Driver Diary: Remo Ruscitti @ SKUSA SuperNationals
The SKUSA Supernationals 16 event started a lot earlier for me than it did for most people. I arrived in Las Vegas the Saturday before the event began. While Sunday was a day off, preparations began Monday as I helped the Italian Motors USA team set the pit up for the week, and managed to get in one last workout at the gym before things got too hectic. Most of Tuesday was spent finishing up some last minute things on both of my karts. I also met up with Darcy Decoste from DDR engines to go over the plan for the week as this would be my first event on a Stock Honda engine. I went to bed very early anticipating a long day ahead. I knew I would need a good rest as I would be running two classes for the first time ever at Supernats, and running for the TaG Senior Pro Tour Championship.
I was up bright and early before 6 am to get to the track for the 7 am drivers meeting. The morning went very well ending the day in Tag Senior on a good note. I was very happy with the result. It felt awesome to finally get on track. With all of the prep work that goes into the Supernats, and on top of that running two classes, it was nice to finally get down to business. After the sun set and the day finally came to an end, I wound up third overall with only one real problem during the whole day. It was a fine start to the weekend.
The second full day of practice went much like the first had gone, again near the top of the time sheets in both the TaG and the S2 classes. I was really enjoying the challenge of running two classes. Although the kart and engine packages are both very different and require different driving styles, I like to think the extra track time kept me sharp and gave me an advantage in both classes heading into qualifying.
For me, Friday was one of the worst days I had since last year’s Supernats and I thought all the bad luck had come back to haunt me again. Engine issues came about in the TaG kart during the morning warm up session and we didn’t get them ironed out until the first heat race. This left me with a disappointing 27th qualifying position, and put a severe damper on my Pro Tour championship bid. I came into the weekend running 2nd in points, and knew I would need a strong weekend all around to have a chance of winning. The morning ended with the first of three heat races. Early on, I was spun on the front straight and made contact with a barrier, dropping me well down the order. Luckily, the kart survived, only sustaining a bent axle, and I was able to drive back to a 15th place finish. The day started off on a more positive note in S2 as a solid qualifying run put me off pole for the 3 heat races. When I thought my bad luck was over with, it came back one again. I had a terrible start in the S2 heat race, dropping back to 15th place right away. After driving my way back through the field to 5th, contact with another competitor knocked the exhaust pipe off and forced me to DNF the first race. I went to bed by 8pm hoping my luck would improve Saturday.
I woke up on Saturday with a positive attitude, but ready to fight for some strong heat finishes. In Tag Senior, I kept my nose clean and wound up finishing 10th and 4th in the final 2 heat races, securing myself a 12th place starting position for Sundays final. Unfortunately, after the three rounds of heat races, I was mathematically eliminated from the championship. Although I was disappointed, I was able to shift my focus to the race victory as opposed to hanging back just looking for a decent finish. In S2 my day went even better, with one heat race victory and a runner up finish, and setting fast lap in both races. Because of my DNF in the first heat, I would also have to start the S2 final from 12th place.
After training hard all year, I was more than a little anxious to get Super Sunday underway. Although my chances of winning from 12th position in both classes seemed slim, I was ready for the challenge and had confidence that I could do well in both races.
The 25-lap final was one of the craziest races I had ever been in from start to finish, if not one of the longest. After a rough start, I found myself sitting in 19th position and my chances of finishing on the podium at my fifth Supernationals looked slim. As the race progressed, my chances started to look more realistically as I had raced my way into the top-10 by half distance. From there I could see a podium in my sights, and I found the speed to race into the 5th position with only a handful of laps to go. After an up and down weekend, I was happy to be on the podium at this year’s Supernats, finishing the Pro Tour Championship with 4 out of 5 podiums.
After driving from 12th to 5th in the TaG Senior race, I was confident that I could do it again in another grueling 20 lap final. For the first time of the weekend I finally figured out the Honda clutch and grabbed a few positions as the lights went out, only to get spun coming out of the first corner. I spent the rest of the race driving through the field to finish in 7th position. I was happy with this finish but knew I could have achieved more in my first outing in the Stock Moto class. I look forward to possibly running the S1 class at next year’s race.
As the weekend closed my arms felt like they could not even hold a 5 pound weight up. Driving in both TaG Sr. and S2 was a lot of fun but a lot of work for my two mechanics; my Dad and Mike Bordignon. I can’t thank them enough for the effort that they put in all week long. They couldn’t have done a better job.
I would also like to thank Italian Motors USA, Italkart, Bell Helmets, BOSA Construction, Polen Design Helmet Painting, Burgers Etc., Cioffis, BBA Accounting Group, and Darcy Decoste Racing Engines for giving me awesome support all weekend and a fast engine to be competitive in S2.
I can’t wait to get back in the driver’s seat this January to start off my Grand Am season in the ST category. For more information, check out my website www.remoruscitti.com or follow me on twitter @rrusc.