(photos courtesy of JnL Photography)
The AMSOIL/U.S. Air Force/Makita team passed its first test of the 2009-2010 AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series this weekend in Duluth, Minn.
Team riders Robbie Malinoski and Andrew Johnstad showed off their top-end speed in both pro classes. Malinoski's debut on a Polaris chassis was impressive all weekend long. On Saturday, the Lino Lakes, Minn. rider won his first Pro Stock heat race and came back for third in his second heat. Johnstad went 5-5 in his heat races, but finished second in the last chance qualifier to transfer to the final. Malinoski started strong in the final, pushing the leaders early. However, while passing into third Malinoski got tangled up with Brett Bender, putting the number 4 sled on its side. Race fuel leaked onto the brakes, causing an impressive fire and ending his chances at a podium finish. Johnstad started in the back row and finished 14th.
In Sunday's Pro Open racing, both riders rebounded. Malinoski took a pair of seconds in his heat races while Johnstad finished with a pair of third. With both riders on the front row for the final, a good start was all they need. Malinoski pushed hard of the line, rounding the first two turns with the hole shot and the lead. He held that position for several laps before battling with fellow Polaris riders Ross Martin and Levi LeValle. With limited visibility due to the heavy snow dust, Malinsoki battled with LeValle for the third podium spot all the way to the checkered flag. Johnstad again finished 14th.
"The snow dust was crazy out there," said Malinoski. "We have a long season ahead, and we came out of the weekend clean. This AMSOIL/Air Force/Makita Polaris is dialed in and we will be at the front all year long."
"We were in the mix on Saturday night, and despite the bad luck, we know we have a couple of bulldogs on these sleds," said team owner Steve Scheuring. "We proved again on Sunday that we are a front running team. We can't wait to get to Milwaukee this weekend and get a win."
Semi-Pro rider Joe Fallen also had a good weekend on the AMSOIL/U.S. Air Force/Makita Polaris. On Saturday, he went 4-1 in the Semi-Pro Stock 1 class, before finishing 14 in the final. In Sunday's Semi-Pro Stock 2 class, Fallen went 4-2, won the LCQ and finsihed 11th in his first semi-pro action.
The AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series continues at the famed Milwaukee Mile this weekend. The Duluth race will air on Versus on January 3, 2010.