ELK RIVER, MINN – Amsoil Championship Snocross competitors across the board likened the big, high-flying track that was laid out at ERX Motor Park for Friday night’s U.S. Air Force Snocross National as having a “supercross” flair to it.
That same style presented competitors on Saturday as the series officially hit its midpoint. Eight rounds have been scratched off of the 2023 schedule, and there was little separation in the standings over the weekend. The cream rose to the top at ERX, but several championship contenders stated their cases heading into the second half of the year.
Patenaude Perfect in Pro Racing
Through the qualifying heats on Saturday night, it was evident that the ERX track was getting torn up. As the laps added up, numerous sleds were struggling to get through the wetter, more unpredictable snow.
The safe bet for the Pro final would be to go with someone who has won at ERX in the past. Hunter Patenaude fit the bill perfectly, having won his first career Pro race at ERX. Patenaude delivered on Saturday, winning both heats and leading the final from start-to-finish. It was his third win of the season and moved him from sixth to third in the overall standings.
“I was just trying to get back to what I’ve been doing; try to be consistent in the heat races and just take it one step at a time,” said Patenaude. “It seemed like the last few rounds had not gone my way. So, I just went out today and was the number one qualifier, won the heat races and then won the final from start-to-finish. It feels good for sure.”
Dan Benham seriously challenged Patenaude throughout the final. He was never more than a few sled lengths behind the race leader and was well within reach of the runner-up spot, which would have been his best finish of the season. But Elias Ishoel never stopped charging. He was able to find some fast lines late in the race and used them to overtake Benham with just two laps to go to finish second.
Benham finished third for the third time this year. Francis Pelletier crossed the line in fourth and Kody Kamm rounded out the top five.
Lebel Breaks Record with Eighth Straight Win
Coming into ERX Elias Ishoel held the record of seven Pro Lite wins in a row. After two nights of racing, that honor now belongs to Jordan Lebel.
It took a bit of extra work for Lebel to get the mark. He had to win the LCQ and overcome a back row start in the final, but the Ski-Doo rider was still able to overcome a tough night of qualifying to get the job done.
His biggest obstacle on the night came from Ryley Bester. The Polaris rider grabbed control of the race by winning the hole shot. He held the point for nearly the entire race, but Lebel was able to crack the code and get around Bester for the lead with just under one minute left on the clock.
“It was a crazy race,” said Lebel. “I started in the back row, and I was able to find a little space to get in the top five. I had a good battle out there with Ryley until the end, and yeah, I was able to make that pass, and I get that top spot.”
Bester was looking like he had win number one in the bag, with Lebel outside of the top five. He continuously held off Lebel, lap after lap, but once the two race leaders got into lapped traffic, Lebel was able to navigate through a bit cleaner. It was Besters fourth podium this year, but first since round three at Canterbury.
Marcus Ogemar put together an amazing second half run in 2022. He picked up his first podium of the year on Friday night at ERX, and his second on Saturday with a third place finish.
Woodie With the Win in Pro Women Final
Tasha Lange crushed the start in the Pro AM Women’s final, but it was Taven Woodie’s night to shine at ERX.
Woodie started just behind Lange and used her jumping ability to track down and pass the race leader. After that, Woodie was unmatched the rest of the way as she was fast and smooth while picking up her second win of the season.
Lange got some late pressure from Inanna Hauger but was able to pull away for the second spot on the box. Hauger finished third, her sixth podium of the season.
Defending champion and current points leader Malene Cottew had a bad crash on the first lap but was able to get back on the sled and finished the race.
Lieders Leaps Back into Points Lead
Andy Lieders missed the Deadwood rounds a few weeks ago, and that opened up the door for Adam S. Johnson to overtake the Pro AM Plus 30 lead. But Lieders was back at ERX, and the former champion returned to the top of the podium (and the overall standings), with another smooth ride atop his Polaris.
Defending class champion Devin Denman finished second behind Lieders, his fourth straight podium. Mike George dusted off his Arctic Cat and returned to racing after a three year hiatus. George looked good after the time-off, finishing third.
Crayden Dillon pushed his winning streak to three as he proved unstoppable in the FXR Sport final on Saturday night. Dillon took over the lead on the second lap and stretched it out to a 10-second lead by the end of the race.
Drew Freeland and Tyler Archambault put together a nice battle over the final four laps. Freeland was able to hold off Archambault for the runner-up position.
Kenny Goike led from the start and never relinquished that lead as he rode to his first Sport Lite win of the season. It marked his third straight podium finish, and second of the ERX weekend.
Friday night’s winner, Brandon Nelson finished second to hold on to a commanding point lead over Isaac Peterson, who finished third on Saturday night.
Ryan Shimanski has used a series of clean starts to lead the 120 Champ class in points this season. Shimanski did it again on Saturday night, hitting the hole shot and then led the field around the track for his third win of the season.
Logan Bruch earned his best finish of the season, crossing the line in second. Lila Hemmer also took home her best result this year in third.
Rox Speed FX Stock 200 (Saturday):
Jack Gelinas brought a winning formula to the track for the Stock 200 final on Saturday night Gelinas led from start-to-finish, picking up his first win of the season in the process. Ryan Shimanski finished second, one spot ahead of Harrison Skar who earned his first podium finish of the year.
Transition 9-13 (Saturday):
Easton Kuhn put together his best day of racing this season, earning his first win in Saturday’s Transition 9-13 final. Carter Meyeraan also notched his first class podium of the season by finishing second. AJ Skogquist finished third.
Transition 8-10 (Saturday):
Noah Gillis and Logan Bruch had a heck of a race in the Transition 8-10 final, with Gillis holding off Bruch for his first win of the year. Bruch pushed hard to catch Gillis but came up just short in second. Tripp Knudson rounded out the podium in third.
Jr. 14-15 (Saturday):
Dylan Lebel and Isaac Peterson have split the Junior 14-15 finals evenly this season. That comes after Lebel picked up his second class win of the year with a wire-to-wire finish on Saturday. Peterson kept pace, finishing just a few sled lengths back in second. Colin Taggart started sixth in the final but moved his way into third on the final lap, marking his first podium of the year.
Tavin Kundson finished what he started by leading wire-to-wire for his second Junior 10-13 win of the season. Jimmy Stanisich started fourth but came back to finish second. Carter Meyeraan rounded out the podium in third.
Woodies Traction JR. GIRLS 9-13:
Avery Hemmer picked up her second win of the year in Woodies Traction Junior Girls 9-13 on Saturday. Hemmer went wire-to-wire for her first victory since round one. Victoria Dillon hit the podium for the fourth straight week, finishing second ahead of Aubrey Eeg. It was Eeg’s first podium finish this season, and she held off Ana Wenslof for third.