01-21-16 - MacDonald Wins Sweet Sixteen - Earns Best Career Finish


(January 21, 2016) - The "Superbowl" of snowmobile racing took place last weekend at the 53rd Annual AMSOIL World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River, Wisconsin. There, Pro Champ drivers competed in Round 3 of the TLR Cup Tour during Friday Night Thunder's Sweet Sixteen feature. 




Once again, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project was on site to greet drivers on stage before they raced in qualifying heats for the sixteen lap final that would take place later that night. Ivan Mitchell, of Wausau, Wisconsin, served in the Army as a parachute rigger with the the 82nd Airborne stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 11th Quartermaster Company. Mitchell, his wife Leslie and step-daughter Taylor all attended the Derby, which was their first ever snowmobile race experience. "We all had a blast with meeting the racers in their trailers and watching the races. I did not know what to expect and I was amazed," said Mitchell. 




The top five drivers from each of the two qualifying heats earned a spot in the ten-man feature, with the prize for winning being a $1,500 check and the coveted pole position for Sunday's 30 lap feature. Matt Schulz (Ski-Doo), Cardell Potter (Ski-Doo) and Blaine Stephenson (Polaris) were the three fastest drivers after time trials and proved so through qualifying heats. 




With feature racing underway, Schulz asserted his spot in the front of the pack but was challenged by second-year rookie Stephenson, who by the halfway point was running a half tenth of a second faster than Schulz. He'd make the pass for the lead through corner three before a red flag halted the action. Upon restart Stephenson maintained the lead position for four laps before a blown belt would end his shot at his first TLR win. With four laps to go, Travis MacDonald (Ski-Doo) was crazy fast off the line and held off a hard-charging Schulz to earn what he would go on to say was the biggest win of his career. It was also his first win at Eagle River and in the TLR Cup Tour series. 




With Friday night's win, MacDonald was able to take the rest of the weekend off before lining up in the pole position for the World Championship race. However upon start of the first ten laps, it was once again Schulz who got his sled out front. He would go on to lead every single lap of the race and earn his second World Champion title. 
The TLR Cup Tour heads to central Wisconsin this weekend for the Wausau 525 Snowmobile Championship - a "redemption" race for many. The race is a non-profit event with all proceeds being donated to Flip's Fund, a charity that donates to a variety of great causes. 


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