ROUTE 66 FEATURES CHANGING CONDITIONS AND TIGHT FINISHES IN CINCINNATI
MCC Kart Plex provides close racing as 50% of mains won in photo finishes
The Route 66 Sprint Series – presented by MG Tires, Franklin Motorsports, Louisiana Grills, and Mills Pallet – competed at the penultimate venue of the 2022 calendar on August 6-7, as the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati Kart Plex hosted rounds five and six of the midwestern series. A total of 103 drivers came out in force to navigate the challenging 0.95-mile circuit and its 16 turns, thanks to a newly-opened track extension. This was the first visit to the MCC of Cincinnati Kart Plex venue for the Route 66 Sprint Series, where drivers would be greeted with mixed conditions throughout the weekend.
Woltjer Racing Engines IAME KA100 Senior was 25 karts strong and would continue the competitive nature seen throughout the season. In a wet Saturday qualifying session, Adam Maxwell stormed to pole position by just under six-tenths of a second ahead of Austin Jurs, who would start alongside the A-MAXX driver, with points leader Brandon Lemke in third. On a wet track with a drying line, Jurs, Josh Hotz, and Lemke would all split from the main pack and build a gap to the others. Hotz found the rhythm and won by 1.7 seconds over Jurs, however, Jurs would be promoted to the win after a pushback bumper penalty for Hotz dropped him to second. Alexander Kardashian nipped Lemke at the line for third after he reeled in the Wisconsin native. Jurs and Hotz struggled to hold position on the first lap of the Final, dropping down the order. Lemke was joined by Nicholas Terlecki up front and they couldn’t be stopped on the opening laps, surging to the front of the pack. Jurs eventually made his way back up the lead duo towards the end and battled with the Franklin Motorsports pair up front for the win. In the end, Terlecki held off Jurs in a drag race to the line and score the victory. Emerson Reed took third after starting 10th, while Lemke and Oliver Cunningham rounded out the top-five.
Sunday saw the long-time rivals of Lemke and Kardashian qualify on the front row with Lemke leading the field to the green. Jurs would get the better of Kardashian on the start and would follow Lemke for the opening stages of the race. The battle really kicked off with five to go as Kardashian made his move on Jurs for second, and it was anyone’s game in the top-five. With one to go, everyone battled away for the win, as Lemke helped push teammate Terlecki passed Kardashian to take the Prefinal victory. In the Final, Lemke would lead the opening laps, until he surrendered the point to Jurs, who then led for the majority of the race. The pair would go back and forth in the closing laps as they battled it out for the win. In yet another photo finish, Lemke won out over Jurs, with Bryce Mersberger in third after a great drive coming through the field. Camrin Cass showed pace in the Final to secure fourth over Saturday’s winner Terlecki, who finished fifth.
Advanced Design IAME KA100 Junior was one of the bigger classes on the weekend with 20 Juniors ready to do battle on a track unfamiliar to most. Henry Wheeler went quickest in Saturday qualifying, 1.1 seconds faster than third place. Wheeler would retain that pace into the Prefinal and lead every lap as he won by just under two seconds over Ava Hanssen. Come the Final, Wheeler again showed his dominance up until lap eight when he started to sink down the order. Wesley Gundler took over upfront, holding that lead to win by 1.9 seconds in front of Wheeler in second, and Cash Perkins in third. Michael Leavitt had a stand-out drive after showing the pace to potentially be on the podium all season, finally showing that when he finished fourth. Hanssen finished her day in fifth.
Wanting to make up for Saturday, Wheeler again put his kart on pole for the Sunday Prefinal, with Austin Olds right behind him. Olds had the pace to run up front on Saturday, but a disqualification in qualifying for failing tech hindered his chances. Wheeler led the opening laps of the Prefinal, but Olds found his way past in the final few corners. Wheeler and Hanssen made contact mid-way through the race, pushing them to the tail of the grid for the start of the Final. Gundler followed Olds closely and made his move in the final corner, countering Olds’ defense and out dragging him to the line to take Prefinal victory. Roles would be reversed in the Final, where it was Gundler leading Olds, until mid-way through when Olds got past for the lead, a position he held until the line. Olds narrowly took the win, scoring redemption from Saturday’s event, with Gundler and Mateo Naranjo making up the top-three. Perkins finished fourth with Brayden Zirves behind in fifth.
Perkins All-Star Briggs 206 Sportsman provided an incredibly close battle at the sharp end of the field throughout the weekend. Qualifying on Saturday kicked off with a battle for the top spot that saw Christopher Youtsey take pole by just four-thousandths of a second over Brady Schrad, while AJ Stoner was just three hundredths back. With a top-three separated by less than half a tenth, it was all to play for in the Prefinal. Schad took the win by a margin of over four seconds to his closest rival at the flag, with Slaton Baldock finishing second after starting seventh. In the Final, Schad would once again build a two-second gap at the line to take the Saturday win, after a brief battle with Stoner for the lead mid-race. Stoner finished in the runner-up slot on track, but would later fail tech, giving second for the day to Baldock. Landon Buher took third, with Domont and Schaible making up the top-five.
Schad carried his momentum into qualifying on Sunday and scored the pole over Stoner. Schad held the lead off the start of the Prefinal, while Stoner spun on his own in the second corner, giving him a mountain to climb. With five to go, the race was red flagged, and the driver was looked after by the medical staff after an incident at pit entry. Over the remaining laps, the top-four had checked out and commenced battle on the final circuit with Youtsey winning the drag race to the line over Schad. Stoner had recovered to sixth. In the Final, Schad led all the way up until the final two laps, while after spinning in the Prefinal, Stoner made his move for the lead and took the win. Schad would have to settle for second with Baldock in third. Izayah Maxey and Buher completed the top-five.
Cameron Marsha started off the weekend in Quickswim IAME Micro Swift by setting his kart on pole for the Prefinal. Points leader Marsha went into a weekend with a chance to wrap up the title, but he was feeling under the weather, fighting through the sickness all weekend long. Marsha led the opening stages of the Prefinal as Sebastian Koehler, who qualified fourth, had a massive off in turn two on the opening lap. Unfortunately, Marsha hit a puddle later in the race, sucking him into the grass and forcing a retirement. Holden Harder and Jacob Modjeski were left to fight it out up front and made contact in the final corner on the last lap. Harder would win the drag race to the line but would receive a pushback bumper penalty for the move, dropping him down to second, handing the win to Modjeski. In the Final, Modjeski led every lap and take the win on the day by just over three and a half seconds. AJ Stoner finished second coming from the back row of the grid, while Marsha would recover to finish the day in third. Slaton Baldock finished fourth ahead of Drew Walz in fifth.
On Sunday, Marsha would again put it on pole by over two-tenths over Harder. Marsha led the field into turn one, but Modjeski sent it to the lead one corner later. Modjeski defended hard throughout the rest of the Prefinal to hold back Marsha and Harder. Marsha retook the lead with two laps to go to take the win and the pole for the main. Modjeski and Marsha would again do battle in the Final, this time swapping the lead almost every other lap, with Harder not far back. Marsha again won the race with Modjeski to the line, this time by a half-second. Harder held on to finish third, as Baldock and Walz matched their Saturday results to finish fourth and fifth.
DNJ IAME Mini Swift proved to be an exciting and close class throughout the weekend. Devin Walz kicked things off with pole on a wet Saturday morning. Walz wouldn’t be able to showcase his qualifying pace in the Prefinal, as he slipped down the order as the race progressed, leaving Acen Dramaliev to take a narrow win over Brady Schad. Dramaliev and Schad would take turns leading in the Final for the majority of the race, up until Jackson Tovo navigated his way up to the front from fifth, taking the lead in the closing stages to take the win on the day. Dramaliev came home in second with Jackson’s brother, Ethan Tovo, in third followed by Benym Abernethy and Race Beckman.
Dramaliev went fastest in Sunday qualifying to stick it on the front row for the Prefinal. He went on to thrash the field the opposition by 3.9 seconds at the line to take the win and set himself on pole for the Final later in the day. Acen led for the first seven laps of the race until Ethan Tovo made his move for the lead and held it across the line to make it an ‘all-Tovo weekend’ for winners in Mini Swift. Dramaliev finished in the runner-up spot with Schad in third. Abernethy would again take fourth ahead of Saturday’s winner Jackson Tovo in fifth.
One Powersport Briggs 206 Junior saw an incredibly close field of seven drivers compete for top honors, with Jackson Wolny starting things off with pole on Saturday. Wolny struggled on the first lap of the Prefinal though, dropping down to fourth and having to fight his way back up the field, as Ava Hanssen took over upfront. The points leader would cruise to victory by over two seconds over Wolny. Hanson led 10 of the 12 laps in the Final, until Wolny began his charge on lap 10, taking over the lead before going on to win by under three hundredths over Hanson. Jase Petty ended up third with Malachi Haight and Logan Wackerlin behind him in fourth and fifth.
In a bid for redemption, Hanson took pole on Sunday over Logan Wackerlin. Hanson held the lead at the start of the Prefinal while Wackerlin was shuffled back to fifth on the opening lap. Hanson led a majority of the race, until the final few laps when Wolny took the lead coming to the white flag. Coming out of the final corner, Wonly and Hanson were side-by-side coming to the line, with Hanson taking it by a fraction of a second. Hanson looked set to take victory on Sunday and led the opening laps, but Petty would take over on lap three and bring it home for victory in the final over Hanson. Wolny was third with Wackerlin and Haight in fourth and fifth.
A close field of five karts in Mill-Rite Briggs 206 Medium had Adam Maxwell take another pole position in the wet conditions on Saturday. Maxwell led almost all of the Prefinal, but would have to battle with Alex Feldstein for the win in the remains laps, with Feldstein slipping by to get the win and the main event pole position. The Final saw Feldstein get shuffled down the order on the first lap, as Brayden Johnson took the lead, shortly followed by a pass by Maxwell to take over the point. Maxwell would go on to take the win on Saturday with Johnson finishing second on the road before receiving a one-posting penalty for driving standards, promoting Feldstein up to second. Johnson ended up third, with Jayelynn Kerr in fourth and Brian Glasgow in fifth.
Maxwell would again take get fast time in qualifying on Sunday by almost half a second over the rest of the field. Maxwell continued his dominance as the point leader, taking the Prefinal victory after a short tussle with Johnson for the lead. Johnson and Maxwell continued their duel into the Final, where the pair of them would go at it on the final lap, but this time it was Johnson who came out on top as they crossed the line. Maxwell finished a solid second with Feldstein in third and Kerr and Glasgow behind.
Franklin Douglas KA100 Masters was the last class on track this weekend, with Andy Kutscher taking a clean sweep. Kutscher was fastest in qualifying both days, won each Prefinal and took both main event wins on both days. On Saturday, Cristian Vomir came home second, 12 seconds back from the lead with Roman Padans in third. Randy Klimek finished fourth with the fastest lap and Chris Kutscher was fifth. On Sunday, Vomir again chased Kutscher for the win and took second, with Padans completing the podium. Kutscher and Klimek capped the top-five.
The Route 66 Sprint Series closes out the season as it heads to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois on September 3-4, crowning its champions.