It was a warm welcome back to the Big House as AMSOIL Championship Off-Road made the first of two annual treks to the home of off-road, short course racing: Crandon International Raceway.
A tinge of rain gave way to a primo path to short-course success as the series opened up two days of racing amongst the sports hallowed ground. When all was said and done on day one, a bevy of first time winners, and some racers who just found ways to win on the big track, stole the show in Crandon.
Another RJ Anderson Success Stor
RJ Anderson has made it a habit over the past few years of not racing a full schedule, but still showing up to Crandon and getting his Pro 4 on the top spot. He’s won Cup racers over that span but has found his limits in the Pro 4 class races. He took care of business on that end on Saturday.
Anderson and Kyle LeDuc screamed around turn one, with LeDuc holding the inside advantage. But Anderson railed past on the outside and held it to the floor. He edged out LeDuc for the lead and stayed there for the duration. For all but the last two laps, LeDuc threw every trick in the book at the race leader, but Anderson countered every move and finally found breathing room when LeDuc spun with two laps remaining.
Despite all of his success, Saturday’s victory marked Anderson’s first Pro 4 class win at the Big House. It came down to the start and stayed out of trouble despite the heavy pressure on his back bumper.
“How about that hole shot,” said Anderson. “I was telling my guys I was going to try so hard to get this truck off the line good and my tires hooked up and kept that thing clean all day. It’s always awesome racing with these guys and having a blast in Crandon.”
While the race with LeDuc ended early, it also set up the winningest Pro 4 driver in Crandon history to find his groove. Johnny Greaves was blistering fast all race, including setting the quickest lap by a full second. Greaves was right inside of LeDuc’s roost when he spun, and Greaves took advantage and powered his way into second.
Jimmy Henderson was also in the mix throughout the entire race. He moved into second after the LeDuc over rotation, but Greaves speed was tough a faster, giving Henderson the final spot on the box in third. LeDuc would finish fourth and points leader CJ Greaves rebounded from an early issue to finish fifth.
Winner Gets His Win
Hometown hero Keegan Kincaid took the hole shot in Saturday’s Pro 2 race, and history has shown that is a recipe for success for the man who lives less than five miles from Crandon International Raceway.
While Kincaid was running point, Cory Winner was hot on his trail. Winner seemed to be finding speed on Kincaid and made a door-to-door pass stick coming just before the finish line section. A few laps later, Jerett Brooks closed the gap on Winner, who found a way to push the chaos aside and storm to his first career Pro 2 win.
“I’m just speechless right now,” said Winner. “We’ve been chasing these guys the last two, three years in Pro Lite and Pro 2. I just had to get turn one clean and once I got behind Keegan I knew I couldn’t let him go because this is his hometown track. I found a couple of things that worked for me. I got around him and found a couple of things that worked for me.”
Brooks would have to deal with another late race charge from Ryan Beat. With hoods flapping and causing temporary vision issues, Brooks did everything in his power to try and keep Beat at bay.
But with three laps to go, Beat circled around Brooks and into the runner-up spot. Brooks, sans nearly every piece of fiberglass he entered the track with, had one last hurdle to overcome as Mickey Thomas put immense pressure for the final podium position. In the end, Brooks found a way to keep Thomas behind him as he crossed the line in third.
Greaves Grabs Pro Lite Win
Kyle Greaves was on pace for his first Pro Lite win of the new season in round two in Antigo earlier this month. He led early but was unable to finish with that lead, ending up in third. He took care of business in round three on Saturday.
The land rush start went to Greaves, and he set a blistering pace throughout. He was running upwards of two seconds faster per lap than the rest of his Pro Lite compatriots. He would deal with late pressure from Brock Heger but reset to attack mode to hold off the defending champion for his first win in 2022.
“I was able to pull the hole shot and I had CJ (Greaves) on the radio saying, ‘you just gotta keep pushing’ and to clean up them lines,” said Greaves. “I couldn’t ask for a better race and we will try to make it happen again tomorrow.”
Early on, Connor Barry was equally as impressive as Greaves, but he found trouble late, puffing smoke and gave up the second spot to Heger. While Heger couldn’t get around Greaves, he did make it through traffic after starting seventh to finish second. Christopher Polvoorde was in the mix all race long and moved into the final podium spot over the final two circuits.
PRO TURBO SXS: Kyle Chaney has won a lot of side-by-side races over the past several years, including his round two win in Antigo. What the former champion was looking for was his first Championship Off Road win at Crandon.
Much like his round two victory, Chaney got out to a quick lead and never looked back. Even after several restarts, Chaney held the point with ease and powered to his second straight win
Rodney VanEperen got out behind Chaney off the start and stayed in front of an early race for second between CJ Greaves and Andrew Carlson. Greaves was able to get clear from Carlson and tracked down the points leader VanEperen where he made a terrific pass on the final lap to get into second.
VanEperen would drop one more spot when Hamish Kelsey took over the third spot with two turns left.
PRO STOCK SXS: Brock Heger shot off the shortened land rush start and into the lead. CJ Greaves had to work his way up to Heger, and once he did, the two renewed a rivalry that was like no other in off-road in 2021.
Heger and Greaves stretched their side-by-sides away from the field early on, and after the mandatory caution restart. Greaves would throw the kitchen sink at Heger, getting even and rubbing tires on several occasions. But Heger was a stitch quicker on the straight stretches as he held Greaves at bay while picking up win number three this season.
Greaves finished second as he simultaneously tried to catch Heger and hold off Jake Kosmecki, who finished third.
PRO SPEC: For the third straight race there is a first time winner in Pro Spec. For most of Saturday’s race, Gray Leadbetter held the point. But with two laps to go the lead shifted over to Chris Van Den Elzen after Leadbetter suffered a rear flat tire.
Van Den Elzen took advantage of the flat and darted into the lead. From there, he moved well out front and picked up the win on his birthday.
Nick Visser also got past Leadbetter, and Easton Sleaper kept charging, making a late pass into third.
SUPER BUGGY: Dale Ebberts started on the pole and never looked back on his way to his first Super Buggy win of the young season. Ebberts held off several challenges from both Michael Hester and Billy Buth but was able to stretch his lead out over the final few laps to take home the victory.
Hester held down the runner-up spot for a majority of the race, but Buth worked his way through the mud from his fifth place starting spot to get past Hester with two laps to go. Buth surge secured his first podium finish of the season, as Hester made it two straight trips to victory lane.
PRO AM SXS: Tyler Remmereid said ‘everything’ is working right on his Pro AM SXS and after a dominant win on Saturday, Remmereid has won two straight class races. Mike Caswell notched his second podium finish of the year to move into third overall. Derek Liebergen found his way onto the box for the first time in 2022 after finishing third.
570 SXS: Ryker Remington had to deal with some late lapped traffic but was still able to keep his 570 SxS clean as he picked his first career win. Round two winner Ethan Dressel applied pressure for much of the race, before finishing in second. Emerson Dreher rounded out the podium in third.
1600 LIGHT BUGGY: It was another brotherly showdown in 1600 Light Buggy on Saturday. After winning round two in Antigo, Connor Schulz was looking to make it two-straight, but his brother Colin had another plan in the works. Colin Schulz grabbed the early lead and led from start-to-finish for his first win in 2022. Connor Schulz kept pace to finish second. Greg Stingle held pace to finish in third.
STOCK TRUCK: Defending champion Diesel Shanak went wire-to-wire for his first win of the new season. Shanak had to hold off a hard-charging Cory Holtger, including a last turn pass attempt that saw Shanak and Holtger finish just .016 seconds apart. Kyle Ambroziak had his hands full with Brian Peot, finishing a half second ahead of the round one winner for third.
SHORT COURSE KARTS: Gavin Plummer was victorious for the first time in Short Course Karts after a spectacular race that saw him take the lead on lap two before motoring to victory lane. Wesley Vande Voort snuck past Reed Leduc on the final lap to finish second.
170 SXS: Greyson Arneson and Wyatt Olson look like they will lock into a season-long showdown in the 170 SXS class. Olson currently controls the points race but Arneson found the right groove on Saturday for the win, besting Olson by .240 of a second. Ashton Dreher plans to be in the mix as well, finishing third.
MOD KART: Porter Inglese continues to dominate the Mod Kart class as the Upper Michigan native finished atop the box for the third time this season. Troy Johnson returned to the podium after finishing in second. Hunter VanZile completed the winners circle with his second straight third place finish.
SUPER STOCK TRUCK: Three races and three different winners in the competitive Super Stock Truck class so far this season. Taking the honors in Crandon was Aaron Holiday, who started second and was able to get past Kyle Cooper on lap three for his first class win in 2022. Trey Beauchamp also saw his best finish of the year in second. Brandon Beauchamp also rebounded well from a slow start in Antigo to finish in third.
1600 SINGLE BUGGY: John Fitzgerald has everything working his way over the first three rounds of the new season. Fitzgerald wheeled his 1600 Single Buggy into second on lap two and powered his way around the wet track for his third straight win. Jeff Bechinski and Beau Ambos held a nice two-car battle for second, with Bechinski taking home the runner-up spot.
SPORTSMAN SXS: Matt Vanderheyden is officially dialed in as the Sportsman SxS driver has now won the past two class races after a dominant win on Saturday. Dustin DeGrand joined Vanderheyden for the second straight week by finishing second after just nudging out points leader Jacob Blemke at the line.
Photos Provided By Championship Off-Road