Deeper fields in the midwest, especially in Pro 4, have made the inaugural Championship Off-Road season an exciting one to watch through its first three rounds. Few drivers have been able to exhibit the kind of dominance that CJ Greaves has routinely showed in multiple classes over the past few years, and heading into ERX Motor Park for this weekend’s Toyota Off-Road National presented by Lube-Tech, it seemed like that’d continue to be the case.
Then Greaves reminded everyone why he’s got so many wins and championships under his belt.
Running both Pro SXS classes this year for the first time, he scored a win in each, taking the Pro Stock victory on Saturday and Pro Mod win on Sunday. But the big story was in Pro 4, where he made an exhilarating last-lap pass on Kyle LeDuc for the Saturday victory, and answered LeDuc’s pole run on Sunday by sweeping the weekend in the premier class.
LeDuc finished second on both days to hang onto the points lead, with hometown hero Andrew Carlson finishing third on Saturday and Adrian “Wildman” Cenni rounding out the Sunday podium. Carlson also added the Saturday Pro Mod SXS victory for his first win of the season, holding off Greaves for the checkered flag, although he fell to 12th in the Sunday race when Greaves returned to the top of the podium. Rodney VanEperen added a runner-up finish in Sunday’s Pro Mod race, while Kyle Chaney was third in class on both days.
Kyle Greaves’ streak of dominance in Pro Lite to start the season finally ended on Saturday with a Carson Parrish victory, but he took his fifth win of the season on Sunday to make up for it. Mason Prater and John Holtger completed the podium in second and third in both races. Jack LeTourneau and Zac Zakowski were second and third in Saturday’s Pro Stock SXS race, while the Sunday round went to Jeremy Houle, who held off Greaves and Jason Luburgh.
But while both the Pro 4 and Pro Mod SXS points battles are shaping up to be exciting down the stretch, Pro 2 may go down as the closest championship fight. Keegan Kincaid and Kyle Kleiman were first and second in points last year and entered the weekend tied for first; Kleiman now has a slim points lead after finishes of first and third, compared to Kincaid’s third and second. But it was former Pro Lite champion Ryan Beat, who moved up to Pro 2 this year, who played spoiler at ERX, finishing second on Saturday and scoring his first class win on Sunday.
ERX’s first experience hosting a second national event in a single season came at the expense of Bark River International Raceway, which canceled its annual Rumble in the U.P. earlier in the summer. The Minnesota track was able to work with Championship Off-Road to quickly mobilize on a second event, held just over a month after its first race, while Bark River plans to host its event once again in 2020.
From here, it’s off to Crandon, where both events from the pre-eminent track in short course will run in a three-week span. The World Championship Off-Road Races and Crandon World Cup will remain on Labor Day weekend as per tradition, but the Forest County Potawatomi Brush Run was moved to September 26-27 earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of accommodating fans. The track has since confirmed that fans will be able to attend both race weekends.
Images via Championship Off-Road