In front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, Racers Edge Motorsports driver Jan Heylen claimed victory in the Red Bull Kart Fight. Driving a Rotax-powered CRG kart as part of the CRG USA team, ex-Champ Car World Series racer Heylen claimed his second-straight victory in the annual karting all-star race. Other drivers taking part this year included Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani, AJ Allmendinger, E.J. Viso, Jay Howard, Townsend Bell and Martin Plowman.
Qualifying fourth, Belgian native Heylen secured a second row starting position for the Pre-Final with Viso taking pole followed by Howard and Allmendinger. At the start of the Pre-Final, Howard got the jump on Viso going into Turn 1, with Heylen following Howard into second place. Heylen glued himself to Howard's rear bumper and waited until the last turn of the last lap to make the pass to claim victory by a tenth of a second and, more importantly, garner the all-important pole position for the Final.
At the start of the Final, Howard got the jump on Heylen from his second starting position, settling into the lead with Heylen closely following. Heylen constantly looked for an opportunity to make a pass, getting alongside Howard on several occasions but not enough to make a clean move for the lead. Finally, with four laps remaining in the race, Heylen snuck past Howard. Once into the lead and with a relatively clear track in front of him, Heylen built a small cushion over Howard that he held to the checkered flag.
"What a great event!" exclaimed Heylen. "Jay drove very well and made me work for everything I got. Special thanks go to CRG USA for their tremendous support and to Dave Davies for making the trip to Florida. Dave and I won this race together the last time we raced here at PRI. For sure I'll be back next year and try for a three-peat."
Since losing his Champ Car ride following the IndyCar merger, Heylen has run a handful of Grand-Am and Indy Lights races, but says he will be a regular in both the Rolex GT and Continental Tire Cup next season.
"I will be driving a Racers Edge Motorsports Dodge Viper in the Grand-Am Rolex Series and a Dodge Challenger in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Doug Peterson will be my co-driver, and I know Doug will be an excellent teammate for what should be a very exciting and busy season. It will be great to be racing again in the States with iconic cars like the Viper and the Challenger."
• The kart races from PRI races will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net in two segments:
4:30 p.m., Jan. 2 – Amateur Race & Karter Division Broadcast
4:30 p.m., Jan. 9 – All-Star Broadcast.