After ten rounds, five weekends, and two reschedules, the inaugural season of Championship Off-Road came to a conclusion this weekend. With the fall colors richly dripping in gold and reds across the Crandon countryside, the new series capitalized on its last day of racing in 2020 with a true Championship Sunday.
Saturday’s action pumped adrenaline and scribed storylines. Of the 16 classes offered up at Champ Off-Road events this season, only one title was secured before Sunday’s finale (CJ Greaves clinched the Pro Stock SXS championship). Many of the remaining 15 championships up for grabs on Sunday saw points leads shrink or be erased entirely on Saturday. That left a full day of meaning and intrigue as Crandon International Raceway became the backdrop of an exciting first season.
Kleiman is King in Pro 2
Kyle Kleiman has never won at Crandon. Defending Pro 2 champion and points leader Keegan Kincaid entered the weekend with eleven wins at his hometown track. Kleiman picked the right time to grab his first class win at the Big House.
A runner-up finish on Saturday helped Kleiman close the gap on Kincaid, with just three points spearing the two drivers entering Sunday’s race. Early on, Cory Winner held the lead before over-rotating before the finish line on lap two. Kleiman was inches from getting caught up in the spin but managed to slip past Winner and led for the rest of the race. He picked up two points at the half-way mark, but it didn’t matter as Kincaid couldn’t get around Saturday night winner Mickey Thomas. Kleiman’s win and Kincaid’s third was a seven-point difference at the end of the day, earning Kleiman the 2020 class championship by just four points.
Thomas picked up two wins this season for third overall. Winner utilized a crew of back-up drivers after hurting his back in the ERX opener, finished the season strong for fourth overall. Cody Gill rounded out the top five.
Holtger Wins Pro Lite Title
John Holtger never held the Pro Lite points lead in 2020 until it matters, at the end of Sunday’s race.
Holtger has been a work of consistency in his first season of Pro Lite. He grabbed five podiums heading into Sunday, including a runner-up finish on Saturday. But he trailed Kyle Greaves, who had won four of the first five events to start the season. Coming into Crandon, Greaves held a 16-point lead, but was unable to finish a lap at the Big House both days, opening the door for Holtger, who led from start-to-finish on Sunday to clinch the title.
Saturday night winner Zach Szymik pushed Holtger to the end to finish second, with Carson Parrish in tow. Overall, Greaves finished four points behind Holtger in second, with Jason Plouff, Parrish and Szymik rounding out the top five.
Greaves Grabs Pro 4 Win; LeDuc Finalizes Title
There wasn’t much for intrigue when it came to Kyle LeDuc claiming his seventh career Pro 4 title. A clean start and race would give the reigning West Coast champion his first Midwest title, tying Johnny Greaves in the process.
CJ Greaves found redemption on Sunday, grabbing an early lead and going wire-to-wire for his fourth win in 2020. As the defending champion was running through clean air, there was a lot of action happing behind his rear bumper.
Johnny Greaves was running a strong second with Andrew Carlson sitting in third and LeDuc in fourth. One lap six, Greaves pushed high, opening the door for Carlson and LeDuc to get around. A later incident just prior to the finish line turn in what looked like LeDuc stopped mid-slide gathered Greaves up and allowed Kyle Chaney to move past both drivers into third.
From there, the field leveled out with Greaves up front, leading Carlson and Chaney to the podium.
The win wasn’t enough for Greaves to overtake LeDuc in the points chase, but was enough to lock in second overall, ahead of Johnny Greaves. Carlson’s five podiums this season put him fourth overall and Adrian Cenni completed the top five.
VanEperen Wins Pro Mod; Greaves Gets Another Title
Rodney VanEperen has been feeling extremely comfortable in his Yamaha Pro Mod SXS the past several rounds. He proved it by winning two of the final three races, including a nail biter on Sunday.
VanEperen took the lead on the second lap and was able to hold point for the remaining nine laps. But Kyle Chaney (CanAM) ran at a blistering pace over the final two laps, including the fastest lap of the entire race, to catch VanEperen. At the end, less than half a second separated the two at the line. Andrew Carlson (Polaris) finished third.
VanEperen’s third win of the season wasn’t enough to catch CJ Greaves for the championship. Greaves fourth-place finish allowed VanEperen to close the gap to six points, but Greaves four wins in 2020 were enough to take his second SXS title after he clinched the Pro Stock SXS championship on Saturday. Greaves put an exclamation point on his title by winning the Stock SXS race on Sunday over John Holtger.
Sportsman Championships Come Down To The Wires
There are eleven sportsman classes that compete in Championship Off Road. All of them came down to the last day of the year to determine who was going to hold the 2020 championship crown.
1600 Light Buggy/1600 Single Buggy
Connor Schulz won both races at Crandon this weekend, but Billy Buth was able to catch points leader Tyler Marquardt on Saturday before capitalizing on Marquardt’s misfortune on Sunday to win the 1600 Light Buggy title.
Buth also held off John Fitzgerald to win the 1600 Single Buggy title. Fitzgerald had a dominant win on Sunday, but Buth finished third behind Tony Keepers to wrap up the championship by ten points.
Super Stock Truck
Eleven points separated the top four in Super Stock Truck heading into Sunday. At the end of the day, Nick Visser continued his constant charge, finishing second in the race to Scott Heikkila, and overtook Ben Holtger (12th on Sunday) for the title.
Trevor Bushmaker took over the points lead from Dylan Marquardt on Saturday. Marquardt took it back on Sunday. Marquardt finished fifth, but Bushmaker was outside of the top ten (11th) when the checkered flag came out. Gray Leadbetter took the win, passing Jonny Hentges on the final lap. Jake Jorgenson finished third on Sunday.
Remaining 2020 Champions
Pro Buggy:Michael Hester
Classix: Dale Chestnut
Formula 4×4: Danny Beauchamp
Stock Truck: Collin Wichman
Mod Kart: Easton Sleaper
Short Course Kart:Andy Johnson
170 SXS: Ellah Holtger
Photos provided by Champ Off-Road