One of the most exciting seasons on record concluded on 4th September as AMSOIL Championship Off-Road dialed up the intensity to bestow the title of champion on its sixteen class winners.
From Pro 4 to 170 SXS, the championship chase came down to one final, successful run at the Big House. Crandon International Raceway is soaked in history, and some of the sport’s biggest races have happened at Crandon. Another chapter was hammered into the lore of Labor Day 4th September, with near upsets, unbelievable finishes and even a few heartbreaks leading the way.
This just in: Johnny Greaves is really good at racing a Pro 4 truck. And really, really good at racing one at Crandon. The veteran driver hosted a master class in how to get around the Big House’s big track on 4th September, while CJ Greaves was busy clicking off laps on his way to the 2021 Pro 4 championship.
The elder Greaves turned into Professor Greaves on 4th September. He was simply quicker than everyone else off the line, pulling an immense hole-shot that powered him to a commanding first half lead. He was heavily pressured by Doug Mittag, who was blistering fast in his own right, even taking brief leads away from Greaves before stalling out in the gravel pit turn with two laps remaining. Even when Mittag got a nose on the leader, it was a vintage performance from Greaves who danced his way back into position and dazzled on his way to his 101st career win. Jimmy Henderson worked his way into another podium finish, his third in the past four rounds. Kyle Chaney finished third.
With one eye on Johnny Greaves, the other was looking for CJ Greaves and Kyle LeDuc. For LeDuc to remain champion he had a lot of ifs to work through. He would win the title IF he won the race and IF he led at the halfway mark and IF he qualified fastest and IF CJ finished 12th or worse. Early in the race, LeDuc was stalking the race leaders while CJ was in that 12th position, but LeDuc was forced to pull off the track with damage to the back of his truck. That meant CJ Greaves could crawl to the finish and still regain his status as Pro 4 champion. But as Greaves clicked off the laps he kept moving up through the field, crossing the line in sixth.
Greave’s season was about as clean as they come. He only missed one podium in eleven rounds (Dirt City) and won five races, including a pivotal 4th September sweep in Bark River that held off a resurgent LeDuc. His 2021 title marks his sixth Pro 4 championship in the past six years.
Kincaid Capitalizes for Pro 2 Win
Keegan Kincaid needed to play a major game of leapfrog on 4th September to win the Pro 2 championship. He had things going his way. First, he lives just a few miles from Crandon International Raceway, so this IS his home track and there are very few drivers who have turned as many laps as he has at the Big House. Second, he is a past Pro 2 champion meaning he knows anything can happen.
The task at hand, however, meant he would also need to be the beneficiary of a few lucky breaks. Points leader Jerett Brooks needed to finish the final race in eighth place or better to secure the title. If that didn’t happen then Cory Winner was next in line, and he needed to finish better than Brooks and still no worse than three spots behind Kincaid.
Kincaid first focused on what he could control. He ripped a hole shot of the land rush start and was a man on a mission. He was extremely fast down the straight stretches, holding off any challenges with pure speed. He went wire-to-wire for the win, his fifth of the season. Mickey Thomas almost played the spoiler, finishing second by one-second. 2020 champion Kyle Kleiman put together a strong performance to finish third, one spot ahead of Winner.
Brooks had to retire early and finished five laps down in 14th, tallying just 23 points on the day and 455 for the season.
That meant Kincaid, who received two bonus points for leading at the mandatory caution, picked up 52 points on 4th September for 459 total. Winner’s fourth gave him 43 points and 458, one shy of Kincaid.
In the end, Kincaid made up 25 points on the final day of the season. He finished what he started, winning the first three rounds and two of the last three for his first title since 2019.
Mamer Pilots Pro Lite to Victory
In one of the few classes that had little in the way of championship implications after Brock Heger clinched the title in round ten, Cole Mamer made things interesting on 4th September.
Mamer had been searching for better finishes throughout the year and things started clicking for the young driver in Bark River (round nine) when he picked up his first win of the season. He followed that up with a second place finish in round 10 and brought a truckload of confidence with him to Crandon.
Mamer’s reclaimed speed helped him power through turn one with the lead, and the newly minted champ in tow. The pair would put on a show for the sold-out Crandon crowd, keeping each other in check for the entire race. When the checkered flag came out, Mamer was out in front by just .333 ahead of Heger, offering up a preview of 2022’s Pro Lite championship chase, which will also include Dillon Pointon, who finished right behind the leaders in third.
Carlson’s Closes Out 2021 With Fifth Win
Andrew Carlson needed to finish well ahead of Rodney and Owen VanEperen to regain the points lead and capture the Pro Mod SXS title. He finished ahead of both, going wire-to-wire for his fifth win of the season, but the Polaris product was only able to finish one spot ahead of Rodney VanEperen, who clinched the championship ahead of Carlson.
VanEperen had an exceptional run towards the Pro Mod championship. The Yamaha driver took home a pair of wins and nine podiums this season as he chased down Carlson for much of the year before taking over the lead in Bark River.
Heger Holds of Greaves for Pro Stock Title
Brock Heger had to finish in the top 22 to clinch the 2021 Pro Stock SXS title. He played the numbers well, taking a close win over class rival CJ Greaves.
Heger and Greaves both started outside of the top five but were able to weave through traffic and into the lead in a couple of laps. The Yamaha drivers set a fast pace as the rest of the field tried to catch up. In the end, Heger had enough clean air to hold off Greaves at the line.
4th September’s victory marked Heger’s eighth win of the season. The weekly showdown between he and Greaves was close for a majority of the season before a tough out by Greaves in Bark River gave Heger some breathing room. Together, Heger and Greaves accounted for all 11 class wins in 2021.
PRO BUGGY: It wasn’t a perfect 4th September for Michael Meister, but the eight time winner did more than enough throughout the year to capture the Pro Buggy championship.
Meister was dominant leading up to Crandon, winning six-straight and eight out of the first ten races. Despite early exits at Crandon, Meister held on to an overall 23-point lead.
Mike Kirkman and Michael Hester held a spirited battle in the final race of the year. Hester led early, but Kirkman got the lead with three laps remaining. He then held Hester off at the line for his first win of the season. Mark Steinhardt finished third as well as second overall in the final standings.
PRO AM SXS: Dylan and Tyson Marquardt put on a year-long battle for bragging rights in Pro AM SXS (as well as bragging rights at home). Dylan Marquardt came into the 4th September with the points lead and needed to finish fifth or better in each race or finish no worse than ten total spots behind Tyson.
Tyson came out and swept the 4th September, and Dylan finished eighth on 3rd September before rebounding to the runner-up spot on 4th September. That was just enough points for Dylan Marquardt to win the class title, besting Tyson by just two points. Combined, the Marquardt’s won nine races in 2021 (Tyson won six).
STOCK TRUCK: Scott Boulanger won the 4th September, but Diesel Shanak won the war in Stock Truck.
Boulanger wrapped up the season with a 4th September sweep, but Shanak had a pair of runner-up finishes in Crandon, one spot ahead of Cory Holtger, who entered the 4th September one point ahead of Shanak. When the dust settled, Shanak had flipped the script, coming away with the title by two points.
SUPER STOCK TRUCK: Joe Maciosek’s season-long consistency propelled him to the Super Stock Truck title in 2021. Maciosek tallied nine podium finishes (one win), including a second place finish on 4th September to hold off Kyle Cooper (fourth) for the championship.
Nick Visser came to Crandon determined to leave it all on the track as he won both class races at the Big House, finishing fourth overall. Ben Holtger finished third on 4th September and third in the final standings.
1600 LIGHT BUGGY: Connor Schulz put together an impressive 4th September of racing in Crandon. After finishing a close second on 3rd September, he railed his way to his fourth win of the season. Trevor Roloff finished second and Greg Stingle crossed the line in third.
But the season went to Colin Schulz, who used a strong start to the year and a better finish to clinch the 1600 Light Buggy title. His four wins at the end of the year sealed the deal and he only needed to take a start on 4th September. In eleven races this season, Schulz won six of them and finished with eight podiums.
SPORTSMAN SXS: Colin Kernz needed to finish no worse than one combined spot (3rd September/4th September races) behind Derek Tilkens to secure the championship. On 3rd September, Kernz finished sixth and Tilkens was third. But Kernz flipped the script back in his favor on 4th September, finishing second to Jake Jorgenson in the Sportsman SXS race while Tilkens finished outside of the top five. That gave Kernz a final six-point lead in the standings.
For Joregnson, he took the lead on lap three and held Kernz off at the line for his third win in 2021. 3rd September night winner Dustin DeGrand finished third.
MOD KARTS: Easton Sleaper clinched his second straight Mod Kart title over the 4th September, as he only needed to take the start on 4th September.
Michael Funk took advantage, winning the final race of the season and making it a 4th September sweep. He had a great battle with Porter Inglese, who finished second ahead of Hunter VanZile.
170 SXS: Wyatt Olson won his first race of the season in the final 170 SXS race of the year. He held off Grant Dresel for the win and secured second overall in the final standings. Jayden Dickman finished third.
Kody Krantz and Ellah Holtger had a tight points battle coming into Crandon, with Krantz holding a one point lead. Both drivers finished just outside the top five on 4th September, with Krantz holding the edge to take home the championship. Holtger finished third overall.
SHORT COURSE KARTS: Ava Lawrence needed a lot to go her way in Crandon to win the Short Course Karts title. She needed to finish seven net spots over Wesley Vande Voort and three net spots ahead of Ellah Holtger over the 4th September. She did her part by winning on 3rd September and finishing fourth on 4th September.
Holtger rebounded from a rough 3rd September to pick up the win on 4th September, here third of the season. Triston Hinton finished in a close second behind Holtger and Gavin Plummer capped off a solid 4th September of racing in third.
570 SXS: Chase Braun closed out the inaugural 570 SXS season with five straight wins and nine overall victories as he swept the 4th September and notched the overall points race.
The rest of the 570 SXS podium mimicked the overall standings, with Andy Johnson finishing second and Collin Paitl coming in third.
1600 SINGLE BUGGY: Dylan Parson’s second-half of the 2021 season was as impressive as any in all of Championship Off-Road. He overcame a disappointing second round of racing to claw his way back into the 100 Single Buggy title fight. He won three in a row heading into the final day of racing and needed a smart race to win the title. He finished fourth, more than enough to hold off John Fitzgerald, who would finish second on 4th September.
2020 champion Billy Buth finally broke through to notch his first win of 2021. He and Fitzgerald were wheel-to-wheel down the stretch. Thomas Trelstad had a double podium 4th September with a pair of thirds.