Pittsburg International Race Complex (August 16 -18) – Jacob McWhirter and his Victory Racing team made the short return trip to the fourteen turn Wilson Circuit for the World Karting Association’s Manufacturer’s Cup to compete against the best karters in the country. The team arrived Thursday afternoon to get set up and prepare the karts for Friday practice. Friday practice included five rounds of practice in both the Polymer Valley Chemicals Yamaha and the MMP/XS Energy Drink Komet. At the end of practice the team felt good about the setups for the weekend of races.
Race day on Saturday started with Jake qualifying at the end of the field in the Polymer Valley Chemical Yamaha as he has not been able to race this summer due to an injury. On his final lap of qualifying he laid down the fastest lap of the session to earn his first national pole and turn a few heads. He then went out in the MMP/XS Energy Drink Komet and put it on the second row in P3. Needless to say the driver was quite happy with the results.
The WKA uses a qualifying, prefinal, final race format. Starting from the pole in the Yamaha prefinal Jake was able to set the pace for the green flag and got a great start and raced cleanly through the first three turns only to have the second place kart put all four wheels in the grass entering turn four and drive straight into the left side of the #7 Tony Kart. Jake was able to keep the kart going and bring it home in sixth place. The kart had suffered damage to the left front and was extremely difficult to turn to the left. The team was able to make the needed repairs to start the final. Starting the Komet prefinal from P3, Jake was once again unable to get cleanly through turn four and was punted off track. he was only able to get back to P14 to start the final.
Starting from P6 in the Yamaha final Jake was able to get a clean start in the Polymer Valley Chemicals Yamaha and joined the tail end of a four kart pack that broke away from the field. The karts were content to race nose to tail until the two laps to go flags fell. The action heated up as karts began to jockey for position. As the field raced to the checkered flag Jake was in second place and closing on the leader. At the line Jake came up .036 seconds short. Unfortunately, the crew met a downcast driver at the scales who informed them that the exhaust can had cracked in the final stages of the race and there would be technical disqualification.
Jake had no time to worry about his bad luck as he would need to make the best of his P14 start in the MMP/XS Energy Drink Komet. Jake had a great start and before the halfway flags had worked himself up to P5. He was 2.8 seconds behind a three kart pack running in position P2 through P4. With four laps to go Jake caught the tail end of the pack entering turn three just as the last two karts tangled with each other. Jake went to the inside on exit, but could not avoid one of the karts involved and took a direct hit to the left front of the kart which ended his impressive run.
After working late into the night repairing the MMP/XS Energy Drink Komet, Jake and the team put the disappointment of the Saturday results completely behind them when Jake answered any doubters by putting the Polymer Valley Chemicals Yamaha back on the front row in P2 and the MMP/XS Energy Drink back on the second row in P4. The prefinal in Yamaha found the front row getting shuffled back on the start, but once again Jake was able to join a four kart breakaway and finished in P4. In the Komet prefinal Jake did not make it to turn 4, as he was punted in turn 3 and watched the race from the infield.
Starting the Yamaha final from the outside of row two in P4 Jake was as conservative as possible just wanting to make it through the first few corners of lap 1. He found himself at the back of a three kart pack in P6 as the field crossed the line for the first time. By lap 2 he was in P5 on the bumper of the kart who drove into the side of his kart in the previous days Yamaha prefinal, but trailing the lead pack of karts that had broken away from the field. Showing patience and sportsmanship he worked the Polymer Valley Chemicals Yamaha through the laps until with one lap to go they had caught the lead pack. At the checkers Jake finished on the podium in P4 and would sail through tech for his first WKA National Junior Podium.
With little time to celebrate, Jake once again slid behind the wheel of the MMP/XS Energy Drink Komet. After a quick prayer his crew chief told him “you did it yesterday from P14, now go get on the podium”. The start was again jumbled and Jake found himself slowly maneuvering through three karts that had tangled in turn 1. After lap 1 he had picked up three spots and began methodically picking off karts as the laps went by. As the white flag fell Jake was in third, looking for a clean pass of the second place kart so that he could maintain the momentum to make a move for the win. He was able to make the pass clean, but was passed back a little less cleanly and had to settle for the third spot on the podium. At the scales he said it was his most physically demanding race, but the smile made it clear that it was worth it!
At the end of only his second race weekend of the year he finished with his first national pole, qualifying runs of P1, P2, P3 and P4, and his first two national Junior podiums. After the disappointment of Saturday, the Sunday results were sweet.
Jake and the team want to thank his primary sponsors – McWhirter & Associates, CPA, MMP/XS Energy Drink, Polymer Valley Chemicals and his associate sponsors – Summit Racing and NAPA Wyan Auto Parts. A big thank you to Brandon Jenkins at Comet Racing Engines for great motors all weekend and Gary Lawson for the coaching assistance.
Jake’s next race is September 6-8 back at Pittsburg International Race Complex in the United States Pro Karting Series. Check out Jacob McWhirter and Victory Racing on Facebook and “Like” the page. If you or anyone you know would like to join the team as a primary or associate sponsor, please contact us at email@example.com.