Heading out to the track and soaking up the summer sun is back to reality. The 2020 Championship Off-Road season kicked off yesterday, Friday July 10th. The start of Championship Off-Road‘s (COR) inaugural season started at ERX Motor Park’s Off-Road National as racers found clean lines, big air, and renewed enthusiasm.
The new season saw plenty of talent throughout its 15 classes, and the pristine track laid out at the Elk River, Minnesota complex provided exceptional racing for the new series season opener.
Pro 4: Century Mark for Kyle LeDuc
Kyle LeDuc has built a reputation as a fierce competitor, who can race smooth and fast, or grind out a hard fought win. There is no grey area with the former West Coast champion and his 99 career wins came to ERX with one thing on their mind – Win!
LeDuc had never been on the Elk River track, but he quickly found his pace as the number one qualifier. With no inversion, that put him on the pole and after a few laps into the race, and he took advantage, leading wire-to-wire for win number one hundred.
“We’ve been waiting for months to turn these trucks,” said LeDuc following his career milestone. “To get 100 is surreal. It’s great to get 100 races in, but to win 100, we don’t even know how to react.”
As LeDuc was hitting his spots in the lead, it was a three-way battle for the remaining two podium spots behind him. Andrew Carlson lined up next to LeDuc on the start, and controlled second place, holding off both CJ and Johnny Greaves for most of the 14-lap final. On the last lap, Johnny Greaves used a veteran move on Carlson, taking advantage of a small gap on the 180-degree turn two. The move gave him enough momentum to hold off Carlson for the final four turns.
“We are all learning these DOT tires,” said Greaves. “I set up for a little more blue groove and when you run the dirt off the bottom you can control the corner. We ran it clean and were able to take advantage of it.”
It was a year ago at ERX that Carlson outdueled Greaves for his first career Pro 4 win. Despite missing out on a second, he showed great humility on the podium.
“My experience is so small compared to the guys up here,” said Carlson. “just the number of championships these two guys have. Just pumped to be up here with these two guys, just learning and hope to be in front of them someday soon.”
Pro 2: Kincaid Continues Dominance
Keegan Kincaid has won at all levels since he started racing as a full time profession several years ago. But in Pro 2 is where he has really showcased his talent, and much like LeDuc in Pro 4, Kincaid was on-point from start-to-finish in Friday’s final.
Eleven trucks lined up for the 14-lap final, with the inversion putting Kincaid and Ricky Gutierrez on the front row ahead of Ryan Beat and fastest qualifier Kyle Kleiman. As noted, Kincaid took control of the race on lap one, and despite a last lap restart, picked up his first win of the year.
Behind him was a hornet’s nest of action. Position changes, door-banging and chaos ruled the wildest race of the day. Kleiman was equally as fast as Kincaid all day, but the former class champion found himself in several heavy contact situations, bumping him off of rhythm before he settled into third. Kleiman has proven his is great finisher, and a back-and-forth battle with rookie Ricky Gutierrez came down to an exceptional, late pass by Kleiman for the final podium spot.
Ahead of him was number five qualifier Mickey Thomas, who ran a clean race to his first class podium in second.
Pro Lite: New Faces Fill The Division
Kyle Greaves has been one of the top SXS racers over the past few seasons, but it was a matter of time before a full-time jump into Pro Lite, and if his debut is any indication, it was a great off-season decision.
Cole Mamer found the lead on lap one, taking advantage of the four car inversion. He was pressured early by Greaves and Dillon Pointon. Mamer led for the first five laps before Greaves was able get around and find clean air. From there, Greaves ran consistent laps, picking up his first Pro Lite win.
Mamer was keeping pace with Greaves in second but was unable to hold off Carson Parrish on the last lap. Mamer, Parrish, and Pointon had battled for the final two spots for most of the race, but Parrish’s move on lap 14 gave him the second spot, followed by Mamer and Pointon.
SXS: Greaves Gets Two Wins in SXS Action
CJ Greaves and Kyle Chaney are going to see a lot of one another this season. Along with their Pro 4 commitment, they are also going to be key players in the Pro Mod SXS championship.
At ERX, Greaves gained the first advantage over his SXS rival, taking the win from the pole. The entire race showcased Greaves with the lead, but also with Chaney directly in his roost. Chaney was unable to find a way around race winner, Greaves, settling for second. Just behind them was Yamaha’s Rodney VanEperen, who controlled the final podium spot for the entire race, despite pressure from Andrew Carlson, who started last but found his way into the top five by lap four.
Greaves was also named the winner of the Pro Stock SXS race after Jeremy Houle failed a post-race test inspection.
Other Racing Highlights
- Danny Beauchamp debuted a new truck in Formula 4×4, taking the win over Randy Schaitel and Codie Sommers.
- Aaron Konitzer held off Dale Chestnut for the Classix win.
- Kody Krantz became the first winner ever of the new 170 SXS class. He battled with Draxton Szymik and Ellah Holtger.
- In Sportsman SXS, Tim Christensen took the lead on lap seven and held off Colin Kernz and Trevor Bushmaker for the win. 30 cars filled up the Sportsman SXS field.
- After six-laps around the ERX track, Ava Lawrence won the first Short Course Karts race of the year.
- Sam Marquardt was victorious in the exciting Mod Kart final. Marquardt led wire-to-wire, finishing ahead of Michael Funk and Easton Sleaper.
- The three buggy classes of the day brought excitement to ERX complex. Billy Buth led the final five laps for the win in 1600 Buggy.
- Mark Steinhardt was cruising to a win in Pro Buggy before a crash took him out of the race. That allowed Michael Hester to take the lead for the final four laps. JD Koran finished second, ahead of Chris Van Den Elzen.
- Eric Senkowski was dominant on his way to winning the Stock Truck race. Don Demeny finished second.
- Nick Byng was the winner in Super Stock Truck
Racing continues on Saturday, and it can be viewed live here.
Photos provided by Championship Off-Road