The series finale for the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series is underway with the first day of official sessions completed on Friday for the Carolina Grand Prix. The Trackhouse Motorplex, the unofficial home for the series, is welcoming the program to Mooresville, North Carolina for an 11th straight year. A total of 271 entries in the eight championship categories took to the 7/10-mile course for the four rounds of practice and qualifying session to line them up for the three rounds of heat races on Saturday. The day began with overcast conditions before the sun broke through the clouds and warmed up the track before the timed sessions took place.
The final class on the order is the Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro division as two-time defending champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) led the way in the session. His 47.062 lap was the best of the 37 drivers, edging out Round Three winner and late entry driver Austin Garrison (SCR / Redspeed) by 90 thousandths of a second. Braden Eves (MPG / Kart Republic) was third overall with Senior rookie and 2023 X30 Junior and KA100 Junior champion Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) putting in the fourth best time. Rounding out the fast five was Hayden Jones in his return with Rolison Performance Group at his home track. Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) was a late entry, put his ride into sixth while teammate and championship leader Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) will start the heat races back in 13th.
Several of the 57 drivers in the Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior class are ‘local’ regulars. Leading the way for them and the entire field was Westin Workman (TimmyTech / CompKart) – who has been racing in Mazda program this year, including a win at the recent SCCA Runoffs at VIR. Workman put down a time of 49.682 in the session on the final circuit to edge out Round Two winner Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) by two thousandths of a second. Privateer and Senior rookie Eli Warren (Redspeed) was a close third while local Adam Brickley (Alonso Kart) and defending series champion Alex Stanfield (GWR / Gillard) completed the fast-five. Championship leader Peyton Phillips (Hi5 / Redspeed) was back in 17th with Braden Eves (MPG / Kart Republic) back in 22nd, Josh Campbell (RPM / Tony Kart) 21st and Brandon Lemke (FMS / Exprit) in 15th as those who sit inside the top-five of the championship standings heading into the weekend.
The 10-driver SRP Engines Pro Shifter field was led in qualifying by Kyle Wick (GFC) for a second time this season. The Washington driver making his first ever start at the Trackhouse Motorplex put down a time of 45.135. Jacob Gulick (GFC) was only 66 thousandths off his teammates time while championship leader and two-time winner AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) was third. Alan Isambard (Sodi Racing USA) and Tahlon Yockel (Magik Kart USA) make it a tight fast five heading into the heat races on Saturday.
In only his second start of the season, Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) set fast time in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior qualifying session. Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) laid down a 48.782-lap in his final circuit during the session to claim the pole position for the three heat races and to lead the 18-driver field to the green flag on Saturday. Just 78 thousandths separated the top-five with Steven Miller (Nash / EOS) second, Jackson Wolny (SCR / Redspeed) third, Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Kart Republic) fourth and Sarah Bradley (SCR / Redspeed) completing the fast five.
Momentum is on the side of Chase Buscaglia (GWR / Gillard) in the BBS Racing Engines KA100 Junior division. Fresh off victory at the Tillotson T4 Nations Cup in Spain, Buscaglia recorded his first top qualifier performance of the season with a 50.317 lap time. Diego Guiot (IRM / Tony Kart) was off by only two thousandths of a second with local driver Mason Walters (BJR / LN Racing Kart) in third. Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon / Tony Kart) and Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Kart Republic) rounded out the fast five.
Championship leader Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) in the Speed Concepts Racing KA100 Masters was able to add to his championship lead with fast time in qualifying. A 50.947 was better by seven thousandths to returning 2022 champion Danillo Ramalho (Sodi Racing USA). Two-time former champion Scott Kopp (FMS / Exprit) was off by 77 thousandths in third while Max Papis (Orsolon / Tony Kart) was fourth in his return to USPKS competition. William Isaias (IM / Kart Republic) made his debut of the season with a fifth in qualifying.
Seeking a first win in USPKS competition in the DNJ International Services Mini Swift, Travis Pettit (TKG / Kart Republic) will lead the 40-driver field to green flag for the three heat races on Saturday. A 52.792 lap was better by 14 thousandths over three-time winner and provisional champion Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic). Marco Romero (Team Benik) was third in the session over Antonio Pizzonia Neto (Orsolon / Parolin) with Royce Vega (Team Benik) in fifth.
Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift provisional champion and three-time winner Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) defended his home track on the day, setting fast time in qualifying to clear the record-setting 41 driver field by over three tenths. Cade Wolfe (TimmyTech / CompKart) was second in the session with Emerson Laine (TKG / Kart Republic) jumping up to third late. Maxwell Macha (SLA / Sodi Kart) was fourth while Alex Chandler (IRM / Tony Kart) completed the fast five.
Racing begins on Saturday with three full rounds of heat races to set up the main event grids for Sunday. The KA100 Senior and KA100 Junior categories will contest their Last Chance Qualifiers Saturday evening to narrow down their fields to 50 drivers. Follow the coverage all weekend long on the EKN Social Media accounts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news, updates, photos, videos and more, including the top-10 results after each session beginning with qualifying on Friday. Listen to the racing action by heading to the EKN Live page or tune in on the EKN Radio Network.