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August 5, 2013

Italkart dominates Tag Senior in Colorado


Aug 5, 20123 The competition level at the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour has continued to elevate year after year. Now into the fourth season, the numbers grow with each event, and the challenge of earning a main event victory increases. This year’s SummerNationals ended Sunday under a hot sun in the Grand Junction mountains in Colorado at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway.

TaG Senior

The TaG Senior category was the final group of the day, and it began how Sunday ended. Andre Nicastro put his Italian Motors USA/Italkart on the pole position with a time of 54.770-seconds. His teammate and returning SKUSA racer David Jurca nearly matched his pace to make it a Italkart 1-2 on the front row for heat one. Austin Elliott (Top Kart) was third with Derek Dignan finding some extra speed in his KartSport North America/FA Kart. Championship leader Andrew Zimmer (ART GP) was fifth in the order, looking to rebound from a 18th place finish on Saturday. Yesterday’s contender Remo Ruscitti (Italkart) was out early in session, back in 30th position at the end of the session while round three runner-up TJ Koyen was back in the P10 position.

Nicastro got the jump at the start of heat one with Elliott moving up into second as Nicastro pulled away lap after lap with Elliott trying to fight off the group behind him for second. In that group, Jurca came under pressure and continued to get shuffled back. Out front, Nicastro drove to a one-second advantage with Elliott holding on to second. Zimmer had to fought off Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) and Louie Pagano (Birel) in the final laps for the third position. Ruscitti had a great drive, moving up from 30th to 15th.

The second heat race started out with Elliott able to work past Nicastro for the lead early on, but the former SuperNationals winner would not be denied. Retaking the lead, he drove away to a near three-second advantage for the race win. Elliott would once again find himself driving in the second position, with his Top Kart USA teammate Chelootz fending off a charging Nick Neri (FA Kart) and Koyen.

The 18-lap main event solidified the dominance of Nicastro on the weekend. The only time the competition was close was in the opening corners. The Italkart driver was like a machine, dropping consistent lap times with every circuit and never put a wheel wrong. At the checkered, Nicastro scored his second win of the weekend and a $1,000 payday. Behind him was some extreme action for the fight for second. Chelootz got a great start, and was into the second position, but only for a short time as Elliott retook the spot and brought Ruscitti with him. He and Ruscitti would go back and forth for the position with a group of others trailing. Among them was Zimmer as the double SpringNats winner charged his way through the top five and into the second position by lap 13. From there, Zimmer put some gap on the group and secured the second position, helping him in the title chase. Elliott was able to hold off Ruscitti at the line, however, officials penalized him two positions for passing under yellow, putting Ruscitti on the podium and Elliott back to fifth behind Pagano. Koyen was in the mix for the top-five finish but retired after the chain broke. Jonathan May (FA Kart), second in points heading into the event, was sixth to record his best finish of the weekend, as did Chris Cricca (ART GP). Neri came home in eighth, but it was Jacob Knueven who was credited with the fast lap of the race in ninth. Driving from the tail of the grid, the KartSport North America driver passed over 30 drivers in the 18 laps, in his first Pro Tour start. Rounding out the top-10 was Jurca.



The Italian Motors USA/Italkart did their homework as two of their drivers set the quick laps of the qualifying session. SKUSA #2 plateholder Remo Ruscitti posted the fast lap, a 54.660-second time with Brazilian Andre Nicastro only 96 thousandths off the time. EKN TaG Driver Rankings #1 pilot Louie Pagano (Birel) was third with Wisconsin’s TJ Koyen piloting his brand new DB Motorsports/Exprit kart to the fourth quickest time, but had a chain blow apart and end his session early. Friday’s fast time driver Austin Elliott (Top Kart) rounded out the fast five. Point leader Andrew Zimmer (ART GP) ended up seventh, behind Nick Neri (FA Kart) making his TaG Senior Pro Tour debut. Nicastro however would be found too wide for the rear tires, dropping him to the tail of the 42-kart field.

Ruscitti and Pagano were able to break away from the field at the start of the opening lap with Neri and Koyen behind. They closed up on lap two, with Neri going from third to first by the end of the lap with Ruscitti dropping to fourth and getting challenged by Elliott. Looking to move forward more, Elliott saw his race end at the halfway mark as he retired due to the spark plug wire pulling out of the boot. Out front, Pagano and Ruscitti were able to work back around Neri, who came under heat from Koyen once again. Ruscitti would stay locked on the bumper of Pagano, running 1-2 to the checkered flag. Koyen worked past Neri in the final laps for third with Marco Eakins (ART GP) up from 19th on the grid to fifth. Nicastro came from the tail of the field to end up 12th, passing 28 drivers in eight laps. Championship leader Zimmer was involved in an opening lap incident, putting back outside the top-35 for the second heat race.

Pagano was able to take the lead on the opening lap as he took the spot from Ruscitti at the start of lap one as Koyen, Eakins and Neri made up the early top-five. Ruscitti took over the top spot on lap two, bringing Koyen to close up as the top three put some distance on Neri and Eakins. Lap four, Koyen was able to move into the second spot in turn six, as Neri and Eakins closed back in once again to make it five drivers out front. Pagano went back to work on Koyen, moving inside for the second spot in turn ten, allowing Neri to follow through for third in the following corner. Koyen struck back in turn three, bringing Eakins with him to drop Neri back to fifth and giving the top-two some space taking the white flag. They would finish that way with Ruscitti, Pagano and Koyen making up the top three. Neri went past Eakins for the fourth spot on the final lap. Nicastro started 12th and advanced up to sixth, setting off what was a very interesting climb forward for a number of drivers. Matt Johnson (Energy) drove from 28th to 10th, Jacob Knueven (Arrow) went from 21st to seventh, Elliott recovered from 36th to 13th in just eight laps, with William Owen (FA Kart) following through posting a 41st to 22nd.

If you would have said a driver could come from last in heat one to the top of the podium in a 42-kart field, Andre Nicastro would be one of the very few names you could mention. Ruscitti, Koyen and Pagano continued to show the way up front with Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) and Knueven moving into the top-five. Neri, a contender during the heat races, fell back with electrical issues. Pagano moved up to the lead by the end of lap three as a seven kart lead back formed, including Nicastro and Eakins. A few laps later, the top three were able to pull away with Ruscitti back at the front on lap six. The middle portion of the race was focused on the advancement of Elliott. By the halfway point, he was up to eighth, while Nicastro continued charging forward, up to fourth and attempting to chase down the top three. On lap nine, Elliott took advantage of some contact, and found himself in the fifth position, clocking off the fast lap the following circuit with the top four in site.

The lead continued to be exchanged by Pagano and Ruscitti, and went on until lap 14 when the coil wire on his Leopard engine snapped, shutting down his engine and relinquishing the lead to Pagano. Just a few turns later, Nicastro gave Koyen a big push, driving past Pagano for the top two positions. As they entered turn one, Nicastro drafted past Koyen for the lead with Pagano attempting as well. On the exit, Pagano and Koyen made contact, spinning Pagano around but he would continue, rejoining in 14th. Koyen held on to the second spot but drove the remainder of the race with a bent steering shaft. Out front, Nicastro drove away to secure the victory, going from zero to hero on the day. Koyen held Elliott off for second, completing the podium. Jake Craig (ART GP) was another driver recovering from issues in heat one, coming from 11th on the grid to fourth with Eakins in fifth. Neri fought to finish sixth with Knueven, Travis Lowe (Kosmic), Johnson and Derek Dignan (FA Kart) completing the top-10.



Looking to rebound from a DNF while leading in Saturday’s main event, Yurik Carvalho (Italkart) came right back into the top spot of the qualifying session. His 55.462-second lap was best in the session. Nearly stealing the pole position was Cole Davis, as the Energy driver found some speed overnight, missing out on the fast time by just 13-thousandths of a second. Top Kart USA pilot Emerson Reed was another driver to move up the order on the new day, ending up third ahead of Saturday’s runner-up Blaine Rocha (Kosmic) and Nick Ramirez (Top Kart). Round three winner Austin Versteeg (Kosmic) would end up ninth overall. The speed for Davis however was found to be too much as he was removed in tech with the wrong exhaust header, thus moving the rest of the field up and Davey Manthei Jr. (Arrow) into the fast-five.

A red flag came out on the original start of heat one with Christian Brooks (ART GP) and Luke Selliken (Komsic) were involved in a wreck in the first corner. Once restarted, Carvalho led the field with Reed and Ramirez slotting in behind. Rocha however would move from fourth to second in the second circuit, attaching himself to the bumper of Carvalho with the top six pulling away while Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) trailed after starting 12th. Gangi was the quick driver on the track, working past Ramirez for fifth after receiving the halfway mark of the eight lap race, setting his sites on the top-four. Working past Manthei, he narrowed in on Reed. On the final lap, turn three was the spot as he took over third from Reed. Up front, Carvalho blocked to turn 11 and was hit from behind by Rocha. On the exit, Carvalho lost a number of positions as Rocha, Gangi and Reed all went past in the final corners with Rocha crossing the line first. Manthei finished fifth with a host of others trailing the lead group. Rocha however was penalized for contact earlier in the race, dropping him one position and giving Gangi the win from the 12th position.

Gangi started on the pole position for heat two, but was quickly shuffled back to fourth in the opening lap with Rocha, Manthei and Reed sliding by. The top seven drivers ran nose to tail with Carvalho, Colton Herta (ART GP) and Carter Williams (FA Kart) in the mix. Carvalho was on the charge, moving up to third on lap two and taking second away from Manthei the following circuit. Rocha was next, as Carvalho closed up on his bumper with Manthei and Gangi right there. The top three drove away until the final lap when Carvalho was able to work inside of Rocha in turn 11, stealing the lead and the win away. Manthei ran third with Williams working past Gangi for the fourth position.

Carvalho was able to get a great jump to start off the 18-lap main event with Manthei, Gangi and Reed pushing Rocha back to fifth after starting outside row one. Manthei locked on the bumper of Carvalho early, pulling a little bit away from Gangi with Rocha back into the fourth spot after lap three. Rocha would move into third, working past Gangi and set his sights on the top two. By lap seven, his Rolison Performance Group teammate Selliken was up to the sixth position after starting 15th, closing in on Herta in the fifth position with some of the fastest laps of the race. Once there at the halfway point, he drafted down the front straight and took the position through turn one. The front two however kept the space on Rocha as they continued to work together, rather than fight for the lead. The lap times of the top fiver were so close lap after lap, that no one was really making any advancement on the driver in front of them. Selliken was however able to close in on Gangi, making the move for the fourth spot on lap 15. With two laps to go, attention turned to the top two with Manthei still on the bumper of Carvalho. Through the final lap, it was turn 11 with Manthei sliding inside of Carvalho for the lead. Holding to the checkered flag, Manthei would score his first Pro Tour victory aboard his KartSport North America/Arrow entry. Carvalho ended up second with Rocha capping off the podium. Selliken was fourth, making a good recovery to help toward the point standings with Williams able to get around Gangi for fifth.

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