Jimmy Henderson (Pro Mod) and Rodney VanEperen (Pro Stock) successfully defended their victories from last year’s SXS Sports Spring National in Saturday’s race action from Dirt City Motorplex. The second round of the 2020 Monster Energy King of the Elements series saw racers get back to a more traditional short course setup after opening the year on ice in Eagle River.
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The Pro Mod, Pro Stock, Sportsman, and SXS Mini classes all took to the track in the first true short course event of 2020 in the midwest, after Championship Off-Road’s planned season opener at Crandon International Raceway was postponed to the end of September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the race was postponed by three weeks, SXS Sports and Dirt City were able to keep the event in June, welcome fans on site, and even hold a contest for two passenger rides with short course champions CJ Greaves and Keegan Kincaid, courtesy of Vision Wheel.
In a slight surprise, Jack Letourneau beat VanEperen for the first Pro Stock heat win, with John Holtger winning the second heat. VanEperen would line up third, getting past Holtger quickly and setting his sights on Letourneau early. Using the track’s option lane to gain time, he finally made the pass on Lap 4, and even a mid-race competition caution couldn’t set up the field to get past him again. Letourneau put the heat back on, but began slowing with five laps to go and eventually pulled off. Holtger came home second, while Scott Wasz, who climbed from seventh on the starting grid, got past Gabe Johnson in the closing laps to complete the podium.
The Pro Mod race was a heartbreaker for Kyle Chaney, who started on the pole and looked to back up wins in both the second half of last year’s doubleheader and the opener in Eagle River. Chaney led Henderson into the outside line on the first lap, and appeared set to dominate the race before pulling off with a mechanical issue halfway through the second lap. That opened the door for Henderson, who never looked back through the 15-lap race.
The main event was one of survival; VanEperen’s bid to score two podiums ended with the loss of a wheel midway through the race, while a livid Luke Stubbs climbed from his car to express his displeasure after contact ended his bid for a podium. Second and third place Scottie Lawrence and Tyler Livingston were the only other drivers to finish on the lead lap.
Dylan Marquardt bested a deep Sportsman field in the 25-car A main, holding off Trevor Bushmaker and Josh Bayer for the victory as all but four racers completed all 12 laps. B main winner Gray Leadbetter climbed from the 21st starting spot to finish ninth, the biggest gain in the field. In SXS Mini, Reid Votis made it a perfect two for two to start the season after winning at Dirt City for the second year in a row, with Ellah Holtger and Raymond Deininger completing the podium.
While announcements on the remainder of the SXS Sports Monster Energy King of the Elements schedule have yet to be made, fans of the sport in the midwest will have plenty of opportunities to see the same drivers get back behind the wheel in the coming weeks. COR opens its season on July 10-11 at ERX Motor Park and brings drivers back to Dirt City on July 25-26, with series promoters Johnny and CJ Greaves finally able to trade in their official’s uniforms for firesuits for the first time this year.
Images via Dirt City Motorplex