CONCORD, N.C. — Coyote Motorsports racers continued their early season success at the second Cup Karts North America (CKNA) “major” national of the year March 3-5 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway kart track, where nearly 400 race entries filled the CMS pit and garage areas for the Spring Nationals to make up what will likely be the second largest 4-cycle sprint race of the year behind only CKNA’s Grand Nationals at New Castle Motorsports Park each fall.
In only a few short years of existence, the Spring Nationals has become one of the few can’t-miss events on each season’s schedule for Briggs 206 racers across North America. The first two editions in 2021 and 2022 each attracted over 300 race entries and this year’s event was the biggest yet.
Three divisions — Junior, Senior Light and Senior Medium — each saw more than 60 drivers attempt to qualify with last-chance-qualifying races bringing feature starting fields down to 50. In all, approximately 375 race entries were tabulated among only nine classes.
Coyote karts could be found in every division and in a super impressive feat, a Coyote driver placed on the podium in seven of Sunday’s nine feature races.
Here’s a class-by-class rundown of Coyote racers in action at Charlotte on the first weekend of March.
Sean Meier re-etched his name in the CKNA record books at the third Spring Nationals. The Jacksonville, Fla., veteran drove his No. 30 Brad’s Karts & Parts / Zenith to the Senior Heavy feature win and in doing so he became the only driver to win a Spring Nationals feature in each of the three years of the event.
At the inaugural CKNA Charlotte show in 2021, Meier scored an upset win in Senior Medium and he returned last year to win the Senior Heavy final. He did it again in 2023, keeping dozens of top racers at bay to triumph in the 16-lap Heavy final for the second year in a row. In addition to winning three years in a row, Meier is also the only driver to own three Spring Nationals finals.
Two Coyote racers placed their Zeniths just outside the top five in the Heavy main. Chris Carroll of Summerville, S.C., was one of the top drivers in Heavy throughout the event. Carroll would qualify P5 of 46 entrants and battle in the lead group in both heat races on his way to finishes of P4 and P6 in the prelims.
In the final Carroll raced in a competitive pack of at least a half-dozen drivers battling for third though about 10th and came away with a P6 result for his best Spring Nationals finish to date.
Tyler Sandmeyer was a blast from the past at Charlotte as the former multi-time WKA Gold Cup Series champion made a return to the driver’s seat behind the wheel of a No. 1 Zenith from the Tim Stiefel stable. Sandmeyer was impressive as he gained speed throughout the weekend and in the Heavy main he’d end up finishing right behind Carroll in P7 for a solid top-10 result.
Oval kart racing standout Anthony Colandro of Hicksville, N.Y., joined the fun at Charlotte in one of his first ever road course races. Colandro did well in both Senior Heavy and Masters, showing good speed and improving each session throughout the three-day event. Colandro would end up with a respectable 20th-place result in the Heavy final to finish in the top half of the field.
Wisconsin’s Cade Jaeger and Florida’s Ronnie Klys were the top Coyote juniors.
Racing with the Precision Performance Karting team, Jaeger was making his first start on a Coyote. Riding a sleek No. 64 black, blue and white PPK / Zenith, Jaeger was impressive with a P2 qualifying effort of 62 entrants and he’d turn heads again later Saturday with a win in the second heat race for even qualifiers.
In Sunday’s 16-lap final, Jaeger would drive to a strong P5 result to finish on the podium in his first try on a Coyote.
Klys didn’t have luck on his side in the final as another driver made heavy contact with his No. 7 Zenith in the opening laps. The kart climbed up the right side of Ronnie’s machine and killed the engine, ending Klys’s race far too early.
Although the final didn’t go his way, the junior competition knew he was there Saturday. Klys would qualify P6 and go on to win the first even-group heat in exciting fashion with a last-lap pass in turn 8 to go from third to the lead. He’d add a P4 result in the second heat for even qualifiers and record the fastest lap of the contest with a 48.089. The disappointment of Sunday’s final did not overshadow Klys’s steady performances in the qualifying races.
New York’s Jordan Cline was one of a number of female racers competing. After a P36 qualifying result, she’d have a couple good runs in the heats with finishes of 15th and 12th in the even group. Cline would easily qualify for the main and finish in the top half of the 50-kart field, coming away with a competitive P22 finish.
Jenna Barnard joined Cline as a female Coyote in the juniors. Barnard did well, finishing P17 and P23 in the even group heats to qualify for the main event without having to run the LCQ. Barnard would complete about half of the feature before retiring early.
Tristan Searl qualified P39 on his No. 13 Coyote but ran into trouble early in the first odd qualifier heat, retiring after only one lap. He’d rebound to finish his second heat in 25th, but he’d finish 10th in Sunday morning’s LCQ and not qualify for the feature.
Feature wins aren’t always the only top accomplishments for teams, manufacturers or engine builders. This was the case in the Senior Medium division, which typically is considered the headline class with the toughest competition at CKNA races.
In this Medium feature, which had a 50-kart starting field a day after 66 drivers attempted to qualify, Coyote drivers filled an unprecedented six of the top-10 positions and three spots on the top-five podium.
Georgia’s Owen Lloyd led the way with a third-place finish on his South Georgia Karting-prepared No. 119 Zenith.
North Carolina’s Christopher McKeithan went “purple” in the race with a fast lap of 47.057 on his way to a fine P4 result on his No. 19 PPK / Zenith. And Saturday morning pole award winner Brandon Jarsocrak rounded out the top five in the final on his No. 138 PPK / Zenith. Jarsocrak also won the first odd group heat Saturday afternoon.
Coyote newcomer Adam Maxwell impressed in his first showing on a Zenith. The Indiana racer took P7 on his new No. 141. Florida’s Austin Hill was strong again all weekend at Charlotte. The dirt karting veteran finished P9 on his No. 15 PPK / Zenith.
Maryland’s Hudson Brown, fresh off a win the week before at GoPro Motorplex, rounded out the top 10 on his Snap Ya Neck-powered No. 021 Coyote Zenith.
Luke DaCosta, racing only miles from his Concord, N.C., home, finished just outside the top 30 in P32. DaCosta’s best run of the weekend came in Saturday’s second odd-group heat, which saw him finish P12 of 32 starters.
Michigan’s Scott Kleman and Maryland’s Brody Kellner qualified for the main and came home P37 and P39, respectively. The Spring Nationals marked Kellner’s first time on a Coyote Zenith after he and his sister, Aspen, picked up their new chassis at the Coyote shop a few weeks before Charlotte.
Carroll and Aspen Kellner ran into bad luck in the qualifying races and did not start the Senior Medium final. Likewise, Meier had bad luck in Saturday’s Medium program and started Sunday’s final but retired after only four laps.
Before the Medium final, Lloyd, Brown, McKeithan and Hill all scored top-10 finishes in the Senior Light final, which was the largest class of the event with 70 drivers attempting to qualify.
In the 50-kart main event, Lloyd went purple in the race with a fast lap of 46.630. He was the top finishing Coyote, as well, with a P5 result in the 16-lapper. Brown crossed the stripe right behind Lloyd in P6. McKeithan was the next Zenith across the line in P8, and Hill had another solid run to round out the top 10.
North Florida Kart Club 2022 champion Austin Speck has become a familiar face at national events in the Southeast as he continues to gain experience at different tracks outside of Jacksonville. Speck solidly qualified for the Light main event in one of his biggest races to date with heat finishes of P15 and P18. He’d drive his No. 2 Zenith to a P32 result in the final.
Brody Kellner did double duty on his new No. 36 Zenith by entering the Medium and Light classes. He easily qualified for both main events and Light was his best finish with a P34 result.
Kleman and senior rookie Joey Cline of New York ran into problems in Saturday’s qualifying races and neither would qualify for the Light main event after Sunday morning’s LCQ. Kleman finished just outside a qualifying spot in P7.
Brady Eickhoff ran his first-ever karting national March 3-5 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Senior Light, which was the largest division at the event with more than 70 entrants. The Attica, N.Y., racer gained a great amount of experience and showed good speed all weekend on his No. 027 Coyote Zenith, and he barely missed qualifying for the Light final with a P9 finish of 25 starters in Sunday’s LCQ.
Eickhoff has plans to run the new CKNA North East series this season, and he’s already pre-entered for the upcoming round at Oakland Valley Race Park set for April 14-16.
James Overbeck ran into some bad luck during Saturday’s qualifying races and opted to regroup and sit out Sunday’s program.
Masters and Legends
While these two classes are reserved for drivers age 35 and up (Masters) and 50 and up (Legends), don’t think that means less competition.
The Masters division was fierce in every round throughout with hard, rough-and-tumble racing throughout the 40-kart field.
When the dust settled, Illinois veteran Ryan Cassity placed his No. 53 Zenith on the podium with a solid P3 result. Cassity raced inside the top five all weekend in both Masters and Legends and had a legitimate shot at wins in both finals but would come up just short.
Florida’s James Inscoe was another mainstay at the front of the pack in both Masters and Legends. Inscoe had his best feature result in the Masters final, finishing a strong P7.
Maryland’s John Price ran well in Masters on his No. 444 Coyote. Price finished a respectable P12 in the final after top-10 results in both heats (P7 and P10).
Snap Ya Neck’s Chris Cirillo had his stepson Hudson Brown’s Coyote rolling in the Light and Medium divisions. While he wasn’t wrenching on Hudson’s machine, Cirillo rode his black No. 06 Coyote in the Masters division. He’d come away with a P13 finish in the final.
Florida’s Ron Klys was right behind Price and Cirillo. The NFKC standout finished a solid P14 on his No. 9 Coyote in the Masters final in his first try at the Charlotte kart track.
Troyer Dirt Cars’ dirt modified racer Kyle Inman made his first career CKNA start and did it at one of the biggest races of the year. Riding a new No. 20 Zenith, Inman gained on it all weekend and by Sunday’s final he showed some solid speed. The western New Yorker would end up finishing inside the top 20 with a P19 result.
Like Inman, as noted earlier Anthony Colandro was giving a new form of racing a try at Charlotte. The oval kart racer didn’t quite match his P20 finish in Senior Heavy but did come away with a decent P23 in the Masters final.
Jacksonville’s Kevin Medearis made the trip up to North Carolina for the Spring Nationals. The multi-time NFKC winner would come home P26 in the final after heat finishes of 19th and 21st.
Like Masters, the Legends feature once again had Cassity and Inscoe in the top 10 on Coyotes. After a spirited late-race battle for the win, Cassity would settle for P2 after nearly scoring his first Spring Nationals win in his first time at the event.
Inscoe finished just a couple spots back of his Masters result in P9.
New York’s Tim Stiefel showed speed throughout the weekend. The Coyote veteran ended up just outside the top 10 with a P11 result in the Legends final.
Buffalo, New York’s Wayne Handzlik made the trip south to Charlotte to ride his sharp No. 55 Zenith in the Legends class. Handzlik gained speed all weekend and would finish inside the top 20 in the final with a P18 result.
Cadets and Kid Kart
Four drivers competed on Coyotes in the three divisions for the youngest racers in attendance at Charlotte.
John Dwyer had a scary accident in Saturday’s second Cadet heat. Dwyer got caught up in contact between a couple other drivers and his No. 74 Coyote would turn upside-down with Dwyer getting thrown out of the seat. The race was red-flagged and luckily John was OK after the medical crew checked him out. Dwyer would show his bravery and return Sunday to compete in the Cadet final and finish 22nd.
Kyle Inman’s daughter, Isabelle, entered her No. 16 Coyote in the Sportsman division. The rookie Inman gained experience all weekend and would finish 29th in the Sportsman main event.
A pair of Kid Coyotes entered the 10-kart Kid Kart division.
Florida’s Spencer Hite was one of the fastest kid karters all event and he’d drive his No. 31 Kid Coyote to a solid P5 result in the 10-lap final.
North Carolina’s Landon Sandmeyer — son of former WKA champions Kaytlyn (Fauci) Sandmeyer and Tyler Sandmeyer — made his first road course start at Charlotte. Landon improved every session with more confidence and speed on his No. 112 Coyote. He’d drive to a P7 result in Sunday’s final and shave off more than 5 seconds in lap times from Saturday’s qualifying round.
Most racers are in the midst of a few weeks off after the Spring Nationals, but action is set to heat up here soon.
Upcoming events include —
March 31-April 2: Cup Karts South at Monticello Karting in Florida.
April 14-16: Cup Karts Northeast at Oakland Valley in New York.
April 14-16: WKA Gold Cup North at New Castle in Indiana.
April 21-23: Cup Karts North at Motorsports Country Club in Ohio.
Coyote Motorsports wishes to thank all the drivers, crews and family members who supported our efforts at the CKNA Charlotte Spring Nationals. It’s a great event that has already created numerous life-lasting memories for so many people!
Good luck to all Coyote racers and teams as the warmer weather approaches and the 2023 racing season continues to heat up!