Eight-driver lineup set for AEM Karting at Daytona Sprint Championship

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — The AEM Karting team is ready to head south with another formidable lineup to close out the 2022 calendar year and open the 2023 season at WKA’s annual Dec. 27-30 Daytona KartWeek Sprint Championships, a once-a-year opportunity to compete on Daytona International Speedway’s quick infield kart track. 

AEM will have racers in action on AEM Engines-powered OTK karts in four different divisions with a heavy presence in the two senior 206 classes, both of which pay $1,000 to the overall winner. The team will be sporting a brand new Gatel tent for their drivers to run under, and multi-time national champion and WKA Hall of Famer Brian Jacobsen will join Mike Gabriel as an AEM head tuner for the first time. 

Gabe Sessler edges Mick Gabriel for a Senior 375# win at Daytona Sprint 2021 (Alyssa Grim Photography)

Brothers Gabe and Jake Sessler of Prosser, Washington, will make a second consecutive trip to Florida for KartWeek. Gabe will be looking to defend his big win in last year’s Senior Heavy day one final, while Jake will be in the market for his first Daytona win after a couple podiums at last year’s KartWeek. 

Over the last year the West Coast brothers have built a reputation as top senior 206 racers at major East Coast events and they’ll look to continue that in 2023. They’ll both run in the Senior 360# and 380# classes as they did at KartWeek last year.

James-Michael Sullivan is another driver from west of the Mississippi heading to Daytona with AEM Karting. “JMS,” out of Denver, Colo., will enter Daytona Sprint for the first time and join the Sessler brothers in both Senior 360# and 380#. 

Sullivan has experience racing at Daytona in December 2020, but that was on the 3.56-mile Road Race Championship circuit. KartWeek 2022 will mark Sullivan’s first race with AEM Karting since his Performance Racing Development team announced a partnership with AEM.

Junior Downs on grid at WKA Jacksonville in Nov. 2022
(Kart Lounge photo)

Bryce Downs, Junior Downs and Summer Whited fill out the senior 206 Daytona lineup. The three Florida drivers have all run well in 2022 racing in the Sunshine State. Whited was recently crowned Briggs Senior Medium champion at the AMR Homestead-Miami kart track, and she’ll race in the 360# class. 

Junior Downs will join Whited, Sullivan and the Sesslers in 360# while Bryce Downs will run 380#.

Miami, Florida’s Lucas Thek will represent AEM in the 206 Junior category. Thek is an AMR Homestead-Miami regular where he finished P4 in the final standings and had multiple podiums. Daytona will mark Thek’s first time racing out of the AEM tent.

One driver not in the 206 senior fields at Daytona will be Mick Gabriel. The 2022 Senior Medium CKNA Grands champion is one of 38 drivers entered in KA-100 Senior at KartWeek and he’ll challenge for the top $2,500-To-Win overall prize. 

Mick racing the KA at USPKS New Castle in Sept. 2022
(Studio 52 photo)

After strong KA performances at select Stars and USPKS events in 2022, Gabriel will surely be one of the favorites on his AEM-powered EOS chassis when DIS’s kart track opens for practice Wednesday, Dec. 28. The 25-year-old Illinois racer says he’ll be moving exclusively to the 2-cycle KA ranks in 2023 and he’ll focus on helping as a tuner and driver coach at 4-cycle shows.

A week after Daytona the AEM team will be about 90 miles north at the historic 103rd Street Sports Complex in Jacksonville, Fla., where CKNA opens their 2023 season with the second annual Winter Nationals. The team has a four-to-five driver lineup ready for Jacksonville with a few drivers still making last-minute decisions on whether or not to attend. 

If you’re interested in running the CKNA Winter Nationals with a top-shelf AEM-tuned OTK kart or AEM engine package, contact AEM Karting ASAP at info@aemkarting.com or call 630-863-7898. For more information on AEM, visit the team’s official website at aemkarting.com, follow AEM on Facebook and Instagram.  

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