes down to four drivers. Jake Craig (RPM / Tony Kart) and Ryan Norberg (PSL/Birel ART) each come in looking to earn their second Pro Tour championship, with the latter trying to go back-to-back in the most competitive category in North America.

Norberg may have the advantage here as he will have a European superstar as his teammate this weekend in Marijn Kremers. Kremers is coming off some seriously impressive runs in the European Championship KZ category and seems to be hitting a good stride in his career with Birel ART. Craig will have Sonny Cervelli alongside in the Ryan Perry Motorsports tent, a veteran karter in his own right but one that’s been absent for the majority of the last few years.

Zach Holden (Energy Corse NA / Energy Kart) and Brandon Jarsocrak (KartSport NA / Praga) come in as the wily New Castle veterans looking to leap to the top. Holden, a long time front-runner in North American karting will be introduced to a new chassis this weekend on the Energy Kart after having switched from Koene USA/Tony Kart combo recently. Holden, a New Castle local talent, previously has been on the Top Kart and Tony Kart models and succeeded with both, so we don’t expect any different this weekend -- especially at his home track.

Jarsocrak, like previous years, is racing a heck of a lot and has turned that into a lot of winning over multiple events and series. The New Jersey native is no stranger to New Castle and is always a favorite at this facility -- although he never really found a groove here last year for this event so we’ll see if that was an anomaly or not this weekend.

Outside of these four, there’s still a lot of talent going for gold that will add to the pressure for the previously mentioned drivers.

Cedrik Lupien (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) and Braden Eves (Team MDD / Kosmic) sit a healthy gap back in the standings at fifth and sixth. Both have had different approaches to the year, with Lupien the more consistent and Eves the more inconsistent. Nevertheless, they find themselves separated by just two points and both will need the cards to fall correctly this weekend.

Others you should expect to see up front:

AJ Myers (TB Kart USA / TB Kart), the shifter-kart star is moving to the single-speed where he found success during most of his early career. He’s had limited time on the TB Kart under this type of engine configutation, so we’ll see if that plays a factor.

Kremers (PSL/Birel ART), who we mentioned earlier, has as much talent as anyone, but has never ran at New Castle with the draft strategies and 90-degree fast-paced corners. Could the learning curve be too much for the Dutchman?

Jesus Rios Jr (iKart) returns to the Pro Tour after an incredible run here two years ago with iKart where he picked up a double-win weekend. He’s been absent for the past year and a half, so the cobwebs will need to be dusted off.

Brandon Lemke (Top Kart USA/Top Kart), who has ran a limited karting schedule this year with his Top Kart machine, has all the experience and talent to win, but does the limited seat time affect his performance?

Alex Bertagnoli (Franklin Karting / Merlin) has shown fine pace this year on the Pro Tour and put in great performances at other series’, but has shown some rookie characteristics this year. If there’s a race on the calendar where he can shine, this would be it.

And lastly, Dante Yu (Compkart). The young kid from California can be as fast as anyone and has been working his tail off in Europe this year running the OK category. He’s been racing in Sweden, Great Britain, and now Indiana in the last three weeks.

Our picks to win: Kremers, Norberg, Jarsocrak

Tavella the favorite in X30 Junior

Dylan Tavella has been mightily impressive since he returned to Iron Rock Motorsports last year. The New York kid swept this event last year, he’s made some trips over to Europe to strengthen his abilities, and has been great at most of his events this year -- thus making him our favorite for a win this weekend.

Chasing Tavella will be Jak Crawford (Nash Motorspotz / Tony Kart), Aiden Keel (Andersen Racing / Birel ART), Tyler Gonzalez (Speed Concepts Racing / Tony Kart), Trey Brown (Nash Motorsportz / Tony Kart), and Arias Deukmedjian (Deuk Spine / Kosmic).

Crawford, the Junior rookie, has impressed and runs second in the standings behind Tavella. The Texan will run alongside teammate Brown, where the two will look to share data and the draft to stay up front.

Gonzalez, Keel, and Deukmedjian are the Florida-boys --  a state ripe with talent. Gonzalez would be our Junior driver of the year -- if it’s not Tavella -- at this point in the season. A Gonzalez/Tavella last lap tussle is likely this weekend and we look forward to it. Keel runs a limited schedule out of Andersen Racing, but his three years experience in Junior will play a factor if he wants to win the championship. Deukmedjian has flashed speed a lot this year and has tuner Alex Speed on his side.

One darkhorse to keep your eye on is Gonzalez’s teammate, Tyler Maxson. He too is a rookie in the Junior division and has grown leaps and bounds to where he was earlier in the year.

Possibly the last S1 Stock Honda champion?

As the decline of Stock Honda -- S1 in particular -- continues in the States, this could be the final Pro Tour champion in S1 as we know it. Right now, Jake French (Dallas Karting Complex / Sodi Kart) has had an exceptional year and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s competed well in New Castle in years past and we expect to see the same this weekend. We’ll be surprised if the Texan isn’t atop the standings after Sunday.

Jake French was quick last year in New Castle, but couldn't capture the win. This year we expect the same quickness, except this time it'll come with a win.
Photo Credit: Kart360

Billy Musgrave (Musgrave Racing / Aluminons) is the nearest rival in the standings, but his inconsistency has given him a 57-point deficit. The Californian hasn’t had too many trips to New Castle and his runs at this event last year show he’ll need to improve to put the pressure on French.

Mathias Ramirez (Andersen Racing / Birel ART) is the darkhorse in the short S1 field. Ramirez sits third in the standings -- still mathematically alive -- and can lay down burners, as fast as anyone, but often finds himself in trouble with his lack of experience. If the Floridian’s nose can stay clean, a win this weekend wouldn’t be out of the question.

When you have nothing to lose and talent for days, like Danny Formal (Champion Racing / Intrepid) and Gary Carlton (Leading Edge / Formula K), anything is possible. The two top-tier American talents have had quite a bizarre year with sub-par finishes despite not lacking speed. The lead Intrepid driver and Formula K driver will be French’s main rivals this weekend we predict.

Our picks to win: French, Carlton, Formal

Benik will likely add another Pro Tour Championship

With four of the top five drivers in the Mini Swift standings running the Benik brand, it’s more than likely the championship will once again go back to the Fort Lauderdale-based operation. It will be their third in a row. It’s become almost as certain as death and taxes.

The one driver not on a Benik is Luca Mars (Energy Kart) -- except he is not in attendance this weekend. This leaves Carson Morgan, Sanitago Trisini, or Reece Gold as the likely 2017 Champion. Morgan leads the way and has gotten better each weekend of the Tour, which he hopes culminates this weekend into a championship.

Trisini and Gold trail, ever so slightly. It’s going to be a fine dance between running for the championship and running against your teammate.

Sixth in the standings is Connor Zilisch (Team Felon / Energy). Zilisch will be aboard the Energy and will keep the Benik gang honest this weekend. Zilisch is an up and comer in the sport and has shown he can hang with the best of them.

Full full coverage, keep it on Kart360 On Location this weekend.