Kyle Chaney (891) races the PRO MOD UTV Class during Round 12 of the 2017 TORC Series at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN on September 23, 2017. Photographer: BNevins, courtesy TORC Series.

CHANEY REIGNS UNDER PRESSURE

October 12, 2017

Can-Am Driver Kyle Chaney Delivers in Tense Final Rounds; Wins PRO Mod UTV Championship

TORC’s PRO Classes delivered dramatic points finishes across the board, but none were as close or as riveting as PRO Modified UTV. Can-Am’s Kyle Chaney and Yamaha driver Rodney Van Eperen pushed each other for the points lead all season long. An early-season mechanical failure had Van Eperen looking up from second place, but round after round, the gap closed as Van Eperen posted four straight wins.  But in the second half of the season, the competitors traded blows like two evenly-matched boxers: Van Eperen would beat Chaney one round, and Chaney would be back on top the next, in an amazing back-and-forth battle that would continue over the final eight races of the season.

After his first finish off the podium all year, Chaney entered The Kenda Final Rounds clinging to an eight-point lead over Van Eperen. Unfortunately, a dirt bike accident forced Rodney Van Eperen to turn over driving duties of his #845 UTV to a backup driver. One might assume Chaney would benefit from this, but the Van Eperen’s backup driver was none other than the winningest driver in short course racing history: Johnny Greaves.

PRO MOD UTV in 2017 TORC Series at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN on Sept 23, 2017.  Photographe: MRoth, courtesy TORC Series.

Chaney said the driver swap did not affect the way he looked at his challenge for the weekend. “Both are top notch racers and I knew it was going to be a battle either way. With Rodney out, I knew CJ and Johnny were gonna try to Nickel and dime me on points.”

Despite heading into the weekend with the points lead, Chaney had no intention of driving defensively: “My strategy was to win. On Friday I did just that: got out front and never looked back.”

But it was just the first of three races that weekend, and Chaney couldn’t afford to let off the gas. “Day two, CJ and Johnny were on the pole so I knew it was going to be a tough race. I was not able to make a pass stick on CJ, so Johnny got away with the win and closed the points gap to 5 points.”  

Kyle Chaney (891) races the PRO MOD UTV Class during Round 13 of the 2017 TORC Series at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN on September 24, 2017. Photographer: BNevins, courtesy TORC Series.

With that, the stage was set for a do-or-die Sunday finale. Chaney knew the final race would be highly dependent on his qualifying performance.  

“Sunday’s qualifying was very crucial. If I let Johnny get the pole and the extra point, and we finished like we did Saturday, the points would be tied and Rodney would win the championship because he had more wins. But I was able to get the pole, get out front early and run a consistent pace.”

As the race went on, it was clear that Chaney was dialed in to the ERX track, and as long as he stayed clean, no one would catch him. But even still, Chaney knew a single misstep would cost him the championship he had worked so hard all season for.

Kyle Chaney (891) races the PRO MOD UTV Class during Round 4 of the 2017 TORC Series at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN on September 22, 2017. Photographer: BNevins, courtesy TORC Series.

“I know my Can-Am X3 is very reliable, but it was still in the back of my mind that something could happen. I had all to lose, where Rodney was guaranteed at least second, so he had all to gain. I’m usually very composed, but that weekend got to me. I was under a lot of pressure and it was stressing me out a little.”

But like a true champion, Chaney performed his best with the stakes at their highest, running away with the win and claiming the inaugural TORC PRO Modified UTV championship title. Chaney said consistency was the key to his championship win.

“The Can-Ams are consistent; every weekend they’re always up here. Thanks to my whole team, everybody that comes. This is great; it was a really hard championship to win. We put a lot of work into this, and I’m super pumped to have it. I will be back to defend my title!”  

Kyle Chaney (891) races PRO MOD UTV in TORC: The Off-Road Championships

Chaney would like to thank his championship lineup of sponsors: Can-Am Off-Road, XPS, Maxxis Tires, CT Race Worx, FOX, DWT Racing, Factory UTV, Ballistic Performance Components LLC, Bell Powersports, The Tire Ball Company (TireBalls), Rival Motorsports, EVO Powersports, SSI Decals, Beard Seats, DP Brakes, STM Powersports, MPI Wheels, Gates belts, Addict Racing Engines, Millennium technology’s, and NSK Bearings.

Andrew Pfluger is a longtime race fan and writer for the TORC Series. To offer feedback or make suggestions for future content, please email andrew.m.pfluger@gmail.com.