by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Andrew Carlson, Elk River snocross racer, opened the 2013-14 season with second- and first-places finishes in back-to-back rounds at the huge Duluth National event this past weekend, seven months after a serious knee injury.
“I’m so pumped up right now,” said Carlson on the podium on Sunday after leading the final race start to finish. “Everyone has worked so had to get here … the team, my family, our sponsors. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Carlson and Marcus Johansson, both racing for Carlson Motorsports, are ranked one-two in the early Pro-Lite standings. Carlson had one-two-two-two finishes and Johansson two-three-four-two finishes in qualifying races. They earned front-row starts in both finals, where Johansson took third and sixth.
Carlson, 20, a business major at Bethel University, injured his left knee in a mishap at Clash of Nations in Falun, Sweden, in late March. It was nasty, a complete dislocation with seven torn ligaments.
But he rehabbed diligently, determined to be there when the new season started at Duluth. Like with NASCAR and its Daytona 500, the AMSOIL Championship Snocross Tour starts with its biggest race. The Duluth National attracts about 30,000 fans.
“Andrew showed me this summer just how serious he was about winning, with his commitment to come back from injury,” said his father, Chris, owner of the Carlson Motorsports team. “Now he showed everyone else.”
Another Carlson Motorsports driver, Ryan Springer, was hampered by “tough luck and mechanical gremlins,” said the team’s press release.
Andrew Carlson and Johansson, who’s from Sweden, were piloting Polaris snowmobiles that were “blistering fast, generating first-to-the-turn holeshots virtually every time they left the line,” said the press release.
James Johnstad of Beltrami won the Saturday final, with Carlson and Johansson second and third.
On Sunday, on a “gnarly” track under a grey overcast sky, Carlson bolted from the line and led the 14-lap event start to finish for his first Pro-Lite victory.
The tour continues Dec. 6-7 at Bessemer, MI.