Jake Craig Tries to Defend TaG Senior Title
TaG Senior is stacked with talent and is the most talented TaG field in the country with an expected 40 competitors. Jake Craig has returned to defend his title on his Formula K ride and will be a favorite this weekend. Joining him is PSL Karting/Birel ART’s Oliver Askew. This will be Askew’s first time back in a TaG kart since competing in a race or two in junior’s four years ago. The Floridian is unsure if he will run New Castle because of a conflict in Europe.
Joining these two at the front we expect to see Christian Brooks (Nash Motorsports/Tony Kart), Austin Elliott (Kosmic), Mason Marotta (Ryan Perry Motorsports/Tony Kart), Matteo Vigano (Top Kart USA), Louie Pagano (2Wild Karting/Tony Kart), Ben Stewart (KartSport/Arrow), Andrick Zeen (Praga), and Brandon Jarsocrak (iKart) just to name a few. In reality there are probably five or so serious contenders for the win, but the fight for a top five results has no less than 15 top drivers that have all won big races in the east and the west.
Once again a few big name drivers from across the pond have decided to compete in the SKUSA Pro Tour. Unfortunately we will not see the reigning S1 National Champ, Jordon Lennox-Lamb, defending his title. He has decided to stay back in Italy to prep for the upcoming European Championship in KF. Replacing him in the PSL Karting tent is current KZ European Champion Rick Dreezen. This will be the Belgian’s first time in a Stock Honda.
Joining Dreezen is also Praga’s Patrik Hajek who is competing under the MRC tent. Will we see an all Euro podium in S1 or can the likes of Jarred Campbell, Fritz Leesmann, and Billy Musgrave stop them?
In TaG Senior Top Kart USA has entered factory driver Matteo Vigano who competing earlier this year at the WKA Kartweek and won the Pro X30 category. He may not be European, but Australian Ben Stewart has made the long trek to race with KartSport North America on his Arrow. Ben is no stranger to SKUSA as he has competed multiple times at the SuperNats.
Big Teams Missing
A big storyline this weekend is the absence of a few really big teams and longtime SKUSA supporters. Most notably are CRG USA, Dallas Karting Complex, Ocala Gran Prix, Italian Motors, and Rolison Performance Group. This has hurt the entries in a few of the categories and means we will not see Joey Wimsett, Sabre Cook, Jake French, or Luke Selliken this weekend. We have been told that CRG USA, DKC, and RPG have decided to support the new US Open Series. Most notably affected by this is S1, which only has 11 pre entries compared to 26 last year.
TaG Cadet - Mini Swift
The Mini Swift category is making its first true National debut with an expected 44 entries. This is a very strong debut for the category. Many of the top drivers from 2014 have moved up to juniors, which open the door for new drivers at the top. So far this season we can expect to see Anthony Willis (Nash Motorsportz/Benik) who lives just five minutes down the road, Jak Crawford (Nash Motorsportz/Energy), Oliver Calvo (PKS/Tony Kart), Lachlan Defrancesco (Benik), and Sam Mayer (Franklin Motorsports/Merlin) to be the top contenders in the category.
The Heat and Grip
This weekend the forecast is for temps in the high 90’s, which means we can expect a high amount of grip. The Phoenix circuit is notoriously physical and with the heat and grip it will really test the drivers. So who has been at the gym conditions?
Too Many to Choose in Junior
Just like Senior, the Junior category is stacked with talent from both coasts. In Senior the west looks to have a bit of stronger group, but in Junior's the east may have the stronger driver list with more experience. From the east you have reigning champ David Malukas (Top Kart USA), his teammate Zach Holden, Anthony Gangi Jr. (GT7/Tony Kart), and Brandon Lemke (Franklin Motorsports/Merlin). From the west you have Trey Brown (Ryan Perry Motorsports/Tony Kart), David Ilavia (COMPKART), Dante Yu (Nash Motorsportz/Tony Kart), and Nicky Hays (PGR/FA Kart). It will be interesting to see who comes out on top this weekend and how the east v. west compares in results.