Elk River, Minn. August 22, 2016 – Much has been said in the thrilling world of motorsports racing about the emotional rollercoaster all teams inevitably experience, commonly referred to as the highs and lows of racing. To put it mildly, it's not for the faint of heart. The 2016 TORC: The Off Road Championship Series season for Andrew Carlson and the passionate Carlson Moto Crew has included visits to both ends of the emotional continuum, and this weekend's race in Charlotte was perhaps the quintessential example of this challenging dynamic.
In his sophomore season in the Pro Light class, Carlson Moto driver Andrew Carlson has experienced a full range of racing emotions. He celebrated a huge, fist-pumping victory at his home track in Elk River July 17 in front of thousands of screaming fans, and he has also suffered through several disappointing finishes connected to freakish mechanical failures and the unfortunate challenges of navigating through the smash-n-bash reality of Pro Light racing. But through it all, one thing has been undeniably established: Carlson has the speed to run up front in the most competitive professional class on the TORC series. When Carlson has been fortunate enough to finish a race without mechanical issues or being crunched by another driver, he has finished in the top five every single time. The speed has been there; not so much on the luck, however.
The Showdown in Charlotte was a fairly accurate representation of Carlson's season of highs and lows. Friday night saw Carlson battle through the pack into the top three, only to be sent to the back after getting caught up when a driver in front of him spun out. The yellow flag came out and rather than placing Carlson back up front as TORC rules clearly state, track officials mistakenly placed Carlson at the rear of the lead lap. Track officials later acknowledged that this was an error, but this obviously carries little weight after the race. Carlson managed to battle through the pack again, despite the unfortunate call, but was caught up when yet another out-of-control driver crossed into Carlson's line, essentially ending his night. Though a painful experience, it was obvious that the Carlson Moto Crew had the truck set-up dialed-in, and that Carlson had what it takes to wheel his wickedly fast truck to the front of the pack.
Saturday night started much the same for Carlson. Starting from the eighth position, Carlson wasted no time methodically working his way to the front, laying down the fastest laps of the first half of the race. By lap three he was in the top three, and by the mandatory halfway caution at lap seven Carlson was leading the race. Running smooth and consistent laps, Carlson led the entire second half of the race, establishing a comfortable lead at times. On the final lap, while fighting off the hard-charging 42 truck of Kyle Kleiman, Carlson slightly over-rotated his truck in the final corner, which handed the win to Kleiman. Carlson was able to salvage a well-deserved second place finish. Kleiman and Carlson were clearly the fastest trucks on the track, building an impressive lead over the rest of the field. The CM Crew would like to congratulate Kleiman on earning his fourth win in a row. Carlson and Kleiman raced each other cleanly through the entire race – a refreshing change from the norm of Pro Light racing.
Carlson Moto crew member, and renowned veteran chassis builder, Keith Stamper might have captured it best after Saturday's race when he said, "If it wasn't for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, this whole racing thing might actually be a bit easier on a guy's heart!"
Well said, Keith.
Hats-off to the whole CM crew, led by off-road program manager and tune-master Jesse Heise. The 151 truck was wicked fast and reliable all weekend on this challenging, and at times brutal, dirt oval track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
A highly energized Carlson Moto Crew looks to build on this high point to end the 2016 season on a positive note at Crandon International Raceway on Labor Day Weekend for the huge TORC Grand Finale weekend. Join us in person at Crandon if possible, and if not, be sure to tune-in on TORC's live stream at www.torcseries.com.
You can relive Andrew’s drive to the podium in Charlotte on tape-delayed, 90-minute condensed programming on FOX Sports 2 with round 11 airing on September 1 at 6pm CST and round 12 airing September 15 at 6pm CST.
Follow the Carlson Moto Team throughout the season on their website www.carlsonmoto.com or on Facebook @CarlsonMoto, Twitter and Instagram #CarlsonMoto.