June 25, 2008 – by Brian Rasmussen
With record high temperatures being recorded during the month of June, the Superkarts! USA Desert Kart Challenge racers braved the brutal conditions to close out the 2008 season on June 21 at the P1 Karting Circuit in Tucson, AZ. Record numbers were also found on the track at the sixth and final round of the series, as the grid reached its highest kart count of the year. Highlighting the on-track battles was double winner Bud Grossenbacher, who bagged a pair of victories, one of which earned him the TaG Senior championship.
Grossenbacher was locked with rival James Rooke at the top of the TaG division standings heading into the final round. The duo has been the class of the field all year long and this continued last Saturday. Rooke had the advantage over Grossenbacher in qualifying, 0.116-seconds to be exact, setting up for a 1-2 battle throughout the day. Grossenbacher got the jump on Rooke at the start of heat one, holding him off for the win while Rooke retaliated in heat two to earn the pole for the main. Entering the feature race, Rooke had a 10-point advantage by virtue of the top qualifier honor, however, the winner of the final race would take home the championship.
The 20-lap final was a nail-biter as Rooke led Grossenbacher around the 8/10-mile circuit, nose-to-tail. Grossenbacher seemed to be buying his time, looking for the right opportunity and he waited until the white flag was displayed before making his move. Getting a last lap pass to stick, Grossenbacher took the checkered flag by 0.234-seconds over Rooke to earn the TaG Senior championship by 20 points with the addition of the fast lap award. Taylor Monnig finished third in both the feature and the final tally in the standings. All in all, it was a terrific battle that bodes well for the future of TaG racing in the Desert Kart Challenge.
Grossenbacher wasn’t done yet as he was chasing Peter Workum for the S1 championship as well. Needing to sweep the weekend to tie Workum in the standings at the end of the day, Grossenbacher put his ride on the pole for the opening heat race. Cruising to the victory in heat one, Grossenbacher looked to be on the same path in heat two until a slip-up put him off-track and allowed Workum to slide through for the race win. Bouncing back from his mistake, Grossenbacher stormed through and led all 20 laps of the feature. It would not be enough, as Workum took second and earned the championship by just five points in the process.
S3 saw a tight point battle between two drivers as well, with Paul Flori holding the advantage over rookie Harley Owen heading into round six. Flori posted the fastest lap in qualifying, but that would be the last time Flori was at the front of the class as Owen took home both heat wins and the feature victory. Flori came home second in each of the three races, giving him enough points to earn the S3 title by 40 points. Abraham Jones made his first DKC start in the S3 class, finishing the main event on the podium in third.
Dave Van Gordon nearly completed another perfect weekend en route to the S4 championship. Joe Johnson spoiled Van Gordon’s perfect day, as he edged the eventual champion by just 0.040-seconds in qualifying. That fueled the fire under Van Gordon’s seat – as he would go on to dominate the remainder of the day with over 10-second victories in the two heat races and the main event. Johnson won the battle for second over Pete Pittman, who finished the year second in the standings.
TaG Masters earned the honor of the highest kart count of the weekend, entitling the winner to receive a $300 track credit and a membership to the P1 facility, which includes two free practice sessions. This brought on a frenzy at the front of the field as multiple drivers sat at the point throughout the day. Michael Zuieback was the top qualifier, but he would be edged by Mike McKinney in the opening heat race by just 0.312 seconds. Neither would find themselves at the point in heat two as Scott Waters worked himself from fourth to first, holding off Byron Teats and Zuieback as McKinney retired on lap four after leading the opening laps. Waters and Teats would lead the field to the green in the 20-lap feature event with Zuieback and Brian Rasmussen making it a quartet up front. Waters held the top spot for the first four laps before Rasmussen and Zuieback each took the point over the next nine laps. This shuffling allowed McKinney to work himself through the field and back up to the lead group. On lap 14, as Zuieback retired from the race, McKinney went around Rasmussen to take over first place. McKinney would stretch out to a six-second advantage to take the victory. Rasmussen held off Teats for the runner-up spot, while Waters was fourth ahead of new class champion Roger Culver.
It was a two-driver show in TaG Junior as Landon Cling and Kolton Griffon paced the class throughout the day. Cling took top honors in qualifying and heat one after shuffling around with Griffon during the first 10-lap race. The second heat race saw Cling retire early on lap eight, allowing Griffon to go on unchallenged for the heat win. With Cling starting from the tail of the field, Griffon had clear sailing in the front for the 20-lap feature race to lead green-to-checkered for the five-second victory. Cling advanced up to second by the halfway mark, but was unable to close the gap with Bailey Murphy, series champion Tyler Cerbo, and Chance Stephens completing the top five.
Season Final Points can be viewed via the PKRA Points page.