The series is now at its halfway point, and a lot is going on in the minds of the drivers and crews of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO. For some, the choice may be to start throttling back, going for more certain solid points finishes that will help preserve the high positions they’ve gotten up to in the points. For others, the more appealing option may be to go for the gusto, to try and score big as they try to make up ground they lost in the early going. And for a select few, the choice will be to go for it despite their good standings; to continue to hold the hammer down. Why slow down when going fast has been working so far? No matter the approach, it all made for great racing here at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT, as the crowd was treated to one of the most enthralling, and in some cases controversial, afternoons of racing in recent memory. The drivers really put on a show, and the fans voiced their approval with enthusiasm that was louder and more positive than this reporter has ever seen at a short course race.
Junior 2 Kart
Opening up the action early this afternoon was Junior 2 Kart, and it was Dylan Plemons who shot out to an early lead in his #424 B&D Performance/Hoosier kart. Behind Plemons, it was Hailie Deegan in the #438 Dirt Princess/4 Wheel Parts truck, yesterday’s winner Broc Dickerson in the #423 Legacy Motorsports/DASA machine, Parker Steele in the #449 Fox Racing Shox/SDHQ Racing entry, and Parker Porter in the #461 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats kart. Porter slowed slightly and began to drop down the order on lap two, and that promoted Ryan Carey to fifth in the #422 Mothers/Lawrence Equipment machine, while up front, Plemons was quickly opening up a solid lead. Behind Plemons, Deegan was doing her best to hold off a strong challenge from Dickerson, and after the two got together at turn two on lap five, Deegan spun out and dropped to fifth. Dickerson moved up to second, just before the Competition Yellow, but was given the black flag for his part in the incident, which he served just after the field returned to green flag racing. On the restart, Deegan quickly got around Carey, then dove inside of Steele at turn three, and with Dickerson pulling in to the hot pits serve his black flag, she was already back up to second spot. Ahead of Deegan, Plemons was still leading, and behind her, it was now Steele third, Carey fourth, and Alyssa Fortin fifth in the #496 Fortin Racing, Inc./Eibach Springs truck. On the penultimate lap, Carey briefly drove partway up onto the back of Steele’s kart, which slowed the two for a moment, and forced those just behind to slow and scramble left and right to avoid a larger pile-up. The result was a big clump of six drivers who were all running for third spot as the race entered its final lap. Up front, Plemons was still clear in the lead, and he came home the winner today, with Deegan picking up second. Out of the clump behind, Steele remained ahead to finish third, though he did so only after edging out Carey by what couldn’t have been more than the width of his front bumper at the line. Carey was just behind in fourth, and rounding out the top five was Hayden Cling in the #418 Cling’s Manufacturing/KyleGreenFab.com kart.
Junior 1 Kart
Blaze Nunley put his inside front row starting position to good use in Junior 1 Kart, and took the early lead in his #230 Black Rhino/King Off-Road Racing Shocks entry. In second, it was Ricky Gutierrez in the #278 G Brothers/Wilson Motor Sports Inc. truck, with Bear Nunley third in the #215 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Kevin McMullen Fabrication & Transaxles kart, Madix Bailey fourth in the #217 Stronghold Engineering/Loctite machine, and Daely Pentico fifth in the #218 LEX/Hexis entry. On lap two, yesterday’s winner Mason Prater moved up to fifth in the #205 Foddrill Motorsports/Parker Pumper kart, but remained a part of a solid frontrunner train that included the top five drivers, who all sat nose-to-tail. On lap four, Prater got inside Bailey at turn three to take over fourth spot, but was then a bit slow coming out of the next corner, and Bailey ended up getting into Prater’s left rear. Prater spun out, and the two drivers collected and came to a stop, which allowed both Pentico and Kali Kinsman to go by and move into fourth and fifth. At the Competition Yellow, it was now Blaze Nunley, Gutierrez, Bear Nunley, Pentico, and Kinsman in the top five, and these drivers all held their positions on the restart lap. Up front, Gutierrez was really putting the pressure on Blaze, but despite making a very strong move on lap nine, he just couldn’t find a way by. On the final lap, Kinsman managed to get by Pentico out of the final corner, but otherwise, the top five went unchanged in the second half of the race. Blaze Nunley picked up a well-driven win after leading wire to wire, with Gutierrez grabbing some redemption in second after his Junior 2 Kart was unable to re-fire in the staging area and missed the race entirely. Third went to Bear Nunley, fourth to Kinsman in the #236 Pink Motorsports/Sunoco Race Fuels truck, and fifth to Pentico.
The Modified Kart race was actually one of the most eventful races in recent memory, but the action was nonetheless fast and furious. Gavin Harlien had the lead at the end of the opening lap in his #555 Team Associated/Ironclad truck, with defending champion Myles Cheek second, Brock Heger third, Jeff Hoffman fourth, and Preston Roben fifth in the #514 Duggins Construction, Inc./Boost Composites entry. These frontrunners held their positions in the opening laps, with Heger really putting the pressure on Cheek for second on lap four. By lap six, though, Cheek had drawn away again, and at the Competition Yellow, the running order up front was unchanged. Harlien was still in the lead, with Cheek second in the #1 Metal Mulisha/ThyssenKrupp kart, Heger third, Hoffman fourth in the #547 Hoffman Motorsports/Kar Tek Off Road machine, and Roben fifth. On the restart lap, racing got very close amongst the frontrunners (and throughout the field), yet despite a lot of door to door and bumper to bumper contact, the top five were still holding station. Cheek gave chase to the leader Harlien in the late going, but Harlien was able to open up a gap in the final moments, and he sped home to take the big win. Cheek picked up second, and dedicated his podium finish to Cole Mamer’s mom, who suffered a scary and bizarre head injury last night after walking into the hitch of her team’s fifth wheel trailer in the dark. Mrs. Mamer is expected to be fine, but our thoughts are with she and the Mamer family nonetheless- get well soon! Taking third this afternoon was Heger in the #511 Legacy Motorsports/ZLT truck, with Hoffman finishing fourth and Roben fifth.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Following Opening Ceremonies, the day’s first race on the full-length track was Pro 4 Unlimited, and it was Greg Adler, benefiting from a six-truck inversion of this morning’s qualifying results, who put his pole starting position to good use by grabbing the lad after lap one in his #10 ProComp/G2 Ford. Eric Barron ran second in the #32 LAT Racing Oils/Mickey Thompson Toyota, with Todd LeDuc third in the #7 Rockstar Energy Drink/UltraWheel.com Ford, Kyle LeDuc fourth in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, and Carl Renezeder fifth in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Kyle LeDuc passed his brother Todd going up and over the tabletop on the back straight on lap two, with Renezeder then passing Todd at turn five, all on lap two. On lap five, Rob MacCachren moved by Todd on the outside at turn five, and took over fifth in his #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford as a result. MacCachren then slowed just afterwards, having lost drive on one side in the front of his machine (he would later lose drive on the other side, as well), and that gave Todd back his fifth spot. Further forward, Renezeder was starting to reel in the leading three as the track began to dry out, and when Kyle LeDuc started to over-rotate at turn five, Renezeder was right there to dive inside for third, despite having barely enough room to squeak past. Corry Weller then went wide and nosed into the outside wall at turn four, which brought out a full course yellow on lap 12.
Up front, Adler was driving magnificently, and looked like he might be the one to finally break Renezeder’s nine-race win streak. On the restart lap, Kyle LeDuc lost his entire right rear corner- tire, wheel, brake caliper and rotor, the works- as he jumped out of turn three and into turn four. Just ahead, Adler and Barron collected in turn four, and while Adler got away and kept his lead, the combined incidents allowed Todd LeDuc to sneak around the outside and up to second. Renezeder was forced into the inside barrier in that corner, and he dropped back to fifth as a full course caution came out to clear Kyle’s truck from the track. The running order was now Adler, Todd LeDuc, Barron, Brandon Bailey in the #77 Loctite/Stronghold Engineering Ford, and Renezeder as the green flag came back out. Renezeder quickly got by Bailey on the restart, with MacCachren surprisingly following suit out of turn two, where Bailey ran wide into the outside barrier. Adler then lost it coming into turn three and ran hard, nose-first into the outside concrete barrier at the top of the corner, and although he was able to continue after heading into the hot pits to change a right front flat, safety crews were forced to make repairs to the misplaced barrier, which left the field circulating under yellow for several laps.
When racing finally resumed, it was now Todd LeDuc, Barron, Renezeder, MacCachren, and Jerry Daugherty in the top five. On the restart lap, LeDuc went wide at turn three, which allowed Barron to get by on the inside to take the lead. Near the end of the lap, Ryan Beat dropped out after heavy contact with Adler, and that forced yet another full course yellow. Racing resumed on the next lap, now with just three laps remaining, and Adler was given the black flag for his incident with Beat. On the restart lap, Renezeder had door to door contact with LeDuc as he dove by on the inside at turn three, with LeDuc then coming to a sudden stop at turn four. Adler rolled in the same corner, so another full course caution was thrown. Adler was able to continue, and when racing resumed, it was to be a green/white-checker finish. Barron now had the lead, and despite a hard charge from Renezeder on the final lap, Barron was too strong, and became the one to finally end “King” Carl’s impressive reign. Barron picked up the win, repeating the same success he had when he took his first win in this very round a year ago, with Renezeder finishing runner-up. Third went to a resilient MacCachren, who kept making the rounds despite a wounded truck, and fourth was local hero Daugherty in the #23 E3 Spark Plugs/General Tire Chevrolet; Bailey rounded out the top five.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
After giving away a second place finish on the final lap yesterday, Geoffrey Cooley was out to turn his luck around today, and he gave himself a good start towards that goal by taking the early lead of the Pro Buggy Unlimited race in his #22 Competitive Metals/CBR Alumi Craft. Dave Mason Jr. ran second in the #65 Rockwell Watches/Mickey Thompson Alumi Craft, with Steven Greinke third in the #1 SC Fuels/Redline Performance Racer, Bradley Morris fourth in the #24 K&N/Maxxis Alumi Craft, and John Fitzgerald fifth in the #14 BFGoodrich Tires/Weddle Industries Alumi Craft. A rollover at turn two by Sterling Cling on the opening lap brought out a full course yellow at the end of the lap, with racing resuming at the end of the next lap. On the restart lap, Doug Fortin (who drove Greinke’s brand new car to help him dial it in today) got by Fitzgerald on the outside at turn one to take over fifth, and on the next lap, a blown transmission on Robb Harvey’s machine brought him to a stop at turn five, forcing another full course caution. Morris got by Greinke on the restart, and almost got Mason Jr. at turn three with a very bold move down the inside, but Mason Jr. just managed to stay ahead. Greinke and Morris then had contact at turn five on the next lap, which dropped Morris out of the top five, and put Greinke back up to third. Morris charged back forward, though, and by lap nine, he was really challenging Fitzgerald for fifth place. Up ahead, Mason Jr. had closed right in on Cooley on lap ten, while the battle for fifth had heated up even more, with Morris bumping Fitzgerald wide at turn four, and Fitzgerald forcing Morris wide at turn five. A few laps later, and Cooley had opened up a gap over Mason Jr. once again, and despite Mason Jr. closing back in somewhat in the final few laps, Cooley still had enough in hand to cruise home comfortably, as he put together a strong, consistent run to take the win. Second, for the fifth time this season, was Mason Jr., and after taking the win yesterday, Greinke had to be content to fill out the podium in third today. Fortin Jr. had a nice return to the class today, and he wound up fourth in the #96 SC Fuels/Fortin Racing, Inc. Racer, while Fitzgerald picked up fifth.
Pro Lite Unlimited
In Pro Lite Unlimited, Sheldon Creed was this morning’s top qualifier, and with no inversion, he started up front and immediately began to streak away from the drop of the green flag. Behind Creed, Jerett Brooks ran second in the #77 Synergy Electric Racing/ Nissan, followed by RJ Anderson in the #1 LoanMart/Walker Evans Racing Dodge in third, Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Jeep in fourth, and Bradley Morris fifth in the #24 K&N/Maxxis Ford. With a lot of in-fighting amongst several of the drivers behind Creed, the leader opened up a gap early, but a full course caution quickly came out on lap two after multiple trucks were caught out in an incident in turn four, an incident which cut the race very short for Ryan Hagy and Aaron Daugherty, whose trucks were out with damage. After the restart, the top five held their positions for several laps, until Brooks bicycled at turn three on lap seven, which allowed Anderson to get by and up to second. Morris also picked up a position on that lap, but Currie got back by him early on the next lap, while up front, Creed was again growing a lead over his pursuers. Someone then ended up on his side at turn three on lap 12, and with Ryan Beat coming to a stop just shy of the start/finish line as well, it was time for another full course yellow. On the restart, an untimely flat tire on Brooks’ machine dropped him out of contention, and moved Anderson, Currie, Morris, and Brian Deegan up to second, third, fourth, and fifth. Two laps later, and a big rollover by Justin Smith between turns one and two forced another full course yellow, and although “Bean” was able to continue, Chris Lawrence (who was also caught out in the incident) suffered more damage than his truck could stand. On the restart, Currie tried to get by Anderson, but ended up running wide at turn one, which gave Morris an opening on the inside. Morris got inside into turn two, and held Currie wide through the exit of the corner, which allowed both he and Deegan to get by and up to third and fourth. Currie then had a half spin at turn four, which dropped him back several spots, and moved Andrew Caddell (filling in for Oscar Rodriguez this weekend) up to fifth. On the penultimate lap, Anderson ran wide at turn five, which gave Morris a chance to get by and up to second, but on the final lap, Morris over-rotated at the exit of turn three, and dropped back to sixth. Up front, it was Creed whose truck had only gotten a little dirty when he was putting drivers a lap down, as he came home the winner today in his #74 A.M. Ortega/BFGoodrich Tires Dodge. Second went to Anderson, who put together a performance not unlike that of Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals (when he played an unbelievable game despite a fever well over 100 degrees), as he fought through serious sickness to pick up another podium, backing up his win from yesterday. Third went to Deegan, fourth to birthday boy Caddell in the #71 LoanMart/Hughes Converters Ford (happy birthday Andrew!), and fifth to Noah Fouch in the #52 GoPro/Fiberwerx Ford.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and after seeing his win streak come to an end in Pro 4 Unlimited, Carl Renezeder must’ve been hoping to get right back to his winning ways in this one. Renezeder had a dynamite start and shot into the early lead in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, with Marty Hart, Rob MacCachren, Brian Deegan, and Robby Woods close behind. On lap three, Hart bobbled at turn five, which caused the field to stack up briefly behind him, but everyone in the top five held their positions, as they did in a similar incident at turn three on the next lap, after Hart had a little contact with Renezeder. The top five continued to maintain their positions through lap seven, albeit with Hart now suffering from a little bit of vision impairment after the front of his hood had been smashed back and up following his contact with Renezeder. On lap seven, MacCachren got down the inside of Hart at turn one, and moved by and into second at turn two. Woods got by Deegan on the inside at turn five on the same lap, and just afterwards, a full course caution was thrown after Joseph Provenza nosed his truck into the outside barrier at turn four. When racing resumed, the top five drivers maintained their positions, and that order continued to hold through lap 12, when Renezeder went wide out of turn two. MacCachren held more momentum out of the corner, and got alongside and just ahead over the big tabletop on the back straight, before moving inside and into the lead at turn three. On the next lap, Deegan got back by Woods on the inside at turn two to re-take fourth, and on lap 14, Woods ran high at turn three, handing his fifth spot to Kyle LeDuc. Woods got the position right back in the next corner, though, while up front, MacCachren and Renezeder had built a small gap back to third-placed Hart. Deegan then put a pass on Hart for third at turn one on lap 16, and with MacCachren now starting to pull away from Renezeder, Deegan began to close down on him in the final lap and a half. Unfortunately for Deegan, he’d have needed a few more laps to make a real run at Renezeder, and as it was he had to settle for third. At the head of the field, MacCachren picked up the win again today in his #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, the only driver to sweep the weekend in any class here at Miller Motorsports Park this year. Renezeder came home second, with Deegan third in the #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, Hart fourth in the #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford, and Woods fifth in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/General Tire Chevrolet.
With that, one of the most spectacular race weekends in recent memory, and quite possibly the best of the season so far, has come to a close. Miller Motorsports Park has been a fantastic host this weekend, and we can’t wait to come back and do it again here next year. Thank you to all the wonderful Utah fans who packed the stands both days, the enthusiasm here has been unrivaled so far this season. Up next, we head to the homeland of off-road, southern California, for our first night race of the season, under the lights at Glen Helen Raceway. The weekend of July 26-28 is just five weeks away, so stay tuned to www.lucasoiloffroad.com for all the latest news between now and then, and get your tickets now, because this one is virtually guaranteed to sell out with ease.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long-standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the Midwest tradition of short course off-road racing infused with a West Coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door-to-door action to challenging, fan-friendly tracks. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course. For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com. Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series