After a short four-week break, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, is back in action this weekend, with the LoanMart Fight Under The Lights. Yes, night racing is back, and for the first time in series history, it’s happening in Vegas, as the terrific Las Vegas Motor Speedway once again hosts the series. This weekend marks Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2012 championship, and with only three rounds remaining this year, the strain for every precious point will only intensify from here on out. It was a beautiful night to be at the races this evening, with perfect balmy temperatures and just the faintest hint of a pleasant desert breeze, and fans flocked to the stands in droves to see some great racing. In case you couldn’t be there, here’s what you missed.
Junior 2 Kart
First up on the evening’s schedule was Junior 2 Kart, and a strong field of young drivers took to the track, headed by Travis PeCoy in the #411 Fox Racing Shox/Hoosier kart at the end of lap one. Dylan Winbury ran second in his #469 Black Rhino/Magnum Off-Road truck, with Parker Porter third in the #461 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats entry, Darren Hardesty fourth in the #456 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/RC10.com machine, and Shelby Anderson fifth in the #405 Walker Evans Racing/Bud’s Tire and Wheel kart. On lap two, Winbury got a good run on PeCoy into and through turn one, and came out in the lead as the two exited the corner. Two laps later, Porter got a bit wide as he came to the exit of turn one, where a dirt bank juts into the corner from the outside to make a slight chicane. Porter had to check up to keep on the track, dropping him from third to seventh in the process. Those around him also did a bit of jostling, and the running order was now Winbury, PeCoy, Hardesty, Parker Steele in the #449 Steele Racing/Simpson truck, and Anderson, with the Competition Yellow then coming out at the end of the next lap. After the return to green, the order up front was still the same, but on lap eight, Steele made the same mistake that Porter had earlier, dropping him to sixth as Anderson and Trevor Briska got by and into fourth and fifth. On the next lap, Briska went way wide at turn three, dropping him four spots back to ninth, and with the white flag now waving, it was Broc Dickerson who’d taken over Briska’s fifth spot. On the final lap, the top five drivers held their positions, as Winbury picked up his eighth win of the season. Winbury did a great job of holding his lines and keeping PeCoy at bay throughout the race, and PeCoy had to settle for second on this occasion. Third place went to Hardesty, with Anderson fourth and Dickerson fifth in the #423 Black Rhino/Racer X Motorsports kart.
Junior 1 Kart
The youngest drivers in our series, those of Junior 1 Kart, were next out on track, and it was points leader Conner McMullen who led the field past the stripe after lap one in his #288 Monster Energy/Foddrill Motorsports machine. Darren Hardesty, fresh off of a podium finish in Junior 2 Kart, was second in the #231 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Racer X Motorsports kart, with Broc Dickerson third in the #1 Dickerson Motorsports/Black Rhino truck, Travis PeCoy fourth in the #211 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/CMI entry, and Blaze Nunley fifth in the #230 RC10.com kart. On lap three, Hardesty got inside of McMullen coming into turn one, and came out ahead and in the lead at the exit of the corner. Up front, the top four drivers were starting to pull away from the pack, with Hardesty just managing to get a length or two worth of lead by the Competition Yellow. At this point, the running order was still Hardesty, McMullen, Dickerson, PeCoy, and Nunley, and that order stayed the same through the restart. On the restart lap, McMullen had an uncharacteristic slide in turn one, which allowed Dickerson to get by and into second. However, McMullen got the position back on lap nine, and at the white flag, it was still Hardesty, McMullen, Dickerson, PeCoy and Nunley in the top five. McMullen’s and Dickerson’s battling had given Hardesty just a bit more breathing room, and he brought it home for the win and back-to-back podium finishes in the first two races of the evening. Second went to McMullen, third to Dickerson, fourth to PeCoy, and fifth to Nunley.
The young hotshoes of Modified Kart came out on track next, and riding a hot streak of three wins in the last four races, Cole Mamer was again out front early in his #535 Simpson/T.I.S.I. Racing truck. Jeff Hoffman ran second in the #547 Kar Tek Off Road/BRT Signs kart, with Sheldon Creed third in the #574 Trophy Kart/KarTek Off-Road, Myles Cheek fourth in the #557 Rockstar/Metal Mulisha entry, and Bradley Morris fifth in the #504 Trophy Kart/Lucas Oil kart. Scotty Steele moved his #548 Steele Racing/Martori Farms machine into fifth coming out of turn one on lap two, while Creed took over second after getting by Hoffman coming out of turn two on the same lap. The top five then got into something of a single file line, if you could call it that, and despite everyone pushing to the limit, these top five held their positions through the Competition Yellow. At the return to green flag racing, it was still Mamer out front, followed by Creed, Hoffman, Cheek, and Steele, and after a botched first attempt at the restart, the second attempt went right. On the restart lap, Morris had a mighty battle with Steele for fifth, and after multiple touches between the two, as well as Morris’ being forced off the track between turns five and six, Morris managed to re-join ahead of Steele, re-taking his first lap fifth spot in the process. A crash involving Sterling Cling and Brock Heger then brought out a full course caution on lap eight; Cling received a black flag for his involvement in the incident. On the restart lap, there was a lot of shuffling throughout the field in the first few corners, with Morris then getting crashed coming out of turn two. As the field scrambled out of Morris’ way, it was more than a little chaotic to watch. The leaders came around to pick up the checkered flag, with Mamer staying clear out front to get his third straight victory. Second went to Creed, and after all the mixing behind these two, it was Gavin Harlien who took third in the #555 Full Tilt Trophy Karts/Team Associated truck, with Brooke Kawell fourth in the #508 Off-Road Vixens Racing/SoCal Super Trucks entry, and Isabella Naughton fifth in the #554 4 Wheel Parts/Duncan Racing kart. Steele had crossed the line in fourth, but was put to the back of the lead lap by race officials for rough driving.
Next up on track were the Limited Buggies. This was the first class out on the full-length track, and it was local Las Vegas driver Jordan Poole who had the early lead in the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley, with Bradley Morris running second in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Penhall. Dillon Ayers sat in third in his #398 Fat Performance/Gear One Lothringer, with teammate Kevin McCullough fourth in the #389 Broken Cartel/General Tire Geiser, and Lindsay Geiser fifth in the #395 Canidae/Mickey Thompson Geiser. The top five stayed in line for the first three laps, with Zac Hunt then getting alongside Geiser at the end of lap four in his #334 Speed Energy/Bowden Development, Inc. Alumi Craft. Hunt moved ahead of Geiser into turn one on the next lap, with the Competition Yellow then coming out at the end of that lap.
The running order was now Poole, Morris, Ayers, McCullough, and Hunt, and on the restart lap, Hunt got inside of McCullough at turn one. With a little bit of unavoidable bumping side to side, Hunt got past McCullough and into fourth, but on the next lap, McCullough pulled off the exact same move in the same spot, only much more cleanly, as he took fourth place right back. Just ahead, Ayers got around Morris and into second coming into turn three, and at the head of the field, Poole had a decent gap back to those behind. At the end of lap nine, John Fitzgerald got up alongside Hunt, before pulling ahead and into fifth spot at the exit of turn one on the next (and final) lap. Up ahead, McCullough moved up to get by Morris at turn five, putting himself in position to finish on the podium along with his teammate, while out front, Poole was simply hooked up. In front of team boss Mark Ewing, who was watching Poole race for the first time, Poole picked up his second straight win, ahead of Ayers, McCullough, Morris, and Fitzgerald in the #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Weddle Racing Gears buggy.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Following Opening Ceremonies, it was time to return to racing. With the sun just having set over the hills to the west, the lights around the track were taking over, and in the dirt, it was Kyle LeDuc in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford who had the lead. Carl Renezeder ran second in his #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, followed by Eric Barron in the #32 Maxxis/RC10.com Toyota in third, Corry Weller in the #18 Tilted Kilt/N-Fab Ford in fourth, and Todd LeDuc fifth in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford. On lap three, Kyle LeDuc hit some kind of issue, as he suddenly slowed coming out of turn three, before getting back on the pace after a few seconds.
LeDuc’s truck was obviously not 100% anymore, and with four drivers having gotten by him, he was doing his best just to hang on to the tail end of the top five. Out front, it was now Renezeder, who was now staring straight in the face of a very strong shot at his 100th career short course off-road win. On lap four, Greg Adler out-jumped Kyle LeDuc into turn six, taking over fifth in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/BFGoodrich Tires Ford. Adler then spun in turn one on the next lap, and with some kind of mechanical issue, he pulled off the track. On lap six, bad luck then struck Weller, who while running her strongest race of the season, became the sudden victim of apparent engine failure. On the next lap, the Competition Yellow came out, and it was Renezeder, Barron, Todd LeDuc, Kyle LeDuc, and Curt LeDuc in the #43 KCHiLites/Toyo Tires Ford in the top five. Kyle LeDuc was slow to getaway on the restart, leaving his dad Curt a perfect opening to by for fourth spot. Out front, Renezeder was looking utterly dominant, and with few other drivers running at full tilt (only Barron and Curt LeDuc seemed to be issue-free), Renezeder opened up a comfortable gap en route to a historic centennial win- a huge congratulations to you, Carl! Second went to Barron, third to Todd LeDuc, fourth to Curt LeDuc (who held off a strong charge from his son Kyle on the final lap), and fifth to Kyle LeDuc.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
After a nice long string of (mostly) clean races, the Pro Buggy Unlimited race was one that struggled to find the finish line. Cameron Steele started from pole in the #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Alumi Craft, and led Geoffrey Cooley, Doug Fortin, Garrett George, and Steven Greinke at the end of lap one. Lap two saw the first of several full course cautions, as Eric Fitch ended up stacked on top of Robb Harvey in turn eight, with Eddie Tafoya also coming to a stop in the same corner. After the cars were cleared (both Fitch and Harvey were able to continue), racing resumed at the end of lap three, with Greinke moving his #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer up to fourth early on lap four. For the next couple of laps, the top five maintained their positions, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Steele who still led, followed by Cooley in the #22 Romney/Ryan 2012/Impact Safety Alumi Craft, Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer, Greinke, and George in the #71 Anenberg/Abu Dhabi Funco.
After the restart, the second full course caution was thrown following a two-car incident up in turn five. Racing resumed shortly afterwards, but a badly-botched restart forced a second restart, with a green-white-checkers finish being called for by race officials. Fortin was slow on the getaway, and a left rear puncture slowed him substantially, allowing several drivers to get by him. The drivers were now set to take the white flag, but a rollover by Larry Job in turn six forced yet another full course caution. Job was able to get turned upright and continue, and now it was a white-checkers finish that was called for, with Steele, Cooley, Greinke, George, and Dave Mason in the #65 Romney/Ryan 2012/B&R Buggies Alumi Craft in the top five. On the last lap, Mason got cut off in turn three, which allowed Jerry Whelchel to go by on the outside. Up front, Steele led the race wire to wire, and after doing a nice job of holding off a hard-charging Cooley throughout the race, he picked up the win for the second time this season. Cooley got a hard-fought second place, with Greinke third, George fourth, and Whelchel fifth in the #5 Camburg/General Tire Foddrill.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The Pro Lite Unlimited race was nothing short of a dog fight, and thrown into the middle of it was Stronghold Motorsports lead mechanic Nick Griner, who got the chance of a lifetime as he was given the team’s #16 truck to drive for the night. Griner was living the dream of every mechanic who has worked on racecars their entire career without ever getting the chance to drive one themselves.
Leading early was pole starter Noah Fouch in the #52 Fouch Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, followed by Brian Deegan in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan, Bradley Morris in the #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Lucas Oil Ford, and RJ Anderson in the #37 Monster Energy/South Point Hotel & Casino Dodge. On lap two, Anderson got alongside Morris coming out of turn two, and after the two raced side by side for most of the lap, Anderson finally nosed ahead into turn eight. Meanwhile, Morris fell back through the field several positions, which moved Chris Brandt up to fifth in his #82 BFGoodrich Tires/National Concrete Cutting Toyota, and at the Competition Yellow, he still sat in fifth, behind Fouch, Deegan, Currie, and Anderson. As the field re-grouped under yellow, a fire broke out on Bubba Gray’s truck, forcing a red flag of the race. Gray was out and ok, and with the fire quickly put out by the safety crew, racing was soon able to resume.
On the restart, Fouch’s strongest shot at a win to date went away in a flash, as he rolled in turn five, handing the lead to Currie. Currie held the lead for a few corners, before Deegan made a big move into turn eight. Deegan drove really deep into the corner, forcing Currie way wide as he took the lead, with Anderson also getting by Currie and into second. Fouch was righted by the safety crew and was able to continue, but on the restart lap, another crash, this one by Jimmy Stephensen, forced another full course caution.
As Stephensen’s truck was pulled from atop the k-rail on the outside of turn two (he was able to continue), race officials called for a green-white-checkers finish, and once racing resumed, it was now Deegan, Anderson, Currie, Ryan Beat in the #51 Lunarpages Web Hosting/Black Rhino Ford, and Chad George in the #42 Discount Tire/Traxxas Ford who ran in the top five. This running order was the same at the white flag, but on the final lap, Fouch crashed again, this time over in turn six. This forced yet another full course caution, and race officials now called for a white-checkers finish: a one-lap dash for the line. Currie had passed gotten by Anderson out of turn one on the first white flag lap, and now must’ve been gunning for a shot at Deegan after the way he’d been passed earlier on. On the last lap, Currie’s luck took a huge upswing, as Deegan bicycled and spun in turn one, dropping him ten places back to eleventh. Currie shot into the lead, and rocketed away to the checkers, taking what was obviously a very meaningful win. Anderson came home in second, with Beat third, George fourth, and Morris fifth after coming back through the field following his early race misfortune.
Super Lite Unlimited
The penultimate race of the night was Super Lite, and has been the case so many times this season, this race was all about Sheldon Creed. For such a young driver, Creed has a great ability to put together perfect drives, and tonight’s race was one such drive. Creed got the lead on lap two, and as those behind him battled for positions, Creed was left all alone up front in the #74 A.M. Ortega/BFGoodrich Tires truck. In the second half of the race, Creed opened up a comfortable gap to his pursuers, before then settling in to a quick and consistent pace that maintained his gap as he hurried home to his seventh win of the season. Behind Creed, another driver who put in a strong performance was Drew Britt in the #7 Universal Technical Institute/Quick Lane machine, who moved steadily through the field, before making an ambitious last lap place on then-second-placed Ryan Hagy to take the position away in the closing seconds of the race. Hagy had to settle for third by just a nose in his #27 General Tire/Valli Construction entry, with Jessie Johnson taking fourth in the #15 SoCal Super Trucks/Speed Energy truck, and Dawson Kirchner finishing fifth in his #18 Speed Technologies/General Tire machine.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the night was the highly-anticipated Pro 2 Unlimited battle, and hot on the heels of his historic centennial win in the Pro 4 Unlimited contest, it was Carl Renezeder who made a lightning start to grab the early lead in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Behind Renezeder, Rob MacCachren sliced his way through traffic to slot into second in his #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, ahead of Patrick Clark in the #52 Exotic Engine/General Tire Chevrolet in third, Rob Naughton in the #54 Lunarpages Web Hosting/Hart and Huntington Ford in fourth, and Jeremy McGrath in the #2 Monster Energy/E3 Spark Plugs Ford in fifth. The top five held their positions for the first five laps, until a stopped truck on the track forced a full course caution. On the restart lap, Naughton got by Clark for third, while Jeff Geiser, who’d been hounding McGrath in the early going, moved from sixth to fourth in his #44 Tap It Brewing Co./BulletProofDiesel.com Chevrolet. One lap later, and the Competition Yellow then came out, and in the top five, it was Renezeder, MacCachren, Naughton, Geiser, and Clark as they lined up for the second half.
On the restart lap, MacCachren suddenly pulled off at the exit of turn six with a loss of power, ending his strong run for the evening (he was later able to re-fire and continue, albeit a lap down). This moved Naughton to second, Geiser to third, Clark to fourth, and Greg Adler to fifth in his #10 4 Wheels Parts/Magnaflow Performance Exhaust Ford. From there, the running order in the top five stayed the same, with Renezeder steaming away from the field, well out in front in a performance reminiscent of the Renezeder who has seven championships and 101 short course off-road wins to his name. It appears that with the pressure of getting number 100 now taken off his shoulders, Renezeder is driving like his old self again, and the competition should probably keep a closer eye on him as the season winds down. Naughton took a season-best second place, while Geiser equaled his best result of the year in third. Fourth went to Clark, and rounding out the top five was Adler.
It’s been a very successful and enjoyable first night under the lights here in Las Vegas, and better still, we’ve got it all to do again tomorrow. Gates will once again open to the public at 4:00 pm, just in time for the first race of the afternoon: Junior 2 Kart. Opening Ceremonies will kick off a great evening of Pro class racing at 6:00 pm, followed by the first Pro class of the night, Pro 4 Unlimited, at 6:30 pm. Tonight was a great night with perfect weather for watching great short course off-road action with your family and friends, and tomorrow night promises more of the same, so call somebody and share an evening under the lights with Lucas Oil Off Road here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; you won’t regret it!
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series