|November 11, 2011 News
|EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XV Preview Series - TaG Senior
On the week of November 16-20, Superkarts! USA will host the 15th annual SKUSA SuperNationals in the parking lot of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since 1997, the event has produced a bit of history for the sport, with the 2011 edition no different. A record-breaking number of entries, including over 500 drivers from across the world, will all be vying to become one of the 11 winners at this year’s event. eKartingNews.com - in conjunction with it’s exclusive Trackside Live coverage - has slated the remaining days leading up to the event for an in-depth look at the entry list and the major contenders in each of the 11 categories.
Today, TaG Senior takes the spotlight of the preview series, followed by the remaining groups: KF2, KZ2 and S1 Pro Stock Moto.
For previous class previews and complete coverage throughout the event, visit the EKN Event Page.
| Brazilian Andre Nicastro is gunning for his second B.R.M time piece with a win at this year's SuperNats in TaG Senior|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
What do you get when you put together 80 drivers in TaG karts on a temporary circuit overlooking the Las Vegas Strip? Fireworks and excitement equating to one of the most electrifying categories of the SKUSA SuperNationals. Since becoming a class at the annual Vegas event in 2003, each year the stakes have risen and the drama has grown exponentially. This year should be no different with a mixture of young talent and solidified stars colliding for a chance at a $2,000 paycheck.
Topping the finish of the last two years will be very hard to come by as both races were decided in the final corners and within inches at the line. Contact in the final turns allowed Taylor Miinch to score victory in his Senior debut back in 2009, while a photo finish put Brazilian Andre Nicastro on top of the podium over Aussie David Sera last fall. Since 2003, no driver has won more than once, let alone defend his previous victory. That will be the goal for Nicastro heading into Vegas this time around. The Italian Motors pilot returns to the United States for this event, and this event only, with the goal of putting his Italkart across the finish line first. With the previous record of former winners against him, Nicastro has the challenge to make history this year. Returning with him is fellow countryman Bruno Ferreira, who shocked the paddock with his fourth place performance one year ago. Returning with Italian Motors as well, the duo will be tough to beat.
Leading the charge for the American contingent is current SKUSA Pro Tour championship leader Brett Felkins. The 18 year-old from Northern California has matured over the past few seasons, proving it with his consistent performances thus far aboard his Intrepid. Teamed with Leading Edge Motorsports, Greg Bell has Felkins positioned to earn the season championship and SuperNationals victory in the same season. Felkins’ last start in the class was 2009 when he finished sixth. The top finishing American from one year ago is Team Top Kart / Grand Products driver Chris Wehrheim. A consistent contender at the Senior level in karting for a decade now, Wehrheim has spent all season long preparing to improve on his fifth place finish.
With the Pro Tour championship on the line, so are the #2 and #3 plates for the Pro Tour in 2012. Currently holding the second position is Senior rookie Dakota Dickerson (Arrow). Making the jump in Tucson as his debut, the now 15-year old showed the patience and speed of a 10-year veteran with two podium finishes with Full Throttle Karting, now running under the KartSport North America banner. Close behind is Vegas’ own Matt Johnson (Tony Kart). The 32-year old is completing his comeback to karting after being away for a number of years. The last time the Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting driver competed in the SuperNationals was 2006, where he finished fourth in the class, aboard a Tony Kart.
| Brett Felkins enters Vegas leading the Pro Tour standings, and with the speed to battle for his first SuperNationals victory|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
Four others remain in the battle for the top three in the standings. IZOD IndyCar Series driver Martin Plowman followed the Pro Tour before getting back to the professional ranks during the second half of the season. A victory at the SummerNationals and two seventh-place finishes have him fourth in the standings currently. Driving for Zanardi America, the Brit will make his first SuperNats start. A trio of ProKart Challenge South stars follow, including Travis Lowe (Kosmic), Devin Lindsey (Tony Kart) and Mason Marotta (Tony Kart). All three drive under the Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting stable, each with different SuperNationals history. Lowe has gone from a DNQ in 2008 to 16th and 9th the last two years. Lindsey has yet to qualify for the main event in his first two starts in the class. Like Lowe, Marotta was a DNQ in ’08, improving to a 20th the following year. Last year, he drove the KF2 category and finished seventh, recording the second-highest position for an American.
Of course, those attending this year will be racing with heavy hearts due to the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon. Since 2008, the two-time Indy 500 winner competed in the category. A best finish of fourth in 2009 was his highlight on the track, but off the track he was the most gracious individual, taking a lot of his time talking with fellow drivers, taking pictures and signing autographs for fans. Scheduled to compete with Koene USA, the team will have Wheldon’s kart on display in his honor. Filling the void for IndyCar will be karting regular Jay Howard (KartSport North America/Arrow) and EJ Viso (Intrepid North America), each making their first SuperNationals start.
With 80 drivers, a number of individuals will be in contention for the win on SuperSunday. Here is a few to keep on eye on. Canadian Phillip Orcic (Zanardi America) returns to the SuperNats for redemption. The top qualifier one year ago, costly mistakes in the heat races put him outside the top-20 on the starting grid where he drove up to finish eighth. 2007 winner Joel Miller is returning to the SuperNationals once again in an effort for a second victory. In 2008, Miller was runner-up, missing out on the chance to defend his title. Coming back last year, troubles kept him from making the main event. Running with Phil Giebler Racing aboard an FA Kart, Miller’s focus is on the elusive second SuperNationals victory in TaG.
| Vegas' Matt Johnson is among the long list of contenders this year who will be gunning for one of the three SKUSA National Number Plates in 2012|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
While he’s the oldest driver in the field at 34 years of age, veteran Eric Jones is no pushover. The KartSport North America/Arrow Team Manager proved this at the SummerNationals in July, when he placed second behind Felkins in a one-off run. Jones is back behind the wheel, as his star pilot Sam Beasley - #1 in the EKN Driver Rankings - is off in UAE for the Rotax Grand Finals, so he has risen to the challenge of scoring the initial TaG Senior victory for the Arrow brand. A rising star in the junior formula car ranks, Neil Alberico (Kartel Motorsports/Wild Kart) is fresh off representing Team USA in the UK at the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy. A 13th place finisher last year, his time in open wheel cars may propel him further up the order this time around. Four-time WKA TaG champion Robert Bujdoso is gunning to improve on his SuperNats debut last year. Placing 26th, the Checkered Motorsports/PCR driver is sure to see his name higher up on the time sheets.
The field is full of a number of drivers making their SuperNationals debut. Among them is 2010 EKN Driver of the Year Daniel Formal. The Florida driver is ranked among the top drivers in the country and is making his first SuperNationals start, now joining the new Intrepid North America squad. Three drivers are jumping up from the Junior division into Senior for the first year. Austin Elliott (Team Top Kart / Grand Products) scored the ProKart Challenge North championship in his rookie year and will make his first Senior SuperNats start. His teammate, Texan Mason Chelootz, scored a championship at the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series in a non-TaG class. He finished 11th last year in TaG Junior. Louie Pagano (DPK Motorsports/Birel) will make his first Senior SuperNats start after showing well at the SpringNationals back in April. His last visit to Vegas equated to a 14th in TaG Junior back in 2009.
With 80 drivers, three rounds of heat races and a Last Chance Qualifier, anything can happen. One thing is for sure, the main event on SuperSunday will have the fences and grandstands packed with spectators.
Provisional 2011 SKUSA SuperNationals TaG Senior Entry List
|0||Michael Politis||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Leopard||NY||USA|
|00t||Mason Chelootz||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||TX||USA|
|00x||Enzo Mestre||Seventh Gear Karting||CRG||Leopard||CA||USA|
|2||Alex Watzke||Race Tech Development||Tony Kart||Rotax||MI||USA|
|4||Joel Miller||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|07||Connor Hayes||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Leopard||PA||USA|
|7||David Kermond||J3 Competition||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||NSW||AUS|
|9||Humberto Silva Jr.||MRP Motorsport||Birel||Leopard||FL||USA|
|09||Francesco Ventre||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||BRA|
|10||Federico Paoloni||Bordogna Racing Team||Tecno Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||ARG|
|11||Phillip Orcic||Zanardi America||Zanardi||Leopard||BC||CAN|
|12||Gabriel Chini||Tony Kart||Leopard||BRA|
|13j||Aaron Telitz||Russell Karting Specialties||Parolin||Leopard||WI||USA|
|14j||Kyle Koetters||Crockett Motorsports||Extreme Kart||Leopard||IL||USA|
|15x||Andrew Wiener||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|16||Chris Wehrheim||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||GA||USA|
|17||Guilherme Salas||PSL Karting||CRG||Leopard||BRA|
|19x||Shawn Cricca||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|21b||Michael England||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||AZ||USA|
|22x||Adrian Starrantino||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|23d||Will Owen||KartSport North America||Arrow||Rotax||CO||USA|
|25||Paolo Fracasso||Cambrian Go-Karts||EKS||Motori 7||ITA|
|27||Athur Ortolani||PSL Karting||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||BRA|
|28||Chris Weiland||Adams Motorsports||Merlin||Leopard||CAN|
|30||Jonathan Tetreault||PSL Karting||CRG||Rotax||QC||CAN|
|31||Manuel Palamenghi||Jesolo Kart||Jesolo||Leopard||ITA|
|31s||Eric Jones||KartSport North America||Arrow||Leopard||NC||USA|
|32r||Adam Isman||Italian Motors||Italkart||Leopard||BC||CAN|
|33k||Jeremy Kane||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Leopard||CA||USA|
|34r||Emily Maddison||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Leopard||AB||CAN|
|37||Adam Levi||J3 Competition||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||OH||AUS|
|47k||Kyle Wright||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Tony Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|51c||Guy Hepner||Adams Motorsports Park||Avanti||Leopard||CA||USA|
|53y||Geoff Shaw||Leading Edge Motorsports||Intrepid||Leopard||CA||USA|
|54c||Mason Marotta||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Tony Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|55x||Devin Lindsey||Tony Kart America||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|56||Bill McLaughlin Jr.||Motorama Kart Parts (MKP)||Birel||Leopard||IN||USA|
|59||EJ Viso||Intrepid North America||Intrepid||Leopard||VEN|
|63x||Travis Lowe||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|66||Jay Howard||KartSport North America||Arrow||Vortex ROK TT||IN||GBR|
|68j||TJ Koyen||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Leopard||WI||USA|
|70||Cory Cacciavillani||J3 Competition||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||ON||CAN|
|71c||Niki Luna||PSL Karting||CRG||Leopard||CA||USA|
|76y||Mike Graves||Leading Edge Motorsports||Intrepid||Leopard||CA||USA|
|77j||Martin Plowman||Zanardi America||Zanardi||Leopard||IN||GBR|
|78y||Austin Elliott||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|80c||Dakota Dickerson||KartSport North America||Arrow||Leopard||CA||USA|
|80y||Ryan Yop||Tony Kart America||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|83||Jeffrey Dyer||Baldozier Racing||Tony Kart||Motori 7||CA||USA|
|88||Felipe Fraga||Zanardi America||Zanardi||Leopard||AZ||BRA|
|91o||Luke Waller||Chris Koster Racing||Birel||Leopard||OK||USA|
|92||Andre Nicastro||Italian Motors||Italkart||Leopard||BRA|
|94||Shawn Sharkey||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Leopard||NJ||USA|
|97||Jamie McAllister||Italian Motors||Italkart||Leopard||BC||CAN|
|98||Dan Wheldon||Koene USA||Tony Kart||Leopard||FL||GBR|
|100||Bryan Wong||Rysa Racing||Tony Kart||Leopard||ABW|
|111y||Joshua De Losier||Acceleration Karting||Birel||Rotax||NV||USA|
|112y||Chelsi Wagner||MMS Karting||Italkart||Leopard||NV||USA|
|117y||Matt Johnson||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||NV||USA|
|123||Marcos Vieira||Tony Kart America||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||CA||BRA|
|127||Mattia Cividino||Jesolo Kart||Jesolo||Leopard||ITA|
|128||Kyle Smith||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Leopard||PA||USA|
|132||Robert Bujdoso||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Vortex ROK TT||OH||USA|
|135||Nicolas Morales||Tony Kart||Vortex ROK TT||COL|
|137||Danny Formal||Intrepid North America||Intrepid||Leopard||FL||USA|
|138r||Scott Hargrove||Italian Motors||Italkart||Leopard||BC||CAN|
|141||Matheos Porto||Tony Kart America||Tony Kart||Leopard||BRA|
|185b||Lloyd Mack||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||PRD||CA||USA|
|206||Darren Ward||Tony Kart West / Buddy Rice Karting||Tony Kart||Leopard||OR||USA|
|255y||Jess Peterson||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Leopard||NV||USA|
|313||Allan Cesarman||J3 Competition||Kosmic||Vortex ROK TT||MEX|
|355c||Louie Pagano||DPK Motorsports||Birel||Vortex ROK TT||CA||USA|
|408||Kyle Knecht||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Vortex ROK TT||OH||USA|
|435y||Brett Felkins||Leading Edge Motorsports||Intrepid||Leopard||CA||USA|
|442||Neil Alberico||Kartel Motorsports||Wild Kart||Leopard||CA||USA|
|472n||Mark Boos||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Leopard||PA||USA|