After coming close several times earlier in the season, Chad Rayford stood on top of the box taking the win at the Kenda Tire Final Rounds of the TORC Series presented by AMSOIL. In the three days of racing, #29 Kenda Tire PRO-Light would make the video highlight reel for his hard charging style, but Sunday it was a flag to flag win that put the spotlight on young driver.
The .9-mile-long permanent track at ERX (Elk River Motor Park) is considered one of the most challenging tracks on the TORC tour. The big elevation changes, the flowing jumps, the whoops and the always changing sand section. The series had stopped at ERX back in June, but due to severe weather only the Round 3 race was completed. This put the postponed Round 4 on the September weekend calendar as racing would now cover three entire days.
Friday morning saw Rayford qualify sixth fastest, but the CR29 Motorsports team knew the ability to adapt to a constantly changing track would be the key to performing well at ERX. At the June race, Rayford finished second in Round 3 thanks to that exact strategy.
The Friday afternoon Round 4 saw Rayford have a great start and was immediately racing for a podium position. At the halfway caution the bright red Kenda Tire PRO-Light was position in fourth place. After the restart Rayford continued battling for the podium. On lap twelve of the fourteen lap race, Rayford put the truck on its side while looking to move up the running order. The incident ended the team’s day finishing well back in the order.
Luckily the damage from the roll was minimal as the Flying Dutchman Off-Road support team quickly had Rayford ready for Round 12.
Saturday’s Round 12 action saw the #29 Kenda Tire PRO-Light right in the mix for a top three finish. Once again on lap twelve while running fourth, the CR29 Motorsports truck found its way on its roof after crashing through the whoop section of the track. After the TORC safety team quickly put Rayford back on his wheels, the stout hot rod refired and the #29 PRO-Light continued with the race. In fact, Rayford made a couple of passes in the closing laps to finish in fifth place.
Once back at the hauler, the damage was assessed and a plan of action was created. This second incident took some additional work to get the truck ready for Sunday’sfinale, but undaunted the crew performed well under pressure.
The season finale on Sunday was a near picture perfect run for Chad Rayford. After starting on the front role the #29 Kenda Tire PRO-Light literally jumped into the lead. Lap after lap Rayford kept all the competitors at bay. In the closing laps, the Appleton, Wisconsin resident held off repeated charges from 2017 PRO-Light Champion Kyle Kleiman and took the team’s first career PRO-Light win.
“Wow we did it,” exclaimed Chad Rayford. “This is the first full season in PRO-Light and thanks for the support of Mike Higgs and Kenda Tire for believing in me. Then to win at Kenda Tire’s race is just awesome. I also have to than Dan and Nancy Vanden Heuvel for all their support over all the years, without them none of this would be possible. Also of course Mikey Vanden Heuvel he’s just one incredible guy, a great fabricator, a great friend, and one great driver. For both of us to win this weekend proves that you should never give up on your dreams. My family has always been a big part of my racing and without I wouldn’t be standing here. Chris Brandt and National Concrete Cutting has support my program since day one. Shawn Morris also been instrumental at the track with his support. There are so many to thank and this is a great stepping stone to build an even stronger program for 2018.”
After thirteen rounds of racing, Chad Rayford finished sixth in the 2017 TORC PRO-Light Championship. The season included six Top-5 finishes including three second place finishes and the win in the season finale.
A special shanks goes out to the CR29 Motorsports Weekend Crew: Dillion Mishler, Mike Garvin, Dan Vanden Heuvel Jr., Kim Virnig, Brett Garvin, John Bazinet, Connor Schulz, Bill Schulz, Colin Schulz and Nolan Olson
Chad Rayford thanks his partners including:
Kenda Tire, Flying Dutchman Off-Road, AMSOIL, Ultra Wheel, FK Rod Ends, National Concrete Cutting, Londerville Steel, Badger Race Wraps, Neverlift Apparel, Boatec, Lincoln Electric, Bob’s Engines and Transmissions, Simpson, Odyssey Batteries, Wilwood Brakes and Grip Lock Ties.
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