Schmitke’s big day helps Utah win first Border War
Keenan Schmitke picked a good time to get back to racing.
The Salt Lake City 20-year-old returned to the track for the first time in more than a year Sunday and ended up winning the Superkarts!USA Mountain Region Finals S2 class race at Grand Junction Motor Speedway. The win gave the Utah Superstars its first-ever Border War trophy.
“I’m pretty stoked about that,” Schmitke said. “If I’m honest, this track is my favorite. I love coming here. I was one of the first people to do the rentals on this track. Whenever I get a chance to come to this track, I do. When I found out about the Border War, I had to get my kart out.
“I want to thank (track co-owner) Stacey Cook for having us here this weekend.”
Utah drivers Johnny Lindquist won the TAG Senior class main event and Austin Versteeg won the Cadet class main event to help Utah win the Border War title.
The Mountain Region finals was originally scheduled for August, but the event was postponed because of a fatal accident at the track. It was rescheduled this weekend.
The Border War event was added to bring a little more excitement for the event between the Colorado and Utah kart drivers. Utah won five of the nine races to claim the Border War trophy and the opportunity to host the event next year.
Schmitke, the only Utah driver in the S2 shifter-kart class, won the class main event race in 18 minutes, 13.932 seconds.
“The first couple of laps were definitely a little bit hectic,” Schmitke said. “I saw up in front of me there was some major (positioning) so I stayed behind them a little bit and let them battle it out. I got lucky and came out of it, so then it was just a matter of seeing where I was quicker than the person in front of me.”
Anthony Giannone of Denver took second in 18:14.342. Grand Junction’s Sabr&233; Cook, Christian Bird and Jake Snider took fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
“He’s just awesome,” Cook said of Schmitke. “I need to go to Utah and learn how to drive fast.”
Although Cook lost the race, she loved the competition.
“I think it’s awesome, because it’s preparation for Super Nats,” Cook said. “The only way you get better is racing the best and Keenan got second at Super Nats (last year), so we love having him here.”
Cook should still win the S2 and TAG Senior class Mountain Region title when official points standings are released. TAG karts use push-button electric starters.
Although the region champions don’t automatically qualify for the SKUSA SuperNationals, Schmitke and Cook plan to enter for the race. Super Nationals is Nov. 16-21 in Las Vegas.