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WKA Man Cup Daytona

Looking back at the disappointment of the 2011 season, I was determined to start off the season right. After strong driving brought me to a win and a podium in the last two races, I was hoping to continue the momentum and drive into the 2012 season. Wednesday practice finished fairly strong, being fast in each round of practice. Overall, at the end of the day I was confident going into the race days. On Thursday, I had two strong morning sessions, but felt we had room for improvement. Going into qualifying, I was confident that we could bring back some strong starting positions, and we did so. I was able to qualify 4th in Komet Jr. Heavy and Pole in Yamaha Jr. Lite, my first pole in almost 2 years. Due to Timing problems at the track, WKA choose to skip right to the finals. Starting 4th place, I was able to move into the lead on lap 5, and didn't look back from there. My first national win in the Komet class, something I have been trying to do for all of my 5 years in the Man. Cup series. Starting on pole in Yamaha, I was able to battle a struggling kart to maintain a strong 4th place finish.

Friday started the same way, and I was once again motivated to win. Getting pole in Komet Jr. Lite and a disappointing 10th place starting position in Yamaha Jr. Heavy were okay, but I knew we could still win. After two strong pre-finals, I would start 1st in the Komet and 6th in Yamaha. After getting shuffled back to a distance 4th plate in the race in the Komet, I was able to come back from a 2+ second gap to catch back up to the 2 kart lead pack. With my teammate James Kellet sitting in 2nd, I knew I would be able to work into the lead with his help. After a strong pass, James and I were able to get into a 1-2 position with 2 laps to go. I made a slight driving error on the last lap that prevented us from taking home the win. My 2nd place did put Merlin on the podium with a 1-2 finish, something Merlin hasn't done in the junior ranks for a while. Starting 6th in Yamaha, I was pumped and ready to fight for a win. After moving up a few positions and on the charge, I was victim of bad luck and lost a rear tire, ending my race early on.

There really isn't anything that I look back on and regret from this week, it was one of my strongest weekends so far in my career, and with a win, two poles and three podiums, I am very satisfied with how it went. I think I proved to myself that this year is going to be different and I'm ready to accept the challenge. My dad and I proved that not only us as a team but also Merlin and Woltjer Engines are going to be fighting for wins throughout the year.

Even with how strong I drove, nothing would have been possible without my mechanic, father, and best friend Scott Kalish working on the karts. His wisdom when it came to wrenching was key to the success we had. I would also like to thank Jamie and George Sieracki for all the help and encouragement they gave him not only in Daytona, but my whole racing career. Also I would like to thank Steve Welk for his driver coaching, and Daniel and Gary Woltjer for the engines. Finally, a big thanks to all my sponsors, Franklin Motorsports, Woltjer Engines, GO Designs and Caracoat for everything they have done to help him.