Weather battle at famed Wisconsin facility for Round Three and Four of 2021 program
Stop number two of the 2021 Route 66 Sprint Series – presented by MG Tires and Franklin Motorsports – took teams and competitors to the CTECH Manufacturing Motorplex at Road America over the June 25-27 weekend. Rain hit the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin area during Friday and Saturday, forcing competitors to battle with rain tires and challenging conditions throughout each day. Only a few sprinkles on Sunday kept the dry tires on for the racers as the first half of the 2021 championship was completed.
The Woltjer Racing Engines KA100 Senior class welcomed 42 drivers on the weekend, as the largest division at the event. Connor Zilisch was able to navigate the wet track quickest in qualifying, clearing the field by over two tenths. The field caught up in the Prefinal, as Zilisch slipped to fourth with Hayden Jones driving to the win over Josh Hotz. Zilisch made up for it in the Final, grabbing the lead by lap two and driving away to a 13-second victory in the 14-lap race. Luke Selliken drove up to second with Jones dropping to third. Bryce Mersberger ended up fourth with Lucas Smalec in fifth. Sunday saw Alex Bertagnoli put himself at the top of the order with fast time in qualifying, edging out Zilisch by 93 thousandths. Zilisch had a mechanical DNF and Bertagnoli slipped back to fourth early, while last year’s Junior double winner and 2021 Round One victor Aiden Levy drove to the race win ahead of Alexander Kardashian. From the front row, Kardashian was able to get away early and lead all 14 laps for his first victory of 2021, becoming the fourth different winner on the season. Nicholas Terlecki won the fight for second ahead of Jones with Bertagnoli in fourth and Levy ending up fifth.
Some of the best finishes came in the Briggs 206 Medium by RLV category with the 15-driver field taking the races to the line. Round One winner Bryce Mersberger controlled the wet course in qualifying, clearing the field by over seven tenths and then led all 10 laps of the Prefinal. Bryce led the opening half of the 14-lap Final until Brian Rettig took over. A trio of drivers put on the pressure through the closing laps, but came up short at the checkered flag with Rettig taking his first victory of 2021. Corey Domenick posted fast lap of the race, slipping by Mersberger for second with Jerry Fandrey in fourth. Nathan Trapp completed the top-five. Finishing sixth on Saturday, Nick Ksobiech enjoyed the dry track on Sunday to sweep the round. Ksobiech was over two tenths quicker than the field in qualifying, but found himself trailing at the start of the Prefinal. Rettig and Mick Gabriel both worked past at the start and stayed there until Ksobeich took back the point by the checkered flag. It was a similar beginning to the Final, this time with Ksobeich able to reclaim the lead by lap seven. He lead the final seven laps to become the fourth different winner on the season. Mersberger posted fast time of the race, driving up to second ahead of Rettig and Gabriel with Trapp recording another fifth-place finish.
The KA100 Junior by BBS Race Engine Development had 15 drivers in the field, with nearly two sweeps completed on the weekend. Jeremy Fletcher made his 2021 series debut and set fast time in the rain as one of only four drivers to break the 1-minute mark. Round One winner Austin Jurs qualified fourth, and battled Fletcher for the Prefinal win. With fast times in the race at the end, Jurs drove away to the win. Fletcher returned to the point in the Final, and crossed the line in the first position, however, a pushback bumper penalty took the win away, handing the victory to Jurs for his second on the year. Fletcher ended up in second with Chase Hand joining them on the podium. Graham Trammell and Rowan Gill completed the top-five. Fletcher made it a clean sweep on Sunday, leading all 10 laps in the Prefinal after setting fast time in qualifying and then went wire-to-wire in the Final for the victory. Gill drove to second with Jurs in third. Cameron Brinkman was fourth with Ava Dobson placing fifth.
The Advance Design Studio Briggs 206 Junior class was the only division that had one driver win both days. James Overbeck made his first start of the 2021 season, posting fast time in the wet qualifying session. Bacon Zelenka took over in the Prefinal, winning ahead of Overbeck. In the Final, Overbeck got back control of the point, leading all 14 laps for his first victory. Matthew Miller had fast lap of the race, placing second with Brian Vacek in third. Zelenka and Lukas Klimek completed the top-five. Zelenka was the top driver in qualifying on Sunday, and crossed the line first in the Prefinal, but a pushback bumper penalty dropped him to second, giving Kilmke the win. Overbeck was a close fourth place, but stepped up the pace for the Final. Zelenka led the first half of the main event, until shuffling took place. Overbeck was able to secure his second victory on the weekend with a last lap pass for the win, edging out Miller by 86 thousandths at the line. A bumper penalty to Miller pushed him down to third, moving Kilmek to second with Zelenka and Vacek trailing at the line.
Ava Hanssen extended her win streak in the One Powersports Briggs 206 Sportsman class to three with victory on Saturday. It was an all-female day at the front of the field with Sarah Bradley posting fast time and winning the Prefinal. The start of the Final saw Bradley fall to third behind Brayden Zirves and Hanssen. By lap four, Hanssen was at the point and was able to lead the remainder of the main event for her third victory on the year. Brady Schad ran fast laps of the race, driving up to second with Keelan Harvick following in third. Jase Petty was fourth with Zirves dropping to fifth by the end. Harvick nearly pulled off a sweep on Sunday during his 2021 debut weekend at the series. Harvick led nine of 10 laps in the Prefinal after setting fast time in qualifying, missing out on the win thanks to Cade Jaeger edging him out on the last lap by eight hundredths of a second. Jaeger and Harvick were joined by Schad at the front in the Final. Each took a turn at the point with Harvick able to secure the victory with a last lap pass. Jaeger was second with Schad falling to fifth behind Hanssen and Jackson Wolny.
Harvick was able to score two wins on Sunday, with a second coming in the DNJ Intermodal Services Micro Swift class. He was seventh after qualifying with Brady Schad in P1. Schad led nine of 10 laps in the Prefinal for the win with Harvick driving up to the second spot. Both were shuffled back early with Benym Abernethy and two-time race winner Ethan Tovo slipping past. Harvick climbed up to the point by lap six, and led the remainder of the race for the victory. Schad recovered to end up second with Tovo in third. Abernethy and Jackson Tovo rounded out the top-five. Saturday’s action in the wet was controlled by Schad. A dominating day for Schad after clearing the field by over 1 second in qualifying. He led wire-to-wire in the Prefinal and the Final, earning his first victory by an 11-second margin. Jackson Tovo won the fight for second ahead of Augustus Toniolo with Ethan Tovo fourth and Harvick fifth.
The Mills Pallet Mini Swift division welcomed two new winners on the year, making it four different drivers winning the four different rounds for 2021. Round Two winner Sarah Bradley set the mark in qualifying with fast time. Bradley was shuffled down the order in the Prefinal as Cade Jaeger led all 10 laps for the win. Gian Buffomante took the lead at the start of the Final as Jaeger fell back early. Buffomante led the first six laps until Jackson Wolny, who started last in P14, fought forward and took over the point. From there, Wolny led the remainder of the race to secure his first series victory. Indy Ragan was second with Bradley in third. The top-five podium was rounded out with Carson Weinberg and Cash Perkins. On Sunday, it was Perkins with a sweep of the action for his first series victory. After setting fast time in qualifying, Perkins crossed the line second behind Jaeger in the Prefinal. A bumper penalty took the win away from Jaeger, handing it to Perkins. The Final was all Perkins, leading all 14 laps to the victory. Brayden Zirves jumped up to second early, holding there to the checkered flag. Weinberg, Buffomante and Bradley completed the top-five.
A X30 Senior class was added to the weekend to allow United States Pro Kart Series competitors the opportunity for a warm-up event. Connor Zilisch was able to secure the victory on Saturday in wet conditions, outrunning Ryan Norberg and Nathaniel Cicero. On Sunday, a mechanical issue put Zilisch on the sideline during the main event, allowing Ryan Norberg to score the victory ahead of Cicero and Branyon Tiner.
The Route 66 Sprint Series continues with the second half of the season beginning over the August 28-29 weekend at the Kart Circuit Autobahn in Joliet, Illinois.