Tony Stewart becomes first Champion of IKC
Story written by eKartingNews.
A new venue to promote the sport of karting was created this past weekend with the inaugural running of the Indy Karting Classic, held inside the Conseco Fieldhouse on in Indianapolis, IN. Positioned a day after the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) that wrapped up in the downtown area, the one-day karting event was organized by industry veterans Bill McLaughlin and Shannon Parks in an effort to promote the sport by bringing karting to the general public. To highlight the event, which ran in front of roughly 1,000 spectators, a Pro category was featured which included IZOD IndyCar Series and NASCAR drivers running alongside five regular karting divisions.
The Pro category was the fan favorite and it was why the seats were filled around the Conseco floor. In a NASCAR versus IndyCar battle, 11 drivers took to the track to see who would come out victorious. Following some practice time, the Pros took part in a qualifying session where IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (Haase) posted a 9.865-second lap to secure the quickest time of the session. NASCAR’s AJ Allmendinger (Arrow), competing in both the Pro and regular TaG class, ended up second. IndyCar’s Tomas Scheckter (Haase) had the least amount of time in the kart before he posted the third quickest lap over Jay Howard (Arrow). Ty and Austin Dillon from NASCAR put their Merlin karts fifth and sixth. Newly signed IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden (Top Kart) was seventh ahead of Alex Tagliani (Birel), John Andretti (Birel), and Tony Stewart (Birel). Ed Carpenter (Birel) was unable to get his engine fired for the session and was not able to post a time.
RHR got a great jump on the field and led early in the 16-lap heat race. The field behind him bunched up with Austin Dillon emerging as the lead challenger. He was hooked up like a dirt oval racer around the course and ran down Hunter-Reay in short order. Once around RHR, Dillon drove away to a solid five-second victory. Allmendinger was third, while Scheckter and Newgarden were one lap down in fourth and fifth.
The Pro drivers capped off the event with their 30-lap main, which saw Dillon shoot out to the lead from the pole position with Hunter-Reay giving chase in second. Behind them, a gaggle of karts battled for the third position with Stewart and Andretti emerging toward the front of the group thanks to some added work on their tires. Once Stewart took over third, he hammered down to catch Hunter-Reay, enjoying great forward bite exiting the corners. Once around him, Stewart’s next task was to close on Dillon. He got help from Austin’s brother Ty as the two Dillon brothers made contact in turn four. This allowed Stewart to close right on the back of Austin, only to make contact with the outside barriers while trying to shoot around for the lead. Once he continued, Stewart drove some of the fastest laps of the race to close back down on Dillon. Leaving room as they entered turn one, Stewart took the opportunity on Dillon and didn’t look back. After taking the lead, Stewart drove off to score the victory. Tagliani and Andretti followed suit, advancing up to second and third. Newgarden finished fourth, while Dillon dropped back to fifth. All in all, the Pros put on a great show for the fans, kicking off what will very likely become an important annual event for the sport each winter.