Cassity, Carroll, McKeithan & Overbeck race Coyote Zeniths to wins in 4 of 5 senior finals at New Castle
NEW CASTLE, Ind. — Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 will go down as a historic day for Coyote Motorsports.
The biggest weekend of 4-cycle kart racing each year comes in late September and early October when Cup Karts North America holds their fall classic, the CKNA Grand Nationals — known simply as the “Grands” around the karting industry — at New Castle Motorsports Park in east central Indiana.
The biggest day of each year’s Grands weekend is Sunday, when Last Chance Qualifier races run in the morning and set the stage for the afternoon’s Grand National Finals for each division.
By Sunday, racers have been on track for four days starting with Thursday practice, and qualifying and heat races between Friday and Saturday. The Sunday final serves as a winner-take-all main event for each of the nine divisions — a race where a good run can single-handedly turn around a season, or one where a missed opportunity or bad luck can sting for months and even a full year to come.
For Coyote Motorsports, this year’s Grands 7 (the seventh annual edition of the event) will be one our company will never forget with four drivers racing their Coyote Zeniths to wins in four of the five senior divisions, and a total of 11 top-five podium finishes among the nine divisions on the card.
“Our success at this year’s Grands is the result of years of hard work, determination and the continued research and development of our Kid Coyote, Kryptonite and Zenith chassis,” Coyote Motorsports co-owner Jim Lipari stated. “Many individuals played key roles in accomplishing this amazing feat for our company, and I thank each of them.
“Our karts unloaded fast at New Castle with minor tweaks and adjustments throughout the weekend making them even faster. Wins in four of Sunday’s finals, plus many other great runs by a number of drivers in all age categories, proved our chassis are working at a very high level. But we won’t stop here — the work has just begun. Congratulations to everyone involved with Coyote Motorsports on an outstanding Grands 7.”
Here’s a race-by-race recap of Coyote racers from the Grands 7.
The Sportsman division for drivers age 10 to 13 was the first Grand Final of the day and Indiana’s AJ Stoner from A-Maxx Racing carried the Coyote banner.
Riding a “Kryptonite” Cadet chassis that was redesigned earlier this year, Stoner continued his strong season with another impressive performance at the Grands. Finishes of P3, P5 and P5 placed AJ in the P4 starting spot for the final. He’d run as high as third early in the race but slip back a few spots before halfway. Stoner would settle in and come away with a solid P6 finish of 34 starters.
We’re thrilled with AJ’s racing in 2023, which included a big win in the Route 66 Sprint Series, as he’s proven he and the new Kryptonite chassis are top runners in the youth 206 divisions.
Ryan Cassity scored Coyote’s first Grand Final win of 2023 in the Legends division for drivers age 50 and up. Cassity’s win was his second Grands score in a row in Legends in the third year the class has been offered by CKNA.
The Illinois veteran, who’s scored numerous big national wins on his familiar No. 53 Coyotes over the years, left little doubt who the top Legends driver was at the Grands 7. After qualifying P2 by a mere 0.001 seconds, Cassity would go on to win all three heat races and lead every lap but one on his way to the Grand Final victory.
eKartingnews.com‘s Rob Howden joined the Precision Performance Karting (PPK) camp for the second straight year at the Grands to race a No. 37 Coyote Zenith in both Legends and Masters. After P5 in the Legends final at the Grands in 2022, Howden had another solid drive this year, this time rounding out the top 10 of 38 starters on his PPK entry.
Coyote veteran Tim Stiefel had a very good Grands 7. The Rochester, N.Y., racer competed in the front half of the field in both Legends and Masters throughout the four-day event. In the Legends final, he’d start 16th and slip to as low as P24 before recovering for a respectable P16 finish.
“Wiggidy” Wayne Handzlik made his first trip to New Castle for his first Grands. Handzlik didn’t finish the Legends main but he showed speed throughout the CKNA Northeast season on his sharp No. 55 Coyote Zenith. Handzlik’s best run at the Grands 7 came in heat 3 which saw him record a P27 result of 40 starters.
Senior Heavy —
Chris Carroll would follow up Cassity’s Legends win and make it two in a row for Coyote with a popular win in the Senior Heavy final. Fresh off a WKA Grand Nationals Senior Heavy win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, the New York native, South Carolina resident would make it two Grand National victories in less than a month with his biggest win since his return to karting about five years ago after a more than a 10-year hiatus.
Carroll led the most laps in the competitive race but slipped to P3 with only a handful of circuits remaining in the 16-lapper. He’d quickly recover, retaking the lead on the final circuit and fending off challenges coming to the finish stripe for his first career CKNA Grands win.
Carroll rode his sleek black and white No. 12 PPK / 2024 Coyote Zenith to the win.
Jacksonville Fla.’s Sean Meier, another veteran Coyote driver, raced hard throughout the four-day event and would end up just outside the top five in the Heavy final. Meier, who finished a close P2 in last year’s Senior Heavy Grands 6 final, would settle for P6 in this year’s Heavy main.
Illinois’ Kyle Lohmar was the only other Coyote racer in the Heavy final. Another longtime Coyote racer, Lohmar would finish inside the top half of the field with a P25 result on his No. 726 Zenith of 60 starters.
Kid Kart —
Spencer Hite capped off his championship Kid Kart season with a fine second-place drive at the CKNA Grands 7.
Hite entered the final undefeated in preliminary competition with a pole award and wins in all three heat races. He’d lose the lead on the start of the final and settle into second. With the black slide strictly limiting the 206 engine’s power in the Kid Kart division, many times once the leader gets out front in the class, it’s nearly impossible to make a pass unless the leader makes a major mistake. This didn’t happen for Hite, and he’d have to settle for the P2 result in the Grands final.
Hite had a great year in Kid Kart that included the CKNA North East Division championship. The Hite family already has their 2024 Kryptonite ready for a move to Cadet next year, and we’re looking forward to following Spencer’s progress as he advances divisions.
Senior Light —
A historic event took place in the Senior Light final that no other manufacturer can claim and may never happen again.
Four Coyote racers — all running out of the PPK tent — ran away from the field in the stacked 90-kart Senior Light division to sweep the top-four positions in the final, which was narrowed down to 60 starters after the LCQ.
PPK / Coyote drivers James Overbeck, Pauly Massimino, Christopher McKeithan and Brandon Jarsocrak all worked masterfully together to open up a gap on the rest of the field. The four drivers would run nose to tail until the close of the 16-lapper with Overbeck of Cincinnati, Ohio, crossing the stripe as the winner for his second career CKNA Grands win and his first in the senior ranks.
North Carolina drivers Massimino and McKeithan both crossed the checkers less than a half-second back of Overbeck for second and third. Jarsocrak, who’s been so instrumental in developing the Coyote Zenith chassis over the last few years, would get a front-row seat in watching him and his team sweep the top four.
PPK team owner John Seglem was pleased with the result, and he offered his thoughts on his team’s dominant top-four sweep.
“Our success is a direct result of the passion Mark and Jim Lipari have in continuing to develop the Zenith into a dominant chassis. Every PPK driver is committed to growing the Coyote brand and it’s continued success,” Seglem stated.
A-Maxx Racing’s Adam Maxwell would finish a solid P10 in his first Grands on a Coyote Zenith. Maxwell’s best run of the day would come later in Senior Medium.
Michigan’s Scott Kleman turned some heads at the Grands. The veteran racer was fast all event on his red No. 92 Zenith. He’d qualify P9 in the huge field, have some solid runs in the heats, and go on to an competitive P14 finish in the Light final.
New York up-and-comer Brady Eickhoff made his first trip to New Castle for the Grands. Eickhoff was one of more than 20 drivers that did not qualify for the final. He’d finish 18th in the LCQ, but he left his first Grands with a great deal of experience as he looks toward his second year racing the CKNA circuit in 2024.
Senior Light CKNA Northeast class champion and current Trackhouse Motorplex Briggs Senior points leader Hudson Brown entered the Grands as a favorite in both Light and Medium. After qualifying P7 of 90, Brown ran into nothing but bad luck in the heats, and he opted to sit out Sunday’s LCQ and focus on the Senior Medium division.
Seven young talents wheeled their Coyote Zeniths to top-15 results in the super competitive Junior final, one of three divisions that needed to run a Sunday morning LCQ to bring the final starting field down to 60.
Cade Jaeger led the Coyotes on his No. 64 PPK / Zenith. The Wisconsin racer, who scored multiple national and regional wins in his first year on a Coyote in 4-cycle competition this past summer, completed the podium with a fine P5 result. Jaeger’s heat race results, including two wins, placed him on the pole for the final.
Jordan Cline capped the best season of her career with a P10 finish in the Junior final. Cline, a Genesee Valley Kart Club regular from New York, ran the entire CKNA North East series in 2023 and finished seventh in the final Junior points. She had an outstanding Grands and to finish top 10 in a very talented Junior field is a great accomplishment.
Like Cline, Florida’s Ronnie Klys has enjoyed a terrific 2023 season as he prepares for a move to the senior ranks. Klys would finish five spots back of Cline in the Grands 7 Junior final with a P15 result. While Ronnie surely wanted more, he was consistent all event and kept his Zenith clean with with a solid 15th-place result.
Wisconsin’s Mason Rick and Ontario, Canada’s Nicholas Capilongo joined the PPK team at New Castle for arrive-and-drive programs. While both drivers have karting experience, this was their first time on the Coyote Zenith chassis.
Both Rick and Capilongo piloted new 2024 model Zeniths, and once they got comfortable they both showed solid speed. Both drivers qualified for the Junior main without running the LCQ with Mason finishing P25 and Nicholas P26 in the final. Great run by both kids in their first drives on Coyotes.
A-Maxx Racing driver Thomas Anthony entered his No. 317 Coyote Zenith in the Junior division. Anthony qualified for Sunday’s main event with no problem, and he came away with a P38 finish of 60 starters. The Grands was Anthony’s maiden voyage on a Coyote and we look forward to more success with this young driver in the future.
New York’s Alex Raccuia, a part-time employee at the Coyote shop, also qualified for the Junior final without running the LCQ. Some bad luck throughout the heat races had Raccuia starting deep in the pack. He’d advance five spots in the final to finish P43. One of the highlights of Raccuia’s 2023 season was an impressive fourth-place result in the CKNA North East Junior points, which was the largest class on average in the new CKNA North East program in 2023.
CKNA North East Masters champion John Price led the way for Coyote at the Grands 7 in the division for drivers age 35 and up. The Maryland native finished just outside the top 10 with a solid P11 result on his No. 444 Zenith. Price’s run in the final was his best of the event and he advanced nicely from finishes of P17, P18 and P22 in the three heat races. With some better track position, we’re confident Price would have been solidly inside the top 10 in the main.
Tim Stiefel and Rob Howden both ran their second finals of the day in Masters after they both had good drives earlier in the day in Legends.
Similar to Legends, both drivers raced their Coyote Zeniths to finishes inside the top 20 in Masters while competing against many drivers aged 10 to 15 years younger in the over-35 category.
Stiefel would close out his consistent Grands 7 weekend with a P18 result in Masters. The Canadian Howden would finish one spot behind the New Yorker in 19th.
Three Coyote racers would DNF in the Masters final. Cassity and Florida drivers Ron Klys and Kevin Medearis all ran into trouble in the main event and would not finish.
Senior Medium —
The final race of this year’s Grands gave Coyote Motorsports the opportunity at four wins in the five senior categories and all the preparation and determination paid off with a first career Grands win for Christopher McKeithan in the Senior Medium final.
After gaining speed and confidence throughout the season in his first year on a Coyote and his rookie year in seniors, McKeithan closed out the summer in late July with a P2 result in the Sunday final at Pittsburgh to clinch the CKNA North East Senior Medium championship. A week later, he traveled with John Seglem and PPK to Canada to compete at the CKNA Canada series at Goodwoods Kartway, where he was the class of the Senior Light and Medium fields with three wins in four starts between the two divisions.
With Senior Medium considered the headline division at the Grands with over 100 drivers entered, McKeithan’s impressive performances late in the summer made the North Carolinian one of the favorites entering the Grands. He didn’t disappoint, running up front in every round and keeping his No. 19 PPK / Coyote Zenith in contention throughout the Friday and Saturday prelims.
In the wild final that saw multiple passes inside the top 10 every lap amongst the best 4-cycle racers in North America, McKeithan raced inside the top three every lap and took the lead for good on lap 10. He’d hit his marks down the stretch and hold P1 until the checkered flag waved to score his first career Grands victory.
A big congratulations to Christopher and his dad, Tim, on an outstanding 2023 campaign and capping it off with a huge win in the biggest race of the year.
But let’s not forget another newcomer to the Coyote Motorsports camp, Adam Maxwell. The A-Maxx Racing lead driver and former Grands champion had an awesome run in the Medium final at New Castle on his No. 141 Coyote Zenith.
Racing in his home state of Indiana, Maxwell would advance from P7 to P3 on the final lap in a wild Medium final to record his best finish of the day after finishing 10th in the Light main.
Pauly Massimino would join McKeithan and Maxwell on the podium. Massimino, who many considered the fastest Senior Light and Medium racer throughout the event, would round out the podium with a fifth-place result. Massimino would also join McKeithan as the only drivers to record podiums in both Light and Medium, the two largest classes of the event.
While Jarsocrak didn’t end up on the podium in Medium, he may have had the most impressive drive of the race. Riding a throwback pink and blue Coyote, a DNF in a heat race relegated Jarsocark to a 41st-place starting position in the final. He’d immediately start moving forward, advancing 31 spots in 16 laps to finish 10th in the day’s final race.
Scott Kleman didn’t match his top 15 finish in Lights. Kleman would finish P30 in the Medium final.
Overbeck, Meier and Hudson Brown all ran into trouble in the Medium final and did not finish. All three were fast throughout the event in Medium but unfortunately it wouldn’t translate to a top finish in the final.
Congratulations to all Coyote drivers and teams on making the Grands 7 the most memorable yet for Coyote Motorsports.
As clubs around the country close out their 2023 series in the coming weeks and months, a number of Coyote teams still have big races left on the horizon before the year comes to an end.
Trackhouse Motorplex concludes their Karting Challenge in early December, CKNA just announced their Winter Nationals will take place Dec. 8-10 at NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana, and WKA holds their annual Daytona KartWeek Road Racing and Sprint Championships Dec. 27-30 at Daytona International Speedway.
Coyote Motorsports wishes good luck to all our drivers and teams as we head into the winter months. As always, don’t hesitate to contact our shop at 585-352-0806 or email email@example.com for all your karting needs.