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2013 SPORT KART GRAND NATIONALS: TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
The 2013 Sport Kart Grand Nationals may be an individual competition primarily, but the Team Championship sub-category has grown now to be one of the focal points as well. With 26 teams entered at the time of this writing, the Team Championship looks to be another very exciting affair, with the talent spread out enough to make for several really good teams, which should make for a really tight points battle for the title.
 
Last year there were less than twenty teams entered, with the top four teams pulling away from the rest in the standings, and in the end it was a two-team affair for the top spot. Team SPV/HJC took the top honors with Miles Calvin, Darren Mercer and Patrick Britain on it’s roster, while T4 Autosport’s lead effort scored the second spot with Dave Messimer, Matt Widner and Taylor Hays at the helm. On the back of the overall championship from Logan Calvin, Team SPV/AV Metrics took home the third spot with Diego Morales and Jon Kimbrell joining the champ on the third step.
 
 
The Champions, and the Challengers…
Many teams from 2012 are returning with two of the three drivers, but there is not a single team that didn’t make some kind of change to its roster. Still, many other teams are completely new, which will make for a very exciting, and unpredictable title fight here in 2013. Looking at the rosters confirmed so far, below is a look at the some of the biggest lineups, and strongest contenders for the Team Championship:
 
 
Defending Team Champions:
SPV/Random Manufacturing – Logan Calvin | Miles Calvin | Darren Mercer
You’re the defending Team Champs, but one of your drivers can’t make it back for 2013, what do you do? You call your brother, the defending National Champ…
Last year’s Team Championship Preview tabbed this squad as the one to beat heading into the weekend, and with the pick up of the overall defending National Champion, the stats say the same thing again this year. This lineup finished 1st, 4th, and 12th at the Grands last year, and then went on to sweep the top three spots in the Super Series at CalSpeed, re-writing most of the record books in the process. Amassing 4 poles, 5 wins, 10 top 3’s, and 14 top 5’s in 24 starts as a group during the Grands last year, these guys will not only be a solid lineup for the team title, but could very well be fighting each other for the overall title come Super Sunday.
 
T4 Autosport / VLK – Bryan Armbrust | Taylor Hays | Dave Messimer
This team can trace their missed championship shot to a single moment in 2012, and they have not forgotten just how close they came to standing on the top step last year. With the probable absence of one of their drivers as the ’13 event neared, T4 Team Principal Taylor Hays looked to another of his T4 standouts to join himself and defending Master’s champ Dave Messimer for 2013: Bryan Armbrust. Armbrust lead T4’s second entry to a 4th overall spot last year, and his addition to the lead squad makes them all the more potent. With 2 poles, 5 wins, 11 top 3’s, and 13 top 5’s in 24 starts, their stats near that of the champs, and will likely be the biggest challengers to the current regime.
 
SlipStreem Aero West Sales/NightShift – Diego Morales | Jay Schreiber | Jon Kimbrell
Entered as the second SPV team in 2012, Morales and Kimbrell teamed up with eventual champ Logan Calvin for a stout lineup that carried them to a 3rd place overall run. This year, Calvin has left, and one of the best Master’s drivers in the game in Jay Schreiber has filled the vacancy. Not far off the top two squads last year, the 2013 lineup has a strong set of stats heading into the event with a total of 2 wins, 6 top 3’s, and 12 top 5’s in 25 starts. And while Morales has taken this season off from racing, his teammates are running very well in the Super Series, each finding the podium this year, and in the hunt for the championship. We could see these guys not only fight for the sharp end in the team ranks, but also for the Masters title between Jay and Diego…
 
VLK/GPNY – Fred Ogrim | Ennis Bragg | Stevan McAleer
Ogrim and Bragg teamed up with Adam Kellerman to form a last minute out of town team last year, and they ended up the highest ranking non-local team with a 6th overall. This year, circumstances leave Kellerman watching, but the team has picked up a stellar replacement in Grand-Am driver Stevan McAleer. While McAleer is new to the Grands this year, he is known in the Sport Kart world for his impressive run at the 2011 indoor nationals, where he was in contention for the title all event long… With only a single 10 minute session for practice. Last year was certainly a learning year for Ogrim and Bragg, as both drivers improved as the weekend progressed, with Ogrim finishing 19th overall after scoring a pole, 2 wins, 2 top 3’s and 3 top 5’s in his own 8 starts. With this lineup and the knowledge from 2012 in their pocket, this team will be going for more then just the “best out-of-towners” in 2013.
 
Team Deathproof – Chaz Baca Jr | Kyler Repella | Daniel De La Calle
Carrying the banner for Arizona last year, Baca and Repella have enlisted the talents of NorCal indoor and outdoor driver Daniel De La Calle for the 2013 edition, who showed quite well in his Super Series debut one week ago. Seventh in the team standings last year, these guys battled for the ‘best out-of-towners’ moniker, and came up just short, but put up very strong point amongst the two of them. With stats totaling 1 pole, 2 wins, 5 top 3’s and 7 top 5’s, this is another squad that could surprise a lot of people, and it will be interesting to see how they fair with one year under their belt.
 
GranStand/NightShift – Kirk Feldkamp | Sergio Bravo | Bill Kreig
With teams scrambling to find a third driver, this team got a bonus when Team NightShift split to go join separate teams, with this team scoring the talents of Masters standout Sergio Bravo. All three drivers are currently challenging for the top ten in the Super Series, and have routinely scored very strong points this season. All three are also coming off recent successes, with Bravo winning round #4 of the Super Series, Feldkamp scoring a win in the 4th round of the IronMan Series, and Kreig earning his second podium of the year last weekend. The 2013 Grands will be a first for Kreig, and while Sergio had a rough event last year, he and Kirk put up some solid numbers to carry them into this years event: 3 poles, 2 wins, 4 top 3’s, and 7 top 5’s in 17 starts
 
111 INK – Tony Severson | Matt Widner | KC Cook
This team could surprise a lot of people. Cook is a completely different driver than he was at the Grands last year, having scored the rookie of the year title last Super Series season, and scoring his first official win last weekend, while Widner has only gotten faster, scoring a win of his own last fall. Then there is ‘pink shoelaces’ Severson, who wowed a lot of people last year by finding the interview room after day 1, eventually ending up 10th overall. As far as a team goes, Severson and Cook were top scorer’s for their respective teams, while Widner took in the second largest haul on what was the 2nd place overall team in 2012. Total their points from last year, and these guys would have been 4th overall. With the experience gained since last year, expect these boys to challenge the sharp end, and pad their stats nicely: 1 pole, 1 win, 6 top 3’s, and 12 top 5’s in 24 starts.
 
Briars Racing Finest – Sean Brierley | Anwar Beraoul Smith | Michael Weddell
It will be exciting to see what this team can pull off at this year’s event, especially with the reputation that precedes these drivers. Brierley was the sole Brit last year, and will be the defactco leader when they hit American soil, but with what he has said of Smith and Weddell, this trio could be a dark horse for the overall Team Championship. Heading into 2013, Brierley and Weddell were 2nd and 3rd, while Smith took home top Heavy honors in the 2012 British Rental Kart Championship, a series that runs outdoors most of the time. As the only returning driver on the team, Brierley has a leg up on his mates, but will certainly be passing down that knowledge right from the start. Certainly a team to watch, I think these guys will be putting the pressure on straight away.
 
T4 Autosport / TRG – Aaron Downs | Craig Stanton | Mike Lewis
A last minute deal, the final three drivers to sign up for the 2013 Grands may end up being one of the strongest teams in the paddock. With last year’s runner up Aaron Downs leading the way, first-time entries Stanton and Lewis will complete a solid lineup that has a lot of experience behind the wheel, and not just of sport karts. Stanton is a regular in endurance car events, most recently in Grand Am, where he has been running with the TRG squad. For Lewis, racing has taken a bit of a back burner this year, but when he is on the marks, he is one of the strongest drivers in a Super Series event. Look for this team to raise some eyebrows, and possibly be a surprise entrant for the championship chase.
 
Arkham Motorsports – Robby Stanovich | Ben Blank | Bruce Allen
Arkham Motorsports is the brainchild of Bruce Allen, and while a fairly young team, they have already earned a reputation as a fun-loving group that still takes their results seriously. Certainly a development season for the team, the addition of Blank and Stanovich to the stable bolsters the lineup, and will keep them towards the sharp end. In Robby the have their only returning driver, but a stout one at that, having finished 14th in last years competition. Allen and Blank have stepped up their game recently in the Super Series, and will improve even more over the course of the weekend.
 
Norcal’s Finest – Tyler Bryant | Michael Shawhan | Alex Herndon
There are few drivers in the sport of arrive and drive racing as hardcore about it as “NorCal’s Finest” Team Principal and lead driver Alex Herndon. Last year he and stablemate Shawhan entered the Grands with virtually no CalSpeed experience, hailing most from the intdoor ranks. For 2013, they enter with not only considerably more knowledge and experience, but they have boosted their ranks by adding local driver Tyler Bryant to the squad, who scored an 18th overall run last year. It will be interesting to see what a year can do for this squad, but an improvement over last year definitely seems to be in the cards.
 
 
The Spoilers and the Unknowns…
While the above teams all have a roster that include a driver from the 2012 Super Final (save for Briers Racing Finest), the below teams all enter the 2013 event with a bit of a question mark over there heads. This isn’t to say that they can’t make some noise over the June21-23 weekend, but there is definitely an element of the unknown surrounding them. It will be interesting to see how some of these teams fare, and if they will be able to take the fight to the more established groups over the course of the event.
 
 
The Largest Out-of-Town Contingent: Indo Pratama –
Team A - Cody Dawson | Michael Wu | Patryk Tararuj
Team B - Tahseen Ibrahim | Oliver Rojas | Matthew Anderson
Team C - John Shim | Alexander Carter | Ary Jogasurya
As it was last year, the single largest organized group is the Indo Pratama squad, hailing from the East Coast, and the Summit Point Kart Track. Again bring three teams into the fold; this group enters the event as one solid team, unlike most of the other teams found on the roster. While not much is known about the squad, we have heard that testing and preparation for the event is up from last season, and the group as a whole should be able to put up stronger results in their sophomore attempt.
 
Norcal I – Jerott King | T.A. La | Wes Dent
Jerott King leads a group out of Northern California, a team comprised of a pair of UMIGO standouts, including T.A. La who has raised eyebrows in endurance events, and the indoor nationals. For Dent, it will be his first foray into the arrive and drive competitive world, but he has a great coach in SIM Raceway instructor Jerott King, who is fresh off a podium in the 5th round of the Super Series.
 
T4 Autosport II – David Kelmenson | Derek Esquibel | Chris Huerta
Here is a team that’s lineup has improved massively over the past year. Last year’s Grands was a stepping stone for all three drivers, and since then have vastly improved their pace, craft, and consistency. Not at all the same drivers that scored 36th, 38th, and 43rd respectively last year, expect all of these guys to be fight for a spot inside the SuperFinal, and with that, score some solid points in the Team Championship.
 
K1 Race Gear – Richard Zimmerman | Dustin Maddison | Patricio Jourdain
Grands sponsor and huge supporter of karting in general, K1 Race Gear enters the event with a ‘factory effort’, which includes K1 Speed instructor and touring car driver Patricio Jourdain. While limited in their time at CalSpeed, they are not strangers to karting, having countless laps behind the whell, not only at K1 but outdoors as well. Expect this trio to pick things up quickly, and put their racing background to good use.
 
Team 2 ½ Men – Henry Morse | Jordan Wallace | Ben Morse
Built around the talents of young Henry Morse, this team will be more about working together to achieve strong results in the overall championship, but don’t be surprised if they put up strong team points too. Picking up the talents of Jordan Wallace from Autobahn Indoor on the east coast was a great addition, as Ben Morse also makes his first appearance in the Grands, going from doting father to competitor too this year.
 
Team Hand-E-Cap – Steve Lattanzi | Jeff Saiani | Charles Crowe
The second Arizona squad in the field, Lattanzi leads this trio after a strong 2012 that saw him inside the top 30. While Lattanzi and Crowe currently call Octane Raceway home, Saiani has roots there as one of the standout drivers at the facility for many years. The ‘Hand-E-Cap’ moniker eludes to them not being at 100% health, but that doesn’t mean they will be lacking in pace, and could challenge the front of the field regularly.
 
MC Racing Germany – Martin Hanhardt | Jan Tyca | Robin Siegismund
As the second of two Euroupean squads entered, not much is known about the group as a whole, however Martin will be making his second go ‘round at the event this year. Of all the teams in the second half of the list, this one could provide the biggest surprise.  With extensive team endurance experience on their resume, this trio could find the longer sessions and required pit stops on Sunday tailored beautifully to their skill set.
 
Arkham Motorsports/CFAS – Rodney Bryant | Chris Carter | Jeff Carson
This is another one of those developing teams that has grown a lot since last year, and should be able to put up much better numbers. Carter and Carson team up once again this year, but have added fellow Super Series regular Rodney Bryant to the fold, who showed quite well with a breakout performance at this event last year.
 
Mayhem and Crew – Dennis Kimbrell | Jose da Silva | Carlos Carniero
This team is definitely all about the fun, but will still be pushing for individual results. As is the re-accuring case with some of the teams on this list, here is another entry that has improved over 2012. Kimbrell leads the team in stats heading in, but it sounds like he may miss the first day of competition. Da Silva’s improvement sees him as one of the top 10 masters drivers now in the Super Series, while Carlos Carniero will be making his debut in the event.
 
Lucky 7 Racing – Steve Jasinski | Brad Harvey | Ashley Arnott
Lucky 7 is a fairly green team, in the fact that Harvey hasn’t been in the seat as much as usual, Arnott is new to CalSpeed, and both are making their debut at the Grands. Jasinski will be the team lead here, improving his game both in the Super Series, and his competition kart at the local club. With the minimal seat time had by this team, it will be interesting to see how they progress over the weekend.
 
T4 Autosport / Junior Team– Steve Spring | Ian Enz | Cameron Rose
T4 Autosport has really expanded this year, going from two team entries in 2012 to four this year, which includes this development team. Comprised of three of the strongest rookies in the Super Series right now, including the rookie point leader Spring, this team is solely there to improve upon individual results. With guidance from the T4 senior drivers, these three will gain a ton of knowledge over the weekend, and should be in the hunt for the LCQ at the very least.
 
Rush Hour Karting/Lehigh Valley Grand Prix – Kevin Bligan | Biv Ramlukan | Tom Birchard
Bligan will lead a trio from the east coast to the left coast, with all three drivers making their debut at the Fontana, CA facility, and the Sport Kart Grands. Very little is known about the team in general, but they are coming from a hotbed of racing there in the Carolinas, which is always a bonus.
 
Team VLK/Motivated Eyewear – Zack Skolnick | Andrew Von Fange | Mike Birkle
Victory Lane Karting’s second entry, this team has a specialization in the indoor ranks, as both Von Fange and Birkle have see numerous successes at their home track. Skolnick has the most experience on the team, driving everything from karts to formula in his career, and is also representing one of our event sponsors, Motivated Eyewear.
 
 
2013 Sport Kart Grand Nationals | Team Championship | Official Entry List
 
SPV/Random Manufacturing – Logan Calvin | Miles Calvin | Darren Mercer
T4 Autosport / VLK – Bryan Armbrust | Dave Messimer | Taylor Hays
SlipSreem Aero West Sales/NightShift – Diego Morales | Jay Schreiber | Jon Kimbrell
VLK/GPNY – Fred Ogrim | Ennis Bragg | Stevan McAleer
Team Deathproof – Chaz Baca Jr | Kyler Repella | Daniel De La Calle
GranStand/NightShift – Kirk Feldkamp | Sergio Bravo | Bill Kreig
111 INK – Tony Severson | Matt Widner | KC Cook
Briars Racing Finest – Sean Briarley | Anwar Beraoul Smith | Michael Weddell
T4 Autosport / TRG – Aaron Downs | Craig Stanton | Mike Lewis
Arkham Motorsports – Robby Stanovich | Ben Blank | Bruce Allen
Norcal’s Finest – Tyler Bryant | Michael Shawhan | Alex Herndon
Norcal I – Jerott King | T.A. La | Wes Dent
T4 Autosport / DCD – David Kelmenson | Derek Esquibel | Chris Huerta
K1 Race Gear – Richard Zimmerman | Dustin Maddison | Patricio Jourdain
Team 2 ½ Men – Henry Morse | Jordan Wallace | Ben Morse
Team Hand-E-Cap – Steve Lattanzi | Jeff Saiani | Charles Crowe
Team Germany – Martin Hanhardt | Jan Tyca | Robin Siegismund
Arkham Motorsports/CFAS – Rodney Bryant | Chris Carter | Jeff Carson
Mayhem and Crew – Dennis Kimbrell | Jose da Silva | Carlos Carniero
Indo Pratama A – Cody Dawson | Michael Wu | Patryk Tararuj
Indo Pratama B – Tahseen Ibrahim | Oliver Rojas | Matthew Anderson
Indo Pratama C – John Shim | Alexander Carter | Ary Jogasurya
Lucky 7 Racing – Steve Jasinski | Brad Harvey | Ashley Arnott
T4 Autosport / Junior – Steve Spring | Ian Enz | Cameron Rose
Rush Hour Karting/Lehigh Valley Grand Prix – Kevin Bligan | Biv Ramlukan | Tom Birchard
Team VLK – Zack Skolnick | Andrew Von Fange | Mike Birkle
 

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