CARLSON SHOWS THE MARK OF A CHAMPION AFTER SHOCKING CRASH
After Huge PRO-4 Win, Andrew Carlson Overcomes Adversity in Bark River and Sets His Sights on Capturing Victory at World Championships at Season’s End.
ELK RIVER, Minn. August 15, 2019 –Walking away from a horrific crash is one thing; getting back in the saddle and pushing your way to the front is often the difference between contenders and champions. This past weekend at the Bark River International Raceway, Andrew Carlson did just that, and in the process took another step towards his championship dream in the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League.
Coming fresh off a huge PRO-4 victory at his hometown track in Elk River, Minnesota, Andrew and the Carlson Moto team were eager to get back on the podium against the best short course off-road truck drivers in North America. Yet, in a fraction of a second, the team’s weekend changed as Andrew experienced a violent, twisting, end-over-end crash during Saturday’s PRO-4 practice.
“It was probably the worst crash I’ve ever been involved in,” said Carlson who walked away and suffered only minor injuries from the tumble. “Once I knew I was fine, I was already thinking about getting back into a truck. Our crew busted their tails to get the truck ready and back on the track for the final…they’re nothing short of amazing.”
A strong start in Saturday’s final was interrupted by mechanical gremlins, undoubtedly caused by the crash, forcing Andrew to cut the race short. Unfortunately, the same scenario unfolded during Sunday’s final.
“You can go from incredible highs to all-time lows in seconds…that’s racing,” said Andrew. “We came away from ERX on top of the world and now Bark River (2019) will probably go down as one of the most frustrating race weekends.”
In PRO-2 action Carlson was flying, clocking the fastest lap in practice by more than a second. The momentum appeared to be rolling in his favor with a third-place podium finish Saturday. His speed was even more evident on Sunday as Andrew broke free from the pack and looked to be on his way to a convincing win, until a cut tire in the closing laps wiped it all away.
Not deterred by a weekend of disappointment, the Carlson Moto team returned to the track Monday for a full day of practice in preparation for the season finale at Crandon International Raceway at months end.
“Bad luck comes in waves,” said team owner Chris Carlson. “Andrew is as committed and focused as I’ve ever seen him through all his years of racing. Make no doubt, we will be ready for Crandon.”
This year marks the 50thanniversary of the World Championship Off-Road Races at Crandon with three big days of action on tap, August 30 – September 1.
It’s said good things come to those who wait, and that’s exactly what the Carlson Moto team was forced to do Saturday afternoon as they anxiously awaited the arrival of a critical part from California. The nervous tension was the result of day one action that saw Carlson succumb to mechanicals in both PRO 2 and PRO 4 finals. The first ended Andrew’s day in PRO 2 almost as quickly as it started, as he coasted to a stop just moments after the race started. The second saw him maintain composure and finish third while fighting a truck with an inoperative front differential.As the team feverishly prepped the PRO 4 truck, Andrew hit the track looking for redemption in his Polaris RZR® sponsored PRO 2 truck, where he battled with Keegan Kincaid, Cory Winner and Kyle Kleiman. After a mid-pack start, Carlson soon worked his way up to second before the competition yellow. An over-rotation in the high-banked Talladega turn opened the door for Winner to slip past, shuffling Carlson to third where he would remain despite some intense pressure from Kincaid. At the line, it was Kleiman, who swept PRO 2 on the weekend for his first and second career victories in the class, followed by Winner and Carlson.
With three races down and one remaining, it would be Carlson’s last chance to make a statement in front of his hometown fans. To do so he would have to beat the father-son duo of Johnny and CJ Greaves. CJ is arguably the best short-course driver in North America, and Johnny is one of the all-time winningest drivers in off-road racing history with 10-championships to his credit, and counting.
With all eyes upon him, Carlson didn’t disappoint. From an early third place position, you could almost taste his hunger for victory. With blazing-fast desert racer Jimmy Hendersen nabbing the holeshot, back-to-back mistakes in sequential turns allowed both Johnny Greaves and Carlson to slide up. However, Carlson wasn’t done yet. With the competition yellow fast approaching, Andrew went big on the fly-away, soaring a full truck above Greaves and landing alongside as they shot into the new Ziegler Cat-apult corner. From there it was pure determination and a never lift attitude that propelled Carlson inside and ahead of Greaves through high-speed turn one.
As the competition yellow waved, Johnny Greaves was forced to pit due to a flat tire, putting his son CJ Greaves immediately behind Carlson. It was a position Andrew knew all too well, a scenario he was in the day previous, albeit with only three wheels providing thrust. On Friday CJ slipped under Carlson for the win. It wouldn’t happen this time.
With the crowd on its feet, Carlson fought off Greaves lap-after-lap. The team had done its work; the truck was working flawlessly, and Andrew held-off one of the fastest PRO 4 drivers in the world. In a tide of emotions, Andrew took the win and thousands of fans erupted while an elated team and family waited for Andrew in the winner’s circle.
“I don’t know if it can get any better,” said an emotional Carlson as he took in the moment. “To win here, in front of my friends and family…I couldn’t be happier or more proud. There were tears when I crossed the finish line.”
The win punctuated a weekend where not just Andrew made a statement to the off-road racing community, but so too did ERX Motor Park. After just four short years, the facility has fast become recognized as one of the best off-road racing facilities in North America. Fans appreciated the attention to detail, the family-friendly atmosphere and a staff that was more than welcoming. Equally impressed were the racers, who loved the track, vowed to spread the word and proclaimed they would return in 2020.
“We are a family,” said ERX co-owner Chris Carlson, who along with Todd Plaisted had the vision to create a world-class, fan-friendly motorsports park over 10-years ago. “We want everyone to feel like they are a part of ERX…a true community atmosphere. I think our opening ceremonies here Friday and Saturday sum it up best. We stand for the anthem, bow our heads when we pray and put veterans and families first. It’s something we’re incredibly proud of.”
With a huge win filling their sails, the Carlson Moto team will start making preparations for the Bark River Off-Road Rumble, August 9-10, 2019.