2017 - Charlotte, NC - Concord Mills Mall - October 6-8, 2017
USAC .25 FINALE in Charlotte
Photo caption - Back row - Taylor Nibert -Unrestricted Animal (Ohio), Connor Gross -Hvy Honda (Mass), Jacob Matzel -Hvy World Formula (NJ), Bryson Shaffer -Hvy 160 Honda (TN), Owen Carlson -Hvy Formula Mod (MN)
Middle row - Nick Loden -Lt 160 Honda (NC), Jackson White -Jr Honda/Jr Animal (NJ), Chase Spicola -Sr Honda / Lt World Formula (Colorado)
Front row - Paul Owens -Lt Formula Mod (PA), Jonathan Shaffer -Sr Animal (Ohio)
While the Charlotte USAC25 race was on the schedule and then off and then on again, the finale proved to be one of the best pavement races of the 2017 season. Over 160 cars filled the pit area for the 3-day event, to decide many national championships. Rain almost won the race, but luck would have the championships come down to the last lap in several classes.
The track was constructed of highway barriers on Wednesday, set up on the north-east side of the Simon Properties Concord Mills Mall. All pavement races for 2017 were held in parking lots, but this one was different. “The track was really good and we saw 3-4 car wide racing,” said Aaron Likens; the official flagmen for the Series. “The track was really racey and had a tremendous amount of grip. It was a pretty good show,” said Butch Lamb, the USAC 25 Announcer.
Participants began parking on Thursday afternoon. By 6 pm most all of the 40+ trailers were parked. Friday morning started out with a few stragglers coming in and check-in began. By noon, the track was ready to go and everyone gathered for the traditional Driver/Handler Meeting. All drivers and their families had been invited to Pole Night – Monster Energy Cup Pole Qualifying just down the road at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the weather forecast had been updated and rain was almost certain for the weekend. Jerry Coons, Jr, USAC25 Director, discussed the options and it was decided that we would do just one round of practice on the parking lot surface and then begin heat races. Anyone who was finished racing, when the time came, was welcome to go to the speedway, but otherwise most would still be racing.
Opening Ceremonies began about 3:00 where Brian and Natalie Bass, from Van-K Wheels were introduced and applauded for being the event sponsor. Something new, Butch told all the drivers to take out their cell phones and take a selfie with their parents and friends. It was really cool to see the kids get behind the idea and begin tagging #USAC25. A moment of silence was held for the tragedies in Las Vegas and then the National Anthem. We are proud to say that our drivers and families stood at attention, hands over their hearts and celebrated our Country. The USAC25 Series never ceases to not do the anthem at every event, even if we don’t have time for a full out Opening Ceremonies.
By 9 pm over 30 heat races had been completed and the track was readied for lower main events. Due to the late hour, it was decided to re-group first thing on Saturday morning. Families scattered either to motorhomes on site or to near-by hotels. Fog greated racers when they arrived early in the morning. After several ours of track drying, lower mains began. So many rain delays all over the Charlotte area halted racing for Saturday after just 6 main events were completed.
Sunday morning rains still plagued the area so track drying began. The schedule was changed up so that the races that would decide National Champions could be run first. “We saw some of the most competitive racing on Sunday,” said Jerry Coons, Jr.
Young Jackson White was new to the National Tour this year. He started out winning 3 events in Phoenix in March. He had already locked up the Jr Honda Championship but wanted to see if he could grab the Honda Lt 160 class too. Jackson managed a 2nd place finish in the race.
Colorado based Colby Sokol also started the year winning all 3 of his classes in Phoenix, but the series got more and more competitive thru the year. Normally a total family operation, Colby and his dad Kevin put just one car in the trailer with Holly Clark and her dad to make the trip to Charlotte. Colby finished 10th in the A main to win the championship. He led several laps before Justin Oplinger passed him and sent him backwards. 7th spot starter Chase Spicola managed to get to the front for the win.
One more of the highly contested races was that of the Briggs Hvy World Formula. Literally this was a race of many states! Matzel, from NJ, lead the race to the checkered after falling back in the pack a few times. Daytona Spicola, from Colorado, in the #2 car finished 2nd, Bryson Shaffer, of TN, in the #3 car, finished 3rd after 2 trips to the back, the #5 car of Connor Gross of Mass fought his way to 4th, the #7 car of Jordan Empie, of Syracuse, NY took 6th, Owen Carlson of MN started 6th and finished 6th while JJ Horstman, of PA, in the #4 car, didn’t finish. This was how the racing went all weekend in Charlotte.
Chase Spicola (Sr Honda and Briggs Lt World Formula) and Jackson White (Jr Honda and Briggs Jr Animal) doubled up on the weekend. Lane Christiansen crossed the line first in the Red Rookie race while Brody Tucker and Ryan Case winning the Blue Rookie mains. Connor Gross won Hvy Honda while Nick Loden took the checkered in Lt 160 Honda and Bryson Shaffer won Hvy 160 Honda. Jacob Matzel (NJ) took the win in Briggs Hvy World Formula and Owen Carlson (MN) captured the Briggs Hvy Formula Mod race.
First time USAC25 winners were Taylor Nibert (Briggs Un-restricted Animal and Jonathon Shafer (Briggs Sr Animal) of Ohio and Paul Owens (Briggs Lt Formula Mod) of Pa. Drivers taking their last laps and graduating out of Quartermidgets were Connor Gross and Owen Carlson. The USAC25 Series wishes these young men much success in their lives.
The Spicola Family, another Team from Colorado, fielded 9 cars for 2 drivers at all of the USAC25 National events this season. “We loved the Charlotte event, here at the mall. We had a great selection of places to eat, the kids got to do many activities after racing and the shopping was first class,” said Kristin Spicola. “We loved that our kids got to meet the NASCAR Truck Drivers at Chicago and be part of their opening ceremonies, but this event was just as good.”
It’s not easy to win a USAC25 National Championship these days, with 5 Pavement National Races in parking lots, averaging points, regional eligibility requirements for all and a season that began in April in Arizona and wrapping up in North Carolina in October. Dirt Racers traveled to Illinois, Ohio and to Delaware to get their points along with 5 other Regional events for eligibility. It was certainly an exciting year!
Red Rookie – Lane Christensen, Olivia Moreau, Greyson Harris, Jonathan Andrichuk, Case James
Blue Rookie #1 – Brody Tucker, Cameron Cox, George Phillips, Davan Roberts, Jaxon Merrifield
Blue Rookie #2 – Ryan Case, Coleman Hunt, Weston Freeman, Holden Bruno
Jr Honda – Jackson White, Reed Whitney, Dillon Thomas, Ethan Burdett, Cale Coons, Caleb Edington, Tony Polce, Braden Scott, Ryan Hodge, Blake Lauderback
Sr Honda – Chase Spicola, Justin Oplinger, Nick Loden, James Andrichuk, William Sawalich, Christopher Oplinger, Gavan Boschele, Thomas Prychka, Holly Clark, Colby Sokol
Hvy Honda – Connor Gross, Zach Anderson, Alex Reling, Ryan Wilson, Daytona Spicola, Nazar Rush, Bryson Shaffer, Taylor Watson, Denver Rhoden, Savannah Bart, Brady Allum, Victor Turner
Briggs Lt World Formula – Chase Spicola, Jacob Denney, Preston Lattomus, Paul Owens, Nick Loden, Dalton Dowdy, Logan Rumsey
Briggs Hvy World Formula – Jacob Matzel, Daytona Spicola, Connor Gross, Bryson Shaffer, JJ Horstman, Owen Carlson, Jordan Empie
Briggs Jr Animal – Jackson White, Katie Yonchuk, Reed Whitney, Ethan Burdett, Dillon Thomas, Scott Braden, Caleb Edington, Cale Coons, Blake Lauderback, Blake Prall, Garrett Gumm
Briggs Sr Animal – Jonathan Shaffer, Sam Butler, Holly Clark, Brady Fabian, Dalton Dowdy, Nick Loden, Preston Lattomus, Michael Pernesiglio, Zach Jurcik, James Andrichuk, Paul Owens, Gavan Boschele
Lt 160 Honda – Nick Loden, Jackson White, Chase Spicola, Gavan Boschele, Paul Owen, Jonathan Shafter, Delana Hodge, Jacob Denney, Braden Scott, Thomas Prychka
Hvy 160 Honda – Bryson Shaffer, Owen Carlson, Charlie Allen, Taylor Watson, Connor Gross, JJ Horstman, Jacob Matzel, Daytona Spicola, Ryan Wilson, Alex Reling
Briggs UnRestricted Animal – Taylor Nibert, Taylor Watson, Connor Gross, Daytona Spicola, Hunter McCullough, Charlie Allen, Ryan Wilson
Briggs Lt Formula Mod – Paul Owens, Chase Spicola, Jacob Denney, Colby Stottlemyer, Nick Loden
Briggs Hvy Formula Mod – Owen Carlson, Taylor Nibert, Nazar Rush, Daytona Spicola, Connor Gross