Interview: Cory Winner’s Quest For Pro 2 Supremacy

Off-road racing takes center stage in the Winner family. One may actually believe it’s dirt and not blood that courses through the veins of the Winner family. As the son of Dave Winner, owner of Fabtech Motorsports, an off-road suspension company, Cory Winner has been involved in racing for most of his life. From an early age, he has been at the wheel of a race vehicle and battling for top honors.

Cory Winner took second and third-place finishes in Pro 2 at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN. He currently resides third in Pro 2 points.

The Southern Californian learned his racing craft in the Lucas Oil Trophy Kart class. In 2007, he took third in points of the Junior 1 Kart division and posted a similar performance in 2008. However, Cory stepped away from active off-road racing for about five years. He returned to the racing fray in 2013 by competing in Pro Mod Karts and took sixth in points.

But greater success was on the horizon as Cory entered the highly competitive Pro Lite class in 2015. In his inaugural year, he racked up four wins and secured second in points. He followed up that performance with another successful campaign in 2016, notching second in points again.

Cory Winner drove smooth, controlled and quick throughout the race weekend at ERX Motor Park and was rewarded with two podium finishes in Pro 2.

Currently, the 20-year-old competes in Pro 2 and resides in third place points after the Crandon and Elk River, Minnesota, rounds of the Lucas Oil Midwest Off Road Race League. While Cory and Ryan Winner of the Winner Motorsports Group are racing in the LOMORRL Series, the team also competes in desert off-road racing.

Off-Road Xtreme: Tell me about Friday’s Pro 2 final?

Cory Winner: I was battling for the lead early. I got around a truck or two, and then we had a caution on the second lap. I was passed and regained the spots and then I was in the lead. I had about 10-car gap on everybody until the halfway point. Everybody caught up and my tranny was running a little warm.

It cooled down on the yellow, and then we restarted. I got passed in the split lane. During the next couple laps my tranny got hot, I backed off and I had a pretty good gap back to the next truck behind me. And I ended up finishing third.

Cory Winner raced door to door with rival drivers in the Pro 2 class. Here Cory (right) gets the inside line on Keegan Kincaid (left) as the duo powers up the hill to fly-away jump.

ORX: Did you get the tranny problem sorted out for Saturday’s race?

CW: I think so. We changed a couple things and the temps went down about 50 degrees.

ORX: What’s going to be the key for winning today?

CW: Keegan [Kincaid] pulled a zero, so he is going to start out front. I need to catch him and Kyle [Kleiman]. Either, I need to get around them cleanly or hopefully they battle each other so hard that I can catch up to them. And then I can get around them.

Winner has worked his way steadily through the short course off-road racing ranks and now is achieving impressive results in Pro 2. Here, he launches out of the split lane and into Turn 3 during the Pro 2 final.

ORX: What’s your race strategy?

CW: If you have a chance to get upfront, you need to take it. I am sitting in fourth place starting today, so I am on the second row. And there are guys in front of me who are really quick. So I don’t want to battle so hard for position and let them get away.

Ideally, you can get close enough to the leaders at the yellow, and then after that, you can go for it and get up to the lead. You hold your spot in the beginning and see how your pace is going. If you’re not fast enough in the early part of the race, you need to go for it. If you have the speed, you let them [the leaders] battle and slow each other down and see if you can capitalize.

Cory Winner overcame ignition problems in Saturday’s Pro 2 final and nabbed second place.

ORX: Are drivers able to control the pace after the restart?

CW: With restarts being a single file, you’re not battling a driver next to you in the first corner. If you can gap them off the start and you can pull them on the next few turns and then make a gap for yourself.

The importance of track position early on kind of varies. If you get a yellow flag after a few laps, then your caution in the middle of the race goes away. You have a yellow flag strategy, but if there are a mess of cars [crash and yellow flag], then the mandatory caution goes away. If everyone is running smooth, then you hope for that yellow and see if you can pass the leaders on the restart.

Cory Winner (left) and Keegan Kincaid (right) were locked in a wheel-to-wheel battle throughout Friday’s Pro 2 final.

ORX: Is the ERX Motor Park track demanding?

CW: Turn 1 is a sweeper, so there’s no big issue there. You just need to get out of it, so you can get a run. Turn 2 is tight and really sandy. Some ruts develop there because of the all truck and horsepower running through there.

The split lane, especially the inside, just gets huge holes and ruts in the sand. In the rhythm section, you can pass there. But the new addition they have here is really fun, fast, so you can carry a lot of speed going in there.

You’re pulling some “Gs” on the bottom corner going up the hill. It’s a little hard to pass here, especially if the track dries out. That new section up top was super dry yesterday and there was just one line.

Ed Note: Cory Winner had ignition problems in Saturday’s Pro 2 final, but he and his crew sorted out the problem so he could rejoin the race after an early caution. While Kyle Kleiman established himself in the lead, Winner did a masterful job holding off a hard-charging Andrew Carlson to take second place in the final.

About the author

Paul Johnson

From a young age, Paul Johnson has been captivated by cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and almost anything with a motor and built with passion. He has contracted, project managed, and edited many award-winning titles for Motorbooks and CarTech Books.
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