Off Road

2022 Championship Off-Road titlists crowned at Crandon

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Credit: Championship Off-Road/FloRacing

The third season of Championship Off-Road came to a close with the Polaris World Championship Off-Road Races at Crandon International Raceway. Seventeen classes crowned champions with the final two races on Friday and Saturday, with some being locked as soon as they took the green flag while others had to work for it.

The premier Pro 4 category was an example of the former as C.J. Greaves entered Crandon with a thirty-point advantage over Kyle LeDuc, and he sealed the title simply by starting the race on Saturday. Still, racers were going to race for the win and Greaves would take his sixth victory of 2022 after leader Andrew Carlson‘s right-front tyre went down in the waning laps. It is Greaves’ seventh Pro 4 title and second in a row.

Greaves nearly scored a second class title as he finished runner-up to Brock Heger in the Pro Stock SxS class. Heger, the 2021 Pro Lite champion, dominated the 2022 Pro Stock SxS season with Greaves as they combined to win all but one round (the Forest Brush Run in June, where Owen VanEperen won the Sunday race). Although Greaves claimed the finale, his Sunday retirement at the Brush Run and Heger’s six wins created a massive hole in the title chase that four victories could not make up.

Even Heger missed out on a multi-title year as he entered the final Pro Lite race in a three-point standoff with Kyle Greaves and Trey Gibbs. Greaves took the holeshot and never looked back to win by six points over Heger.

Similar, the Pro 2 picture was separated by just two points as Jerett Brooks and Cory Winner eyed their third and first titles, respectively. Despite not winning a single race, Brooks’ consistency rewarded him as he finished third for his sixth podium and the championship over Winner, who was a distant sixth.

Credit: Gray Leadbetter

Ryan Beat retired from the Pro 2 race after suffering damage to his right front, but he remained in a celebratory mood for his Pro SPEC driver Gray Leadbetter as she became the first female COR professional class champion. After winning for the fourth time on Friday night, Leadbetter entered Saturday tied for first with Nick Visser. As Chris Van Den Elzen cruised to the race win, Visser and Leadbetter sparred for second until a mechanical issue struck Visser. Although Visser remained in the race, he could only follow from a distance as Leadbetter pulled away and finished third to become the first female COR pro class champion.

Pro Turbo SxS featured perhaps the most dramatic championship battle of the pro categories. Hamish Kelsey needed to finish seventh or better to ensure the title, but this was not made easy as he started at the back and had to climb through the order, reaching the top ten by the competition caution. While second-placed Kyle Chaney led every lap to win, Kelsey was able to breach his target position and run sixth before holding off Owen and Rodney VanEperen for the spot. He is the first New Zealander to win an American short course championship, surpassing the previous best season for a Kiwi set by Rod Millen in the 2000 Championship Off-Road Racing (no relation to COR) when he placed second.

The drama was not limited to the pros as the lower and sportsman classes had their own close battles, such as Michael Meister taking the Super Buggy title after passing Mark Steinhardt on the penultimate lap. Carter Zahara did not even finish the Short Course Kart finale but held onto the championship lead by just two points as Gavin Plummer finished seventh. On the opposite end of nail-biting, Collin Schulz led every lap to win the 1600 Light Buggy title.

Champions

ClassChampion
Pro 4C.J. Greaves
Pro 2Jerett Brooks
Pro LiteKyle Greaves
Pro SPECGray Leadbetter
Pro Turbo SxSHamish Kelsey
Pro Stock SxSBrock Heger
Super BuggyMichael Meister
Pro Am SxSColin Kernz
570 SxSEthan Dresel
Sportsman SxSJacob Blemke
Super Stock TruckKyle Cooper
1600 Single BuggyJohn Fitzgerald
Mod KartPorter Inglese
170 SxSWyatt Olson
Short Course KartCarter Zahara
Stock TruckCory Holtger
1600 Light BuggyColin Schulz
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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