|October 08, 2010 News
|Seventh Annual RoboPong 200 Presented by Bridgestone Set for This Weekend
This weekend will mark the seventh running of the popular team endurance event - RoboPong 200 presented by Bridgestone at the New Castle Motorsports Park. The 1-mile course in central Indiana will put racers to the challenge of competing for 200 laps around the challenging course with the best in karting racing alongside some of their favorite IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers. On the line, aside from winter bragging rights, will be a $5,000 check to the winning team with fans from across the area lining the fences around the entire course, putting the pressure to the max as the teams will battle for an intense 200 laps on Sunday, October 10.
The original event in October 2004 was a fixed-time event with three hours as the event length, won by Adam Rovazzini and Mark Dismore Jr. In 2005, the race distance went to 200 laps with Dismore teaming up with and IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon to take the checkered flag and the $2,000 first place prize. NASCAR took its turn at the top for 2006 as Paulie Harraka and Ricky Rudd went the distance. That year also saw the first place check increase to $5,000 and Speed channel cameras around the course to tape a 30-minute broadcast, thanks in part to title sponsor RoboPong.com. The 2007 event saw Mazda and Bridgestone show their support in what was the biggest event yet. The duo of Chris Larson and Tony Loniewski led nearly green to checkered for a dominant performance and the $5k to win with the SPEED cameras rolling again. The 2009 event came with some crazy drama and controversy with Spencer Pigot and Cyndie Allemann dominating only to retire twenty laps short of victory. This put Billy Lewis and Jeremy Warren on top of the podium following a penalty to the team of Jimmy Simpson and Evan Batt.
Last year’s event came down to consistency with a number top contenders coming into trouble along the 200-lap event. Just over halfway, the duo of IndyCar driver Ed Carpenter and his engineer Nathan O’Rourke took the lead and never looked back with flawless pit stops and no issues on track. The race was not perfect, however, as Carpenter nursed home their kart to the checkered flag after the seat strut broke on the front right during his final stint to ‘warm-up’ the seat making his final laps.
| The field will tackle the 1-mile New Castle Motorsports Park for 200 laps|
Returning to defend their crown, Carpenter and O’Rourke are teaming up again with hopes of becoming the first team to win back-to-back events. The only other former race winners entered together is the duo of Mark Dismore Jr. and former IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon.
Wheldon will not be the only driver from the Indy program to compete in New Castle. Returning to the RoboPong following his phenomenal 2010 season in IRL is Aussie Will Power. The IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up will partner with reigning American LeMans Series LMP co-champion Simon Pagenaud. The Frenchman and Auzzie are sure to bring in a number of spectators on the weekend.
Also to bring in some fan fare will be drivers making their first RoboPong 200 start - Graham Rahal, Alex Tagliani, and Milka Duno. Rahal had a solid career in karting, dating back to his beginning at the Ohio Valley Karting Association in Camden before moving up to the Superkarts! USA and Stars of Karting programs prior to his open-wheel career. ‘Tags’ is a former Canadian national champion in karting and does endurance races - such as the Machismo 500 - during the winter for ‘fun’. Duno comes to New Castle with very little karting experience but the native Venezuelan will hope her time in a number of sports-car endurance racing will come into play. Wheldon and Jay Howard are the only returning IndyCar drivers with experience at the 200-lap event. Howard has shown blitzes of speed but has yet to finish near the top of the order. Be sure to watch the Official Forum Discussion throughout the weekend as there may be some late entries with big names yet to enter.
From the Firestone Indy Lights series, four drivers will return to the event with previous experience. British driver Martin Plowman finished third in this year’s championship and will once again compete at the RoboPong 200. Gustavo Yacaman will be back and look to better his 10th place finish last year. Coming off his first series victory, Homestead winner Brandon Wagner will attempt to improve on his 29th place run in 2009. Out of the seat for most of 2010, Aussie James Davison will team with Duno after working with her as a coach throughout the season. From other forms of open wheel racing, Indy native and newly crowned Star Mazda Champion Conor Daly will partner with fellow second generation racer Rahal - putting together two historic names in motorsports together for the first time. For international flavor, Elliott Wheldon (brother of Dan Wheldon) and Jason Moore (Formula 2 driver) will travel over from the UK to compete - both with solid karting backgrounds.
| IndyCar's Ed Carpenter and Nathan O'Rourke will look to defend the title from 2009|
Looking at the top-five teams from last year, runner-up Michael Busse will be back however with a different team (HAAS). The third-place squad with Mason Madej and Bob Zirves came from 47th on the grid after an engine change following qualifying. While the team is the same, the kart will be different as they will change from Birel to PCR. Fourth and fifth place teams from 2009 remain the same as well. Ron Peterson and Colton Aldridge will return together along with youngsters Robby Seward and Jacob Knueven looking to challenge for the win in 2010.
Notable karters set to compete include New Castle ‘King’ Billy Lewis partnered with BJ Anderson (Lewis/Anderson CKS Racing), WKA champion Robby Bujdoso and two-time Rock Island Grand Prix champion Michele Bumgarner could be a lethal combination this year in the Checkered Motorsports/Adrenaline Fix Karting entry. AB Racing has Andy Dunne and Brennan Harrington - two rising stars out of the Chicago area. Dunne was a top contender at this year’s Rotax Grand Nationals held at the New Castle facility. Probably one of the most experienced pairings on the roster is the Jones brothers. Eric and Brandon will be piloting a KartSport Team Arrow Racing entry, the two should be a factor on the weekend. As we have seen in the past few editions, a number of young drivers from the junior ranks will contest the event. Their youthful energy may push some of those teams to the front in qualifying and the second half of the event.
Friday will host a full day of optional practice for teams from 10am to 7pm. The official event begins Saturday with two different sessions of practice, starting with two hours in the morning (10am to 12pm) followed by timed practice (12pm to 2pm). The second session will determine the qualifying groups. The qualifying runs will start at 3:30pm with the karts split into groups based on their practice times. Each kart will be given three timed laps to post the fastest lap. Average Joes’ Sports Pub has stepped up to sponsor the front row for this year’s event - dubbed ‘Average Joe’s Front Row’. The pole position team will receive $200 while the outside pole squad earns $100. Average Joe’s also chipped in to sponsor the ‘Hard Luck Award’ with the last place team to receive $100.
Following a final hour of practice Sunday morning (9am to 10am), teams will line-up their machines on the front straight around Noon to take part in the opening ceremonies. The green flag is scheduled to fall roughly 12:30pm. The final cash purse will be determined once the final total of entries is set with a minimum of $5,000 to the winners and $1,000 to the 10th place team.
eKartingNews.com will be providing their ‘Trackside Live’ coverage beginning with updates Friday afternoon during practice in the Official Discussion Thread. Updates will continue throughout the Qualifying session on Saturday. Sunday will see updates in the thread throughout the 200 lap as well as daily reports, photos, and results. Those wishing to hear the action live are asked to tune into the race broadcast provided by RaceFanRadio.com while some video coverage and live timing can be viewed on the track’s website - newcastlemotorsportspark.com
Provisional Entry List
|No.||Team Name||Driver 1||Driver 2||Driver 3||Driver 4|
|3||Newtyp.com/KartingConnect.com||Ken Ichikawa||Jared Krinsky||William Sandoval|
|6||Clark Motorsports||Andy Clark||Michael Crawford||TBA||TBA|
|7||CometKartSales.com||Dan Wheldon||Mark Dismore Jr.|
|8||BSS/D-Power Engines||Gustavo Yacaman||Andrew Lewis||Alan Lewis|
|11||Lewis/Anderson CKS Racing||Billy Lewis||BJ Anderson|
|12||Team IRS-Tony Kart/Davey Hamilton Racing||Will Power||Simon Pagenaud|
|13||Operation Heat||Alex MacAllister||Eric Ginder||Chris MacAllister|
|16||Motorama Kart Parts||Jay Howard||Bill McLaughlin Jr.|
|18||Milka Way||Milka Duno||James Davison|
|20||Vision Racing||Ed Carpenter||Nathan O'Rourke|
|21||Batt-Simpson Racing||Jimmy Simpson||Evan Batt|
|23||HAAS||Troy Pew||Michael Busse||Brandon Cross|
|24||ChicagoRacers.com - Scotch & Glitter Division||Rick Apichairuk||Ryan Starzyk|
|31||EJ Racing/Adrenaline Fix Karting||Elliott Wheldon||Jason Moore|
|32||Ballinger/Wagner Racing||Randy Ballinger||Brandon Wagner|
|33||P.O.C.||Stephen Davis||Michael Lewis||Tim Bannon|
|34||Teen Spirit Racing||Christian Vogel||Jordan Laukaitis||Mathew Laukaitis|
|44||Turn1 ProSports||Alex Tagliani||Andy Schlosser|
|47||Team Goodyear||Michael Goodyear||Sam Cate|
|51||Cating Performance Motorsports||Ethan Cating||Justin Overfelt|
|57||Ultimate Karts||Jeremy Warren||John Floor|
|63||R.Norris Racing||Rex Norris III||TBA|
|67||Piel Motorsports||Mike Piel||Jacob Piel||David Piel||Tony Piel|
|69||Dixon Cider Racing||Tristan Nunez||Thomas Silva|
|90||Catron/Hmunett Racing||Tyson Catron||Ryan Amnoett|
|93||Capitol Strategies||Russ Kemple||Jeff Stamper|
|99||JD Byrider||Ron Peterson||Colton Aldridge|
|133||Team Hotshotz/KTAR2||Luca Forgeios||Victor Pedrosa|
|134||KartSport Team Arrow Racing||Eric Jones||Brandon Jones|
|177||Mason Madej Racing/ACR-PCR||Mason Madej||Bob Zirves|
|199||RaceToADomain.com||Kevin Martz||Shinya Michimi|
|231||Young and Reckless||Alex Conger||Christian Vega||Kyle Prokup|
|253||TBA||Riley Turk||Alex Conlin|
|311||Free Spirit Racing||Robby Seward||Jacob Knueven|
|321||Checkered Motorsports/Adrenaline Fix Karting||Robert Bujdoso||Michele Bumgarner|
|404||Sharing Success Motorsports||Alex Grandahl||Martin Plowman|
|834||SST Motorsports||Austin Schoonmaker||Cameron Smock||Jared Thomas|
|O2||Team Robinade||Graham Rahal||Conor Daly||Donny Stewart|
|O4||Zephyr||Jimmy Tennill||Chris Rogers|
|O6||Knight Eicher Racing||Steve Knight||Palmer Eicher|
|O9||AB Racing||Andy Dunne||Brennan Harrington|