Stars Of Karting At PRI

The first day of the PRI Trade Show ended with many attendees exiting
out of the Orange County Convention Center to the noise of karts running
around a temporary circuit for the second annual Snap-on All-Stars
Karting Classic, hosted by the Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar
Series. Nearly 3000 people filled the grandstands and fence lines to see
some of the best in motorsports and in karting do battle around
three-tenths mile bullring under the lights. In the end, Wayne Taylor
Racing Grand-Am Rolex Series driver Michael Valiante would win the main
event over the Karters division race winner Gary Carlton.

The Karters division began the Qualifying sessions with Brendan Langlois
( out on the track first. Many drivers were still prepping
their karts when the green flag came out. At about the halfway mark of
the ten minute session, reigning ICC National Champion Gary Carlton (SSC
East) moved to the provisional pole spot with a 14.275 lap time.
Unfortunately, Carlton scrubbed the inside barrier of the last turn,
bending the steering components of his CRG. Fastest in practice, Joel
Miller (Tony Kart USA) was second overall just 0.053 seconds back of the
pole. David Jurca (Italian Motors) was third overall with last year’s
runner up Kyle Wiegand (Team Top Kart USA) in fourth. Champion
Racing-Intrepid’s Tyler Dueck rounded out the fast five.

NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray (SSC East) came out with the provisional pole
for the Masters division. Eddie Lawson (Tony Kart USA), Scott Speed
(MRP-Birel America), Michael Valiante (Italian Motors) all held the P1
spot for a moment until it was Nelson Philippe (SSC East) who controlled
the spot when the checkered flag fell on the session. Philippe’s fast
lap was 14.336, just half a second slower than the Karter’s division.
Speed ended session second with Joey Hand (Team Top Kart USA) third
fastest. Valiante and Jan Heylan (MRP-Birel America) rounded out the
fast five.

Carlton got the jump at the green flag to start the 30 lap Prefinal
while the rest of the field sorted themselves out behind. The reigning
national champion paced the field with the top eight breaking away from
the rest of the pack. The only change for position would be for the lead
as early on Miller was able to make a pass through turn one to get
alongside Carlton and complete it through turn two. Miller took the
checkered flag three-tenths ahead of Carlton with Wiegand and Jurca to
start from row two for the final. Last year’s winner Matt Jaskol (Team
Top Kart USA) was fifth with Dueck completing the top six.

The Masters Prefinal was a wild one beginning with Speed leading the
field in the first few laps. A slight error on his part, clipping the
inside barrier of turn three spun him around and sent him to the back –
eventually dropping out with handling problems. Philippe would inherit
the lead again while the rest of the pros battled hard with many
retiring early – Hand was out after his motor expired, Phil Giebler
(Team Sparco USA) exhaust came off, and Jaime McMurray (SSC East) also
clipped a barrier while running in the top five. In the end, Philippe
would lead Valiante to the checkered flag but in the tech barn was
penalized 10 positions for a fuel violation. That moved Valiante to
start the main event from the pole with Rice on the outside of row one.
Bryan Herta (Team Top Kart USA) was fast and held off AJ Allmendinger
for third with Lawson rounding out the top five.

The Karters earned the green flag to start their 50 lap final with a few
drivers getting collected in turn one, including Hayden Duerson (Italian
Motors) who was running Valiante’s kart. He was unable to continue and
sat inside the track with the team waiting for the race to end to make
the necessary repairs. The top five was lead by Miller with Wiegand
getting a great start to second ahead of Carlton, Jaskol, and Jurca.
Carlton was able to slide by in turn one for second, bringing Jaskol
with him and dropping Wiegand to fourth. Soon after, Wiegand coasted
into pit lane with a broken chain. The top three would run nose to tail
has they made their way through traffic. Jurca was a few paces behind,
not able to work by the traffic as well as the lead group.

As the laps were winding down, Carlton made his move with a deep pass
into the right hand turn two with the grandstands cheering him on as he
would go on to take the win. Miller held of Jaskol. Dueck closed the gap
on Jurca but ran out of laps for to round out the podium while Josef
Newgarden (SSC East) won the sixth and final transfer spot to the main

With driver introductions, the IM squad had enough time to swap out bent
tie rod and spindle on Valiante’s kart before they left the grid. After
two failed attempts, the main event got the green flag with Valiante
getting the jump on Rice, as did Herta who moved to second in the
opening lap. Rice regained the second spot back that began the craziness
that would in sue for the remaining laps. Lawson clipped a barrier
exiting turn two, dropping him out of the top five and eventually the
race. That moved Jaime McMurray (SSC East) into the top five behind

The top two put some distance on the battle for third as Herta was
swallowed up by the rest of the field that instigated a Bristol style
battle that including the karters who were making their way up through
the field. Allmendinger would move Herta out of the way, dropping him
back, while Carlton made his way into the top five, getting by McMurray.
Carlton worked himself to fourth and began to run down Allmendinger, who
put some distance on the battle behind him. Getting by Allmendinger
quickly, Carlton set his sites on Rice in second. With just a few laps
to go, Carlton made up the distance on Rice and made a pass stick,
grabbing the second spot. Valiante would cruise to the victory with
fireworks and the crowd cheering as he took the checkered flag.
Carlton’s crowd pleasing second capped an unbelievable drive from 17th.
Rice would be on the podium again, this time in third Allmendinger and
Dueck sliding by McMurray – both recording the fastest lap of the race –
for fifth.

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