Patenaude, Brodeur highlight day two in Duluth
DULUTH, MINN.~ Lincoln Lemieux wasn’t alive when the annual AMSOIL Snocross National, presented by Kwik Trip first lined up outside the Spirit Mountain chalet in Duluth, Minn. 27 years ago. But on Sunday, the Vermont native celebrated his 25th birthday with a dominant win at the legendary race course that starts each AMSOIL Championship Snocross, POWERED by RAM season.
A day after leading the first 15 laps only to lose out to Ski Doo’s Elias Ishoel, Lemieux was untouchable in the final race of the weekend, although getting there wasn’t so simple. For many riders, turn one was an unsolvable mystery all weekend long, and the Scheuring Speed Sports/Ski Doo/AMSOIL driver was no exception.
He struggled in his first heat race, before coming back to win in round two. Those results pushed him into the LCQ, which he won easily. That gave him the 10th qualifying spot, and the choice of starting in the front or back row. He chose wisely, lining up on the far outside of the front row next two number one qualifier Kody Kamm (Hentges Racing/Polaris). When the 15-sleds launched off the line and through turn one it was Lemieux with the lead. Early pressure from Kamm kept him honest, but by the time the 18-lap final was completed, Lemieux had a seven-second lead over the former champion. Ishoel kept up a fast-paced charge to round out the podium.
The win was a nice rebound for Lemieux after openly admitted to wearing down in Saturday nights final. Battling fatigue was only half the battle for the Ski Doo rider on Sunday, as the track was a nemesis for all racers during the weekend.
“There were a lot of ice edges out there,” said Lemieux. “It was 40-degrees on Friday and 15-degrees today, and the groomers did the best the could, but I found a few of them, and almost fell off a few times. But, I actually breathed today. Last night, I didn’t at all.
It was the second career win for Lemieux in Duluth. His first came in 2016, when he surprised the field and finished ahead of then-Scheuring Speed Sports teammate Tim Tremblay. Now riding again for Warnert Racing/Ski Doo, Tremblay had a good day of racing before being collected trying to avoid a crash by Aki Pihlaja on lap five.
Vermont Strikes Again in Pro Lite
The state of Vermont carried the lucky charm in Duluth this weekend. Along with Lemieux, the Patenaude brothers (Leo and Hunter) all hail from the Green Mountain State. Hunter, who is Lemieux’s teammate, finished second on Saturday night, but it was Leo who stole the show on Sunday.
The Ingles Performance rider was solid all weekend long, but didn’t win a qualifying round on Sunday. That didn’t deter him in the final where he took advantage of a crazy start that saw one rider blow the turn and several other racers bang into each other. Patenaude snuck through and pulled away from the turn-one carnage with the lead. From there, it was cruise control for the Ski Doo racer who took a convincing win over Francis Pelletier (Ski Doo) and Martin Moland (Arctic Cat). Like Lemieux, the downhill start had nabbed Patenaude all weekend long.
“Just getting through that first turn was super important,” said Patenaude atop the podium. “You can go in there in first and still come out in 10th. It’s been crazy all weekend.”
Saturday nights winner, Ryley Bester, was one of the riders who got caught up in the chaos on Sunday. Bester, a rookie in the Pro Lite class, finished off the podium in ninth.
“Best Race of the Weekend”
Easily the best, edge-of-your seat moment came in the Pro AM Women’s finale. If this weekend is any indication, Ski Doo’s Meghan Brodeur and Arctic Cat’s Taven Woodie are ready for a season long showdown.
Brodeur took the first swing by winning on Saturday night, and was the number one qualifier entering Sunday’s final. Woodie did everything in her power to neutralize the reigning champ. The Wyoming-native muscled through the first turn and into the lead. For most of the eight lap final, that’s where she sat, but Brodeur kept closing the gap and the two went bar-to-bar for the last two trips around.
Lapped riders would help write the last word, and as Brodeur and Woodie headed over the finish line, they each had to choose a side of one back marker, with Brodeur nudging out the win by .015 of a second.
“Just hold the gas wide open,” said Brodeur after the race, “and see what it does. Me and Tavern go into some lappers. It was working in her favor sometimes and my favor sometimes. It was a good battle until the end.”
Quote of the Day
Usually, it’s the pro’s giving tips to the amateur riders in snocross, but on Sunday, one 120 Champ rider let the top dogs know how to handle the whooped out circuit.
Brady Freeland, who won the 120 Champ class, was asked during his podium speech if he had any advice for the upcoming pro classes. He kept it simple, “Be fast and be smooth.”
Rounds three and four of AMSOIL Championship Snocross POWERED by RAM will see the national circuit head to Jackson, Wyoming December 7-8. The Snow King Mountain Snocross National presented by Woodies Racing will be held at Snow King Mountain. Fans can watch the catch the live stream at snocross.com.