|2013 SPORT KART GRAND NATIONALS: OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW|
The Sport Kart USA: Sport Kart Grand Nationals. 100 drivers from all over the Americas and Europe gather for 3 days of racing, on 3 different track configurations, in the heart of sport kart racing in the USA, CalSpeed Karting in Fontana, California. Over the course of three warm up sessions, 11 green/white/checkered qualifying sessions, and 12 total races, these drivers will complete over 230 laps, pushing their speed and craft to the limit in an attempt to win $2000, and the Sport Karting Grand National Championship cup.
In the event’s inaugural year, Logan Calvin quickly established his mark on the event, scoring top three finishes in his first five races to lead the standings after each of the first two days, and then clinch the title before even taking the green for the Super Final race. Behind him however it was a knockdown, drag-out fight for the final 4 spots on the podium, with the top five continuously changing hands throughout the event. When the final points were tallied, Aaron Downs would be the ‘best of the rest’ and score the 2nd position, with Patrick Britain, Miles Calvin, and Bryan Armbrust all joining them on the podium with hardware and checks for their performances.
The second installment of the event sees only a few tweaks to the format, with the core of the competition remaining intact from the initial event. What has changed however, is the level in talent that has signed up to compete; not only are nearly all the major players from last year in attendance, but a brand new crop of extremely strong talent has also entered the fray. Below is a look at some of the biggest names on the entry list, as we take a look at the probable contenders, and spoilers for the 2013 Sport Kart Grand National Championship…
The Returning Podium, Top Locals, and Regional Leaders…
#1 Ranked, Defending National Champion:
Logan Calvin: Fullerton, CA – CalSpeed Karting
[ 2 poles, 3 wins, 5 top 3’s, 6 top 5’s, 2 Fastest Laps ]
Logan’s consistency in 2012 was nothing short of amazing, either winning or finishing in the top 3 in his first 5 starts, and never finishing worse than 7th, and that was after he had already clinched the championship one race early. As one of the fastest drivers in Sport Karting, Calvin combines his raw speed with a real mastery of racing awareness, nearly always making the right decision in the pack. While his sheer pace gets him to the front, it is his excellent racing acumen that keeps him there, willing to give up one spot, to eventually gain two more. This ability to choose his battles is not unique to Logan, but he has perfected it, and he’ll once again be the driver all others are measured by in 2013.
#2 Aaron Downs: Norco, CA – CalSpeed Karting
[ 1 pole, 4 top 3’s, 7 top 5’s, 2 Fastest Laps ]
Taking a bit of a break from the Sport Karting scene throughout the spring, ‘Downsy’ makes his return to the track just in time to compete in the biggest event of the year. Often underestimated on track, Aaron proved he was one of the big dogs in the sport last year by snagging up the 2nd overall spot, putting up numbers very close to that of the champ himself. Although winless last year, he was never far from the front, scoring an amazing seven top 5’s, and never finishing worse than 7th. His aggressive style will keep him in the fight all weekend long, and if he can couple that with some calmness from time to time, he will absolutely be in the hunt for the title on the final day.
#4 Miles Calvin: Fullerton, CA – CalSpeed Karting
[ 2 poles, 1 win, 2 top 3’s, 5 top 5’s ]
The older of the Calvin’s, Miles is the more aggressive driver of the two, and has earned a reputation for making some pretty spectacular moves to get to the front, and then being able to make his kart the widest to stay there. Speed and consistency runs in the family, and Miles will also be a regular at the sharp end, but he adds to this a great strategic mind, which pays dividends on the final day when pit stops come in to play. The biggest key will be when he decides to pull the trigger on the defense, versus continuing to attack to the front, as this tends to be the deciding factor in how the race will end up. If Miles adds in a bit of his brother’s “I’ll work with you, so I can beat you” style, I think the whole field should be worried…
#5 Bryan Armbrust: Tuscan, AZ – Victory Lane Karting
[ 1 pole, 3 wins, 4 top 3’s, 4 top 5’s]
Leading all out of town drivers last year, Bryan surprised a lot of people by taking home the 5th spot at the end of the 2012 competition. The surprise wasn’t that he was on the podium, but that he seemingly came out of nowhere, sitting outside the top 5 most of the event, due to some hot/cold results. He ended hot on the final day though, winning his Pre-Final, and then he drove himself onto the overall podium via a third place in the Super Final. Although he tied the eventual champ in wins with three, the other half of his finishes were deeper in the top 10, and he lost ground to the leaders. If Bryan finds the consistency that his closest rivals have, then it will probably mean he’s winning all the races, and in good shape to be the next National Champion.
Chaz Baca Jr: Mesa, AZ – Octane Raceway
Baca has two wins two his credit, and has another pair of seconds to boot, proving he is more than a threat for the overall title hunt. But like the driver just above him in last years standings, consistency is what plagued the young driver from Arizona, as he also had a pair of finishes outside the top 15. Carrying the baton for the Arizona natives, and the contingent form Octane Raceway, Baca has a very real shot at winning this thing, if he can keep himself at the front, and in the big points.
Taylor Hays: Fullerton, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Last year’s Grands didn’t start the way Hays wanted them to, scoring a pair of 11th place finishes in the first two rounds. Then the real Taylor Hays immerged, either winning, or finishing 2nd in his next four races to jump right back into the podium hunt. Although just off the podium in the end, he showed exactly what he was capable of, and if he puts in a full event like his day 2 performance last year, then he will be racing for the championship, not just a podium finish.
Tony Severson: New Braunfels, TX
One of the best feel-good stories of 2012, Tony flew into the event just hours after becoming a father to his second child, and he carried pink shoelaces in honor of his kids during the event. Then, after finishing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in his first four races, he found himself inside the top 3 after day 1, and in prime position to be on the podium. Day two didn’t go as well, and he slipped in the standings a bit, but his immediate pace was impressive, something he’ll be looking to duplicate.
Darren Mercer: Oak Hills, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Although recognized now as one of the best drivers at CalSpeed via his 2nd place in the Super Series last year, Mercer was still coming into his own as a driver this time last summer. Now with a wealth of knowledge, much stronger racecraft and head for the game, he should be a legitimate threat for the championship. Named as a spoiler last year, Mercer is now one of the big guns at CalSpeed, and is well inside the pool of contenders for the 2013 title.
Fred Ogrim: Charlotte, NC – Victory Lane Karting
Fred had one of the biggest roller-coaster events of any driver in 2012, scoring the highs of winning, but also the lows of some mistakes and tough luck as well. Admittedly not 100% focused last year, Ogrim heads into the 2013 installment as serious championship threat, having learned from his mistakes of the previous try. As arguably the best driver coming out of the Carolinas, expect him stamp his renewed focus on the event, and to score strong points immediately.
KC Cook: Long Beach, CA – CalSpeed Karting
The driver carrying the most momentum into the Grands has got to be KC Cook, who is fresh off a Super Series win, and over the past year has turned into one of the best drivers at CalSpeed. Now the point leader in the series, Cook is a vastly different driver from the outdoor rookie he was in 2012, having only had a handful of starts under his belt this time last year. He has improved by leaps and bounds since then, and has to be counted amongst the championship contenders.
Sean Brierley: Caternbury, UK – British Rental Kart Championship
There was no other driver in 2012 that had the same success Brierley did in qualifying, scoring 3 poles and an off pole in seven attempts. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to turn these strong qualy runs into big points, which will obviously be his focus this year. Sean’s results and point standing from last year are not a true representation of his pace and skill, and it will be no surprise when he is at the front, and fighting for the championship this weekend.
Jerott King: Walnut Creek, CA – Sim raceway PKC
The lead driver from Northern California, King has really stepped up his racing program in 2013, making the trek every month to compete in the Super Series on a regular basis. He has improved greatly with these efforts too, currently inside the top ten in points, and fresh off a podium finish at the latest round. One of the most improved drivers since this time last year, expect King to be making a lot of noise, both off AND on track.
Jon Kimbrell: San Juan Capistrano, CA – CalSpeed Karting
2013 has seen resurgence from the multi-time national champ, returning to his old ways here at CalSpeed, something that bodes well for his chances heading into the Grands. Although he was able to score a win in last year’s competition, the overall performance really wasn’t up to his own high standards, and he’ll be looking to put last year behind him. Those that have raced with Jon at the national level know what he is capable of, and they should expect it in spades this year.
Alex Herndon: Lawrence, KS – Sadlers Indoor Karting
Having recently moved to Kansas, former Nor-Cal driver Alex Herndon carries the baton for the Midwest, and has taken big steps to improving his game at CalSpeed. Competing in several Super Series events since the ’12 Grands, Herndon was actually inside the top ten in points after the first two rounds of the season this year. Making huge improvements over the past year, it will be a different Alex when the green flag flies on the 2013 event.
Oliver Rojas: Alexandia, VA – AllSports GP
Last year Oliver carried the baton for the Volta GP and Indo Pratama group from the east coast, and will be looking to do that again, but higher up the standings. A lot can happen in a year’s time, and having recently acquired some seat time at the Mooresville complex to sharpen up the skills, it should be a new and improved Rojas this weekend.
Ennis Bragg: Long Island City, NY – Grand Prix New York
One of the best drivers out of the GPNY facility, Bragg enters the 2013 championship as a IronMan champ at the facility, and with a small chip on his shoulder. Showing he had pace last year via a pair of top ten results, Bragg’s event was mired with bad luck, culminating in a mistake that saw him just miss the LCQ. A completely different driver heading into this weekend, making the LCQ will be the absolute minimum for this talented driver from New York.
Anwar Beraoul Smith: Bournemouth, UK – British Rental Kart Championship
Arguably one of the best drivers in the brkc, Smith is making his debut this year at the Grands, and is touted as an immediate championship contender by his peers. Heavy class champion in ’12 and runner up this year in the brkc, Smith won’t have to worry about a weight handicap at the Grands, and as he is already at home on outdoor courses, he could be one of the quickest out of towners to come up to speed.
Stevan McAleer: Glasgow, UK – Grand Am
Wowing the sport karting community with his out of the box performance at the indoor nationals in 2011, McAleer has been excelling in sports cars as of late, running the Mazda Miata in Grand-Am competition. Accustomed to the pack racing and drafting from sports cars, Stevan isn’t just running the Sport Kart Grands for fun, he’s here to win, and has the talent to do it. Extremely fast at learning new tracks, watch for him to set the pace early come Super Sunday.
Patricio Jourdain: Mexico City, Mexico – K1 Speed
Leading the way for the K1 ‘Factory Team’ is sports car driver Jourdain, who is also the lead driving instructor for the K1 chain. Although he doesn’t have a lot of time in at CalSpeed, his instructor background should allow him to pick up the courses quickly, and his experience racing cars will pay off in the pack. As with all pro drivers, expect Jourdain’s race craft to be top notch, taking the fight to the usual suspects straight away.
Robin Siegismund: Mulheim, Germany – German Endurance Championship
The youngest driver on the German squad, Robin enters the championship as a bit of an unknown, but with plenty of karting experience. With a background in endurance racing, he should really take to the races on Super Sunday well, when drivers will be in the seat for 30 to 50 laps, and strategy starts to play a factor.
Kirk Feldkamp: Coasta Mesa, CA – CalSpeed Karting
At the top of the spoiler list is 11th place from last year Kirk Feldkamp, who also currently sits in 11th in Super Series points. A winner last year, and regular front-runner, this could be a breakout event for the CalSpeed regular, as he has improved a lot from last year.
Robby Stanovich: Redondo Beach, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Making the move from a full sport kart season last year to running the local 2-stroke series, Robby has made massive improvements since the Grands last year. With a win and a pair of 3rds last year, he definitely has what it takes, and could be challenging for the title come Sunday.
Matt Winder: Torrance, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Running only part time in sport karts this year, Widner has been jumping in the seat of full size cars as of late. Still, when he does come out he is blazingly quick, and will be looking to improve on the 3rd place, and three fourths place finishes he had at the Grands last year.
Kyler Repella: Phoenix, AZ – Octane Raceway
One of the best young drivers to come out of the Octane Raceway facility, Kyler could surprise a lot of people, as his 2012 placing was a bit deceiving. Scoring 4 sixths in a row to start the event off, he followed it up with a pole, fastest lap, and 2nd place in his Pre-Final, earning 17th overall.
Tyler Bryant: Gardena, CA – CalSpeed Karting
The 2012 Grands was a breakout event for ‘the nicest guy in sport karting’, stepping things up a notch to score a second in round 2 and a win in the Pre-Final. A regular inside the top ten last year, with the experience he’s gained, he should be putting the pressure on the top 5 every race.
Michael Shawhan: Los Gatos, CA – Go Kart Racer
Having never run anything other than an enduro at CalSpeed prior to the Grands last year, Shawhan did remarkably well to adapt, scoring an event high of 3rd in his last race. Having the experience of last year, and a pair Super Series’ since, he could be a serious threat all weekend.
Bill Kreig: Huntington Beach, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Making his debut in the event this year, Bill Krieg is have a great year in the Super Series thus far, scoring a 3rd and a 4th overall, and sits 8th in the standings. If this is any indication, then Kreig should be able to challenge for the Super Final, and at the very least the sharp end of the LCQ.
Derek Esquibel: San Pedro, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Derek has improved tremendously over last year, and literally looked like a completely different driver from the onset of 2013. Now a regular challenger for the front of the Super Series field, he will certainly be aiming for the Super Final this year at the very least.
Chris Huerta: Santa Fe Springs, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Like Esquibel, Huerta has made incredible strides over the past year, and is a much better driver than he was at the 2012 Grands. Scoring a tenth and three 11th’s to finish off last year’s event, expect him to be a regular contender inside the top 10 this weekend.
Henry Morse: Redondo Beach, CA – CalSpeed Karting
Few can forget the energy under the tent when it was announced Henry was the final transfer into the LCQ in 2012. Finding the top ten twice last year, young Morse’s sights will be much higher this year, having gained experience by splitting time between sport karts and 2-strokes this year.
Michael Weddell: Edinburgh, UK – British Rental Kart Championship
A regular podium contender at the brkc back home, Weddell make his states-side debut this weekend at the Grands. Another driver at home on outdoor courses, his pace should be quick out of the gate, the question will be how fast he adapts to the style of racing prominent at CalSpeed.
Zack Skolnick: Springfield, NJ – Victory Lane Karting
Sports car driver and instructor Zack Skolnick has a lengthy background in sport karts, having found success in several different events across the country. A few years removed from the sport karting national scene, Skolnick should find his old pace, and the front of the pack quickly.
Cody Dawson: Charleston, WV – AllSports GP
Although a new name to the Indo Pratama Team for 2013, word is the Dawson was very quick in testing at the outdoor track in Mooresville, and could be the new torch carrier for the team. While a relative unknown heading in, we may all know the name Dawson by the end of the event.
T.A. LA: Danville: CA – Umigo Indoor Karting
Focused on things outside of the sport karting world, T.A. finally gets an opportunity to make the trek from Nor-Cal, and have some fun this weekend. Don’t be fooled by his fun-loving personality, on track he is all business, and has proven to be quick and tenacious when the chips are down.
2013 Sport Kart Grand Nationals – Official Entry List:
Aaron Downs: Norco, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Aaron Scott: Huntington Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Alex Herndon: Lawrence, KS - Sadlers Indoor Karting
Alexander Carter: Leesburg, VA - AllSports GP
Andrew Lemons: Oceanside, CA - K1 Speed
Andrew Von Fange: Fort Mill, SC - Victory Lane Karting
Anwar Beraoul Smith: Bournemouth, UK – BRKC
Ary Jogasurya [M]: Clifton, VA - AllSports GP
Ashley Arnott: Fremont, CA - Umigo Indoor
Ben Blank [M]: Santa Clarita, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Ben Morse [M]: Redondo Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Bill Dickey [M]: Ontario, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Bill Kreig: Huntington Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Biv Ramlukan: Las Vegas, NV - Rush Hour Karting /SPK
Brad Harvey: San Diego, CA - Miramar Speed Circuit
Brett King: Aliso Viejo, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Brian Starr [M]: Santa Maria, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Bruce Allen: Lancaster, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Bruce White [M]: Hawthorn Woods, IL - Chicago Indoor
Bryan Armbrust: Tucson, AZ - Victory Lane Karting
Cameron Rose: Studio City, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Carlos Carneiro [M]: RdJ, Brazil - Octane Raceway
Charles Crowe [M]: Chandler, AZ - Octane Raceway
Chaz Baca Jr.: Mesa, AZ - Octane Raceway
Chris Carter: Culver City, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Chris Hebert [M]: Chantilly, VA - Summit Point Kart
Chris Huerta: Santa Fe Springs, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Cody Dawson: Charleston, WV - AllSports GP
Craig Stanton [M]: Long Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Daniel De La Calle: San Francisco, CA - Go Kart Racer
Darren Mercer: Oak Hills, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Dave Messimer [M]: Lake Forrest, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Dave Sureff: Baltimore, MD - AllSports GP
David Kelmenson [M]: Pacific Palisades, CA – CalSpeed
Dennis Kimbrell [M]: Anaheim, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Derek Esquibel: San Pedro, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Diego Morales [M]: Brea, CA - Anaheim Grand Prix
Dustin Maddison: Oceanside, CA - K1 Speed
Ennis Bragg: Long Island City, NY – GPNY
Fred Ogrim: Charlotte, NC - Victory Lane Karting
Gabriel Banuelos: San Bernardino, CA - Perris Karting
Greg Reinhardt [M]: RPV, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Gregg Hall [M]: Redding, CA - Need 2 Speed Indoor
Henry Morse: Redondo Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Ian Enz: San Diego, CA - K1 Speed
Jan Tyca: Duisburg, Germany - German Endurance
Jay Schreiber [M]: Yorba Linda, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Jeff Carson: Culver City, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Jeff Hall [M]: Modesto, CA - Need 2 Speed Indoor
Jeff Latimer [M]: Paramount, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Jeff Saiani [M]: Roy, UT - Octane Raceway
Jerott King: Walnut Creek, CA - Sim Raceway PKC
John Shim: Duluth, GA - AllSports GP
Jon Kimbrell: San Juan Capistrano, CA -CalSpeed Karting
Jonathan Vitolo: Los Angeles, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Jordan Wallace: Annapolis, MD - Autobahn Indoor
Jose da Silva [M]: Duarte, CA - CalSpeed Karting
KC Cook: Long Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Kevin Bligan [M]: Wayne, PA - LVGP / Endurance Karting
Kirk Felkamp: Costa Mesa, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Kyler Repella: Phoenix, AZ - Octane Raceway
Logan Calvin: Fullerton, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Marco Restivo: Arlington, VA - AllSports GP
Mark Robinson [M]: Puyallup, WA - Pacific Grand Prix
Martin Hanhardt [M]: Duisberg, Germany - German Endurance
Matt Widner: Torrance, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Matthew Anderson: Columbia, MD - AllSports GP
Matthew Tate: Tempe, AZ - Octane Raceway
Michael Shawhan: Los Gatos, CA - Go Kart Racer
Michael Weddell: Edinburgh, UK - BRKC
Michael Wu: Herndon, VA - AllSports GP
Mike Birkle [M]: Charlotte, NC - Victory Lane Karting
Mike Kinney [M]: Olympia, WA - Pacific Grand Prix
Mike Lewis: Redondo Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Miles Calvin: Fullerton, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Mitch Collins: Lake Forest, CA - SoCal Oval Karters
Oliver Rojas: Alexandria, VA - AllSports GP
Patricio Jourdain: Mexico City, Mexico - K1 Speed
Patryk Tararuj: Baltimore, MD - AllSports GP
Peter Liwanag: Glendale, AZ - Octane Raceway
Richard Zimmerman [M]: Oceanside, CA - K1 Speed
Robby Stanovich: Redondo Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Robin Siegismund: Mulheim, Germany - German Endurance
Rodney Bryant [M]: Highland, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Scott Swayzee [M]: Scottsdale, AZ - Octane Raceway
Sean Brierley: Caternbury, UK - BRKC
Sergio Bravo [M]: Hermosa Beach, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Stevan McAleer: Glasgow, UK – GPNY
Steve Jasinski [M]: Torrance, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Steve Lattanzi [M]: Phoenix, AZ - Octane Raceway
Steve Spring [M]: Alhambra, CA - CalSpeed Karting
T.A. La: Danville, CA - Umigo Indoor
Tahseen Ibrahim: Fairfax, VA - AllSports GP
Taylor Hays: Fullerton, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Tom Birchard [M]: Chapel Hill, NC - Rush Hour Karting
Tony Severson; New Braunfels, TX
Tyler Bryant: Gardena, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Vince Burke [M]: Covina, CA - CalSpeed Karting
Wes Dent: Livermore, CA - Umigo Indoor
Zack Skolnick: Springfield, NJ - Victory Lane Karting