Crandon, Wis. ~ AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force, has benefited from the lack of rain over the first few weeks of the season. Dry, fast tracks were welcomed for the season’s first three rounds. Still, Mother Nature remembered the short course series was heading to Crandon International Raceway, and the skies opened up for a soggy Sunday of competition.
The track was very racy after a late start to the day following overnight rains. But by midday, the clouds let loose, and any traction found early went away. Patience and throttle control were paramount for a racer to reign at the Big House on Sunday.
Epic Pro 4 Battle Between Henderson, Greaves
CJ Greaves entered round four on Sunday, still looking for Pro 4 win number 19 at Crandon. His Saturday bid was upset by the resolute Jimmy Henderson, who surged to a late second-half lead for his first career Pro 4 win.
The two drivers would engage in another late-race showdown on Sunday in one of the best Pro 4 races in recent memory. Greaves led from the get-go, but Henderson again charged to challenge the race leader late in the race. They would go nose-to-tail lap after lap, with the lead changing hands multiple times, including a pair of door-to-door tie-ups that gave Greaves the lead. The final skirmish came as they turned toward the white flag. With Henderson out front, Greaves made a block pass on the race leader, pushing him door-to-door towards the wall and into the lead he never gave back.
Now in second, Henderson had to deal with a flat he suffered in the contact. He would still finish second, holding off a late charge from Adrian Cenni and Andrew Carlson, who were locked into their own fierce battle.
After everythnig settled out, race official’s review of the on-track incidents determined that Greaves contact was excessive and docked the seven-time champion three spots. The decision moves Henderson into first, with Cenni second, Carlson third, and Greaves fourth.
Beat Best in Muddy Pro 2
Ryan Beat knew he had to control Sunday’s U.S Air Force Pro 2 race early, or it would be difficult to find enough traction to move to the front later on.
Beat didn’t waste any time taking the lead, getting the jump on the rolling start and finding enough traction on the big, sweeping barn turn to get out front and in command. He was able to pull away from the field before switching into management mode, driving to his second win of the season and extending his overall points lead.
Ricky Gutierrez was able to stay clear of the trucks in front of him at the start and put himself into the runner-up spot behind Beat. He ran nearly as clean as Beat, with no pressure coming from behind, as he motored to his second podium in 2023.
Cory Winner earned his third straight podium with a hard-fought third. Winner started on the front row with Beat, but an early spin pushed him down to sixth at the end of lap one. He regrouped and worked his way back to the final podium spot.
Forest County Potawatomi Cup
It was a memorable Forest County Potawatomi Cup. Not only was Crandon International Raceway celebrating 30 years of the unique Pro 2 versus Pro 4 showdown, but defending champion CJ Greaves was also sitting behind the wheel of his dads #22 Monster Energy Toyota instead of the #33 Pro 4., It was part homage to Johnny Greaves, who is out with an injury, but it was also due to his daily driver needing work after a grueling weekend of racing.
There were five Pro 2’s and five Pro 4’s lined up for the weekend finale. Off the Pro 2start, Ricky Gutierrez grabbed the hole shot and led until he pushed wide on the first lap. That gave first-time cup racer Johnny Holtger the lead.
With the Pro 4’s in pursuit, led by hole-shot winner CJ Greaves, Holtger and Mickey Thomas did everything they could to hold off the higher horse-powered trucks. But Greave caught the back of the Pro 2 field on lap five and secured the lead before the end of lap six. After that, he would have to hold off Pro 4 Jimmy Henderson for the win. Henderson put pressure on Greaves, but with two laps remaining, he lost front-wheel drive and spun out. Greaves was left alone out front, powering to his second straight Community Cup win. He became the first back-to-back winner since his dad, Johnny, won in 2017 and 2018.
Thomas took over the top Pro 2 spot after Holtger pulled off and then moved into second after Henderson spun out. Dave Mason, Jr. rounded out the podium in third.
Gibbs Grabs Win in Pro Lite
If you are looking for a marquee matchup in Pro Lite, look at the growing rivalry between defending champion Kyle Greaves and Trey Gibbs.
The two would square off again as they lined up next to each other on the front row for the rolling start. But Gibbs got the jump on Greaves and the rest of the field. Gibbs kept on the throttle and stretched his lead with each passing lap. But a full course caution bunched them back up, and Greaves took advantage, taking the lead on lap six. He held the point for the following three circuits, but a flat rear tire took him out of contention and put Gibbs back into a lead he would not relinquish.
With two laps left, Matt Wood slid into the runner-up spot, his second podium finish in 2023. Round two winner Brody Eggleston finished third.
Rayford Stretches Pro Spec Streak to Three
Chad Rayford had to work his way into the Pro Spec lead early and then found himself in a battle with Nick Visser at the end.
After winning Saturday’s round with a wire-to-wire effort, Rayford had to jump three spots to grab the lead on lap four. After that, he was looking to pull away from the field. But just like Saturday, Nick Visser was set up for a second half surge. He went from more than two seconds behind Rayford to only a few truck lengths by the time officials dropped the checkered flag.
For Rayford, he grabbed control of the class with his third straight win. Visser’s second stretched his podium streak to four, equaling third place finisher Gray Leadbetter.
AMSOIL Pro Turbo SxS Conquest for Chaney
Kyle Chaney has been at or near the front of every AMSOIL Pro Turbo SxS race this season, but he hasn’t closed the deal on his first win. He took care of business on Sunday, thanks to a steady drive and composure in the face of adversity on the last laps.
Chaney got the lead on lap three, sneaking past Robert Loire. He was really smooth, holding off first Loire and then Saturday winner Andrew Carlson. But Carlson was also quick on Sunday and kept on the rear bumper of Chaney for the remainder of the race, even taking over a brief lead on lap 11. But Carlson unexpectantly slowed, which put Chaney back into the lead and the winner’s circle for the first time since the World Championship race in Crandon last September.
Loire kept his podium streak intact, finishing second. Carlson got back into the race line and crossed the line in third.
VanEperen Runs Away in Pro Stock SxS
Owen VanEperen played it smart in Sunday’s Pro Stock SxS. He grabbed the lead on the first lap and didn’t look back.
VanEperen piloted his Yamaha to his second win of the season and moved into second overall in the standings. He was smooth and fast at Crandon, driving unchallenged for the race’s second half.
Tyson and Dylan Marquardt were off the podium heading to the last lap. But Tyson Marquardt got past Matt Bohn for third and then Jeb Bootle (who had a flat tire) into second. Dylan Marquardt was sitting fifth, got around Andrew Carlson, and then followed his brother into podium position by getting around Bohn for third. Carlson also moved up a spot into fourth and Bohn in fifth. Second through fifth finished within one and a half seconds of each other.
Pro Buggy: There is never a dull moment in the open-wheeled class of Pro Buggy, but it was a fantastic finish that grabbed all of the attention on Sunday.
Larry Job, Billy Buth, and Mike Kirkham put together a spectacular show, especially over the final laps. Job grabbed the lead on lap three, with Buth following into second. They would hold court until Kirkham joined them on lap eight. After that, the three would dice it out to the finish, with Job holding off Buth and Kirkham by less than eight-tenths of a second for his first win of the year. Buth’s second pushed him into the overall lead, four points ahead of Job.
Pro-AM SxS: A flat tire for Mon lap three put Matt Boerschinger put Tyler Remmereid into the lead in Pro-AM SxS. He never relinquished the lead as he took home his first win of the season and second podium finish of the weekend. Cody Jones applied the pressure on Remmereid late in the race, finishing just seven-tenths behind the race winner. Bill Berger was even closer to Jones, crossing the finish line in third only three-tenths behind the runner-up.
570 SxS: Corbyn Wassenberg brought the broom to Crandon this weekend. Wassenberg started seventh in 570 SxS but worked through traffic and grabbed the lead with three laps remaining to sweep the weekend. Draxton Szymik also had to come from as far back as seventh to pick up his first podium finish in second. Grant Dresel earned his first podium of the year by finishing third.
1600 Single Buggy: Teammates John Fitzgerald and Michael Seefeldt have been a force in 1600 Single Buggy this season, combining for two wins and seven podiums in the first three rounds. They would band together to put on a great show on Sunday and take another two podiums in the process.
Seefeldt would hold the lead through lap seven, but Fitzgerald found a small gap and got around the race leader. Seefeldt tried several moves to get around Fitzgerald, but the defending class champion closed the openings as soon as they opened. Fitzgerald would cross the line with his second win in 2023, with Seefeldt finishing second. Colton Berns drove uncontested in the third.
170/200 SxS: It was a bit hectic at the start of the 170/200 SxS race on Sunday, with the lower horsepower and the youngest drivers of the series were looking for traction on the muddy track. Raymond Deininger found his footing and the lead on lap three, pulling away from the field for his second straight win. Tanner Thibeault earned his second consecutive podium finish in Crandon, finished second. Kody Krantz edged out Jersey Kleikamp for third.
Mod Kart: The rain returned just in time for the Mod Kart race on Sunday, and Hunter VanZile took advantage of the slick conditions. VanZile found the clean line off the start and rode it to his first career Mod Kart victory. Zack Wirhanowicz closed the gap on VanZile late but couldn’t find a clean line around the race leader, finishing second. Avery Hemmer would cross the line in third, her third podium of the year.
Short Course Karts: Race Visser took home a weekend sweep from Crandon after piloting his Short Course Kart to his third win of the season on Sunday. Visser went wire-to-wire, pulling away from runner-up finisher Wesley Vande Voort. Points leader Lincoln Mandsager rounded out the podium in third.
Youth SxS: It was a tight, two-person race for Youth SxS supremacy on Saturday, with Libby Nielsen capitalizing with a late race pass n Ryker Remington. Nielsen was looking for a clean, dry line outside of Remington’s race line for most of the race, and with the white flag in sight, she dove to the inside of the gravel pit turn, taking the position and her second win of the year. Layne Peterson would finish behind Remington in third.
Sportsman SxS: It was a stellar weekend of racing for Benjamin Heiting at Crandon. After working through traffic on Saturday for his first win of the year, Heiting went wire-to-wire for the weekend sweep in Sportsman SxS. Trent Peetz did everything in his power to catch Heiting on Sunday, finishing second for his first podium in 2023. Bryce Carlson now has three straight podium’s after crossing the line in third.
1600 Light Buggy: Vincent Jaeger was positioned to unseat the Schulz brothers atop the 1600 Light Buggy class on Sunday, but Colin Schulz took control of the second half of the race on his way to his second win of the season.
Jaeger led the first five laps with Schulz on his tail. Jaeger got caught up in lapped traffic, allowing Schulz to swing wide and take over the lead. Jaeger would clear himself from behind the lapper and finish second. Round three winner Connor Schulz finished third.
Super Stock Truck: Cory Holtger, filling in for Ben Holtger, was three laps away from a weekend sweep in Super Stock Truck. But Scott Boulanger found an extra gear and snatched the lead and the win from the race leader. Holtger led 17 of 20 laps at Crandon and held down the second spot ahead of Nick Byng.
Stock Truck: Kyle Ambroziak broke through the mud and rain with his first win of the season. Ambroziak grabbed the lead on the second lap and led to the finish line. He held off points leader Cory Holtger, who worked through traffic after starting tenth to catch the Ambroziak on the last turn. Brian Peot ran strong and crossed the line third.
Up next for AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force: The ERX Off0-Road National at the ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minn., on July 14-15.
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