Lancaster, Calif. — With the pressure of battling for a championship behind him, after clinching his second straight Traxxas TORC (The Off-Road Championship) Series PRO 4 title and third consecutive overall championship on Saturday, Mopar® and Ram Truck driver Ricky Johnson focused on honoring the legacy of former off-road racers and close friends Rick and Jeff Huseman on Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Calif. Johnson paid tribute to the brothers in the best way possible, running every lap as hard as he could to score the victory in the inaugural Rick Huseman Memorial Cup Presented by Peak Performance, which paid $36,000-to-win.
“Congratulations to Ricky Johnson for winning the Rick Huseman Memorial Cup today at Lancaster,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Adding a win in this prestigious race was the perfect way to cap off another outstanding season. With a very strong field assembled the Mopar/Ram Truck package again rose to the occasion and showed just how strong the pairing is.”
“I’m really proud and honored to be the first name on the trophy,” said Johnson. “I hope Rick and Jeff are smiling down. We gave it our all today and put on an amazing show for the fans. To race against Kyle (Leduc) was great. He’s been the fastest guy on the west coast and we were really mixing it up out there and that’s what this sport is all about. It was just a fantastic weekend and I can’t thank everyone who supports this team enough. As always, my crew gave me a great truck and we were fast. This was the perfect way to finish a perfect weekend.”
The Huseman Cup used a special Le Mans-style standing start with the PRO 2 drivers receiving the green flag first, followed by the PRO 4 entries about 40 seconds later. Johnson lined up in the second position and ran second among the PRO 4 drivers for the first four laps. He then had a spirited duel with Kyle Leduc for the top PRO 4 spot, as they tracked down the PRO 2 drivers ahead of them. Once Johnson became the front-running PRO 4, he began to reel in the lead three PRO 2 trucks of teammate Bryce Menzies, fellow Mopar Ram driver Rob MacCachren and Chad Hord, who was leading.
After Menzies spun while running second, Johnson moved into third overall and began to set his sights on MacCachren, who ended up having a mechanical problem that ended his day. At this point, Johnson was in second and pressuring Hord. Johnson would get around Hord on the 11th lap and lead the remainder of the 16-lap race to earn his third win of the weekend and 11th overall on the season.
Menzies, who claimed his second straight PRO 2 title on Saturday in his Mopar Ram, started fifth among the PRO 2 drivers in the Huseman Cup. The Las Vegas native used a strong start to move into second at the drop of the green. He battled Chad Hord for the first eight laps of the race, nearly taking the top spot a couple of times. He spun while second on the ninth circuit and pulled his truck off the track.
“Running for Rick (Huseman) today was awesome,” said Menzies. “I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and he was a great guy and had a great family. I ran the race like Rick would and that’s what we all we wanted to do. To win two championships and to have Rick (Johnson) win today, it was an awesome weekend for our whole Menzies Motorsports team.”
MacCachren, who was the fastest PRO 2 qualifier for the Huseman Cup, lined up in the sixth position in his Mopar Ram, following an inversion of the six-fastest qualifiers. The veteran driver used a strong launch on the standing start to move into third, and was running second on the 13th lap when a mechanical problem ended his day.
“This weekend meant a lot to me,” said MacCachren. “Rick and Jeff were great people. Rick was a super likeable guy and very easy-going off the track. It was always a pleasure talking to him. He was always cool, calm and collected, and then out on the race track, there was a different side of Rick that came out, where he would drive the heck out of that truck. We definitely miss having him around and hearing him driver that truck in the distinct way that he did. We want to always remember them and having this race is a great way to do that. I’m proud that I was part of it.”
Andrew Caddell pulled double duty on Sunday, competing in both the Huseman Cup in a PRO 2 and the Traxxas PRO Lite Cup, which was run in memory of Jeff Huseman, Rick’s brother. In the PRO Light event, he finished third in his Mopar Ram for Jenkins Brothers Racing. He lined up on the pole for the 16-lap event, which ran straight through, with no competition caution at halfway. In just his fourth-ever PRO 2 start, the 2011 PRO Lite champion finished sixth in a Jenkins Brothers Racing machine.
“To be part of the Huseman Memorial Weekend was pretty cool,” said Caddell. “It feels good to be on the podium in a Cup race. Last year we struggled in the Cup race and were able to turn in a pretty good run today. To have Rick’s whole family out here watching was pretty special.”
The inaugural Rick Huseman Memorial Cup and Traxxas PRO Lite Cup brought a completion to the 2012 Traxxas TORC Series season. Each of the three PRO champions will be feted during the annual USAC Night of Champions in Indianapolis in December. For more information on the TORC Series, visit www.TORCSeries.com.