Stars Align in Antigo for Greaves, Thomas and a Few First Time Winners

Antigo, Wis. ~ After a thrilling opening day of racing for the 2023 AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force season, the nearly 300 competitors hit the horseshoe track at the Antigo Lions Roaring Raceway for round two action.

The world’s best short-course, off-road racers worked tirelessly overnight to prepare for the second straight day of competition. Even with a lot of racing left on the 2023 Champ schedule, early success in Antigo has become a benchmark for championship contenders. Sunday proved pivotal as several drivers looked to replicate Saturday’s success, and many more looked to find momentum moving into the summer months.

Greaves Wraps Up Five Win Weekend atop Pro 4

An early spin took Adrian Cenni off the lead in Pro 4, but it was a glimpse of a season-long battle that unfolded after that caught the eye of the off-road racing world.

Cenni’s turn allowed defending champion CJ Greaves to jump into the lead. But Greaves Day was more eventful than his opening-round win one day ago. That’s because Cole Mamer’s preseason confidence was on display as he caught and passed the seven-time champ. He was on a rail for the next four laps, but a sudden, broken left front pulled Mamer to the side of the track.

Greaves was door-to-door with Mamer when he broke, and Greaves saw a second chance to control the race from the front of the pack. After the restart, Greaves gave ground to Chaney after the restart, but once he got the lead back for a third time, he inched forward, increasing the gap on Chaney for the weekend sweep.

“This track is a challenge in itself, and now we know this pro four class sometimes is attrition, so you gotta make sure that you get there at the end,” said Greaves. “It was fun getting out there to run with my cousin (Kyle Greaves) and obviously my good friend Kyle Cheney, and just have fun. Not very often do you get to come out and just battle with each other and just go to work on the track.”

Kyler Chaney wasn’t messing around on Sunday. He lurked behind the leaders before the restart, putting pressure on Greaves while running in third. Chaney was up for the task when Mamer went down, taking a three-lap run in first before dropping back a spot and finishing second.

Kyle Greaves, making his second career Pro 4 start in the 22 Toyota of Johnny Greaves, looked more comfortable as the race raged on, finishing third for the second straight day.

Thomas Fast and Smooth in Pro 2 Victory

Cory Winner was looking for a bit of redemption after a tough U.S. Air Force Pro 2 battle on Saturday, and he was in position after coming out of the first turn with the lead, but round one runner-up Mickey Thomas was ready to play the role of spoiler.

For Thomas, his speed plays very well when he gets clean air. Antigo was no different as Thomas drove fast and confident, stretching his lead to more than five seconds after the mandatory mid-race caution. The win gave Thomas two podiums to start the year, and the 44 has now won three of the past four Champ Off Road Pro 2 races dating back to last season.

“The beginning of the race, the track was pretty greasy,” said Thomas. “I was just trying to find the right line and make my way around Cory. I was able to get by, and from there, I was just trying to run clean lines.”

Rickey Gutierrez was looking to reproduce his late-race showdown with Thomas for the win, but he had to pull into the hot pits with two laps remaining, ending his day. That gave Sunday’s winner, Ryan Beat, the runner-up spot. He moved into second with three minutes left after a tight battle with Cory Winner. Beat held off Winner at the line and left Antigo with a four-point lead over Thomas in the standings.

First Pro Lite Win for Eggleston

Brody Eggleston followed Trey Gibbs into turn one, but Gibbs put his Pro Lite on two wheels, and that is all Eggleston needed to earn his first career Pro Lite win.

Eggleston held a comfortable lead on the dusty track for the race’s first half. He had a stiff challenge in the second part of the race as Matt Wood applied heavy pressure lap after lap. But Eggleston found another gear on the last lap to pull away for the win.

“Off the start, I was just trying to hold my own,” said Eggleston. “I stayed on the inside and was able to get past Trey. From there, I was just trying to hold off Matt and Kyle; they were doing a great job.”

Wood has shown speed on the longer, faster tracks of the series, but he showed that he could also mix it up on a tight track in Antigo. Wood had one podium finish in 2022 and matched that with a second-place finish on Sunday.

Sundays winner Kyle Greaves was looking for traction all race, settling into third over the last half of the contest. He and Sunday’s runner-up Trey Gibbs were locked in a battle as the race wore on, with Greaves edging Gibbs at the line for the final podium spot.

Rayford Picks up First Pro Spec Win

Chad Rayford’s first race in Pro Spec on Saturday was nearly perfect until he was forced to pit late. On Sunday, it went his way, but the defending champion made him earn it at the end.

Rayford was the race leader from the drop of the green flag and pulled a monster lead in the race’s first half. But Gray Leadbetter used the mandatory caution to her advantage and kept Rayford in sight for the remaining six laps. The two would be within a few truck lengths for the last half of the race, with Leadbetter catching the back of Rayford on the final lap, finishing just .886-of a second behind him at the finish line.

Leadbetter would take the silver medal for the second straight day. Tony Keepers, a rookie in Pro Spec this season, finished with his second third-place finish of the weekend.

Greaves Sweeps AMSOIL Pro Turbo SxS

CJ Greaves has doubled his 2022 Pro Turbo SxS output in just one weekend. He eclipsed his single-win mark from last season after completing the weekend sweep on Sunday.

Greaves started eighth but moved through the traffic and was the official race leader on lap three. He didn’t miss the mark, pulling away for his second straight win.

Kyle Chaney exorcised the demons overnight. The past class champion ran into issues with a turbo hose on Saturday, but he was on a mission Sunday, keeping pace with Greaves on his way to the runner-up spot. Owen VanEperen also worked his way up from a mid-pack start to pick up his second podium of the weekend.

VanEperen Vaults to Pro Stock SxS Win.

CJ Greaves was looking for the weekend sweep in Pro Stock SxS. Instead, it was a redemption run for Owen VanEperen.

Greaves led until lap ten, when he slowed to the side of the track (he would get back underway but dropped out of the top 10). That gave an opportunistic VanEperen a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. The Yamaha driver took his first win since round four last year. It also came one day after he got caught up in traffic while running third, dropping down to 16th at the final counter.

Jeb Bootle ran alone in second, his first Pro Stock podium. Jack LeTourneau held off heavy pressure from Andrew Carlson, crossing the line .05 of a second for third.

Pro Buggy: On Saturday, Mark Steinhardt used a mix of moves to get the opening-round win in Pro Buggy. On Sunday, Steinhardt used another veteran move to take the early lead: get the holeshot.

Steinhardt was on point for the first seven laps, but after the mandatory restart on lap eight, he found one of the muddier spots on the Antigo track and spun, dropping back to eighth. That opened the door for defending champion Michael Meister, who was unable to take the start on Saturday. He made up for the missed laps by grabbing the lead and pulling away from the field for the win.

Billy Buth was quick on the wet track Sunday, finishing second. Mike Kirkham ran another consistent race, finishing third.

Pro-AM SxS: Kolton Krajicek’s success in snocross is paying off in his SxS debut season. Krajicek, who races with AMSOIL Championship Snocross, backed up his opening-round win with a weekend sweep of the Pro-AM SxS class in Antigo.

Krajicek immediately got the lead and pulled away from the field late in the race. Behind him, it took the final lap to sort everything out. Derek Liebergen moved into second on the final circuit, and Kyle Sharkey earned his first podium in Championship Off-Road.

170/200 SxS: Kody Krantz started sixth, but the five-time winner from 2022 took the lead on lap three and cruised to his first win of the season. Adalyn Lylte finished second, and William Holtger was third.

570 SxS: Hudson Houle had a lot of get-up-and-go early in Sunday’s 570 SxS final. He started ninth but was into third by lap three. He would go door-to-door for the lead and took hold of the top spot with three laps left.

A three-car race between Kody Krantz, Jayden Dickman, and Corbyn Wassenberg didn’t sort itself out until the final turn when Dickman and Wassenberg could sneak past Krantz, who hit a rut and spun off the track.

Super Stock Truck: It took Braden Beauchamp the entire 2022 season to win in Super Stock Truck, taking the season finale in Crandon. He was quicker to the top spot in 2023, winning Sunday’s race in Antigo.

Beauchamp held off a horde of aggressive drivers to take home the win. Several drivers challenged for the runner-up throughout the race, but when the checkered flag dropped, it was Scott Boulanger in second, with Saturday’s winner Joe Maciosek in third.

Sportsman SxS: On Sunday, it was a three-way battle for supremacy in the Sportsman SxS race, with Benjamin Heiting getting his first win. Heiting, who finished second on Saturday, could break away from a tight pack on lap four. It was a lead he never gave back, finishing just ahead of Bryce Carlson finished second, and Erik Hill was third for the second time this weekend.

Short Course Karts: Lincoln Mandsager ran second for the first four laps of Sunday’s Short Course Karts final but grabbed the lead when race leader and Saturday’s winner Wesley Vande Voort pulled off the track with a mechanical issue. Mandsager drove the rest of the way smoothly for his first career win. Caleb Bell sat seventh after the first lap but moved his way up to second. Finley Holtger followed suit, moving from sixth to third by the end of the race.

1600 Single Buggy: John Fitzgerald broke away from an early scuffle to take a lead he never relinquished. The defending 1600 Single Buggy champion has won three of the past four races in Antigo. Michael Seefeldt held off several cars for his second podium of the weekend. Colton Berns finished third, just ahead of round one winner Travis Trelsted.

Mod Kart:  Defending Mod Kart champion Porter Inglese brought home a weekend sweep after a close win over Hunter VanZile and Zack Wirhanowicz. VanZile was fifth off the start and moved back into the runner-up spot on the last lap. Wirhanowicz bounced between second and fourth throughout the race, settling into third with two laps to go.

Youth SxS: Libby Nielsen backed up Saturday’s runner-up finish with a win in Youth SxS on Sunday. Nielsen grabbed the holeshot and had an early battle with Saturday’s winner Ryker Remington. But Remington flipped his SxS, leaving Nielsen all alone up front. Livy Hentges made it two for two on podium visits in Antigo, and Connor LaCasse finished third.

1600 Light Buggy: Connor Schulz won the opening round on Saturday, with his twin brother Colin finishing second. They flipped the script on Sunday, with the defending class champion Colin earning the win and Connor landing on the second step of the podium. Jake Schilleman held down the third and final podium spot.

Stock Truck: Cory Holtger started out front and stayed there in Sunday’s Stock Truck race. The defending class champion won eight races in 2022, including round two in Antigo. He ran unchallenged up front while several trucks battled it out behind him. It was Tyler Mullins in second and Brian Peot in third when everything settled out.

Up next for AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force: The Forest County Potawatomi Brush Run in Crandon, Wis. June 24-24.

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