Johnny Johnson

Qualifying heats wrap in Pennsylvania

Drivers compete in 15 qualifying heats, setting the grid for Sunday.

Stephen Mallozzi and Johnny Johnson discuss the story lines that unfolded on Saturday.

Under perfect conditions, the third day of the Stars and Stripes Open has concluded after a full day of heat racing. Nearly 150 laps in total were ran on Saturday, a day full of both surprises and matched expectations.

Jake Drew, from Fullerton, California, perfectly executed two of his three heats today in Senior MAX to score the pole position in Sunday morning’s Pre-Final. Drew, a newcomer to the Pitt facility and Rotax MAX has impressed on many levels and looks strong for Compkart. Jace Denmark-Gessel steadily got better in each heat today, scoring the win in his final run to end Drew’s streak. Gessell too has had little time on a Rotax engine but has adapted well for Ryan Perry Motorsports. Travis Wiley had third place locked down in each heat and will start from the inside row tomorrow morning. Justin White and Jacob Donald hovered around the top five all day and will start from fourth and fifth, respectively.

Luca Mars enters turn 3 at pitt international race complex
Luca Mars swept the Junior MAX heat races on Saturday. Photo: Johnny Johnson / Kart360

Luca Mars has met every expectation I made for the young man, sweeping the heats decisively in Junior MAX. Mars started each race on the outside of row one, but managed them well with no incidents before methodically finding his way into the lead shortly after. Mars’ teammate at Speed Concepts, Kyffin Simpson, stood out in qualifying before relinquishing his perch to Mars by the end of the day. Nathaniel Cicero moved to third after qualifying fourth, followed by Westin Workman and Paul Bocuse.

The category with the wildest day went to Mini/Micro MAX, as penalties and DNF’s abounded. Adam Brickley, with a score of 3-7-4, has catapulted to the top of the charts after qualifying seventh. Brickely benefited from Alex Powell’s 13-position penalty in the opening heat and Brent Crews’ thrown chain in heat three that both proved too much to overcome for the two international winners. Powell went on to win the final two heats and will start from second. Parker Delong and Ben Maier will make up row two, ahead of Crews.

Past Rotax MAX Grand Finals champion, Martin Pierce, has had a firm grasp on the Masters MAX field here in Pennsylvania. A pole position and three heat race wins has the Compkart driver as the only competitor so far to sweep all four officially timed sessions. Tim Shutt and John Bonanno have had a very close competition for second with Shutt so far getting the best of the New Jerseyan. Michael Burton and Alejandro Parodi took the final two spots in the top five.

All the way from New Zealand, Josh Bethune has been a force in the DD2 category, winning each heat by a substantial margin. Race Liberante has started each heat from the pole position after his top qualifying time in the morning, but has given little resistance since. Atharva Desai, Annie Rhule, and Jackson Edrington round out the top five in that order.

Pre-finals start at 9:30am EDT with Senior MAX before finals start at 12:50pm EDT. Watch live timing and catch up on results on our On Location stream.

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