The white stuff: Craig’s AJ Stoffle speeds to national win on snocross circuit
There’s no business like snow business. At least if you’re Craig’s AJ Stoffle.
The Northwest Colorado native recently earned a significant win in the AMSOIL Championship Snocross circuit, placing first in Sport class during the final round of a Dec. 8 race in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
It was the first time Stoffle had hit the track at Jackson Hole’s Snow King Mountain, but besides it being closer to home, it also offered some familiar features compared to the mostly Midwestern venues he sees through AMSOIL, currently living in Minnesota as part of Haala Racing.
“The first day I qualified really well and then from the green flag to the checkered flag, I led it,” he said. “It’s a new stop on the series, same setup except being out west we have the hills. A lot of people don’t like hills because going down is a lot scarier than going up, but that’s where I really thrive.”
Stoffle’s many hours spent revving his engine all over the high country paid off.
“It was pretty steep with a really gnarly rhythm section coming down it,” he said. “It’s cool having an advantage and knowing all the changes like the effects of the elevation. Even in your body, just breathing is hard.”
His results the following day weren’t quite as positive, apart from a first-place finish in the Last Chance Qualifier Round. In the final race, he likely would have placed fourth until he received a disqualification due to jumping under a yellow flag — used during a wreck on the track — and he ultimately finished 15th for the day.
Even so, the win in the initial race provided a big boost to the young athlete’s points count for the season, placing him at eighth in the rankings in the Sport class, according to AMSOIL, with his earliest points coming from fifth-place and 12th-place finishes at the season opener in Duluth, Minnesota.
The next big event will be Jan. 5 and 6 at the Pirtek Snocross National in Shakopee, Minnesota.
Stoffle will be home for the holidays until then.
The victory is a meaningful early Christmas present for Stoffle, who has spent much of his life atop a snowmobile and who nearly had to cut his career in the sport short following a back injury during a race in February 2016, though he was able to get back into the groove the following winter.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won a national race, so that felt really good,” he said. “Kind of nice to do it closer to home turf, too. It’s huge to get a win this early in the year, and it’s nice to know I’ve got the speed and the capability to be there all year, so we can continue to build off that and hopefully make a run at the championships.”
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There is a chill in the air, and snow covers the ground outside a farmhouse west of Hayden as Noah Price and Sydney Ellbogen talk about the operations of Mountain Bluebird Farm.