Arctic Cat’s Yurk, Benham Top Pro’s In New York Opener

Jeremy Meyer News

Salamanca, N.Y. ~ While the tepid weather has settled on the Midwest portion of the United States, the upstate New York region faced the same roadblocks this winter. An unusually warm season set AMSOIL Championship Snocross’ return to Salamanca an impossibility one year ago. But the snow has fallen across the state, and with a stretch of colder weather, this year’s U.S. Air Force Snocross National returned with a bit of bar-to-bar racing.

The track next to the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino showcased similarities to the one racers tackled in Deadwood three weeks ago. But the track was racy on Friday, featuring passing opportunities and demanding driver control as the racing surface changed consistency with every passing lap.

Yurk Yanks Overall From Benham

Someone other than Elias Ishoel entered the weekend with the red plate for the first time since round two of last season. While Ishoel was on hand for opening ceremonies on Friday night, his chance to grab a sixth straight title is gone after a crash in Deadwood knocked him out for the season.

Emil Harr was hot on his tail before the accident and took over the top spot in the points standings in Valcourt last Friday. Harr, Francis Pelletier, and rookie Jordan Lebel have stepped up in Ishoel’s absence, which shouldn’t be surprising as they have been three of the most consistent and fast riders all season.

In round one, those three riders found new challengers to the Triple Crown showdown. Arctic Cat’s Daniel Benham rocketed off the line and shot into an untouchable lead. He was extremely smooth through the tight rhythm and led fellow green team rider Jacob Yurk around the circuit from start to finish. Kamm and Lebel would battle it out for third, but Lebel found his way into third with less than two minutes left on the clock.

To start round two, Lebel looked like he was going to grab the hole shot, but the two Arctic Cat riders who led the way in round one squeezed him out of the top spot, with Benham again leading the field. Like the first round, Benham managed the track and lapped traffic, pushing to his second straight win. Yurk was able to pull away from Lebel and found himself right behind Benham at the line for his second runner-up finish of the night. Lebel would finish third for the second time on the night.

Benham held a slight advantage over Yurk heading into the final showdown, two points to four. Yurk needed a win and ripped a holeshot, blasting through the first turn with precision. He was untouchable in the final as he navigated traffic with ease. Yurk would collect his second win of the season but needed some help for the overall. 

Behind him, Pelletier had a clean start and held down the second position. The key battle was for third, where Lebel and Benham swapped spots throughout the contest before Benham got control of third. Yurk’s win gave him five points, and Benham needed one more spot to yank away his first overall win of the season. He made an all-or-nothing effort at the finish line to get past Pelletier but came up inches short.

Yurk’s finishing order of 2-2-1 tied Benham’s 1-1-3 at five points, but much like the rounds in Valcourt, the tiebreaker came down to the finish position of the last round, giving Yurk the Triple Crown overall win. It was Yurk’s first Pro overall win since he won in Deadwood in 2021.

“The last two years, I mean, have been hell, pretty much,” said Yurk. “To be up here tonight means so much. I love New York and all of the fans in New York. We’re pretty blessed to be up here.”

With Benham in second, Lebel would end the night 3-3-3 for third overall, just ahead of Pelletier in fourth.

New York Serves Lorenz Well Once Again

Crayden Dillon opened up the season with seven straight Pro Lite wins. Unfortunately for the points leader, all good things must end.

On a track where starts are crucial, Dillon started in the back after he had an off in a heat race while trying to go for a last-turn pass for the lead. That opened the door for championship contenders, including Anson Scheele, Nickolas Lorenz, and Evan Christian.

Those three riders lined up bar-to-bar for the final, and Scheele edged out Lorenz for the holeshot. Scheele looked primed to ride to his first win of the season, but lapped traffic and a yellow flag on the tight track came into play late. Scheele had a nearly three-second lead with under two minutes left on the clock, but lappers slowed him and, eventually, a pile-up that brought out a local yellow. That allowed Lorenz to close the gap and get around Scheele, leading the remaining laps to his first win of the year. New York has been kind to Lorenz over the years, with the Wisconsin native picking up his first career pro win in the Empire State.

“I just seem to have a lot of luck in New York,” said Lorenz. “I got my first win here, and I had my last one with Hemmer Motorsports here, and it just feels amazing to be up here. And I would like to keep the ball rolling.”

Scheele did everything he could to catch back up to Lorenz, finishing second by less than a few sled lengths. It marks Scheele’s first podium of the season, as he sits third overall. 

Christian was kept busy all race long by Dillon. Christian never gave up the third spot, but twice Dillon caught the tail of the third-place rider. The first time, Dillon went off the track as he attempted to sky into podium position. Christian held off the points leader at the finish line the second time.

Cottew Holds of Hauger, Lange for Win Number Eight

The start and lapped traffic were the story of Friday’s Pro AM Women’s final.

When the light went green off the start, Malene Cottew was in a three-way fight with Inanna Hauger and Tasha Lange. All three would find themselves in the lead position on the first three laps, but the defending champion, Cottew, found clean lines and the lead.

That clean living didn’t last long, as she found herself in the mix with a sea of lappers. That allowed Hauger to close the gap several times, but once Cottew cleared out, she drove to her eighth straight win.

“I had a bad start there, but I just put my helmet down and rode my own race,” said Cottew. “It’s so fun being out there with so many fans, and I’m happy we’re back in New York.”

Hauger put together another great ride, finishing in the runner-up spot for the second straight final. Lange continued her upward swing, finishing third, her third consecutive podium celebration.

FXR SPORT: Brandon Nelson finished sixth in the round-six final in Deadwood three weeks ago, but that was enough to put the FXR Sport rider into a tie with Kellen Chapuran for the overall points lead. Nelson charged to his first win of the season in New York, grabbing the lead with three laps remaining.

Brady Freeland entered the weekend with a pair of wins but none since he went back-to-back in rounds two and three. Freeland held the lead for 15 laps before giving way to Nelson. Freeland would drop another position on the final lap to Cameron Cole, who beat Freeland to the line by .314 of a second.

SPORT LITE: Caiden Pflipsen opened the season on a promising note, finishing second in Ironwood, Mich. The young Sport Lite rider found renewed speed on the tight track in Deadwood and used his short-track knowledge well at the equally cramped circuit in New York.

Pflipsen grabbed the holeshot and stormed out front. He held off challenges from Jacob Begin early and then Kamden Duffy late but stormed across the finish line for his first win of the season. 

Duffy picked up his best finish of the season, crossing the line in second. Lawrence Eeg, fresh off the weekend sweep in Deadwood, finished third.

ROX SPEED FX STOCK 200: Jack Gelinas came into the weekend leading the Stock 200 class with three wins, and he picked up another top-spot finish with a wire-to-wire win on Friday night.

Gelinas looked back several times to gauge how far back runner-up Kody Krantz was, only to see Krantz and Brock Wilson working for position. Krantz would clear enough space to finish second, while Wilson picked up his third podium of the season in third. 

TRANSITION 9-13: Round five winner Jimmy Stanisich had to work through a bunch of early traffic to get into the front of the Transition 9-13 pack. Stanisich started outside the top five on the first lap before finding the lead on lap four. He would drive to his seventh straight podium. Early race leader Charlie Lucas led off the start and reached the finish line uncontested in second, his first podium of the year. Round four winner Cody Moras finished in third place.

JUNIOR 14-15: On Friday, Kamden Duffy returned to the winner’s circle with an impressive, hometown-fueled ride. Duffy picked up his third win of the season in New York, beating out points leader AJ Skogquist. Wyatt Skogquist made a last-lap push to finish third, holding off Brandon Martinson at the line.

TRANSITION 8-10: A first-time rider this season took home the Transition 8-10 win on Friday. Tommy Roy debuted in the class by winning in grand fashion in New York. Roy ended points leader Tripp Knudson’s two-race winning streak. Knudson did keep pace, finishing second, one spot ahead of Jack Gelinas.

AMSOIL Championship Snocross will be back in action at the U.S. Air Force Snocross National on Saturday, February 17th, in Salamanca, N.Y.

For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visit You can tune in all season long, live Event day schedules and tickets will become available in the coming months