Day one of the 2012 McLaughlin Motorsports Grand Nationals is in the books at New Castle Motorsports Park. In typical NCMP style, nearly every race was capped off with a lead change in the final corner.
The day started with Jacob Donald winning Komet Heavy by .008 over Johnathan Kotyk. Down the final straight, Kotyk pushed Darin Marcus to the lead, but pushed him too far and Marcus couldn't keep it on the track. Kotyk had to slow for Marcus, allowing Donald to sneak past both drivers on the inside to win. A 3-wide finish that had the top three separated by .043. TJ Koyen was just outside the excitement in 4th, followed by James Brock.
The TaG Final would not only be a great one to watch for the Grand Nationals, but also for the points National Championship. Starting third for the final, Tommy Andersen moved to the point quickly on lap one. Having to start on the outside in second, Chris Wehrheim had a tough time holding his ground and dropped to ninth. Pole sitter Mason Chelootz grabbed his spot back on lap two from Andersen, and for the next five laps Chelootz, Andersen, and Sam Beasley all took turns out front. Robby Bujdoso joined the scrap on lap seven, moving into third after starting thirteenth. Beasley would fade just a bit, leaving Chelootz and Bujdoso as the only remaining drivers who could stay with Andersen. Meanwhile, Wehrheim could not get anything going after dropping to ninth in the beginning. With no drafting help, Chelootz would not make a run on Andersen. Andersen picked up the win, followed by Chelootz, Bujdoso, Beasley, and Jacob Donald. Finishing eighth was Wehrheim, too far back to keep his lead in the points – handing the National Championship to Andersen.
With all of the great finishes on day one, Supercan Lite just may have been the best. Dakota Pesek would start from the pole, but contact in the first quarter of the race would drop him out of contention. Billy Lewis, Jimmy Simpson, and Colton Ramsey would form a three way battle for the lead, while Sam Beasley and Patrick Olsen tried to play catch up in fourth and fifth. Those five would eventually join together and create the fireworks at the final turn. Lewis led the group down the final straight, running the low line to block Jimmy Simpson in second. Lewis swung out to set up for the final corner, and Simpson went for the lead on the inside. The two would touch tires and collect Ramsey with them. Beasley kept his nose clean and moved to the inside of the accident, crossing the line first. Patrick Olsen followed Beasley through for second, followed by Darin Marcus, Colton Ramsey, Jimmy Simpson, and Billy Lewis.
The largest class of the day was Yamaha Jr. Lite with 45 drivers. Joel Jens would take the lead from Mike McAndrews early in the final, followed by Derek Dignan and Kyle Tilley. Those four would breakaway from the rest of the field to fight it out on their own. Derek Dignan would get his first taste of the lead on lap 6, and that’s where he would find himself at the checkered flag. Jens was .266 behind at the stripe, followed by Kyle Tilley and Mike McAndrews. Skylar Robinson came home fifth. Kyle Kirkwood led the field in qualifying, but couldn’t get back to that pace during racing action, ultimately finishing ninth.
In Komet Jr. Heavy, Joel Jens and Ryan Raffa were out to a 1-second lead early over Mike McAndrews. That gap would close and McAndrews found himself in the lead by lap 8. The race would eventually come down to the duo of Jens and McAndrews. Through the final corner, McAndrews made his move past Jens to take the win. Meanwhile for the points championship, leader Ashley Rogero found herself behind Kyle Kalish, who trailed by 31 points. Kalish, Raffa, and Rogero would do battle for the remaining top 5 positions, ending in that order after Raffa was able to get by Rogero on the final lap. Unofficially, we believe Rogero kept her lead in the points.
The final corner in Parilla Leopard would end with a penalty for race winner Chris Wehrheim. For the last half of the race it was a pair of Arrow karts out front in the form of Jacob Knueven and Sam Beasley. Wehrheim would eliminate a considerable gap between he and the front two in the closing laps. Heading into the final corner, Beasley would look to the inside of Knueven and Wehrheim would try to follow suit. Wehrheim would follow with too much speed, knocking Beasley in the back and pushing him wide into Knueven. Beasley and Knueven would go spinning as Wehrheim ducked to the inside to take the win. A short while after the finish, Wehrheim would be docked 12 positions giving Colton Ramsey the race win. Mark Boos came in second, Beasley in third, and Jacob Donald fourth. Knueven’s kart limped across the line in twelfth.
David Malukas was the winner in Cadet Final 1 over Jared Cordova, Michael Cruz, Michael D’Orlando, and Leonardo Stoia. Brandon Lemke and Anthony Gangi Jr. were in the running early, but both retired by the halfway point. Neil Verhagen held off a charging Zach Holden by .013 in Yamaha Sportsman, followed by Jared Cordova, Brandon Lemke and David Malukas.
The younger Verhagen, Alex, held his lead in Rookie Sportsman until the final corner. The young driver held such a low line down the back straight that he scrubbed off too much speed through the corner, allowing Sam Mayer to take the victory. Max Kaesar was third, followed by Nic Sheppard and Sam Paley.
Zach Holden won the battle with Leonardo Stoia in Komet Sportsman, but Stoia – we believe – won the war with the points Championship after drops are added.
And finally TaG Masters hit the track with Top Kart still looking for a win on the day to hold their lead in the Manufacturer’s Cup Chassis standings. The three Top Karts of John Dixon, John Ferris III, and Scott Ferris locked down the first three spots, handing Top Kart that much needed victory.
Arrow karts were able to pick up four wins on the day, closing the gap to a mere one-win difference with Top Kart. Sunday should be exciting to watch as this Chassis Championship is up still up for grabs.