Sportsman In The Spotlight at Crandon on Friday Night
Crandon, Wis. ~ There’s no place like the Big House. With four days of racing, off-road fans will get their fill of short-course hoopla in Crandon, Wis. It also marks the final weekend of competition for AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force sportsman classes.
Crandon International Raceway, celebrating his 54th year of competition this weekend, hosted the foundation of Champ Off-Road’s future on Thursday and Friday. From 170 SxS’s to Super Stock Trucks, the racing was tight, and the championship implications for Saturday’s Sportsman finale were abundant.
Forest County Potawatomi Friday Night Thunder
Pro-AM SxS: Kolton Krajicek started his rookie season with three straight wins and has rediscovered that early speed with a late-season surge that now includes three wins in the last four races.
Krajicek went wire-to-wire for his sixth win of his rookie campaign. He used clean air to get away from a three-car battle that unfolded behind him. John Kummer started the race in second and sat there through the checkered flag. That was despite heavy pressure from Matt Boerschinger and Bill Berger late in the race.
Boerschinger had his work cut out early, starting seventh but jumping into his final finishing spot of third after a mid-race restart. Berger finished fourth, and the points leader stretched a 16-point lead over Derek Liebergen (7th) into an unofficial 22-point lead heading into championship Saturday.
Super Stock Truck: The Super Stock Truck class always offers tight, exciting races, and Friday was no different. Four drivers entered the day with only 17 points separating them for the overall points lead.
At the top of the list was Ben Holtger and Joe Maciosek, and the two put together a phenomenal and clean race Friday night. Maciosek tried everything to get around Holtger, but the points leader was also the race leader when the checkered flag dropped. A half-second separated the two, but Holtger got the win and picked up five points heading into Saturday.
Brandon Beauchamp gave Maciosek fits early on, as the round seven winner drove to his third straight podium in third.
Stock Truck: Cory Holtger was in line for his eighth Stock Truck win of the season until Kyle Ambroziak made an inside line work with two laps left for his second straight win.
With Holtger finishing second (and grabbing the two bonus points for leading at the mandatory caution), Ambroziak could only pick up one point (30-point difference) with one round remaining.
Malakai Yakel crossed the finish line in third, his first Stock Truck podium. He edged out Neil Shanak, who started 20th before finishing fourth.
Sportsman SxS: It will come down the final laps on Saturday for Sportsman SxS supremacy, but neither of the top two in points factored into Friday night’s podium.
Brayden Kernz snatched the lead at the mid-point and held off round three winner Ben Heiting until the last lap. Heiting grabbed the lead and finished ahead of Kernz by 7/10ths of a second for the win. Kernz held on to the runner-up spot, and Ben Berger had an excellent restart, moving from seventh to a final finishing position of third.
As for points, leader Trent Peetz finished fifth, and Lucas Houle crossed the line in seventh, making it a nine-point difference heading into Saturday’s finale.
1600 Single Buggy: John Fitzgerald has been on a hot streak in 1600 Single Buggy, and he was in the position to pick up his fifth straight win. But Mike Seefeldt was chasing in points and chased him down for his third win in 2023.
Fitzgerald and Seefeldt swapped time at the top spot throughout Friday’s race, but Seefeldt made a last lap pass to pick up the win and chew into Fitzgerald’s 19-point lead.
Connor Schulz snuck into third on the final circuit, earning his fourth straight podium finish in the process.
1600 Light Buggy: Twin brothers Connor and Colin Schulz will add another chapter to their sibling rivalry on Saturday. The two 1600 Light Buggy drivers have swapped race wins all season long and will head into the last day in near-dead heat.
Connor Schulz drove a clean race on Friday, finishing with a wire-to-wire win, his fifth of the season. He held off a two-car battle between Evan Hockers (2nd) and Greg Stingle (3rd). He also nearly erased Colin Schulz’s 16-point lead after he picked up 11 points with the season finale a night’s sleep away.
Crandon Youth Cup: Thursday Action
There was plenty of AMSOIL Championship Off-Road action, presented by the U.S. Air Force on Thursday night. Crandon hosted all of the youth class races, which were part of round 11 of the Champ Off-Road championship, with the twelfth and final round scheduled for Saturday
570 SxS: Draxton Szymik is doing everything he can to catch 570 SxS points leader Corbyn Wassenberg, including picking up his first win of the season on Thursday
Szymik started eighth and took the lead with two laps to go for the victory. Szymik also closed the points with Wassenberg, who finished fourth. Ryker Remington started second, and the round eight winner finished second. Kody Krantz earned his first class podium of the season in third place.
170/200 SxS: Tanner Thibeault came into the weekend with the 170/200 SxS points lead, but Thursday winner Ryan Deninger picked up his fifth win of the season to cut that lead to 14 points heading into the final round.
Deninger held off Kody Krantz at the line by 6/10ths of a second for the win. It marked Krantz’s third straight podium finish. Thibeault didn’t drop far, finishing third after driving to his first podium since Dirt City.
Mod Kart: Porter Inglese started the season strong and is now finishing the year equally as formidable as he drove to wire-to-wire for his sixth Mod Kart win off the year. Inglese will enter Saturday with a 28-point lead over Avery Hemmer.
Hunter VanZile finished second, just .490 of a second behind Inglese., Lincoln Mandsager started eight on Thursday and took over the third spot on a mid-race restart for third.
Short Course Karts: Wesley Vande Voort broke through with his first Short Course Kart win of the year, leading from start to finish for the win. Caleb Bell picked up his first podium finish since round two in Antigo, driving in the runner-up spot from the drop of the green flag. Round ten winner Jacobi Tullberg finished third.
Youth SxS: Libby Nielsen drove hard and took home a wire-to-wire win in Youth SxS on Thursday. The victory was her fourth of the season, as she sits third overall. Layne Peterson started second and finished second, and points leader Ryker Remington settled into the third spot off the start and drove uncontested for the final podium spot. Remington will enter the last day of racing with a 41-point lead over Livy Hentges.
Up next for AMSOIL Championship Off-Road, presented by the U.S. Air Force: Crandon International Raceway in Crandon, Wis. All classes of Championship Off-Road Racing will be held Saturday with the Polaris World Championships and Red Bull Cup on Sunday. Sunday is a non-points day.
With a subscription, you can watch all 14 rounds of the AMSOIL Championship Off-Road season plus live on FloRacing.