Deadwood, S.D. ~ What a difference two weeks and a 10-hour trip to a legendary hollow tucked away in the Black Hills.
Two weeks ago, AMSOIL Championship Snocross lined up with winter in full force. Negative 20 degrees, freshly fallen snow, and snow dust to cloud even the best vision greeted the top snocross racers in Shakopee, Minn. But the annual trek to Deadwood, S.D., was full of fresh mountain air, above freezing temps, and a fantastic show of strength and aspiration.
Deadwood and its tight track meant quick, chaotic turns around the Days of ’76 rodeo grounds. The smallest track meant clean starts, and managing lapped traffic was crucial to a successful weekend. Before the fireworks flew overhead, it was explosive racing in the round five opener on Friday night.
Elias Ishoel Three for Three in Triple Crown
The last time Elias Ishoel took the track, he was looking to wrap up his third straight overall and a weekend sweep in Minnesota. But a broken spindle kept him from fulfilling that promise, and he finished 12th in the third leg of the Shakopee Triple Crown and third overall.
He came in focused on finishing the deal in Deadwood. His competitiveness is world-class, and every lap matters to him in the outcome: a sixth straight Pro championship. The only numbers game, the only combination he wants to play, involves three ones and the overall. He took care of business in round four, first by chasing down Kody Kamm in the first round.
Kamm was surprisingly smooth after severely spraining his ankle in Shakopee. He held point and kept Ishoel in the runner-up spot until the second to last lap when Ishoel got out of Kamm’s roost and into the lead.
In the second round, Ishoel didn’t have to get around anyone as he grabbed the hole shot and stayed out front for the race’s entirety. Kamm’s teammate Emil Harr muscled his way into second and pressured Ishoel, but the defending champion pushed to another win.
Ishoel held a three-point lead (2 vs. 5) over Harr heading into the final and could have raced around the top three for the win. But the Viking Rocket, as he is aptly nicknamed, would go out swinging. He jumped into another early lead and rode to the three-race sweep and the overall.
“It was a good rebound from (Shakopee) when we struggled in the last one,” said Ishoel. “I should have had the sweep that weekend, but we got it today. I can’t be happier to sweep Deadwood; that’s a hard one.”
For Harr, it was another great showing in the triple crown format. He would gather a third and a pair of seconds to finish second overall. The round three winner continuously pulled deeper into Ishoel’s roost but was unable to clear the points leader for his third podium trip of the season.
Kamm once again showed off his toughness and ability to ride through pain. His round one ride looked like classic Kamm, and the veteran and former champion paired it with fifth and eighth-place finishes to close out the night third overall.
Dillon Delt A Winning Hand in Deadwood
Snocross is a game of inches, and how a rider handles those fractions of time and space is critical to continued success. So far this season, no one has had as much success in the Pro Lite class as rookie Crayden Dillon.
For the fourth straight race, Dillon has showcased his remarkable ability to sling a sled around any style of track. On Friday night, Dillon showed speed and patience, officially rolling into the lead twelve laps into the 22-lap final after getting around early race leader Tyler Archambault. Dillon found a fast line and maneuvered through lapped traffic with ease on his way to win number four.
“Tyler got a good lead, and then I kind of found my groove,” said Dillon. “The lappers played in my favor, I think, and I got around him, and we had a really good race.”
Archambault’s ride to the front and eventually to the runner-up spot was much needed. The young rider has been successful at different levels over the years, but his second-place finish in Deadwood marked his first trip to the podium this season.
Dillon and Archambault were joined on the box by Jesse Kirchmeyer. The Pro Snow Bike champion is focusing on the Pro Lite class title this year, and a tight finish with Evan Christian went his direction, his first podium in the 2024 campaign.
PRO-AM WOMEN: It took just a few turns of the tight Deadwood track for Malene Cottew to seize control of Friday’s Pro AM Women’s race. However, once she got out front, she was masterful in her movements, racing on to her fourth straight class win.
Inanna Hauger grabbed another hole shot and then worked around Tausha Lange two laps later to seize the runner-up spot. Lange continues her strong start to the season, finishing third for her third straight podium.
SPORT: Brady Freeland had a half-lap left to pick up his third FXR Sport win of the season, but after leading the first 14 laps, Freeland got crossed up and was bucked off. Kenny Goike was running in second and also dismounted his sled at the same spot as Freeland. That put Kellen Chapuran into the lead with one turn remaining, and he rode to his first win this season. Brandon Nelson also moved up, finishing second, and Freeland remounted for third.
SPORT LITE: Lawrence Eeg has several heat wins this season but was still searching for success in his Sport Lite finals. He was good from start to finish on Friday. He grabbed the holeshot and led every lap for his first win and podium of the year.
Behind the race winner, it was a drag race to the finish line between Caiden Pflipsen and Kamden Duffy for the runner-up spot. The pair swapped positions throughout the final, and as they made the last sprint to the checkered flags, Pflipsen snuck past Duffy by .005 of a second and secured the runner-up spot.
ROX SPEED FX STOCK 200: It was a successful season debut for Rayce Simmons, who took the holeshot in the Rox Speed FX Stock 200 final and rode away with the win. Points leader Jack Gelinas made a last-turn move to get around Kody Krantz for the runner-up position. Krantz would finish third, his second podium of the season
JUNIOR 14-15: Colin Taggart rode a near-perfect race on Friday night, leading from the start to pick up his first Junior 14-15 win of the year. Points leader AJ Skogquist moved into the second position on lap five and finished with his fourth straight podium. Kamden Duffy got off the line in seventh but moved into third with three laps remaining for his third podium this season.
TRANSITION 9-13: Jimmy Stanisich has sat in the runner-up spot of every round this season, but he broke through in Deadwood. Stanisich went wire-to-wire in the Transition 9-13 final for his first win of the season. Points leader Tavin Knudson finished second, and Gavin Brault picked up his second podium by finishing third.
TRANSITION 8-10: Tripp Knudson had a pair of podiums coming into Deadwood, and now he has his first win. Knudson led every lap of Friday night’s Transition 8-10 final to victory. Beau Engel grabbed his second podium of the season, finishing second ahead of Jack Gelinas.
The 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season will be back in action in Deadwood, S.D. January 27 for the U.S. Air Force Snocross National. For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visitwww.snocross.com. You can tune in all season long, live onwww.FloRacing.com. Event day schedules and tickets will become available in the coming months atsnocross.com.