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Varabel Wins Four 5 Double at Michiana Raceway AKRA National

Published By Bruce AKRA     August 10, 2016    
South Bend, IN, United States - Get Directions
Race Report



Varabel Wins Four


5 Double at Michiana Raceway AKRA National


Story by Bruce C. Walls

Images by:

Bruce C. Walls and

Susan Taylor-Walls


            North Liberty, IN-Six of the racers entered in the American Karting Association AKRA American Sprint Cup Series, presented by Vega Racing Tires and Target Distributers were double winners during the 4th of July holiday weekend national held at Michiana Raceway in North Liberty, IN. The qualifying, heat, feature format gave racers plenty of seat time on the challenging 0.8 mile10-turn asphalt road course that was built in the early 1960’s.


Racers from New York to Florida came for Friday’s practice and two full days of four and two-cycle racing in round two of AKRA’s new American Sprint Cup Competition.


St. Johns, MI racer Alex Vrabel swept four features that weekend. The 15-year-old GT Machine powered Iconic Edge kart pilot claimed both Pro Gas offerings and both 206 Junior classes.


“They were all good races. The Iconic Edge kart drove really well. It was smooth I could get to the bottom of the track really easy. I was fast all weekend and that was good. The GT Machine Engine did well thanks to Dave Koehler and I could pull away real good.”


What a great birthday present 12-year-old double winner, Nic Sheppard, of Gobles, MI earned himself that weekend. Saturday Sheppard produced a solid performance in Yamaha Cadet, Sunday he returned a year older for the class sweep.


Saturday Sheppard dialed in a 47.363 seconds top-qualifying lap that was 1.036 seconds faster then the 48. 399 seconds fast time lap Jonathan R. Ocasio turned for the outside starting position. In Saturday’s Heat race Sheppard fought off challenges from Ocasio before opening a 10-seconds lead.


In the Feature Sheppard grabbed the early lead building on it up the long straight leading into turn two. After shaking off several early competitors he owned a decisive lead. While Sheppard was enjoying a comfortable lead the race’s excitement was happening behind him. Ocasio got a poor start and quickly dropped to fourth. Ashton Henckle assumed second followed by Dru Lyda. On the final lap Sheppard crossed first 21.277 seconds ahead of Henckel who was 22.060 seconds behind followed by Lyda, Ocasio and Kyle Raymond.


“In the beginning I was kind of worried because I didn’t have the greatest start there ever was, but I pulled away form the pack. During the race I was trying to beat my previous lap times,” Sheppard said. “The kart handled beautifully. When I turned it turned and in the middle it slid just enough come back around the turn. There are a lot of people I want to thank especially Techno Karting, Switch Motors and Brian Keen.”


Sunday Sheppard celebrated his 13th birthday with a back-up Yamaha Cadet win. Sheppard scored his second pole clocking a 47.115 seconds lap that was 1.187 seconds faster than Lyda’s 48.302 seconds rounding.


In the Feature Sheppard had Lyda on his tailpipe early on, but as he built on his lead Lyda slid back finishing 30.094 seconds behind him. Further back in the top five were Henckel, Raymond’ and Ocasio.


Piloting a GT Machine powered Xtreme Racing Kart, Frank Sullivan, of Roaming Shores, OH produced a pair of 206 masters wins. “The race was awesome. The GT Machine motor ran great and the chassis ran flawlessly. We just need some more guys to come out here and race with us.”


Baker Racing Engines powered Coyote XP kart pilot Dylan Webster swept the Pro Gas Animal offerings. He earned the poles with times of 47.120 and 49.375 seconds, won booth heats and both Features.


“We got off to a slow start. We had to change gears and make some chassis adjustments which got us 2 seconds,” said the 15-year-old double winner who also added that, “It would have been a lot more fun if we had more competitors out here.”


Max Renner was the Animal Junior winner and Robert Blomberek Topped TaG Senior.


Regional racers competing in this series will have one more shot at building their series points record.   That will take place the weekend of

August 26-29 on one of the country’s oldest continuously

Running Kart tracks –Nicholson Speedway in Chestertown. Previously, they ran under the name of Chestertown Speedway. At that time they hosted both the Mary State series and the National series that was the highlight of their series. Many of today’s NASCAR racers got their start on tracks like Chestertown Speedway. John Anderson is the current President. He’s done a lot for the track like having lighting that covers the track and pit areas. Hopefully many former 4-Cycle racers will get their karts off their garage wall and come relive their glory days




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