Cardell Potter has always been at the threshold to break through as a top Super Late Model driver in the ARCA Midwest Tour during the summer. The same could be said in his snowmobile racing during the winter. This past weekend, he broke through the cold to a warm embrace from his family, friends and competitors.
This past Saturday night, Potter was starting on the inside row of his qualifying heat at the World Snowmobile Championships at the Eagle River Derby Track in Eagle River, Wisconsin. He started on the inside row and when they went green, his sled’s right side freakishly started to lift into the air. He got the right side down but right into his fellow competitor and then into the hay bails in turn one.
The 22-year-old from Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, who races in the ARCA Midwest Tour during summer, was devastated as he was hoping to best his fourth-place finish in 2014.
He didn’t give up as his crew, which includes his family, neighbors and friends went to work to basically re-build the sled for Sunday’s Last Chance Qualifier.
“That was more of a racing deal,” Potter told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS. “We had about six to seven people working on the sled and it took about five hours to fix it.”
Potter was hoping to win the qualifier heat, which would have given him a front row starting spot for Sunday’s 30-lap championship event. Instead, he now had to come through the LCQ to make the field.
Potter went out and won the LCQ and would get to start the main event behind those who qualified to start on the front row.
“After the LCQ, I felt that we were fast enough to get a decent finish,” Potter said. “No one has ever come through the LCQ to win the title. One finished second, so we had a chance at history.”
Potter worked his way up to third by lap 10.
“We got ourselves up to third and felt like that was a good position to stay in for the next 10 laps,” Potter recalled. “With 10 laps to go, I started to make my run to the front.”
On lap 23, Potter would take the lead, but the last seven laps were probably the most intense laps of his racing career.
“Once I got the lead, it was an awesome feeling. I could see fans cheering and leaning over the fence when I went by them,” Potter said. “About five laps to go though, I could hear the belt flipping almost like it got some snow in it. I was like oh man this is not going to be good. But, we were able to hang on and get the win.
“The whole place lit up, I could hear them all cheering. I always said that it would be cool to experience it once to win the World Championships, and it was a dream come true.”
It was a popular win because Potter’s team is a family team. It is not part of a factory team nor does he get any major factory support.
“We are running the same chassis that we have had since 2007. It still runs as good as it did when we built it,” Potter said. “We will continue to run it for a long time to come.”
Along with the trophies and the title, he also took home a check for $10,000.
“It really still hasn’t hit me that we did this. I am the first person to win the World Championship after coming through the LCQ. I was tearing up a little after taking the checkered flag. Those were tears of joy coming from family, my friends and me.
“Fellow competitors were coming over giving me high five’s and hugs. The roar of the crowd was real loud.”
Potter still has some snowmobile events to compete in this winter before embarking on the 2015 ARCA Midwest Tour schedule, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 3 at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin.
“This victory sure gives a lot of momentum for the other snowmobile races this winter and I hope that it carries over to the stock car season.”
– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor
Photo Credit: Tom Loos Photography