FX Race Report: PKC 2009 Season Opener at CalSpeed
Although changing weather tried to quench the intensity, the 2009 Superkarts! USA ProKart Challenge South series got off to a heated start this past weekend. The FX Racing USA Makita team was right there in the mix, fielding two drivers who overcame tough conditions to deliver a solid kick-start to their seasons.
Wiener Goes From Strength to Strength
Steve Wiener (Monster Energy/Makita/Trackmagic) is a consistent presence at many events in the SoCal karting scene. From club events to regional championships, Steve is always there giving his all. Coming off a solid performance at the 2008 SuperNationals, Wiener was ready to charge into 2009 with new Swedetech Leopard power and a goal to move to the front of the pack.
In the extremely competitive TaG Master class, moving up is no easy task. The San Diego, California driver showed he was up to the task though, starting with taking on everything the weather could throw at him in practice on Friday. Steve ventured out on track not only in the tricky changing conditions as it rained off and on, but also in the midst of the heaviest rain, delivering solid times and making steady improvements all day. Doing the homework on Friday put the team and driver in a strong position to be ready for whatever came on race day with two karts on hand – one dialed in for rain and the other for dry.
In qualifying, the weather question hung as heavy in the air as the grey clouds – actually it was the “whether” question, whether or not it was going to pour down buckets any minute. Wiener and the team read the conditions right and grabbed 3rd spot on the grid.
In Heat 1 Wiener leveraged his spot on the second row to get a clean start and stay in touch with the leaders. As the laps ticked off, the top five karts were covered by the proverbial blanket and everyone was looking for any opening to pounce. Patience and consistency paid off as P1 and P2 managed to take themselves out and Wiener was in the prime spot to capitalize, taking the lead and running off into the distance to grab a very well deserved Heat win.
Heat 2 saw Wiener make a clean start from the front with wide-open track ahead. Unfortunately, it was the view from behind that held a surprise. Nudged into a spin while leading, Wiener was collected by another kart. He gathered everything up to rejoin in 5th and focused his frustration into speed, fighting back to take 4th. Not a bad finish, especially considering that the earlier contact had damaged the kart.
In the Main, Wiener lined up 4th on the grid. At the green flag the leader checked out, riding off into the distance only to show up again at post-race tech. Wiener began working over P3, looking for a podium as payback for his hard work all weekend. After a few attempts, the FX Racing driver recollected his focus and put a decisive move on the third place driver to take home P3 – his first ProKart Challenge podium.
Montgomery Back in the Saddle
Roy Montgomery (Monster Energy/Makita/O’Connell Racing) came in to 2009 after a tough outing at the 2008 SuperNats. Big contact with a slower kart in the warm up session for Qualifying at the Vegas event left the new FX Racing driver with a broken shoulder and not much more than his couch to race while recovering. To add a twist to his comeback event, Friday’s practice day was Montgomery’s first experience driving in the rain. Roy handled it all with skill though and made excellent progress through the tough conditions.
Qualifying in the massive S1/G1 field is no easy feat. The number of top-notch drivers means minute differences in laptime can take you from top of the chart to backmarker very easily. Montgomery showed he was definitely back and ready to go by delivering a strong P6.
Montgomery took off from the grid like a rocket at the start of Heat 1 like everyone else was sleeping, moving from 10th in the combined field to 4th overall in the first couple of corners. The FX Racing driver held his ground to take 3rd in class. Heat 2 saw another stellar start from Montgomery, taking 2nd and not giving it up to bring home another podium.
Montgomery’s run of explosive launches hit a snag in the Main, dropping him back to 5th. Not content with that result, the FX Racing driver set his sights on moving up, working his way to 3rd. Holding that position was not as easy though, and after a back and forth battle as the laps dwindled, Montgomery came home in 4th, a solid finish to wrap up his first weekend back in the fray.