Shell-Pennzoil Karter Kyle Kirkwood is Double Winner in NorwayAugust 7, 2012
Norway, Ill. (7 August 2012) – Walldinger Racing’s Kyle Kirkwood returned to the top step of the podium at the KartLift Nationals in Norway, Illinois over the weekend to add two more victories to his racing resume and mark his fourth national win of the season in the No. 29 Arrow as the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series staged Round 5 of the 2012 Championship at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway.
Kirkwood was off to a fast start on Saturday and qualified fourth in Komet Jr. Heavy and third in Yamaha Jr. Lite. The very competitive fields saw extremely close qualifying times with Kirkwood just .052-seconds off of the pole time in Komet Jr. Heavy and .017-seconds off in Yamaha Jr. Lite.
Unfortunately those efforts would be thwarted when Kirkwood faced misfortune in both of the eight-lap Pre-Final events which left him starting at the rear of the field in Saturday’s Finals.
Starting 25th in the Komet Jr. Heavy Final, Kirkwood made quick work of moving forward – improving 15 positions to run 10th at the 1/2-way mark of the 14-lap Final. He would finish the race ninth.
Just before the Yamaha Jr. Lite Final, a major storm moved over the track which halted the race action until the high winds, lightning, and torrential rains had moved out of the area. WKA officials announced that the races would continue and allowed the teams 15 minutes to switch their karts over to a wet set-up.
The KartSport team quickly went to work to make the switch and Kirkwood returned to the grid ready for rain racing as the 13-year-old karter looked to use his abundant experience in the wet conditions - having grown up in South Florida - to his advantage in the Yamaha Jr. Lite Final.
Starting from the rear of the 33-kart field, Kirkwood had a great start and improved several positions on the first lap only to be forced off track in Turn 7 to avoid a pile-up ahead of him. He returned to the track 17th in the order and began cleanly maneuvering his way through the field to finish 12th.
With temperatures in the upper 90s on Friday and Saturday, the storm on Saturday broughtwelcome relief from the heat with the humidity significantly lower and temperatures hovering around 80 on Sunday for Kirkwood’s Komet Jr. Lite and Yamaha Jr. Heavy events.
Kirkwood once again showed strong pace at the wheel of the No. 29 Arrow in the morning qualifying sessions – setting the third fastest time on the 24-kart Komet Jr. Lite grid and fourth on the 32-kart Yamaha Jr. Heavy grid.
After two wave-offs at the start of the Komet Jr. Lite Pre-Final, Kirkwood moved up to second on the second lap and remained glued to the first place kart’s bumper as he challenged for the lead throughout the remaining laps. Kirkwood attempted a pass on the final lap of the race, but lost momentum which allowed the third place kart to get by. Kirkwood finished third to line up on the inside of the second row for the Final.
The Yamaha Jr. Heavy Pre-Final saw Kirkwood start fourth and move up to second by the end of the first lap. He took over the lead on the second lap in a tight battle among the top-three runners. He fell to third at the ½ way point of the race, but made a brilliant pass for the lead to go three-wide on the final lap and masterfully defended all the way to the checkered flag to take the win as the tight pack of karts followed close behind at the finish.
Next up was the Komet Jr. Lite Final and Kirkwood made it look easy as he dominated the event after having started third of the 24-karts. He improved to second on the first lap and remained right on the tail of the leading kart. When the leader dropped a wheel off on Lap 3, Kirkwood took full advantage to take over the lead and he never looked back. He developed a 3-4 second gap over the rest of the field to claim his first victory of the day.
Kirkwood’s win in the Yamaha Jr. Heavy Pre-Final gave him the pole position for the start of the Final. He held onto the lead throughout the first few corners, but the second and third place karts that followed close behind utilized the draft into the “Monza Curve” and Kirkwood slipped to third. The Norway circuit is one where leading in the final laps of the race is not necessarily the best place to be, so Kirkwood remained glued to the second place kart as the trio ran in a tight pack at the front of the field.
On the final lap, the second place kart made a move on the leader, but Kirkwood had other plans as he expertly took advantage to go from third to first in two corners. He made a move to the inside and made it three-wide as he cleanly maneuvered through and slipped into the lead to take his first victory in the Yamaha Jr. Heavy category after having had three runner-up finishes in the last three events.
The win marked Kirkwood’s fourth national victory in only his first year of national racing.
“We didn’t have the day we wanted on Saturday, but we learned a lot throughout the day and that definitely paid off on Sunday,” said Kirkwood. “I had been planning that move (to win the Yamaha Jr. Heavy Final) the entire race. I had done a similar move in the Pre-Final and knew that if I timed it right, it would work out well. The KartSport guys worked hard all weekend to give me the best equipment and it all combined for a great day on Sunday. I’m so grateful to AJ and the whole Walldinger Racing organization for giving me the opportunity to compete at this level and I’m happy to have delivered them two more wins this weekend.”
Kirkwood and the KartSport group are right back in action again this week as they travel 2.5-hours east to Michiana Raceway Park in South Bend, Indiana for the U.S. Rotax Max Grand Nationals. The event sees an intense schedule of unofficial practice on Monday and Tuesday with official practice on Wednesday. Thursday will see morning practice, qualifying and Heat 1 with another morning practice and Heats 2 & 3 on Friday. A final morning practice followed by the Pre-Final and Main Events will be held on Saturday.
The Kart Racing Network will produce a live broadcast of the United States Rotax Grand Nationals at www.kartracingnetwork.com. The 2011 broadcast boasted over 14,000 unique connections from over 40 countries.
The U.S. Rotax Max Grand Nationals will award the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place drivers in the Junior Max, Senior Max, DD2 and DD2 Masters a ticket to the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.
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