SUPERKARTS! USA Honors 2014 Pro Tour Champions
Published: Monday, December 29th, 2014
2014 was a record breaking season for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour. During the fifth year of the national program, driver numbers reached an all-time high at both the SpringNationals and SummerNationals. Racers enjoyed the challenging Dallas Karting Complex facility in Caddo Mills, Texas, and took on the city streets of Modesto, California for the first street race incorporated into the Pro Tour calendar. The season wrapped up with SuperNationals XVIII, the last event to be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Over the course of the three events, Superkarts! USA welcomed 600 distinct drivers while handing out more than $100,000 in cash and prizes on the year. During the first two events of the Pro Tour, the headline categories (S1 and TaG Senior) competed for a $3,500 cash purse, a possible $30,000 purse at the SuperNationals, and a $12,000 championship purse. Honda Performance Development/HPD provided a $9,000 championship purse for the Stock Moto categories, and the TaG Cadet champion was given a ticket to the 2015 Rok Cup International Final. Each of the eight champions will be included in the 2015 SKUSA ‘Circle of Champions,’ earning a complimentary package for the Pro Tour that includes race entry fees, race tires, and race fuel/oil for all three events – valued overall at $24,000.
“Finishing our fifth year of the SKUSA Pro Tour, I can honestly say we continue to improve each year,” stated Superkarts! USA CEO Tom Kutscher. “From mixing up the locations, welcoming more and more drivers, and providing even more cash and prizes, there is nothing in North America that comes close. It’s plain and simple – four distinct Stock Moto categories, four distinct TaG divisions, racing against the best for all the marbles. The eight drivers who stood out in 2014 deserve the recognition and praises of becoming a Superkarts! USA Pro Tour champion.”
There is no denying the effort and talent of this year’s SwedeTech Racing Engines S1 Pro Stock Moto champion – Jordon Lennox. The UK driver came across the pond to take part in his first season on the Pro Tour and dominated. He began the year with a double win weekend at the SpringNationals in Dallas, adding two top qualifiers and two fast lap honors to pad his championship standings. Not the quickest driver at the SummerNationals, Lennox raced his way to the top of the podium each night in Modesto. Two wins there nearly locked up the title, but it was his SuperSunday performance that gave him the 2014 Pro Tour crown. Starting near the front, he bolted to the lead and was able to walk away, scoring his first SuperNationals victory. Five-time world karting champion Davide Fore also made his S1 debut in 2014, always in the hunt for the victory. The Italian finished inside the top-five in all five feature races, recording a best finish of runner-up at the SuperNationals to secure the vice-championship spot. Third on the championship podium is American Nick Neri. The Florida driver finished on the podium at all five Pro Tour main events, placing runner-up twice on the season. 2014 was also the first campaign on the Pro Tour for Neri in the S1 division.
Jake Craig made it certain there was no question who was the Pro Tour champion in the TaG Senior class, sponsored by Praga. Two wins at the SpringNationals propelled him to the top of the standings after the trip to Dallas. Two more podium finishes in Modesto for the SummerNationals extended his championship lead going into the SuperNationals. Craig put himself in contention for the major victory after qualifying first in the 81 driver field. After the three heat races, the Californian earned enough points to clinch the Pro Tour championship. A SuperNationals victory was eluded from him after getting spun on the opening circuit of SuperSunday. Finishing runner-up in the standings for a second consecutive season is fellow SoCal driver Louie Pagano. Riding off two podium results at the SpringNationals, Pagano claimed the SKUSA #2 plate for 2015. Jumping up to third is last year’s TaG Junior champion Yurik Carvalho. The Senior rookie stood on the podium Sunday in Modesto at the SummerNationals, and used a top-10 performance at the SuperNationals to claim the SKUSA #3 plate.
The Honda Racing/HPD S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto division is filled with a crop of young and talented drivers, looking to continue their way up the SKUSA ‘S’ ladder system. Sixteen-year-old Austin Garrison made his SKUSA S5 debut last year at the SuperNationals, standing on the podium. That momentum continued over to 2014, with the Florida driver opening up the Pro Tour season as an S2 rookie with a runner-up in Dallas for the SpringNationals. It was a clean sweep in Modesto as Garrison won both feature races at the SummerNationals to take over the championship lead. Garrison remained in the hunt throughout the SuperNationals, placing runner-up to clinch his first Pro Tour title. Fellow Florida driver Jonathan Kotyk made his S2 debut in 2014, and was in the hunt all season. Three straight podium results to start out the year put Kotyk in the title chase. After stalling at the start of the main event on SuperSunday, Kotyk fought his way from the tail of the field to eighth in 20 laps, earning the SKUSA #2 plate for 2015. A year ago, Kyle Kirkwood swept the S5 category at the SuperNationals. Moving up to S2 for 2014, Kirkwood excelled at the opening event in Dallas, winning the second round of the SpringNationals. The 16-year-old was among the quickest in Modesto, landing third Saturday night, though unable to podium on Sunday. Kirkwood was on par to sweep the SuperNationals, but slipped on SuperSunday to finish third to move him onto the championship podium – giving Florida a clean sweep.
For the first time in the five-year history of the Pro Tour, the Peterson Wealth Management TaG Master division welcomed its first two-time champion in 2014. In 2010, Ethan Wilson became the inaugural TaG Master champion, and continued to follow the series for the next four years. Wilson struggled during the SpringNationals but bounced back in Modesto for the SummerNationals to win the Saturday main event. A runner-up the following day helped to boost the Californian into the championship chase heading into the SuperNationals. He fought within the top-10 all week, and battled with a brake issue during the feature race to finish eighth. Leading the championship going into Las Vegas was multi-time SuperNationals winner Billy Cleavelin. Four straight podium results, including a victory in Modesto, gave Cleavelin a solid advantage going into the Pro Tour finale. Disaster struck in the main event, as contact took Cleavelin out of the race on the opening lap. The loss of possible points promoted Wilson to the number one spot in the standings, leaving Cleavelin second. Oklahoma driver Anthony Honeywell finished out the season earning the SKUSA #3 plate for 2015. Honeywell ran inside the top-five all season, missing out on the podium twice with fourth place finishes at the SpringNationals and SummerNationals.
The Los Angeles Karting Championship-sponsored S4 Master Stock Moto division welcomed its fifth different champion in as many years, along with the first international title holder – Gian Cavaciuti. The Italian has been a long-time supporter of the SKUSA SuperNationals and more recently at the Pro Tour. This year, he took on his first Pro Tour campaign behind the wheel and was in contention right away. A mechanical issue at the opening round in Dallas put him a bit behind in the championship chase. That changed after Modesto, as Cavaciuti swept the SummerNationals to assume the top spot in the point standings. Cavaciuti shined on SuperSunday, powering away from the field to win his first SuperNationals and claim the Pro Tour title. Last year’s champion Jordon Musser ended up with the SKUSA #2 plate for 2015. Three straight podium finishes to start the year off put him in contention heading into the series finale. Contact on the opening lap dashed his hopes of pulling off the victory and a chance at the crown. 2013 SuperNationals winner Matthew Hamilton put a second international driver on the championship podium for S4. The Kiwi driver won the opening round at the SpringNationals, only to retire early on the second day. A runner-up in Modesto kept him in the hunt for the championship, but issues in the final heat race and the main event sidelined Hamilton, finishing the year third in the standings.
David Malukas was another driver to use his double-win weekend at the SummerNationals to help claim a 2014 SKUSA Pro Tour championship. The Indiana driver claimed the Rolison Performance Group TaG Junior title in his first ever Pro Tour campaign. Malukas was among the contenders at the SpringNationals, but did not generate podium finishes in the feature races. That changed once the series moved from Dallas to Modesto, as Malukas was fast early and into the night, scoring the victory both days. The 13-year-old kept pace in Las Vegas, placing inside the top-three in his three heat races, and going on to earn the runner-up spot to clinch the Pro Tour crown and the SKUSA #1 plate for 2015. Christian Brooks started out the year as the driver to beat, ending up with the second spot in the standings. Two wins at the SpringNationals to open up the series for the California driver put the target on his back. Factoring in the drop race, Brooks fell to second in the standings heading into the SuperNationals, where he could not match the results set by Malukas. TaG Junior rookie Nick Brueckner finished the year in third, riding off of three podium finishes heading into Las Vegas. Trouble throughout the week in November limited his results, and he needed the Pro Tour provisional to race on SuperSunday. The young driver kept positive, and finished 12th after starting dead last to retain the third spot on the championship podium.
The 2014 season was a near perfect score for the Superkarts! USA-sponsored S5 Junior Stock Moto champion Trenton Estep. In his home state, Estep swept the main events at the SpringNationals to assume the championship lead. After switching chassis brands, Estep continued to show the way by winning a third straight feature in Modesto. Estep was the top qualifier at the SuperNationals, but suffered a penalty in the third heat to drop him down the starting grid for the main event. The Texan fought back, driving up to a third-place result to clinch the title. Mexican driver Raul Guzman came just 35 points short of eclipsing Estep for the S5 championship. Guzman was en route to a victory during the opening round in Dallas when a mechanical issue put him on the sidelines. He bounced back to place runner-up the following day, and followed it up with two top-four results in Modesto, including having a win taken away for blocking. Guzman was right at the top of the time sheets at the SuperNationals with two second place finishes and a win in the third heat. That momentum carried over to SuperSunday, as Guzman drove away to his first SuperNats victory. Christian Brooks drove double duty all season, racing TaG Junior and S5, and became the first driver to land on the championship podium in two categories in the same year. The Californian stood on the podium both days at the SpringNationals, and added a victory to his resume at the SummerNationals. Another podium result in Las Vegas earned him the third spot in the championship standings.
Consistency is key to earning a championship, and that was the focus of Jagger Jones in the PSL Karting-sponsored TaG Cadet category. The Arizona driver used a string of four-straight runner-up results to close out the season and earn this year’s Pro Tour championship. The chase for the title came down to the wire, as Michael d’Orlando entered Las Vegas with the championship within reach. The 12-year-old was the only driver to win two features on the season, the first at the SpringNationals and the second in Modesto. After qualifying and the heat races, d’Orlando needed to finish inside the top-10 in Vegas. However, the New York driver made contact with the barriers near the mid-way portion of the feature. The contact ended his race and chances at the title, placing him second in the final standings. New Hampshire driver Lance Fenderson ran top-five all season to land himself inside the championship chase leading into the SuperNationals. The week in Las Vegas did not favor the young driver, as he placed 22nd in a highly contested SuperSunday feature. The result did place him on the championship podium, however, holding the SKUSA #3 plate.
Plans for 2015 are in full swing, as the SKUSA Pro Tour opens up at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association (PKRA) facility on May 1-3 for the SpringNationals. The SummerNationals will take the program east of the Mississippi for the first time since the inaugural season of the Pro Tour. The popular New Castle Motorsports Park is the destination for July 24-26, taking Superkarts! USA back to Indiana – the birthplace of the organization. The 2015 SKUSA Pro Tour will end as it has the previous five times – at the SKUSA SuperNationals – with the 19th running of the world’s largest karting event moving to the Las Vegas Convention Center on November 18-22.
For more information on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit their website – www.superkartsusa.com – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.