The time trials for the Eagle River World Championship have wrapped up, and the man at the top of the list isn’t an ex-champion, but rather a young racer who has been lightning fast this year.
Matt Schulz of Wausau, Wisconsin, posted a 17.813 second qualifying time, besting a field that includes three multi-time champions and putting his Wahl-chassis up front in Saturday’s qualifying heat races.
Another young racer from Wisconsin’s Northwoods took the second spot. Nick VanStrydonk of nearby Tomahawk was two-hundreths behind Schulz, posting a 17.833 on his Polaris-powered mod.
Dustin Wahl (18.148) posted the third-fast time on his Wahl/Polaris combination. He’ll try again to be the third Wahl to earn a World Championship on Sunday. Malcolm Chartier (18.198) took fourth on his Houle-built, Ski-Doo powered Champ sled.
The first ex-champion in time trials was three-time winner Jacques Villeneuve (18.203), and he was followed closely by fellow three-timer PJ Wanderschied (18.203). Both are attempting to be the first to earn four titles at Eagle River.
The rest of the top 10 were Dan Fenhaus (18.337), Nick Lagoy (18.355), two-time defending champion Bryan Bewcyk (18.391) and Jay Ryden (18.406). Last week’s winner at the USSA race in Plymouth, Spencer Graff, timed in 11th.
Of the rest of the pack of 25 who took the flag for time trials, the most notable fact was that two-time champion Gary Moyle was way back in 14th place. He’s got a funky new chassis this year, and he may not have it figured out yet. That said, Moyle has done this before – timed in at mid-pack – and came back and won on Sunday.
Maybe it’s because Moyle knows time trials mean very little here. With the Derby’s unique qualifying process, which involve a couple rounds of heat races on Saturday, time trials means very little, other than the seating in those heat races. Still, Schulz showed incredible strength in gaining the fast time, and may have opened some eyes in the pits.
Check back all weekend for updates. Things really get rolling tomorrow, with the big Friday Night Thunder program, and we’ll be there, taking photos and giving you the inside scoop. Tell your friends!