The final day of the Superkarts! USA Honda Racing/HPD SpringNationals completed a near perfect start to the 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour. The Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, Arizona and the nearly 170 drivers on hand provided an exciting show from the morning hours in qualifying to the last corner of the final main event of the day. The weather was the best it had been all weekend with comfortable temperatures and a slight wind. Leaving the weekend, eight drivers have put themselves in the best position at claiming the Pro Tour championship, including a couple double winners on the weekend.
The front of the field looked much different in S2 qualifying on Sunday compared to Saturday. Evan Walters (Intrepid) held the provisional pole while a number of karts sat in the pit lane. Logan Jones (GP) took the spot from him with about six minutes to go. Jake French (Birel) was the driver to watch as he moved up to P2 on his out lap, then found some clear track to take the top position on the time chart. His 48.599-lap was best with Jones dropping to second. Patrick Cushenberry (CRG) ended up third in the order with Kyle Hathcox (CRG) and Arie Luyendyk Jr. (Zanardi) capping off the fast-five.
Holeshot for heat one went to Cushenberry from P3 on the grid but French came right back as they exited turn one to take back the point. Hathcox slid in behind them to form a three kart breakaway with Josh Lane (DR Kart) in fourth and Jones in fifth. Completing lap two, Hathcox drafted by Cushenberry for the second spot, allowing French to put three kart lengths on the two. With Hathcox into second, he cut right into the gap and closed right in on French’s bumper. Lap four, Hathcox drove past French in the same spot he advanced before and put himself at the point for the first time on the day. Completing lap seven, Cushenberry drafted around French for the second spot as Hathcox continued to stretch out his lead. At the checkered, Hathcox took the win by six-tenths of a second over Cushenberry and French. Daniel Langon (GP) was able to run down Lane and work by for fourth in the final lap.
The Honda Racing/HPD SpringNationals kicked off the start of the 2011 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour season, putting in the first round of results into the books Saturday at the Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, Arizona. After battling hash weather conditions during Friday’s practice, including high temperatures and strong wind gusts that damaged tents throughout the paddock, Saturday was a warm welcome to comfortable racing conditions. With roughly 170 drivers in attendance and the fields stacked with talent, the racing on track was phenomenal as the nearly 8/10-mile circuit provided the perfect backdrop for exciting wheel-to-wheel action. At the end of the day, the first 2011 Pro Tour winners were established with a number of drivers earning their first ever series victory.
A solid field of 31-drivers took to the track for qualifying in the S2 category. 2010 S5 Junior champion Daniel Langon (GP) held the provisional pole early on as the karts hit the track. Langon’s time held through until Nicky Freytag (Intrepid) posted his fast lap on his second circuit. Freytag’s local knowledge certainly helped the Arizona driver as he put down a 48.730-lap. Making a return to the seat on the weekend was Utah’s Patrick Cushenberry (CRG). ‘Cush’ moved to second in the order to fill out the front row for heat one. Another S5 graduate posted a strong result in qualifying as Christian Schureman (GP) ended the session third with Cory Milne (GP) sandwiched between he and Langon.
This year’s Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is fast becoming one of the bright spots of American karting for 2011, as our sport is now rebounding from being hard hit by the recent economic recession. Despite the continuing issues with the national economy, karting is certainly fighting back as entry numbers in the primary regional series have been extremely encouraging, and SKUSA is part of this recovery. There is positive momentum building all over the country and SKUSA’s West Coast-centric ‘Pro Tour’ is enjoying significant buzz regarding good fields in virtually all of its classes. The opening round of the SKUSA Pro Tour – the Honda Racing/HPD SpringNationals in Tucson, AZ – is now less than a week away and the research performed by the EKN staff shows that this program will see significant growth for 2011. The inaugural Pro Tour launched last spring at Infineon Raceway with just over 100 participants and the forecasted numbers for this year’s opener are north of 170.
The 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour will consist of three events, anchored by the granddaddy of them all, the SuperNationals in Las Vegas in November. The season kicks off on the April 29 – May 1 weekend in Tucson, Arizona for the second running of the SpringNationals. As recently announced on EKN, Honda Racing and Honda Performance Development (HPD) have signed on as the title sponsor for the event, helping to raise the bar for an event that SKUSA’s Tom Kutscher is aimed at making into a “mini SuperNats”.