CKNA Northeast delivers fierce action at NJMP — Fagan leads the way with three wins

MILLVILLE, N.J. — The fourth and fifth rounds of the new Cup Karts North America Northeast Series took place the first weekend of June at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Liberator Circuit, a fast half-mile course that utilizes about half of NJMP’s full kart track.

Perfect for 4-cycle sprint racing, the circuit had a little bit of everything other than a long straightaway. Elevation changes, chicanes, high- and low-speed corners all challenged racers. With the longest straightaway measuring only a little more than 400’ that included a kink, racers barely had a few seconds per lap to take a breather.

On the track, the competition was fierce. Junior was the largest division with just shy of 30 entrants. Both Senior Light and Senior Medium started over 20 karts, while Masters had a double-digit field with 13 entries. In all, nearly 120 entries competed each race day.

In the seniors, it was clear early Friday that many of the top 206 racers on the East Coast were in attendance, and whomever would come away with a feature win would have to earn it.

When the dust settled Sunday afternoon, only one driver — Ohio’s Eric Fagan — would leave NJMP with a three pieces of P1 hardware. 

Eric Fagan, Moe Edmonson and Dylan Amundsen atop the Saturday Senior Medium CKNA NJMP podium
Eric Fagan, Moe Edmonson and Dylan Amundsen atop the Saturday Senior Medium CKNA NJMP podium

Fagan once again rode the No. 175 MGM Chassis Espionage for Maryland’s Rob Krout, the same owner he scored double wins with at the CKNA Grands at New Castle last October. With the Senior Medium division his primary focus, Fagan would impress again, winning both days against many drivers approximately 20 or more years to his junior. 

In Saturday’s Medium final, Fagan pushed his MGM teammate Dylan Amundsen away from the field with fellow MGM driver Elmer “Moe” Edmonson staying glued to Fagan’s rear bumper in P3. The trio stayed nose to tail for nearly the entire race and maintained a gap to P4 running Jake Heavlow. 

On the backstretch on the final lap, Fagan finally made his move, shooting to the inside of Amundsen for the winning pass in the 90-degree left-hander. Edmonson would follow him through to cross the stripe P2; Amundsen would settle for P3 after leading all but the last few corners. Heavlow was P4 and Christopher McKeithan rounded out the top five of 21 starters.

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Fagan was the only similarity at the front of the pack in Sunday’s Medium final. After a frustrating Saturday, McKeithan was back in form Sunday on his Precision Performance Karting / Coyote Zenith, and the 15-year-old shoe would be the driver Fagan would have to deal with in a bid to sweep the Medium finals.

McKeithan would pull out front early with Fagan settling into second. Without any MGMs to work with, Fagan opted to push McKeithan’s Coyote away from Owen Lloyd’s Coyote and the rest of the field. 

The lead duo would run nose to tail for the entire 15-lapper until Fagan once again made his move with a last-lap pass, this time heading back up the hill to the final left-right-left chicane section. McKeithan could do little other than watch Fagan shoot by, and like Amundsen on Saturday, the North Carolina senior rookie would lead all but the last few corners and finish P2 to the Ohio veteran.

Lloyd would cross the stipe 3.5 seconds back in P3. Hudson Brown was P4 and Will Loller put in a fine drive, starting last of 20 and advancing to P5.

Masters —

After sitting out Saturday’s Masters division, Fagan entered Sunday’s class for drivers age 35 and up in an attempt to break up the Coyote party that saw Zeniths sweep the top-four spots in Saturday’s main.

Riding Edmonson’s No. 107 Espionage, Fagan would have an uphill battle after a couple wheel nuts weren’t tightened on his left-front in qualifying. He’d retire before even making a corner, relegating him to a P13 starting spot for the heat. 

Saturday's Masters podium - P1 John Price, P2 Chris Cirillo and P3 Jason Zobkiw
Saturday’s Masters podium – P1 John Price, P2 Chris Cirillo and P3 Jason Zobkiw

Fagan would race to P2 in the 12-lap prelim but officials called a penalty on him for avoidable contact on Anthony Colandro while overtaking the New Yorker for P6 early in the race. 

Due to the penalty, he’d start 10th for the main event and make it to the lead by halfway, passing Chris Cirillo’s Coyote for the top position. From there, Fagan would pull away for a convincing win, his second of the weekend before his final Medium triumph. Cirillo was P2, Jason Zobkiw P3, John Price P4 and Todd Baron P5.

Price was the driver to take advantage of Fagan’s absence Saturday in Masters. The Maryland racer had an outstanding day, winning the pole award, both heat races and the main event on his No. 444 Coyote. 

Cirillo was able to hang with Price but couldn’t do much with him; he’d cross the stripe 0.441 seconds back of the winner in P2. Zobkiw was P3 in another solid showing for the western New Yorker. Fellow Rochester-area racer Tim Stiefel finished fourth and Florida’s Jason Gallini rounded out the top five as the first MGM across the line behind four Coyotes.

Senior Light —

Light was the largest senior division of the weekend with 23 drivers entered and many of the best in the business in attendance. But at the end of Saturday’s 12-lap main, it wasn’t one of the teenage hotshots atop the podium, but possibly the oldest driver in the field — Zach Linsell — scoring a popular victory.

Zach Linsell's ride after a winning weekend at NJMP
Zach Linsell’s ride after a winning weekend at NJMP

After showing solid pace in Friday practice, Linsell qualified his No. 518 MGM P1 Saturday morning. After finishing third and second in the two heats, Linsell started outside heat two winner Will Loller for the final. The Philadelphia, Pa., racer moved into the lead on the exit of turn 1 on lap 1, and would never relinquish the top spot, leading every lap on the way to his first major sprint win in several years. 

Maryland racers Heavlow and Brady Atwood traded P2 a couple times throughout the race with Heavlow finally edging Atwood for the runner-up spot. Georgia’s Lloyd was back more than 3 seconds in fourth with Nathan Guerreiro rounding out the top five.

Sunday’s Light program started out with two MGMs — Amundsen and Linsell — qualifying first and second over Heavlow’s Arrow. But Coyotes came to the front in a hotly contested heat race with McKeithan getting the win by a close margin over Hudson Brown. 

Sunday Senior Light winner Hudson Brown over Zach Linsell and Owen Lloyd
Sunday Senior Light winner Hudson Brown over Zach Linsell and Owen Lloyd

The final was one of the wildest of the weekend. Three Coyotes worked together with McKeithan, Lloyd and Brown pushing away from Linsell’s MGM. With a couple laps to go, the three drivers started to dice it out, trading the top spot and letting Linsell and a strong-running Matthew Darlison creep back into the fold. In the final corners, McKeithan and Lloyd went side by side into the left-right-left chicanes leading onto the frontstretch. 

The two would slide off the track and cross through the grass in the final corner. Once they returned to the racing surface, they’d make contact again, allowing both Brown and Linsell to shoot past on the outside with Brown scoring a win that looked out of reach a half lap earlier. Linsell took second, Lloyd third, McKeithan fourth and Darlison fifth in what was probably the craziest finish of the weekend.

Senior Heavy —

The Heavy division may have been a short six-kart field but it wasn’t short on competition. 

Elmer Edmonson would keep MGM in the win column Saturday with a score over Heavlow. Lloyd was third with Collin Miller fourth and Matthew Roberts fifth.

On Sunday Heavlow jumped out front of Lloyd and the two proceeded to race nose to tail for the duration of the 15-lapper. Lloyd inched closer to the leader and made a bid for an inside pass in turn 1 with about five laps to go. Heavlow was able to hold him off, and he was never again seriously challenged with Lloyd crossing the stripe 0.242 seconds behind the Marylander. Edmonson was P3, Cirillo P4 and Roberts P5.

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Junior — 

The juniors put on an outstanding show for the second round in a row. The age 12-to-15 class has been the largest division at both OVRP and New Jersey and at both events it was largely three drivers — Cody Lindstrom, Paulie Hart and Emil Osman — at the front of the pack.

After Osman swept the pair of finals at OVRP, it was Lindstrom’s turn at Jersey. As the only Ohio driver to travel to both OVRP and NJMP, Lindstrom’s commitment paid off as he wheeled his No. 849 Kart Republic to feature wins both days.

Saturday’s final was stopped as quickly as it started when Clay O’Brien took a wild ride on the opening lap. O’Brien and his kart flipped through the air in the fast turn two-three section, bringing out the red flag and ultimately a trip to the hospital for O’Brien. He’d end up OK and would actually race Sunday, but the event was halted for more than an hour until the ambulance returned to the property.

When the final got back underway just past 5:30pm, the temperature had dropped rather dramatically and it continued to drop throughout remainder of the main events. 

Saturday's Junior final - Lindstrom, Hart and Osman
Saturday’s Junior final – Lindstrom, Hart and Osman

The juniors did a great job on the cooler track without a warmup lap, as the 12-lapper was one of the cleanest races of the weekend. Lindstrom would grab the point from the green flag and lead the first eight laps before Osman pulled his Kosmic into P1. He’d lead for a couple laps before Lindstrom retook the top spot on lap 10, and that’d be all she wrote as the Buckeye would hold Hart and Osman at bay to score his first CKNA Northeast win of the season. Hart would run a close second with Osman third, Tyler Kolshorn, who went purple in the race, took fourth and Jordan Cline had a solid run to round out the top five.

Osman would jump out to an early lead in Sunday’s 15-lap final and pace the field for the first three laps. But Lindstrom was strong once again and he’d overtake Osman on lap 4. It would end up being the winning pass.

After Lindstrom got the lead, Hart would go to work on Osman for P2. The drivers, both regulars at OVRP, went side by side down the hill into Turn 4 when disaster struck for them both. With neither wanting to give an inch, they’d make contact and both spin off track. Osman got the worst of it, as it took him nearly a lap’s worth of time to return to the track. He’d end up P24. 

Hart was able to rejoin the race rather quickly, and he’d recover for a P5 result and go purple in the process with a quick 42.495.

The incident gave Lindstrom some breathing room, but he still had Kolshorn and series newcomer Peyton Worm on his tail. After a few laps, Worm made a bid for P2 on Kolshorn, but he made bumper-to-bumper contact and advanced the spot. 

Realizing his wrongdoing, Worm quickly showed sportsmanship and gave the spot back, but that was all Lindstrom needed as he raced out to a healthy lead and ended up winning his second race of the weekend by nearly a full second advantage. Kolshorn was a solid P2 and Worm an impressive P3 in his first touring series sprint race. Alex Raccuia was fourth on his Coyote with Hart, as mentioned, completing the top five.

Legends — 

Legends double winner Tim Hannen atop Sunday's podium
Legends double winner Tim Hannen atop Sunday’s podium

Tim Hannen was the driver to beat all weekend in the age 50-and-up Legends division. The Oakland Valley Race Park owner dominated Saturday’s program, convincingly winning every round and closing the day out with a 1.5-second win over Todd Baron. Rodrigo De Francisco was third and Tim Stiefel fourth.

Baron gave Hannen a run for his money on Sunday. Driving Rob Krout’s other No. 175 MGM, Baron broke Hannen’s win streak with a victory over the New Yorker in the heat race. After following Baron for the first few laps of the final, Hannen had enough of not running up front and slipped to the inside of Baron going up the hill out of the “Boston” section of the circuit. Hannen would dominate from there, pulling away for a 2.1-second win over Baron, who had to work to keep De Francisco at bay for P2. Stiefel retired early and was credited with P4.

Cadet, Sportsman and Kid Kart —

Wyatt Fink joined Hannen as a double winner. Fink was the dominant driver in Cadet all weekend, winning by huge margins both days.

In Saturday’s final, Fink picked up the victory by a 16-second advantage over Enzo Stambaugh. John Dwyer was third, Connor Openshaw fourth and Koen Sell fifth, Ralph Sell sixth and Sadie Kidd seventh.

Cadet double winner Wyatt Fink atop Sunday's podium
Cadet double winner Wyatt Fink atop Sunday’s podium

On Sunday it was more of the same with Fink once again driving to a dominant triumph. This time he’d win by nearly 24 seconds, once again over Stambaugh. Koen Sell improved from Saturday for a P3 result with Openshaw P4 and Dwyer P5, Ralph Sell P6 and Kidd P7. 

Colton McQuade dominated in Sportsman. Like Fink in Cadet, McQuade would win both days by big margins. On Saturday, McQuade would score the win by nearly 10 seconds over Jordan Pulchlopek. Sydney Miller was third with Liam Anderson fourth and Colin Openshaw fifth.

The finish was exactly the same in Sunday’s Sportsman final but Pulchlopek was able to keep it a little closer, trailing McQuade by 6.6 seconds at the finish stripe. Miller, Anderson and Openshaw again finished third through fifth.

Three Kid Karters made the call and similar to the OVRP round in April, no one was touching Spencer Hite. The Pennsylvanian raced his Kid Coyote to another couple of wins as he’s starting to gain quite the collection of P1 trophies in 2023. 

Hite would win Saturday’s 8-lap Kid Kart main by nearly 10 seconds over Liam Compitiello. Joshua Pulchlopek was third. Pulchlopek and Compitiello would swap positions in Sunday’s final with Pulchlopek P2 and Compitiello P3. Hite was again the winner, this time by 14.2 seconds over his closest competitor.

Click here for official MYLAPS results from NJMP.

Click here for updated CKNA Northeast point standings. 

CKNA will close out the first year of the Northeast Series in about seven weeks with a highly anticipated rounds 6 and 7 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. The series will visit Pitt Race July 28-30 with class championships on the line in what’s fast become one of the most competitive 206 series in North America. 

With many of the top racers from the opening rounds at OVRP and New Jersey expected to head to Pitt, and a strong contingent of Midwesterners likely to join, the racing should be some of the most competitive of the year. 

Pre-registration will open for Pitt in the coming weeks.

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