HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Mick Gabriel and his AEM Karting team are hot in Florida this December as attention now turns to the big WKA Daytona Kartweek Sprint Nationals at Daytona International Speedway’s infield kart track.
Riding AEM Engines-powered OTK-manufacturers EOS and Kosmic chassis, Gabriel now owns three straight winning weekends in the Sunshine State between club and state events at Andersen RacePark and AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex.
“It’s been a blast this month in Florida, and now we have the biggest two races ahead in WKA at Daytona and CKNA’s Winter Nationals at Jacksonville,” Gabriel said Sunday night. “The competition has been solid, and we keep testing and working with our EOS and Kosmic chassis to get them the best they can be. It’s always a moving target, but these OTK chassis with the AEM power are awesome combinations for both the 206 and 2-cycle packages.”
The Illinois native opened the month at Andersen Saturday, Dec. 4 with total domination of the LO206 and X30 senior divisions. Mick won the entire day in 206 Medium, 206 Heavy and X30 Senior, capturing all three pole awards, pre-finals and finals for a clean sweep of nine rounds of competition.
Four AEM team drivers joined Gabriel at Andersen.
Matt Miller had a successful run in KA100 Junior, grabbing the pole, pre-final and final victory. In X30 Junior, Miller qualified P6 and drove to a fifth-place run in the pre-final. Matt drove up to P2 in the final before a racing incident ended his run resulting in a DNF.
Paxton Dyson had good speed all weekend in Micro Swift, qualifying P4 and finish P3 in both the pre-final and main event for a strong podium result.
Mitch Graybeal had a good run in the always-tough 206 Sr Medium in his first visit to Andersen resulting in a P7 of 14 starters. Mitch’s sister Kaitlyn Graybeal had a solid run in her visit to Andersen with a P4 result in the 206 Junior category.
Gabriel made his first visit to Homestead-Miami for the final round of their 10-race Karting Challenge club series Sunday, Dec. 12. Once again it was a clean sweep of multiple divisions, this time 206 Senior and KA100 Senior. Gabriel and his EOS chassis bested an 18-kart 206 field in qualifying and the pre-final and won by a 1-second margin in the final over three of the track’s best local racers.
In KA100 Senior, Gabriel drove his Kosmic to the win in the the 11-kart final in a close race over EJ Tamayo.
Gabriel was back at Homestead-Miami this past weekend for the third and final round of the 2021 Sunshine State Karting Challenge. With complete programs both Saturday and Sunday, Mick entered 206 Senior Medium with his EOS and won both days’ pre-finals and finals. On Saturday, Mick won a close one over Joshua Dickens and Jed Perkins and Sunday’s final saw Gabriel cross the finish stripe 0.165 seconds in front of top Florida racer Dylan Amundsen.
In Sunday’s Tillotson main, Gabriel had to settle for a rare P2 result. He dropped out while leading Saturday’s final when his brakes stuck on.
With Mick’s third consecutive race weekend now in the books, he’s scored an unprecedented seven main event wins in four total days of competition with this past weekend’s Tillotson classes the only divisions he didn’t claim victory.
But Gabriel and the rest of the AEM Karting team are well aware the most challenging events of the month are yet to come.
The team will do some more testing this week before driving north to Daytona International Speedway for the World Karting Association’s annual prestigious Daytona KartWeek Sprint Championships Dec. 28-30 at DIS’s infield kart track.
AEM Karting will have a full tent with a seven-driver lineup ready to do battle in both LO206 and KA100 divisions.
Gabriel will be joined by brothers Gabe and Jake Sessler in 206 Senior Medium, giving AEM three racers on track in what will surely be one of the most competitive divisions at Daytona. Gabriel will also race KA100 Senior, while the both Sessler brothers will double-up as well, running 206 Senior Heavy in addition to Medium.
Cup Karts Grand Nationals 5 podium finisher Jakab Nyiri will be back on an AEM-prepared EOS at Daytona. Nyiri will run 206 Masters. Scott Blind will also run Masters out of the AEM tent.
In junior categories, Gio Cardone is entered in 206 Junior and Paxton Dyson will do double-duty in 206 Cadet and Micro Swift.
“Daytona will be a challenging event, and we’ll be up to the task,” Gabriel said Sunday night. “It’s been a few years since I’ve run the Daytona kart track. It’s a tough little track and definitely a challenge. With no testing, everyone on the team will have to adapt quickly with only two rounds of practice on day one before we qualify in the afternoon. It’s a fast-paced, fun format, and we’ll be ready compete hard and hopefully notch a few more wins.”
Once Daytona concludes Thursday, Dec. 30, the team will load up and immediately head about 100 miles north to 103rd Street Sports Complex in Jacksonville for the three-day CKNA Winter Nationals Friday, Dec. 31 through Sunday, Jan. 2.