Cam Pedersen gave it everything he had, but this time, Luke Knupp wouldn’t be denied.
Knupp topped the charts in qualifying, won his heat race, and conquered the feature in the inaugural Jim Beaver eSports eShort Course Crandon World Cup on Saturday. In the first-ever esports event officially sanctioned by Crandon International Raceway, Knupp withstood the pressure from the inaugural eShort Course World Cup winner from this spring over 10 nerve-wracking laps of the iconic Wisconsin facility.
“That was a crazy race!” said Knupp. “I knew I had to hit the holeshot, and that’s exactly what I did. I just tried to hit my marks every lap. The blue groove definitely made it very sketchy and very technical to drive. I thought I had Cameron the whole first half, but then he put a charge on the last two laps. I was scared, but I protected my lines, and finally got Cameron off the top.”
Real-world racing stars like NHRA champion Ron Capps and Best in the Desert champion Seth Quintero joined young short course talents like Knupp, Ethan Ebert, Mason Prater, and Holden Heitritter and sim racing standouts like Pedersen, Josh Edmundson, Joshua Gayman, Connor Parise, and double Bootleg Racing League champion Bobby Rafferty on a 35-truck entry list. Only 24 could make it to the big show, but in spite of Crandon’s challenging land rush start funneling into the infamous Forest County Potawatomi Turn One, both heat races started clean with nearly every single truck making it onto the track safely.
As the event carried on into the last chance qualifiers, the pressure to make the main reared its head, with Capps moving Luis Patino out of the way with less than two laps to go in the second LCQ to take the final transfer spot for the feature. In the feature, the real-world chaos of a true first corner at Crandon claimed a handful of its own big-name victims. Knupp and Pedersen quickly left the field behind, with Heitritter stalking from a socially distanced third.
Without a competition caution to bunch up the field, the closest pack racing came in the middle of the pack, with Capps and Quintero putting on a show battling for top 10 spots; they were the two biggest gainers of the feature, with Quintero jumping 10 spots from 20th to 10th and Capps passing 12 trucks to go from the final starting spot to 12th. Up front, Pedersen kept Knupp honest throughout the main event, forcing the driver of the #77 to run the race of his life to secure the victory.
“This is such an honor, and a pleasure,” said Pedersen. “Crandon is phenomenal—you can race multiple different lines and still produce the same lap times, so it makes for great racing. Luke and I were running very different laps in terms of our lines. I stayed on him and tried to throw a slider, but it didn’t quite work, so now I know! I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Jim Beaver eSports eShort Course Crandon World Cup results were as follows:
|18||22||873||Kyle Cooper5||6||-4 L||0||1:21.064|
|19||13||17||Joshua Gayman||4||-6 L||0||1:19.807|
|20||7||11||Connor Parise||1||-9 L||0|
|21||4||58||Josh Edmundson||0||-10 L||0|
|22||15||3||Hunter Stiffler||0||-10 L||0|
|23||19||74||Tyler Maxson||0||-10 L||0|
For more information on Jim Beaver eSports, visit jimbeaveresports.com. For more information on Crandon International Raceway and tickets to the Forest County Potawatomi Brush Run later this month, visit crandonoffroad.com.