VASQUEZ, KAMINSKI AND MUSGRAVE AMONG WINNERS AT CALIFORNIA PROKART CHALLENGE
The halfway point of the 2023 California ProKart Challenge program was reached this past weekend with Round Three contested at the Santa Maria Karting Association facility. Nearly 100 karters in eight categories contested the two-day Superkarts! USA regional event in Santa Maria, California, taking on the challenging 7/10-mile course with perfect coastal weather greeting them all weekend.
The HRT Driver Development KA100 Senior class welcomed its largest field of the season at 32 drivers battling at Round Three. Championship contender Kane Martin opened things up with fast time in qualifying, posting a 49.799 lap. Aiden Kempf and Jesus Vasquez Jr. – making his series debut in 2023 – were both within 30 thousandths at the end of the session. Martin led the first 12 laps of the Prefinal before Vasquez took over the spot to earn the provisional win. A three-second penalty for contact dropped Vasquez back to fourth, putting Kempf into the top spot and pole position for the Final. Early fighting for the lead in the main event was taken control by Vasquez, who established himself as the leader by lap four. From there, Vasquez led the remainder of the 24-lap race to claim his first victory of the season. Kempf settled for second – his best result of the season – with Ethan Lampe joining them on the podium in third for a third straight trip to the steps. Martin ended up fourth with championship leader John Burke placing fifth.
Keagan Kaminski landed on top of the podium for a third straight event to extend his championship lead in the Speedsense Motorsports KA100 Junior division. Shea Aldrich began the event as the driver to beat, earning a second fast time in qualifying on the season with a 50.254 to clear Alexander Gonzalez by 93 thousandths. Kaminski ended up fourth in the session but was the driver to challenge Aldrich for the win in the Prefinal. Aldrich led the first six laps before Kaminski took over. On the final circuit, Aldrich was able to retake the position for the win with Payton Westcott slipping past Kaminski as well for second. The Final brought in another driver at the front with Nixx Eggleston making a bid for the victory in his series debut. Eggleston took the lead from Aldrich on lap four but lost the spot to Kaminski. They exchanged the top spot a few more times until Kaminski secured the position with a few laps remaining. At the line, Kaminski held off a late charge by Aldrich for the victory. Westcott joined them on the podium in third for her second podium of the season. Eggleston finished fourth with Gonzalez completing the top-five.
It was a unique performance for McLaren Carroll in the Superspeed Bearings Mini Swift category. Carroll cleared the field in qualifying by over three tenths of a second with a 53.079 lap. He led all 12 laps of the Prefinal for the provisional win until he was removed in tech for a clutch issue, giving the main event pole position to Round Two winner Matthew Cagle. Carroll started the Final at the tail of the 10-driver field and was in the top-three by lap five. He trailed Cagle and Braydon Wagner until five laps remaining, moving into second. It was not until the final circuit that Carroll returned to the lead, taking the checkered flag first for his second victory of the season. Cagle settled for second with Wagner earning his first podium of the season in third. Johnjohn Mclellan beat out Julian Sanchez for the fourth spot.
One of two sweeps on the weekend came from multi-time series champion Billy Musgrave in the Factory Karts Pro Shifter division. Musgrave swept for a second straight time on the season, leading from qualifying to the final checkered flag in the main event. His fast time of 46.178 put him at the top of the qualifying sheet before leading each lap of the Prefinal and Final for his second victory of the season. Round One winner Keawn Tandon was runner-up with Mathias Coito in third. Bryce Stevens and Lucas Weisenberg rounded out the top-five. Jeff Smith ran uncontested in the Open Shifter M125 division.
Drew Jensen won his second straight in the P1 Racing Engines Micro Swift division. Luis Martinez earned a second straight top qualifier honor, clearing the field by over four tenths in the timed session. Jensen and Round One winner Aidan Go were able to jump ahead of Martinez early in the Prefinal before retaking the lead on lap six, showing the way to the checkered flag. Martinez led the first five laps before an issue dropped him outside the top-five. This allowed Jensen to take over and lead the remainder of the race for his second victory of the season. Byron Borneman drove to a third straight podium result, earning runner-up with Go placing third. Martinez posted the fast lap of the race to fight back to fourth with Hudson Hidalgo finishing fifth.
Ronnie Swaim was able to double up in the win column on the weekend, taking victory in the Empire Karts X30 Master class and the Nash Motorsportz KA100 Master category. Round Two winner Tony Rossetti edged out Swaim by 53 thousandths in X30 qualifying. Swaim would go on to win the Prefinal and Final for his second victory of the season. Jeff Rice was second with Joshua Daley in third. Swaim swept the action in KA, leading the category throughout the day from qualifying to the main event. It was an eight-second margin of victory for his second of the season. Craig Vasquez and Damon Duckworth joined him on the podium.
The California ProKart Challenge returns to action following the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour SummerNationals scheduled for July 27-30 at the New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana.