It was another hot one here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday. After one trying day in the Nevada desert, the drivers and crews of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, were back for more punishment here in Round 4 of the 2013 campaign. Yesterday, the newly-revised track helped many of those who had found success in the opening weekend at Firebird to continue their good fortune. Today, however, several drivers who stumbled at some point this weekend came roaring back this afternoon, earning a measure of redemption after one bad circumstance or another. With temperatures climbing even higher than yesterday, nobody had it easy out here, and anyone who met with success truly earned it.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and once again, the drivers seemed to save the best for last. Brian Deegan had the early lead in his #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, and while it is usually the case that once he’s out front, he’s almost impossible to beat, local driver Patrick Clark shot that theory full of holes.
With a bold inside move into turn six, Clark grabbed the lead out of the corner on lap two, and while he had the two-time defending champion in his mirrors, Clark moved his #25 Tuff Country EZ-Ride Suspension/Method Race Wheels Chevrolet out to a couple-truck length lead. Behind these two (and third- placed Jeremy McGrath), the real battle was for fourth between Austin Kimbrell in the #88 LoanMart/Method Race Wheels Ford and Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford. MacCachren was working mercilessly on Kimbrell, but the class rookie held his cool for many laps, before MacCachren finally edged past on lap eight. MacCachren then closed on McGrath, who over-rotated a bit in turn three on lap 13, which helped he and MacCachren to collect. Kimbrell went by them both, but the real story had now moved back to the lead, where Clark was stricken with a heart-breaking right rear flat tire. Clark did all he could to hold Deegan at bay, but his lead was still too vulnerable, and Deegan got by on the outside out of turn five, just ahead of the white flag.
On the final lap, further disaster hit Clark, as his left rear gave out too, and out of turn four, Kimbrell and MacCachren were on him like sharks on a helpless seal. MacCachren dove to the inside of Kimbrell into the final corner, but with Clark running a center line, the room for a pass wasn’t really there. Kimbrell split right and MacCachren left, and with chunks of both of Clark’s rear tires flinging into the air, he, Kimbrell, and MacCachren went three-wide over the final jump to the finish. In the melee, Kimbrell edged ahead to take second, with MacCachren also just nosing past Clark for third; Clark’s valiant efforts still managed to keep him in fourth. Up front, the big winner was Deegan; perhaps he is as tough to beat as they say once he’s out front? Rounding out the top five was McGrath in his #2 The Water Warden/Loctite Ford.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Following a blown motor after just two laps in this morning’s qualifying session, Carl Renezeder would have his work cut out for him just to make the starting grid, let alone to try and continue his perfect record of three wins in three races so far this season. Corry Weller had the early lead in her #18 Optima Batteries/Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery Ford, and did an excellent job of keeping the class’ four most dangerous men behind for the first four laps. On lap five, though, Weller half spun in turn two (possibly with a little help from Eric Barron), and that was the poke that stirred up the hornets’ nest, as those same four dangerous men (Barron, Renezeder, Rob MacCachren, and Kyle LeDuc) furiously swapped positions through the end of the lap.
MacCachren came out ahead, with LeDuc, Renezeder, Barron, and Weller in-tow. Weller dropped back with another half spin shortly after, leaving the top four to duke it out over the remaining laps. Renezeder quickly dispatched LeDuc, and after really hounding MacCachren for a few laps, he finally moved by and into the lead. From there, Renezeder was simply flying, and was a sight to behold as he threw his #17 Lucas Oil Products/ General Tire Nissan unbelievably hard into the tricky turn six. LeDuc and his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford closed slightly over the last few laps, but it was Renezeder who held the lead to the end, making it four straight wins to maintain his perfect start to the season, just as LeDuc did a year ago. The question is: can Renezeder pick up two more in Lake Elsinore to match LeDuc’s series record, set last season, or perhaps even get one more beyond that in Utah to own the record outright? LeDuc recovered from major truck issues yesterday to get the 4wd back out on track and pick up second this afternoon, while MacCachren faded slightly to finish third in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford. Fourth went to Barron in the #32 LAT Racing Oils/Mickey Thompson Toyota, and after flat tire forced Weller into the hot pits for a change, Brandon Bailey picked up fifth in his #77 Loctite/Stronghold Engineering Ford.
Pro Lite Unlimited
After a rough day yesterday, RJ Anderson turned his luck around today. Taking the lead early, Anderson wouldn’t have it easy, as he had the very dangerous Brian Deegan right behind him, as well as top qualifier Jerett Brooks and young guns Sheldon Creed and Ryan Beat. After an early full course caution, Anderson made a slight mistake on the restart, allowing Deegan to gradually work his way past as by the time they were coming out of turn two. Anderson quickly fought back, and on lap five he dove down the inside at turn four, nosing ahead and back into the lead. As Deegan cut down to defend the position, Brooks already had his nose there, and the two collected each other and several other drivers, costing all concerned several positions.
This cleared the way for Sheldon Creed to challenge Anderson for the lead, but despite three more full course cautions, Anderson drove flawlessly, and came home the winner this afternoon. Behind Anderson’s #1 LoanMart/Stronghold Engineering Dodge, it was Casey Currie who took second in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan; Currie kept moving forward as those ahead of him faltered throughout the race. Kyle Hart’s famous father Marty said that his son would have to prove his readiness to run in this category, and a fantastic podium should do just that; Hart came home third in the #41 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Southwest Ground Control Dodge. Chris Brandt had his first successful race since converting to a V8 during the off-season; the #82 BFGoodrich Tires/National Concrete Cutting Toyota driver battled through a rough race to come home fourth. Rounding out the top five was Sheldon Creed, who had been Anderson’s closest challenger for much of the race, until a last lap over-rotation in turn two dropped him to fifth. The incident could’ve been far more costly, but another competitor managed to hit Creed’s #74 BFGoodrich Tires/A.M. Ortega Dodge just right to knock him back straight, allowing Creed to stand on the gas and get away without losing too many spots.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Reigning champion Steven Greinke had a tough go of it in yesterday’s race, but today’s event gave him a real reversal of fortunes. While those behind him struggled, Greinke ran a flawless race to lead every lap and pick up the win in his #23 SC Fuels/Fortin Racing, Inc. Racer. Greinke had nothing notable happen all race long, but those behind him did. Dave Mason Jr. ran in third for much of the race, and struggled mightily to get past his teammate Geoffrey Cooley in the first half. A mistake by Cooley left Mason Jr. with nowhere to go and no option but to stop in turn three on lap six, which allowed Cooley to get away while Mason Jr. re-grouped.
Mason Jr. had the last laugh, though, as a final lap issue caused Cooley to come to a near-stop into and through turn two, giving Mason Jr. an opportunity to move by and take second in his #65 Mickey Thompson/B&R Buggie Alumi Craft. Cooley was also passed by Bradley Morris, who was the only driver besides Greinke to lead the race (he spun at the exit of turn five while leading on the opening lap). Morris charged back from last place to end up with a podium in his #24 K&N/Maxxis Tires Alumi Craft, while Cooley wound up fourth In the #22 Competitive Metals/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft. Rounding out the top five was Larry Job, who ran a clean and consistent race in his #7 Loctite/Toyo Tires Alumi Craft.
With that, our racing weekend has reached its end. Now, each driver’s hard-working crew (and for many drivers, they are part of those crews) will have just three weeks’ time to get their vehicles back in racing trim, before they head off to southern California, to the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, for Rounds 5 and 6. The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, will be in town May 17-19, so make your plans now to get down to one of the series’ finest facilities; you won’t want to miss it!