The third event of the 2022 United States Pro Kart Series came to close on Sunday with the final checkered flag waving to end the Badger State Grand Prix from the Briggs & Stratton Motorplex at Road America. The weather was perfect at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin facility until the final two main events when rain threatened the area, however, it held off until all the action was completed, and the podium ceremonies were done. The sixth round of the championship program saw a lot of great battles and wild finishes throughout the day.
History continues to be make in the Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro division as Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) extended his winning streak to six straight on the year. Norberg came away with the fast time in qualifying, however, was challenged on the day. 2019 FIA Karting KZ World Champion Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) amped up the pressure in the Prefinal despite Norberg leading every lap. In the Final, Kremers went on the attack early, leading for two circuit before Norberg returned to the point. Hayden Jones (RPG / Kosmic), Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) and Austin Garrison (SCR / CRG) were in the mix early as well. Once Norberg was back out front, he continued to lay down faster and faster lap times. Garrison was on the charge at the same time, with working past Kremers, however was unable to close the gap by the halfway point. Norberg went on to set fast lap of the race on lap 19 of the 26, and drive to a 0.8-second advantage. The victory added another $5,000 to his total on the year, now at $15,000. Kremers worked back to second as Garrison would finish on the podium in third. Jones drove to fourth with Ramos fifth in his debut weekend with PSL / Birel ART.
The Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior class ended similar to what we saw on Saturday, however, with a different driver at the front. Alex Stanfield (GWR / Tony Kart) was that driver in qualifying, edging out the 55-driver field for fast time with Saturday winner Brandon Lemke (FMS / Merlin) back in third behind Race Liberante (MPG / Race Factory). It was Jeremy Fletcher (RPM / Tony Kart) that beat out Stanfield and Lemke for the Prefinal ODD victory while Liberante drove away to the win in Prefinal EVEN to fill out the front row. Fletcher led the field to the green and led three of the first four laps until Liberante secured the position. It was the same type of ‘battling for second’ that gave Liberante a huge advantage over the next several laps. Eventually, Fletcher put himself in that challenger position, however, was unable to really cut in the advantage Liberante had. At the line, Liberante secured his first series victory by just under two seconds ahead of Fletcher. Lemke won the battle for third over Adam Maxwell (A-Maxx / Tony Kart) with Diego Contecha (Orsolon / Kart Republic) in fifth. A three-position penalty for Fletcher dropped him off the podium as did a five-position penalty to Lemke for ‘swerving’. Maxwell was bounced following tech inspection, which shuffled up the order and the podium. Contecha was promoted to the second spot with Tyler Wettengel (SCR / Redspeed) into third. Fletcher ended up fourth after all the penalties with Aiden Levy (Harvick / Alonso Kart) in fifth. Lemke had fast lap of the race, classified seventh behind Finnegan Bayliff (TKG / Kart Republic).
Both Junior categories on the day were won by Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic driver Caleb Gafrarar. Saturday winner Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN) in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior category set fast time in the qualifying session for Sunday, however, championship leader Max Garcia (MPG / WPK) drove to the win in the Prefinal. Brinkman ended up fourth with Gafrarar back in eighth after six-second bumper penalty. In the beginning stages of the Final, several drivers took their turn at the point before a red flag came out on lap seven. Ayden Ingratta (SCR / Redspeed) led the field to the green at the restart, and showed the way for until lap 11 when Gafrarar had made his way up to the point. From there, Gafrarar paced the field and was able to hold off them off for his third victory in the category on the season. Ingratta won the battle for second ahead of Brinkman with Teddy Musella (RPG / Kosmic) and Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) coming across the line fourth and fifth. Both received a three-second pushback bumper penalty, promoting Max Taylor (RPG / Kosmic) to fourth and Garica to fifth.
The Timmy Tech KA100 Junior class was a sweep on the day by Gafrarar. He was able to set fast time in qualifying and came away with the win in the Prefinal. The Final was a fight to the end with Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart), Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) and Parker DeLong (RPM / Tony Kart) all taking turns at the point. Gafrarar led early and was shuffled back to fifth and fought his way back to the point on lap 15 before he slipped back to third behind Meza and Shipman. Gafrarar was able to split up the teammates, pushing Shipman up to the lead and then grabbed the top spot with two laps to go. Gafrarar was able to hold on, earning his second victory of the weekend in the category. DeLong won the fight for second with Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) sliding up into third in the final few corners. Meza ended up fourth with point leader Max Garcia (MPG / WPK) rounding out the top-five.
A new winner was welcomed in the Speed Concepts Racing X30 Masters class on Sunday. Chris Wehrheim (Nash / Birel ART) set fast time in qualifying, however, contact in the Prefinal dropped him down to sixth and allowed Saturday winner Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic) to claim the race win. Barrios jumped out to a massive lead early in the Final as Wehrheim knifed his way up into the second spot. Wehrheim was able to grab the lead by lap nine. Two laps later, Barrios spun through the turn 1-2 combination trying to keep pace with Wehrheim. This moved Martin Stone (REM / LN) to become the top challenger. Wehrheim however never put a wheel wrong through the second half of the race with consistent lap times to be able to claim his first USPKS victory. Stone settled for second while Danny Robertson (RPG / Kosmic) was able claim the third spot after three-time race winner Danillo Ramalho (REM / Kosmic) retired with a broken throttle. Scott Roberts (SCR / Redspeed) was fourth while Niki Coello (Exprit) recovered from a Prefinal wreck to climb 11 spots to finish fifth.
A similar script was written on Sunday from Saturday in the DNJ International Services Mini Swift class. Saturday winner Keelan Harvick (Parolin) fought his way up from ninth to win the Prefinal. Tyler Roberts (IRM / Parolin) was eighth in the race, but once again, fought his way forward in the main event. Harvick was shuffled down to fifth at as Carson Weinberg (SCR / CRG) led the way until a red flag on lap eight brought the field back together. Once the race was restarted, Harvick and Roberts drove to the front and was able to break away. This time, the two decided the victory against one another in similar fashion on the final circuit. They went side by side through the final corners with Roberts getting the inside of the final turn. He pushed too far wide on the exit, slowing his pace, which allowed Harvick to pull the over-under with more momentum to take him to the checkered flag first. Roberts settled for second with Salvador Della Vecchia (AKT / Energy) landing on the podium once again, climbing up 22 spots to win the battle for third. Weinberg settled for fourth with Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin) crossing the line fifth. A five-position penalty dropped him to 10th, advancing Turner Brown (SCR / CRG) to the spot to complete a hard charger performance of 28 positions.
The Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift finish was very similar to Saturday as well, except this time featuring four drivers racing to the checkered flag. Royce Vega (Benik) set fast time in qualifying but fell to third behind Rocco Simone (Parolin USA) and Saturday winner Ashton Woon (Nitro Kart). Benja Fernandez (TKG / Alonso Kart) was the fourth driver in the mix, and led the third portion of the Final after Simone and Woon had a turn at the point. On lap 16, Woon returned to the front and pace the field until the final lap. He and Simone fought for the lead through the final corner, both drivers pushed wide on the exit. Vega was there to pull the over-under and ran the inside line in a three-wide drag race to the checkered. At the line, Vega secured his first career USPKS victory by three hundredths of a second. Woon was second with Simone third. Fernandez was a close fourth as they all crossed the line within 78 thousandths. Trailing them was Caleb Tarter (Nitro Kart), finishing fifth.
The 2022 United States Pro Kart Series will host the fourth and final event, the Hoosier State Grand Prix, set for September 15-18 at the New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana. All seven of the IAME class champions will be decided after the final two rounds of the championship are contested.