The final day of action was completed Sunday for the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series Texas Grand Prix at the Speedsportz Racing Park. It was a 180 degree turn on the weather at the New Caney, Texas facility, as the blue skies and sunshine greeted the near 300 entries in eight categories, reaching temperatures well into the 80s. The two Last Chance Qualifiers and eight main events were contested on the day, featuring exciting racing, dramatic finishes and extending the championship program through two rounds of racing.
It was a British invasion at the front of the field in the Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro category that saw Joe Turney (CDR / Kart Republic) turn in a victory at his first USPKS start. Alessandro de Tullio (Prime / Birel ART) and Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) led the field to the green flag for the 20-lap main event. Turney started third and was into second by the end of the opening lap. He quickly moved past de Tullio and brought Ramos with him as the pole sitter continued to slip over the next two laps. With Turney into the lead, he quickly put distance between himself and Ramos – posting his fast lap of the race on lap five. The lead continued to extend as they fought for the second spot throughout the second half of the race. Turney ended up taking the checkered flag with a 7.5-second advantage. The fight for second began with championship leader Brandon Carr (RPM / Tony Kart) – who started seventh – running down Ramos and bringing others with him. They two went back and forth until Carr secured the position late. Ramos then came under pressure from Harley Keeble (Piquet / Sodi Kart), Blake Nash (Nash / EOS) – who had fast lap of the race – and top qualifier Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart). Carr came across the line second with Keeble securing the third spot, making it a British 1-2-3 on the podium. It was a drag race to the line for fourth with Nash edging out Meza by seven thousandths. Ramos ended up sixth. Hard charger of the race was Tyler McIntyre (MottazSport / Parolin) who came from 31st to 13th. Other movers were Austin Garrison (SCR / Redspeed) and Orlando winner Arias Deukmedjian (CDR / Kart Republic) who advanced 14 and 13 spots to get into the top-10 in seventh and ninth. One of the big stories was two-time defending champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) retiring with two laps remaining following an off-track excursion and spin, never able to break into the top-five all race.
There are now two rookies to win this season in the Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior following the action on the weekend. Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) nearly ran a perfect game on the weekend following top qualifier but winning only two of his three heat races. Starting on the pole position for the Final, Meza was challenged early by fellow Texans John Burke (TRX / CRG) and Alex Stanfield (GWR / Gillard). Meza was in second behind Burke on lap nine when he made a move at the end of the 750 foot straight. Stanfield followed him through to be alongside Burke at the apex. Burke and Stanfield made contact and went off, collecting Brandon Lemke (Hi5 / Exprit) who was fourth at the time. Stanfield and Lemke both continued on further back in the field while Burke retired from the contact. This gave Meza a lot of breathing room out front with fight for second including Braden Eves (MPG / Kart Republic), Peyton Phillips (Hi5 / Tony Kart), Nicholas Terlecki (HDD / Exprit) and Henry Wheeler (MDR / LN Racing Kart). Meza – the 2022 KA100 Junior champion – was able to cruise to his first KA100 Senior victory at USPKS, winning by 3.2 seconds. Phillips was able to secure the second spot while contact sent Terlecki off the track on the final circuit for a second straight event. Eves took advantage to claim the third spot ahead of Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) with former Rotax Grand Finals champion Ben Cooper (RPG / Kosmic) climbing up from 18th to grab 5th on the final circuit. Hard charger of the race however was Brooke Berry (IRM / Tony Kart), coming from the LCQ to advance 18 positions and finish 23rd. It was not a strong performance for championship leader Christian Miles (BJR / LN Racing Kart), who struggled with power in the 20-lap Final and finished 20th.
It was a four-driver breakaway in the 20-lap Final for SRP Engines Pro Shifter class. Pole position driver AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) was joined by top qualifier Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic), Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) and Giorgio Carrarar (IM / Lenzo Kart). Myers grabbed the holeshot but Formal was able to take over the top spot on lap eight. Myers reclaim the position a lap later and continued to lead the way. At the same time, Carrara put himself into third on the opening circuit to drop Kremers to fourth. When Myers and Formal fought, Kremers and Carrara battle for third with a bold move by Kremers to take the spot away. The former FIA Karting KZ World Champion – who set fast lap of the race – then began running down the top-two. He was past Formal for second on lap 16, and pressured Myers the remaining distance. Unable to make a move, Myers was able to take the checkered flag first for his first major victory of the 2023 season. Kremers crossed the line in second but was penalized three positions for contact. That promoted Formal to second and put Carrara into third. Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART was advanced to fourth, dropping Kremers to fifth. Ayrton Hernandez (LEM / Formula K) was hard charger, up three spots to seventh.
The Speed Concepts Racing KA100 Masters class finished with the same driver at the top of the podium as the Orlando event. Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) won two heat races but a poor finish added to those put him second on the grid, alongside top qualifier and pole sitter Adam Crepin (Gillard). Rolison got the jump at the green and led the opening three laps before Crepin took back the position. Heat #2 winner Danillo Ramalho (Piquet / Sodi Kart) fought his way up to second and then battled with the top two for the lead. He led twice in a five lap time frame before Crepin resumed as the leader with Rolison on his bumper. Ramalho was shuffled back, and now fighting with Niki Coello (FMS / Merlin) and Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic). Eventually Barrios secured the third spot and broke away as Coello and Ramalho continued to fight. Up front, Rolison took the lead on lap 16 and never relinquished the spot or was challenged, taking his second straight victory at USPKS. The privateer Crepin finished runner-up in his class debut while Barrios was all alone in third, earning the hard charger honor coming from 10th on the grid. The fight for fourth went down to the wire with contact between Coello and Ramalho. Coello spun off while Tommy Andersen (Hi5 / Exprit) was able to slide into the position ahead of Ramalho. A five position penalty for the last lap contact dropped Ramalho to 10th in the final order, moving Miguel Mier (Cruz / LN Racing Kart) to the fifth spot.
It was another two win performance on the day for Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic). The BBS Racing Engines KA100 Junior race went down to the wire. Pole position driver Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon / Tony Kart) led the opening two circuits before top qualifier Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) took control. Fernando Luque (Supertune / Tony Kart) started fourth and began reeling in Rivera. Luque put himself into the lead on lap nine with Rivera helping to push the duo away from the rest of the field. Rivera took back the top spot on lap 16 as Luque waited until the final lap to make his move. Defensive lines by Rivera limited the options, but an over-under at turn 14 put them side-by-side through the fast final corner and into a drag race to the line. At the checkered flag, Rivera won by 26 thousandths of a second to claim his second straight victory. It was all for nothing on Luque’s side as he was unable to pass tech inspection, and was removed from the results. That promoted Diego Guiot (IRM / Tony Kart) to second with Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) fighting his way forward up from 22nd to now third as the hard charger and quick driver of the race. Payton Westcott (Nash / EOS) finished a solid weekend in fourth with Landon Skinner (Speedsportz / Redspeed) in fifth.
Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) was the driver to beat all weekend long in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior class after setting fast time in qualifying and winning all three heat races. Rivera started the 20-lap Final from the pole position, but came under attack early. Diego Guiot (IRM / Tony Kart) took the top spot on the opening circuit before Rivera reclaimed the position. From there, Rivera laid down consistent lap times to be able to drive away to a six-second advantage for his second straight victory, making it four-for-four in Junior main events on the 2023 USPKS season. Anthony Martella (SCR / Redspeed) was able to grab second late in the race as the rest of the group battle for the third spot. At the line, Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Parolin) won the spot just ahead of Nathan Dupuis (SCR / Redspeed) with Jackson Wolny (RPG / Kosmic) a close fifth, recording fast lap of the race. Hard charger went to Charlie Smith (Nash / CompKart), up nine spots to ninth.
The DNJ International Services Mini Swift category was the only main event victory that was decided after the checkered flag. It was a hard-fought race with that featured four different drivers at the front of the field. Max Cristea jumped ahead of his MottazSport / Parolin teammate Rocco Simone from the outside of the front row to lead the opening lap. Heat #1 winner Marco Romero (Benik) was quick into the mix, jumping to the lead on lap two. Cristea fought back to lead again before Simone took his first turn at the point. This allowed the lead group to remain large, with Heat #2 winner Lucas Palacio (Team Tarp / Kart Republic) advancing from sixth and into the lead by lap 13. Romero then took control and led through to the final lap. Palacio was able to slip past for the lead until turn 14 when he went defensive, and Romero used the over-under to pull up alongside Palacio as they headed to the checkered flag. At the line, it was Romero first by 82 thousandths of a second over Palacio. Unfortunately, Romero was handed a three-second penalty for a pushback bumper, dropping him down to 10th in the order. This promoted Palacio to the top step of the podium. Ashton Woon (Supertune / Parolin) was able to grab multiple spots on the final circuit to be classified second with Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin) in third. Cristea and Bobby Klein (Birel ART) – who started 22nd – capped off the provisional top-five. The results are unofficial pending further tech inspection.
Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) made it five drivers who were able to repeat their victories from Orlando. Ives started the Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift main event from the sixth position. He inched his way forward throughout the 18-lap main event as pole position driver Colton Schniegenberg (GWR / Energy) led the way. Fighting for the top spot between he and Maxwell Macha (SLA / Kart Republic) allowed Ives to close in from the third position. Once past Macha, he drove past Schniegenberg for the lead. The Orlando winner put down quicker laps as the checkered flag neared, increasing his lead. By the checkered flag, it was a two-second advantage for Ives’ second victory on the season. The fight for second went down to the wire, including contact in turn 13 that sent Schniegenberg off course and out of the race. Macha went on to cross the line second ahead Heat #3 winner Kade Kaspar (Trackside / GFC). Pasha Ali (Parolin USA) put in his best result in fourth while Alex Chandler (IRM / Tony Kart) made it three Texas drivers in the top-five.
The United States Pro Kart Series will reach the halfway point of the season with Indiana Grand Prix scheduled for June 22-25 at the New Castle Motorsports Park.