Junior Open Wheel Talent

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SKUSA SuperNationals XIV Recap

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted November 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm Karting, SKUSA SuperNationals

THE FUTURE — Pole sitter Anthony Gangi Jr. (07) and Parker Thompson (80) lead the TaG Cadet field to the green flag on Super Sunday in Las Vegas.
(Photo: Corey Johnson – JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com)

Superkarts USA wrapped up its 14th edition of the SuperNationals this past weekend in Las Vegas. Despite the bone-chilling wind and cold temperatures on Super Sunday, the racing was incredible. The amount of talent at this event is absolutely mind blowing and if you’ve never been to a SuperNats before, I strongly recommend you book a trip for next year’s edition. You won’t be disappointed.

The SKUSA staff did a commendable job all week long to keep the event running smoothly. The entries reached an all-time high, nearing the 500 mark, with drivers from all over the world hitting the pavement behind the Rio Hotel to take on the best.

It was nice to see SuperNational XIV posters displayed throughout the Rio Hotel, but it would have been nice to have a slightly more predominant ad near the front entrance. Spectators were a bit sparse (aside from those who already follow karting) which was a shame, but I’m sure that was partially due to the combination of the high spectator price ($55 for three days) and the frigid temperatures. Not that $55 is out of line, but the idea here should be to bring in as many newcomers to the sport as possible and that price tag undoubtedly turned a few potential viewers away, especially for those struggling to find success on the one-armed bandits.

The weather was strange all week, wreaking havoc on tuners and drivers alike, with the skies opening up on Saturday creating a steady downpour which washed away some of the rubber that had been built up earlier in the week. With the track officially declared wet — but a dry line forming — several competitors alternated between slicks and wets on the pre-grid for their respective heat races. By late in the evening, slicks were the way to go as those who chose rain tires burned all four off in only a few laps.

I was fortunate to have a good friend shooting the event while I focused on the journalism side of things. I have over 1300 photos from this amazing event thanks to Corey Johnson. Slideshows of his photographs will be posted later this week, here on JOWT. On Sunday, Corey and I had a near-death experience while walking up to the pit area. As we reached the pit entrance, a gust of wind caught the huge aluminum truss structure and blew it over. Fortunately we were directly underneath it when it tipped, but if we had been walking at a slower pace the end result would have been much different. There was a lady a few feet behind us that came inches away (possibly less) from being crushed. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. The high winds blowing through the Nevada desert toppled tents in the paddock and blew portions of track barriers out of place on Sunday creating red flag delays. The SKUSA crew handled the adverse conditions well.

During the event, I provided live updates via Twitter and kept a notebook on the action. I’ve compiled some observations on several drivers and listed some of them below. This gets pretty long, so I’ll post my thoughts after the jump.

Standard Disclamier: There were close to 500 drivers in attendance this weekend and I wasn’t able to take notes on everyone. I compiled a few observations on those who impressed me. It goes without saying that several talented drivers are not on this list.  Thoughts after the jump…

TaG Cadet

Logan Sargeant – solid racecraft, great job looking through the corners and spotting his exit point. Slow hands and good on the brakes.

Christian Brooks – good decision making

Devlin DeFrancesco – drives deep into turn 1, good on the brakes.

Anthony Gangi Jr. – really impressive in a crowd, great racecraft.

Colton Herta – Smooth, good race decisions, put together an impressive heat race after starting deep in the field. Drove from 21st in the Main to 3rd place. Excellent racecraft.

Parker Thompson – smooth driver, nice job unwinding the steering input early in the corner.

Patricio O’Ward– Incredibly smooth driving style, slow hands — Main Event winner.

TaG Jr.

Joel Jens – very patient with his throttle application, smooth.

Lance Stroll– unwinds steering quickly maintaining momentum through the corner.

Dennis Olsen – very aggressive, good on the brakes …drives deep into the corner. Hands are a little quick on entry, but that could easily be compensation for understeer at turn in.

Austin Self – smooth, nice posture in the kart. If anything he leans out (rather than inward, like most) aiding the jacking-effect of his inside-rear tire on entry.

Joseph Mawson – fast driver, consistent.

Joao Ricardo Queiroz Vieira – Smart decision making. Smooth driver. Consistently hit his marks.

S5

Kiel Spaulding – Incredible on the brakes. Smooth. Great exit speed, tremendous racecraft, unfazed by traffic.

Daniel Langon – extremely smooth, Main Event winner. Smart. Did well on rain tires on a dry track.

Austin Schimmell – smooth, fluid shifting, great exit speed.

Bristol Gunderson – aggressive, good on the brakes, nice run from 13th to 5th in the Main Event.

TaG Sr.

David Sera – Sera earned the drive of the weekend, in my book, going from 29th to 2nd in the Main Event. Excellent racecraft, good decision making, aggressive. Smooth application on the brakes (you don’t see the kart dancing around under braking at all).

Remo Ruscitti – I’ve been watching Remo since his cadet days and he continues to develop and get better. Smooth on the brakes.

Phillip Orcic – Orcic is fast. Good driver, aggressive. Drives deep into the corner, but maintains momentum and high exit speed.

Gustavo Menezes – slow hands, good rolling speed through the corner. Very patient throughout the corner. Smooth.

Bruno Ferreira – Aggressive driver, good on the brakes, smart decision making.

S1

Alex Speed – So patient with the throttle. Slow hands. One of the smoothest drivers out there. Great on the brakes.

Fritz Leesmann – good hole shots, fast. Does a nice job keeping his eyes far ahead and looking through the corners.

Indy Dontje – Very smooth, flawless shifting, strong on the brakes.

Brad Dunford – Gentle brake application (kart is still under heavy braking), relatively slow hands.

KF2

Sami Luka – Main Event winner. Consistent. Good rolling speed, smooth driver good transition from braking back to power.

Jake Lloyd – good passing/racecraft

Joel Johansson– smooth throughout the track. Fun to watch.

Trent Hindman – nice job running KF2 with little senior-level experience. Finished 12th in the final. Looked to be struggling with the brakes early in the week, but continued to get better every session.

KZ2

Simo Puhakka – Fast all weekend, really strong corner entry combined with good exit speed. Flawless shifting. Adapted to the circuit very quickly.

Gary Carlton – Good hole shot. Incredibly fast early in the races on cold tires. Good aggressive decision making. Ability to drive through the field. “Never say die attitude.”

Matt Jaskol – Very impressive this past week. Was up to speed right away and looked strong all week, running near the front. Good on the brakes, smooth.

Marco Ardigo – FAST, very fun to watch. Incredibly smooth.

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Full Results

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Related Reading: Full KZ2 Preview SKUSA SuperNationals XIV

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