The 2015 Cold Stone US Rotax Grand Nationals are here and over 120 drivers from the United States vie for a ticket to the Grand Finals in Portugal. Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC plays host to the 2015 edition. We are live On Location so follow the event with live updates by the minute on our On Location page.
Who Can Catch OGP?
Currently there are 27 Senior Max drivers competing for the US Rotax National Championship and everyone is gunning for the 2015 Florida Winter Tour Champ Kyle Kirkwood and the Ocala Gran Prix team. Just a few weeks ago at the Summer Shootout Kirkwood was in another zip code and Askew, who we thought would be his closest rival was consistently about half a second off. Speaking with multiple drivers at the event they felt OGP’s engine program is pretty hard to beat at the moment, which means Kirkwood's teammate Austin Garrison will be one to watch. Looking at the entry list Askew still has to be the favorite, but what about the 2014 champ Jake Craig? Craig now has new Formula K Evo, which has a slightly different position for the rear cross bar, which he says has made a huge difference in their performance. This will be his first event in America with this chassis. Askew's teammate Mason Marotta now has some time under his belt on his new Birel ART chassis and could be a viable threat.
No Pressure to Win?
Both in Senior Max and Junior Max there is a high probability that the ticket winner could be the third place finisher if Kirkwood and Askew go 1-2. Though this could change if Askew does not officially take the ticket from the US Open, which we have been told will be the case. In Junior Max there is also the same chance, but it could go as far back as fourth if Sting Ray Robb, Mathias Ramirez, and Trenton Estep are the top three finishers.
Gangi’s Time to Shine
There maybe isn’t a more dedicated driver in North America on and off the track than Anthony Gangi Jr. Just take one look at this kid’s instagram and you will get it. He is also the only driver in North America that actively seeks us out to do interviews. The New Yorker was at the top of the list entering this season as drivers to watch and he has had a great season up to this point, but maybe not as much as many had expected. This weekend could change everything. Last year he looked to be in position to win the national title until a mechanical problem forced him to retire. This year at the Summer Shootout he was the man to beat and will have a big target on his back this weekend.
Following in Big Bro’s Footsteps
Nicholas d’Orlando is one of the favorites in the Mini Max category and the Koene USA driver has an opportunity to follow in his brother’s footsteps in becoming a Mini Max National Champ. It will not be easy as the mini max field has some talented drivers in the mix. His biggest competition will most likely be Nash Motorsportz’s Jak Crawford. After those two you have Payton Durrant (Koene USA/Tony Kart), Jeremy Fairbairn, and Tyler Gonzalez as the main protagonists for the win.
DD2 Deserving of Ticket?
Unfortunately the DD2 class is going to be short, begging the question if these type of fields are deserving of a Grand Finals ticket when other classes offer a much broader talent pool.