2018 Season-Opener Goes Big in Arizona

2018 Season-Opener Goes Big in Arizona

Mason Prater and Luke Knupp started on the front row, and it was Prater who led the way after lap one in the #505 Mod Kids USA machine, ahead of Bronsen Chiaramonte, Knupp, Mia Chapman, and Ricky Gutierrez. Gutierrez got by Chapman on the inside at turn one to move up to fourth on lap two, before making another inside pass, this time on Knupp at turn two, to take over third spot on the same lap. Chapman and Braden Chiaramonte then got past Knupp in and out of turn three to take over fourth and fifth spots, with Braden then passing both Chapman and Gutierrez near turn two on lap four to move up to third. Braden’s pass may have been due in part to an incident that may have happened between Chapman and Gutierrez near turn two (out of sight of this viewer), and with two karts then getting stuck together up in that same corner, a full course yellow followed soon after. Prater, Bronsen, Braden, Gutierrez, and Chapman made up the top five for the restart, and when Braden ran wide at turn one on the restart, Gutierrez got by to move up to third spot. Ahead, Prater then biked in turn three, causing Bronsen to bobble, and that let Gutierrez get by them both and into the lead in one fell swoop. Early on the next lap, Brody Eggleston moved past Braden and into fifth spot, before a stall by Connor Barry in turn three forced a full course caution at the end of that lap.

Several drivers badly jumped the restart, forcing officials to call the field back to give the restart a second try. On that second go around, Braden got back by Eggleston on the inside at turn one to get back into the top five. Then on the next lap, Bronsen then moved up to third, and Eggleston passed Braden a second time for fifth. Chapman then rolled, with a little help from behind by Eggleston, as she exited turn one on lap seven, which brought the full course yellow back out.

Eggleston got the black flag and was sent to the back of the pack, and as the field circulated under yellow, leader Gutierrez suddenly shot into the Hot Pits. That put Prater back out front for the restart, with Bronsen, Braden, Knupp, and Trey Eggleston now making up the rest of the top five. Trey got by Knupp for fourth on the restart lap, but then broke down at the exit of turn three on the next lap, causing another full course caution, and allowing Knupp and Barry to take over fourth and fifth. On the restart lap, Barry ran wide out of turn one, before spinning and finding himself facing backwards, hoping the rest of the field wouldn’t plow into him. Fortunately, the field all managed to steer clear of Barry, but shortly afterwards, Braden and Gutierrez collected after the ski jump out of turn two, causing yet another full course caution. After several laps of caution running, Knupp was finally moved up to third spot for the restart, behind Prater and Bronsen, and ahead of Brook Jensen and Chance Haugen. These five held their positions on the restart, as well as the remaining two laps, and at the finish, it was Prater who collected his first National Series win in Modified Kart – Congratulations Mason! Second went to Bronsen, third to Knupp, fourth to Jensen, and fifth to Haugen.