Ski-Doo and Lincoln Lemieux’s early-season domination on the national Amsoil Championship Snocross series continued Friday night under the lights in Jackson, Wyoming, as the racer from Vermont earned a dominant victory and collected his second win and third two-two finish through three rounds of snowmobile racing.
After some early race battles, Lemieux was mostly unchallenged at the front, but a Ski-Doo train followed, with the top five racers all aboard MXZ 600RS sleds. A developing story, though, could be the health of former points champion and Polaris star Kody Kamm, who was helped off the race course and was being seen by medical personnel after a first-lap melee. UPDATE: The Hentges Racing Team for which Kamm races reported on social media that Kamm was not seriously injured, and said he would have completed the race had the sled not been damaged. Expect him to race on Saturday.
Racing continues Saturday in Jackson — make sure to get your picks in for the Fantasy Snowmobile Racing Challenge game here on SnowGoer.com. Just make your picks from pull-down menus that list the races — as always, it’s easy, free and fun.
Lemieux Latest Victory
Round 1 winner Elias Ishoel swept his qualifying heats and went into the final Friday night in Jackson as the No. 1 qualifier in the Pro class, but with the inverted starting selection rule that the host ISOC race circuit initiated a couple of years ago, that would leave Ishoel on the dreaded far inside on the 10-driver starting row.
In order of how they qualifier for the 18-lap final, the front row consisted of Ishoel (Ski-Doo), Kyle Pallin (Polaris), Kody Kamm (Polaris), Adam Renheim (Ski-Doo), Aki Pihlaja (Ski-Doo), Daniel Benham (Arctic Cat), Nick Pattyn (Arctic Cat), Lincoln Lemieux (Ski-Doo), Petter Narsa (Polaris) and last-chance qualifier winner Johan Lidman (Arctic Cat). Starting in the second row were others who advanced through the LCQ – Travis Muller (Arctic Cat), Logan Christian (Arctic Cat), Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo), Corin Todd (Polaris) and Brett Nastala (Arctic Cat).
On green, Pihlaja was credited with the Stud Boy Holeshot award on his red Boss Racing entry, but Lidman was right there with him and briefly took the lead on his Woodie’s Racing sled. Behind them, though, was a bigger story, as several sleds got hooked toward before the first turn and 2017 season points champ Kody Kamm was slungshot to the ground. He limped off the track and into the arms of medical officials – his day was done, but no word was available Friday night if the injury was serious. UPDATE: Kamm is reportedly fine and will race on Saturday. Ishoel was also involved in that early carnage.
Back to the racing, Lemieux was quickly all over Lidman, grabbing the lead on the first lap but then Lidman fought back and pulled beside the Lemieux on the downhill. Lemieux held the throttle to the bars, though, bombed a big downhill triple and grabbed a lead he would never surrender.
By last three, this is the way they ran: Lemieux a couple of seconds ahead of Lidman, followed by Pihlaja, Benham and Renheim, with Tremblay sixth followed by Narsa, Pallin, Todd and Pattyn. Nastala ran 11th, trailed by Muller, Christian and Ishoel, and then Kamm scored 15th.
Soon, the Ski-Doos started working their way toward the front. First Pihlaja moved past Lidman on about lap five by squaring up the first turn after the finish line, then Renheim passed Lidman with a similar move on the next lap. The Ski-Doo assault on Lidman was far from over, however, as Tremblay was all over him next and grabbed fourth, and soon thereafter an incredibly hard-charging Ishoel – remember, he was in the first-lap melee – suddenly moved past Lidman into fifth and started snapping at Tremblay’s snowflap.
Up front, Lemieux’s lead grew to more than 7 seconds. He took one slightly off-track turn after one corner but otherwise rode flawlessly and was unchallenged. Behind him, the Pro class vets were working on Pro class rookie Pihlaja, with Renheim grabbing second on about lap 12 and Tremblay moving to third on lap 14.
At the end of the 18-lap final, it was Lemieux with his second consecutive victory, winning by 5.5 seconds over Renheim, with Tremblay 9.4 seconds back. Next came Ishoel, who moved past Pihlaja into fourth, with Pihlaja the fifth Ski-Doo in a row. The next five were Benham, Pallin, Lidman, Todd and Christian, with Narsa, Pattyn, Miller and Nastala rounding out the running field and Kamm scored 15th.
After the race when interviewed by Josie Christian on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross webcast, Lemieux said, “The race before in the Pro Lite class they started doing this big triple out there, so then when all of us Pros come out there we were like, ‘Dang, now we all have to do it,’” Lemieux said with a smile.
“So, the first lap I hit the big triple and landed it smooth, but halfway through it got a little squirrely – there was a breaking bump right before it, but I hung on,” Lemieux said. “Our guys did a great job in the trailer today, and got the sled running great. We pulled the holeshot in the final and just never looked back.”
Lemieux has led all but about four laps in finals on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series this year through three rounds, but has had more trouble in qualifying races.
“I got pinched in the first qualifier so just to make it in the front row [starting position] was huge for me,” Lemieux added later. “We made a little clutching change right before the final and got a great start. That’s all we need – when we get out front we’re really fast. We haven’t been behind too much [in finals] this year, so if we keep getting those good starts we’re going to keep getting those good results.”
Renheim was all smiles after his second-place finish.
“It was tough today – in the final there, I don’t know where I came out [at the start] but halfway through I saw Tim [Tremblay] behind me and I thought I’d see us two just go for it,” Renheim said. “Tim will not let off – he’s a stubborn Canadian and I’m a stubborn Swede so I thought, ‘Well, here we go!’ and just tried to hang on down the hill,” he said with a laugh.
After struggling through heat races and the LCQ and starting the final as the 14th qualifier, Tremblay proved his strength in the final.
“It was kind of a terrible day [early on] for us – we couldn’t get out of the gate,” Tremblay said. “I got, like, fourth place in the LCQ and I was like, ‘I just can’t give up and [have to] give everything I have.’ My Makita Rock Star Ski-Doo at the end was running great.”
Patenaude Show In Pro-Lite
In Pro Lite, the winners of rounds one and two – Leo Patenaude and Ryley Bester – were the class of the field in the heat races at Jackson Hole as well, and went into the final as the top two qualifiers.
On green, though, it was immediately a battle between the Patenaude brother, as older brother Leo and younger brother Hunter battled back-and-forth for the lead for the first couple of laps before Leo went for broke on a downhill section, staying on the gas and skying past moguls that slowed his brother.
After landing the big jump, though, Leo Patenaude had the back end of his Ingles Performance Ski-Doo swapping mightily as he headed for the first corner. The veteran rider saved it, though, and kept the lead all the way to the end of the 14-lap final over his hard-charging brother, winning by 1.585 seconds.
Behind the brothers, Nisse Kjellstrom fought his way past Bester and then held third for most of the race, but he has his own problems with about two laps left. That moved Francis Pelltier – who had also fought past Bester – up to third, where he finished 10.6 seconds back from the leader and created a podium sweep for Ski-Doo.
Bester ended up fourth, followed by Marcus Ogeman, RJ Roy, Martin Moland, Even Daught, Adam Peterson and Camryn Anderson.
Asked by ISOC’s trackside announcer about racing for the win against his brother, Leo Patenaude said enthusiastically, “I had a smile on my face the entire time, I love it when I can do that with him!”
Hunter added, “It was actually pretty cool – that’s the first time we were ever able to really battle like that, except for one time back in 2014,” he said. “For us to both be up here on the podium? That’s an awesome thing!”
More Brodeur in Pro Women
In Pro Women’s, Taven Woodie got off to a strong start but then came off her sled on a speedy downhill run, with her sled going off to the track to the right but Taven landing in a hole to the left. She jumped to her feet ready to chase her sled, but did so right in front of the rest of the speeding pack! With moves that would make former NFL running back Barry Sanders proud, with a major assist with following and very alert racers, she somehow avoided getting run over, but fell to the back of the pack.
In the meantime, her main rival in the class Megan Brodeur was absolutely running away with the final, building a lead that approached 20 seconds and winning by a broad margin on her Ski-Doo. Behind her, Marlene Anderson followed Inanna Hauger for awhile but eventually moved her way to second and locked down that spot, with Hauger third. Tausha Lange and Jackie Farmer rounded out the top five.
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