Santa Maria is a welcome travel race for the ProKart Challenge competitors. A kart track since the late ‘50’s, Santa Maria has endured the test of time with one of the favorite tracks on the SoCal schedule. The FX Racing Makita Team was hitting on all cylinders preparing and running five drivers for the final round of PKC Season. Championships and season ending achievement goals were in hand with time running short for drivers.
Conte’s Championship Intentions
There’s never been a question with Philip Conte’s dedication. In 2006, Conte (Monster Energy/Makita/Trackmagic/Mid-Cities Honda) dominated the G2 field in route to claim his first PKC Championship. That motivation was defined again at the beginning of 2008, when Conte set his sites on the scoring his second championship in three years - this time in Spec class.
A season long battle with Spec 3 veteran Marty Henderson provided a steep challenge with exciting up and down racing. Heading into the final round at Santa Maria, Conte held a slim 20 point margin in the series standings. The pair traded wins throughout the previous 5 rounds, and 20 points was not enough to let the guard down.
Conte and the FX Racing Makita Team logged important test laps at the mid-California track sorting our specific gearing and setup information. The hard work paid off with Conte cruising to a pole position over a full second faster than competitor Henderson – and important 10 championship points. The first Heat race was much of the same as Conte grabbed a significant lead over Henderson and Whitley – although a competitor presented a risky situation.
Conte cruised to a win in Heat 2, which mathematically locked him into the championship spot. Crew Chief Greg Marlow put the final touch on the championship Trackmagic Hornet for and Conte looked to claim a sweep on the weekend. Conte lead comfortably through lap 19 when a failed master link brought the driver to a stop. The efforts were enough however and the Conte officially claimed his second PKC Championship title in three years.
Montgomery on Board for his Best Result
Experienced motorsports veteran, Roy Montgomery(Monster Energy/ Makita/O’Connell Racing), set his goals high for the final round of PKC and the famed SuperNationals. Although a relatively rookie behind the wheel, Montgomery is moonlighting from his regular track position as Technical Director for Grand-Am and NASCAR team O’Connell Racing.
Montgomery in his first season contending in the G2 category, steadily made progress in every round of the season, culminating in a runner up position at Santa Maria. The Newport Beach driver left a bit on the table in qualifying, but ran well in the heat races to stay in contention. A strong start in the Main promoted Montgomery to P1, where he held on to the top spot for 6 laps. An unforced error in turn 12 was the only chink in his armor as it allowed series point’s leader Steve Donia to squeak by. Recovered, Montgomery started closing back in on the lead but ran short on laps.
Wiener Strikes the Podium
One of the most dedicated drivers on the PKC schedule over the years has been TaG Master’s competitor Steve Wiener (Monster Energy/ Makita /Trackmagic). Regularly ontrack 4-5 days per month, Wiener has been wrought with a very difficult season enduring engine failures. The FX crew and especially Kyle Kuntze, tuner for Wiener, were set on having an incident free event in Santa Maria.
Deciding on the tried and true Parilla Leopard for the final round, proved to work well as Wiener stayed consistent through qualifying and heat races. Wiener started the Main strong and put in consistent laps to move forward from his fifth place starting position. The laps paid off when Wiener slotted in to third spot to claim the final podium position. Through the struggles, Wiener still managed to claim 4th place in the season Championship.
Barnes in the Best Race of the Day
S4 has been known as the second tier of the Spec class, however based on the racing and pace of the top four competitors all year it is hardly second to anything. Jim Barnes (Monster Energy/ Makita/ Trackmagic/ EnVista) has been reaching for the elusive top spot on the podium all year and was poised in Santa Maria to reach that. Speed in testing and practice day showed well.
Barnes scored the third place on the starting grid, with competitors in reasonable grasp. Barnes maintained his third spot in Heat 1, although there was a lot of shuffling between the top four. Heat 2 began with an awful start as multiple competitors jumped prior to the lights with mass confusion. A salvaged fourth place finish by Barnes kept him in the mix.
The Main was some of the best 20 laps you can find anywhere. The top 4 drivers ran virtually nose to tail on the tight 12 turn track which seemed to flash by. The four competitors all stayed strong in their spotswith Barnes claiming P4 at the end of 20 laps. The consistent runs this year, Barnes claimed the 4th spot in the championship points.
Sabiani Overcomes a Big Hit
Allen Sabiani took on the challenges of (Monster Energy/Makita/ Trackmagic) Santa Maria after a heavy off in testing in the challenging turn 12. A quick visit to the hospital to be checked out and scrapping a chassis, Sabiani was back ontrack for the last round without skipping a beat.
Sabiani, on board a new Trackmagic Hornet took little time to adapt to the new situation. Sabiani only managed to claim the 8th place on the grid. The driver with a French background, moved up in the heat races to 7th and 5th respectively. The pace never really settled in for the main, as Sabiani took a huge hit the start falling to last. The #77 driver worked his way back up the field to claim 7th on the day.
Steve Ferrario was the G1 winner, claiming the Makita 18V Impact and Drill Combo Kit, while young Andrick Zeen claimed the K&N Prize in the TaG Senior Class.
FX Racing USA, LLC is a professional motorsports and marketing organization with headquarters in San Diego, CA offering programs ranging from auto and kart racing to corporate team building and training. For more information visit www.fxracingusa.com