Shakopee, Minn. ~ The foul weather that followed the start of the 2019-2020 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season turned fair as the tour made its annual New Years trek to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn.
What’s not fair just might be what happens when defending champion Elias Ishoel grabs a holeshot in the final.
The long start line at Canterbury filters into a long, left handed sweeper. Ishoel kept hard on the throttle throughout the start and down the front stretch, setting a blistering pace that was tough for the rest of the field to match. Ishoel ran clean, and fast, throughout the entire race. The points leader never found any problems as he maneuvered through lap traffic on his way to his third win of the year.
“I’ve been working really hard on the starts and I just went so fast off the start tonight,” said Ishoel. “I got a pretty big lead right away, so I could just charge and stay smart, and go smooth out there.”
Behind the winner, things were a bit more herky-jerky as the final podium didn’t sort itself out until the final lap.
Ski Doo’s Daniel Benham was the early leader for the runner-up spot, but rookie Jacob Yurk continues to impress in finals this year and was able to get by Benham late in the race. Yurk looked comfortable in second, running alone for several laps before Benham and Polaris’ Oskar Norum closed the gap.
Over the final three laps, Norum was the aggressor, cleanly forcing his way around the big Canterbury circuit. He got past Benham on the back stretch before making Yurk blow off the track with just two turns left. The Stockholm, Sweden native put in another blue-collar final on his way to his third podium this season.
“It was hard work out there today,” said Norum. “There was a lot of roost, but I tried to stay focused and fighting until the last lap, and it worked out pretty good.”
Benham nabbed his second podium of the year with his third place finish, just edging out Ski Doo’s Lincoln Lemieux, who caught the back end of the scrum on the final two laps.
“It was a pretty wild ride,” said Benham. “I came out with a good hole shot, and I was hoping to stay there, but man, we were just missing something tonight.”
Chaos Theory Put to the Test in Pro Lite
Carnage created some tense moments early in the Pro Lite final, but when the snow dust settled it was the familiar face of Hunter Patenaude that sat atop the podium.
The number one qualifier, Patenaude has been near perfect on his starts this season, but the big sweeping left-hander took away is inside start for the final. He came out in fifth and would have to deal with a gluttony of yellow flags during the 12-lap final.
Leading the field was Ski Doo’s Max Taillefer, who would finish off the podium, but would be a key player in the eventual outcome of Friday night’s race. On the second lap, the onslaught of caution flags began when a crash after the big triple jump on the back stretch became a catch-all as three sleds found themselves tangled in the incident. With Taillefer out front and Patenaude up into second, the leaders had to roll through the section for the next two laps. As the top three came around the third time, the yellow flags were pulled just as they were entering the zone. The leader, Taillefer, made a mental mistake, bynot going right away,. That gave the edge to an aggressive Patenaude, who took a lead he wouldn’t relinquish no matter how many obstacles were thrown his way.
“There were a lot of yellow flags, a lot of people crashing all over the place out there,” said Patenaude. “I was just trying to pay attention to what was going on off the track, as well as on the track.”
Ski Doo’s Francis Pelletier also took advantage of the stall by Taillefer by quickly moving into second and keeping pace with Patenaude for the duration of the final. But behind the Ski Doo’s, the battle for third seemed to change as each lap ticked away.
Polaris’ Nick Lorenz had settled into third for the mid-part of the race, but a crash knocked him off the podium and down the finishing order. From there, Polaris’ Evan Daught and Arctic Cat’s Anson Scheele would go bar-to-bar in a fight to the finish for the final spot. When the two crossed the AMSOIL Finish Line, it was Daught who picked up his first podium of the season.
“I knew it was going to be rough going out there,” said Daught. “They didn’t groom or anything so it was getting pound on for a while. I was just searching, and searching for good lines, and was able to hold off Anson as hard as I could.
Friday Night Lights
The big, soft track must have felt like a big sand sand-trap for the second Moto of Pro Snowbike on Friday night. Points leader Jesse Kirchmeyer grabbed the holeshot and led the first lap until he swapped out and crashed. That gave Cody Matechuk the lead, which he held for the next five laps before also swapping out. That put Josh Hill into the lead, just ahead of Moto 1 winner Brock Hoyer. Hill also couldn’t hold on after getting caught up in the rhythm section. Hoyer took advantage of the carnage, picking up his second moto win of the night and the overall.
Ski Doo’s Megan Brodeur led from start-to-finish to keep her unbeaten streak alive in ProAm Women. Brodeur and runner-up Kaden Woodie came out of the first turn bar-to-bar, with Brodeur taking the lead after the first turn. Woodie kept pace with Brodeur to finish second ahead of Makenna Kleiman.
Ski Doo’s Jordan Lebel is in mid-season form after winning his third straight FXR Sport final on Friday night. Lebel ran clean out front of a three-way battle for second between Taven Woodie, Carson Alread and Brian Peterson.
Raycer Frank was dominant in the Sport Lite class on Friday. Frank won both heat races and took the sweep by holding off Emeric Legendre Perron by 1.6-seconds for his fourth win in five finals this season.
Arctic Cat’s Zach Pattyn held a one-point lead over Polaris’ Andy Lieders heading into Canterbury. Each rider has picked up a win in the ProAM 30 Plus class this season and the two would battle for the win on Friday night. Pattyn grabbed a huge hole-shot as Lieders came out of turn one in fourth. Lieders would battle back and get within two sled lengths by lap four. Lieders never got any closer as Pattyn had enough juice to hold on for the win. Ski Doo’s Kurt Bauerly rounded out the podium.
Wes Van Hook took the win in Amateur Snowbike ahead of Taven Woodie and Adam Vowles.
Racing continues on Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday being the make-up round from the postponed Duluth race in November. Racing begins at 9:30 on Saturday.