All eyes in off-road were centered on Crandon International Raceway this past weekend as AMSOIL Championship Off-Road brought the best short-course racers in the world to the Big House.
The series will return to Crandon, Wisconsin in September to crown its champions on Labor Day weekend, but the gauntlet to glory is well underway and getting more difficult with every passing lap. On Sunday, several winning streaks came to an abrupt halt as new challengers stepped into the spotlight. All the while it was one of the sports best who added his name to the history books.
CJ Greaves Shines on Sunday
CJ Greaves has won three Cup races in his career in Crandon. All three have been on Labor Day weekend. He has yet to win the Forest Potawatomi Cup held every June. It’s been a successful race for the Greaves clan with his father Johnny winning a record five FCP Cup races.
After nearly a decade of racing Pro trucks at the highest level, including several class championships, CJ Greaves can finally cross FCP Cup winner off his list.
Mickey Thomas led the Pro 2 class through turn one as the Pro 4 field waited for their green flag to fall. With a huge Pro 2 field, it looked like it was going to be an uphill battle for the Pro 4’s to maneuver to the front. But Mother Nature was a Pro 4 fan in Crandon on Sunday.
A steady rain was heavy enough to lessen the Pro 2 advantage and CJ Greaves started fast and quickly caught the back end of the Pro 2’s. With the two-wheel drive trucks looking for traction, Greaves, along with Kyle LeDuc slid around Thomas and into the lead with five laps remaining.
After that, it was a matter of managing the mud, and keeping his Toyota backed beast moving towards the history books.
“It’s surreal right now,” said Greaves after winning the FCP Cup. “It was just an exciting weekend all around. I had great speed in the truck all weekend and we knew it was going to be a battle, and it’s going to be a dogfight all year. Finally, happy to wrap up a Potawatomi Cup, and I can’t thank those guys enough for all they do. Just happy to be able to get this one done.”
LeDuc was equal to the task in the Cup race, but vision became a problem late in the race as he worked to reel in Greaves. LeDuc finished second, ahead of Johnny Greaves. Mickey Thomas was the top finishing Pro 2, crossing the line fourth overall.
Greaves Gets Third Pro 4 Win
With the Cup race scheduled for the end of Sunday, the Pro 2 and Pro 4 class races woke up the Crandon Faithful on Sunday morning. CJ Greaves was wide awake for the points race as he was looking to get back on top of the box after finishing fifth on Saturday.
2020 champion Kyle LeDuc led the charge early on Sunday, storming through turn one ahead of CJ and Johnny Greaves. LeDuc held the point until the second lap when he looped his truck around in the same 180-degree turn he spun around in round three. That put CJ Greaves into the lead ahead of Johnny Greaves.
Out front with clean air, CJ Greaves hit his marks and drove a smooth ride to the finish and the win. It marked his third victory in the first four rounds this season and extended his early lead over LeDuc in the overall points race.
“We just worked our butts off all night. We had a really good truck right out of the gate here this weekend. We came out in practice and had the fastest time. We had a problem with the diff and to be able to turn the truck around from a race at 6 o’clock last night and have it ready to go by 11 this morning is a big task, but the guys worked until four this morning to get it ready to go.”
The elder Greaves would pull off with two minutes to go. That put Jimmy Henderson into the runner-up slot. He pulled away from the chaos happening behind him to notch his second podium of the weekend.
Third place took until the final lap to sort out. Adrian Cenni swapped seats at the beginning of the race with fill-in driver Doug Mittag. Mittag kept pushing the Cenni-backed truck through the field, making a last lap pass for the final spot on the box.
Thomas Terrific in Pro 2 Win
Pro 2 has offered up some amazing racing over the first few rounds of the 2022 season. Close finishes and clean racing through the finish line has brought race fans to their feet in every contest so far.
In the season opener, Mickey Thomas chased down Jerett Brooks on the final laps to take the win. On Sunday, Brooks tried to return the favor.
Thomas came through turn one on a rail, grabbing the hole shot and the lead he desperately wanted the day before when he finished fourth. He was clear of the craziness as a cluster of five or six trucks were swapping spots looking to slot in behind him.
Brooks was able to get through the fray and went looking for his second win of the season. He applied heavy pressure on Thomas, but the race leader never let Brooks get a clean run past him. He handled the pressure and pulled away on the final lap for win number two.
“Yesterday we had to start in the back and had to come all the way up through fourth and I think I ate enough roost to be good for the season. It was nice to be out front in clean air. I pulled a nice hole shot and was able to hold on to it.”
With Brooks entrenched in third and on his way to his third podium finish of the year, it was Saturday’s winner, Cory Winner, who was left to keep the hounds at bay. He handled the onslaught of early pressure to earn his second straight podium.
Polvoorde Powers to Pro Lite Win
Christopher Polvoorde might have missed the opening rounds of Championship Off Road, but he has proven in the past he can hop in a Pro Lite and blow the doors off his competition.
After finding a third place finish on Saturday, Polvoorde made the right adjustments for Sunday. He followed Carson Parrish through turn one, and as the mob of Pro Lite’s were squaring up the finish line jump at the end of the first lap, Parrish took an unexpected spin. That opened the door for Polvoorde, who took advantage and drove the wheels off the truck on his way to victory lane.
Behind the race winner came Kyle Greaves. Saturday’s race winner started sixth on Sunday and showed early patience as he worked through the scrum and into third by lap five. He was able to get around a spinning Matt Wood on the final lap for his third straight podium and the overall points lead.
Parrish didn’t let his spin hinder his performance on Sunday. He regrouped and worked his way back through the field, going from eighth to third and his second podium finish of the year.
PRO TURBO SXS: Kyle Chaney led the first half of the race in round one, but had to pull off the racetrack. Since then, he has left no doubt that this season will be different for the former Pro Turbo SXS champion.
Chaney started on the front row and was quickly out in front of the field on Sunday. Despite several restarts, Chaney was undeterred as the Can AM driver cruised to his third straight win after that tough opening round.
The remainder of the podium took until the final lap to sort out. Points leader Rodney VanEperen, CJ Greaves and Owen VanEperen were extremely tight coming through the final turns. With two turns left, Greaves held the second spot, but Rodney VanEperen slung past him on the inside, pushing Greaves off his preferred line and allowing Owen VanEperen to use the same line and take the final podium spot away from the former class champion.
PRO STOCK SXS: Dylan Marquardt took an early lead, but it was Owen VanEperen who put the lid on defending class champions three race winning streak on Sunday.
On lap five, as the crowded field turned towards the finish line, VanEperen went left, and Brock Heger went right as the pair each passed around Marquardt and crossed the line side-by-side as the mandatory caution flag flew.
Officials placed VanEperen out front, and the young Yamaha driver showed a veteran’s moxie by holding off Heger for the remaining six laps. Heger stayed glued to VanEperen’s bumper, but the points leader couldn’t find his way around VanEperen. They would stay locked together through the finish line as VanEperen picked up his first win of the season while moving into the top five in points.
Heger missed out on his fourth straight win to open the season, but he did gain a larger lead on current runner-up CJ Greaves, who finished 16th.
Marquardt, who won the Pro AM SXS title in 2021 and bumped up to the Pro Stock SXS class this season, didn’t fall far after his early lead. He put a stranglehold on third, grabbing his first trip to the podium in 2022.
PRO SPEC: Nick Visser became the first two-time winner in Pro Spec this season. Saturday’s race winner Chris Van Den Elzen grabbed the hole shot and led for nearly two laps before pulling to the side with a mechanical issue. Visser was right on his bumper and quickly assumed the lead position. From there, the round two winner became the round four winner and now sits one point ahead of Gray Leadbetter for the overall points lead.
Leadbetter and Easton Sleaper put on a great show as they battled for the runner-up spot. Sleaper was quick late in the race, setting the fastest lap time but Leadbetter held the edge on the final turn to finish second.
170 SXS: The early season story in 170 SXS is the back-and-forth battle between Greyson Arneson and Wyatt Olson. Arneson got the edge on Saturday, but Olson bounced back on Sunday by picking up his second win of the year. Arneson kept pace, finishing second for his fourth podium in a row. Kody Kranz held on for third.
SUPER BUGGY: On Saturday, Michael Meister missed the podium for the first time this season. The opening round winner rebounded nicely to take home the win on Sunday. Meister led from start-to-finish to take control of the Super Buggy points race.
Mark Steinhardt also missed his first podium of the year on Saturday but came back strong on Sunday to take the runner-up spot. Billy Buth picked up his second podium of the weekend by finishing third in round four.
PRO AM SXS: Twenty-two cars lined up for the start of the Pro AM SXS final on Sunday. Bill Berger never trailed any of them.
Berger got a great start and didn’t make any mistakes as he motored around the big Crandon track. Berger was quickest at the end, setting the top two lap times on his last two laps. It marked Berger’s first win of the season and he now sits just two points behind current overall leader Colin Kernz.
Mike LeTourneau was quick all race long and dug deep into his bag of tricks to try and get around Berger, but he was unable to make any of his pass attempts stick as he crossed the line in second. Jared Jadin got into third late in the race and held off Logan Christensen for his first podium of the season.
1600 LIGHT BUGGY: Connor Schulz flipped the script on his brother Colin on Sunday. Colin Schulz took home the 1600 Light Buggy win on Saturday, with Connor in second. On Sunday, Connor went wire-to-wire for his second win this year. Colin started third but chased down his brother, finishing less than a second behind the winner. Greg Stingle finished third for his third podium finish of the year.
STOCK TRUCK: Cory Holtger hasn’t missed a Stock Truck podium this season and picked up his second win of the year with a dominating pace in Crandon on Sunday. His two wins keeps him in the overall points position, ahead of defending champion Diesel Shanak who finished second in round four. Kyle Ambroziak used a last lap pass on TJ Ewert for his second straight podium.
SHORT COURSE KARTS: Gavin Plummer had his Short Course Kart dialed in at Crandon as the young driver swept the weekend that included a spectacular win on Sunday. Reed LeDuc held off a pack of four karts to finish second and keep his overall points lead through four rounds.
MOD KART: Porter Inglese looked unbeatable early on in Mod Kart, but Zack Wirhanowicz put on a charge on Sunday to prove that wasn’t going to be the case.
Hunter VanZile led for most of the race, but Wirhanowicz found an extra gear with two laps to go to take home his first win of the season. Inglese was also able to get past VanZile in conjunction with Wirhanowicz to finish second.
VanZile didn’t drop past third as he finished in the final podium spot, crossing the line less than half a second behind the race winner.
1600 SINGLE BUGGY: Tony Keepers stepped up to the task of knocking current 1600 Single Buggy points leader John Fitzgerald off the top of the box with a wire-to-wire win on Sunday. Fitzgerald, who had won the first three rounds in 2022, crossed the line in second. Jeff Bechinski took home his second podium finish of the weekend in third.
SUPER STOCK TRUCK: Cooper had all of the momentum during the first half of the Super Stock Track, and it carried over into the second half of the race as well. One day after leading early before falling off the pace, Cooper was clean throughout Sunday’s race, leading from start to finish for his first win of the season. Ben Holtger and Nick Byng spent the final few laps trading positions before Holtger took and finished second with Byng in third.
SPORTSMAN SXS: Bryce Carson became the third winner in Sportsman SXS this season after he picked up his first win by leading from start-to-finish.
Carlson grabbed the lead from the get-go and found more speed as the race progressed. A pair of late race restarts put two-time winner Matt Vanderheyden right behind the race leader, but Carlson was quicker off the line and held off Saturday’s winner by a car length at the finish line. Round one winner Trent Peetz finished in third.
570 SXS: Ryker Remington earned his first career 570 SXS win on Saturday then followed it up with a wire-to-wire win during round four. Hudson Houle found his way to the podium for the first time this season, finishing second. Chase Braun crossed the line in third.
Photos Provided By Championship Off-Road