United States Pro Kart Series ended its second season last weekend at New Castle Motorsports Park on a high note. We saw everything from wet racing, dry racing, and intermediate racing, to championship fights coming down to the final race (AJ Myers over Kyle Kalish, Leopard Pro; Zach Holden over David Malukas and Brandon Lemke, Yamaha Junior) and even the final corner (Dylan Tavella over Sam Mayer, Yamaha Cadet).
Amazing awards were given out at the Champions Banquet, including trips to Brazil and France to the Granja 500 and IAME Challenge, thanks to MG Tires and Praga North America. Colton Ramsey was awarded the Brazil trip followed by Mike Giessen and the France trip. Other awards included grills to Dylan Tavella and Derek Dignan, as well as the customary thousands of dollars to the weekend winners.
Now, to some of the story lines:
Merlin Nation: Cadet Chapter
It was hard not to notice all the green and orange at the front of the fields in cadet classes. The Merlin cadet program continues to be one of the best, no matter what drivers come and go. Alex Bertagnoli, Austin Schaff, and Sam Mayer flew the Merlin Nation flag the highest in New Castle.
Tavella's Magical 2014
Dylan Tavella was the lone driver capable of claiming two National Championship this year. 2014 has been a year to remember for the young GT7 Motorsports driver, claiming the US Rotax Max National Championship in Mini Max and most recently the USPKS series championship in Yamaha Cadet and Mini Rok.
A Pro Class You Can Be Proud Of
Leopard Pro, amassing a healthy 31 drivers, made it four straight events where the class eclipsed the 30-kart barrier. For us, 30 karts might be the line that makes a class a legitimately sized field, something that you rarely see in the current state of karting especially at the final round of a points championship outside of the SuperNationals. We tip our virtual caps to USPKS and the drivers of Leopard Pro for making this class a truly Pro category.
Myers' Strong Second Half of the Season
AJ Myers championship in Leopard Pro is pretty remarkable considering he didn’t just stumble out of the gates, he crawled. With results of 11-12-33 in the first three of eight main events, and no drops allowed, Myers was firmly planted behind the proverbial 8-ball. That’s when Myers and the Checkered Motorsports crew started to put it together. A string of four straight podiums, including two victories, gave Myers the leeway on the final day to drive comfortably to the championship.
Too Dry for Rain Tires, Too Wet for Slick Tires
There was a minor rumble a few months back when photos surfaced of an intermediate tire for karting. Nothing has come of the chatter, but it would have been a hot commodity last weekend. Starting Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, the skies above New Castle didn’t know if it wanted to rain, mist, block the sun from drying the track, or all of the above. On Sunday, there were difficult decisions on whether to run rain or slick tires and plenty of driver’s completely nuked sets of rain tires just to get 4 quick laps in qualifying. Had it rained later in the day, the handful that still had new sets of rain tires would have had the upper hand. Ultimately, the rain tires were the right choice as no rain came again after the first prefinal on Sunday.
Mileage for Malukas
You would be hard pressed to find a driver who’s raced more than David Malukas in the last five weeks. Starting in Utah at the US Rotax Max Grand Nationals, the 12-year old Chicago resident traveled five straight weeks to a national-level race. Next up was Pitt Race Complex for the third USPKS round, followed by the SKUSA SummerNationals in Modesto, California, WKA Manufacturers Cup in New Castle, Indiana, and again to New Castle for the final USPKS round. To top it all off, Malukas is heading to Ocala, Florida this weekend for the fourth race in the ROK Cup USA series.
As we mentioned earlier he’s only 12-years old, racing his first year in Junior classes around the country. Already picking up the Florida Winter Tour TaG Junior championship, two wins on the Pro Tour, and three wins in USPKS, it’s a true testament to his and his family's commitment to the sport, as well as the people he’s surrounded by at Top Kart USA.
Notes of interest
- Zach Holden was the only driver to back-up a 2013 championship, defending his Yamaha Junior title from a year ago.
- A total of 274 entries competed over the two days of racing, Saturday and Sunday. Compare that to the final round last year, it’s a 41% increase with the addition of Mini Rok. Take away Mini Rok, and it’s still a 32% increase.
- Saturday interviews with Leopard Pro winner AJ Myers, as well as Chuck Tate from KartSale.
- Sunday interviews with Yamaha Pro champion Brandon Jarsocrak and Leopard Junior champion David Malukas