Sunday is often the day when the action really unfolds here in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, and today, that was certainly true. Here at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV, just east of Reno, the skies were clearing after a couple of days of substantially smoky skies thanks to nearby wildfires, and the passionate local fans again packed the stands to watch a festival of horsepower.
Points battles are really heating up in all the classes, and while some of the frontrunners found continued good fortune this weekend, others hit major pitfalls, and had to fight hard to make up lost ground.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Carl Renezeder got out to the early lead in Pro 4 Unlimited this afternoon, but had most of the class’ toughest competitors charging hard right behind him. Renezeder led the way in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, with Todd LeDuc second in the #7 Rockstar Energy Drink/UltraWheels.com Ford, Rob MacCachren third in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, Kyle LeDuc fourth in the #99 Monster Energy Drink/Toyo Tires Ford, and Greg Adler fifth in the #10 ProComp/G2 Ford. Kyle got by MacCachren on the inside at turn four to move up to third on lap two, and by lap four, he was really starting to hound his brother Todd over second spot. A full course caution for debris on the track came out on that same lap, and on the restart lap, it was Eric Barron in the #32 LAT Racing Oils/Rancho Performance Drivetrain Toyota who got by Adler for fifth at turn one. Adler got back by Barron in the next corner, and as the two raced hard up the hill to turn four, anyone who remembers the battle there between these two yesterday must have been crossing their fingers that things would stay cleaner this time around. Up front, the top three runners were very close now, and on lap seven, Kyle got by his brother on the inside out of turn three, with Todd then getting back by on the inside at turn four. The leading trio careened into turn one on the next lap, where Todd slid to a sudden stop in the middle of the corner, unable to get re-fired. A big pile-up and scattering occurred around Todd’s stricken machine, and with Todd still stationary there near the end of the lap, a full course caution was thrown. The incident shuffled the running order, and it was now Renezeder, Kyle LeDuc, Barron, Brandon Bailey, and Corry Weller in the top five, with MacCachren and Adler losing out big time after giving up several positions each. Todd was finally able to re-fire briefly, but then stopped again just shy of turn two, and had to be towed off, race over. On the restart lap, MacCachren got by Weller on the outside out of turn three, and then passed Bailey going up the hill into turn four, and now ran in fourth spot. At the head of the field, there was a change for the lead after Kyle LeDuc got alongside Renezeder out of turn one on lap 12, before edging ahead from turn two to and through turn three. Weller passed Bailey on the same lap to get back inside the top five, and late on the next lap, MacCachren had closed right down on Barron, before getting by on the inside at turn one to take over third on lap 14. Weller’s truck then showed some steam out the back later that same lap, and at the start of lap 15, Barron suddenly pulled into the hot pits, having slowed noticeably just before. Adler then got by Weller out of turn one, and after contact up in that corner caused more than one thing to go awry on Weller’s truck, a sudden flash of fire out the back sent her to the side of the track at turn three. A full course yellow followed, and while safety crews tended to Weller’s stricken machine, the damage (not caused by the fire, which was out as quickly as it had started) was too severe for her to continue. Weller was towed off, and when racing resumed, it was to be a green-white-checkers dash to the end, with Kyle LeDuc, Renezeder, MacCachren, Adler, and Bailey now making up the top five. MacCachren was slow out of turn one on the restart lap, and dropped back to last place as he continued at a reduced pace, and that moved Adler to third, Bailey to fourth, and Jerry Daugherty to fifth in the #23 E3 Spark Plugs/General Tire Chevrolet. Daugherty had been fighting hard to keep a charging Ryan Beat at bay on the penultimate lap, and continued to do so on the last lap as well. His hard charging was rewarded further at the last minute, as a last lap issue on Bailey’s machine allowed Daugherty to pip him by a nose at the line. Up front, Kyle LeDuc made it a clean sweep this weekend, as he took his third win on the trot. Renezeder got the runner-up spot again today, followed by Adler in third, Daugherty in fourth, and Bailey in fifth in the #77 Loctite/Stronghold Engineering Ford.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Next up was Pro Buggy Unlimited, and after starting from pole following a two-position inversion from qualifying, it was John Fitzgerald in the #14 Napa Auto Parts/Simpson Alumi Craft who headed the field after lap one. Points leader and winner from yesterday Steven Greinke ran second in the #1 SC Fuels/BFGoodrich Tires Racer, with Dave Mason Jr. third in the #65 LoanMart/Jamar Alumi Craft, and Doug Fortin (again filling in for the injured Eric Fitch today) and Bradley Morris neck and neck for fourth. Morris edged ahead of Fortin coming out of turn one on lap two, with Fortin then getting back by at turn three. These two were now right on Mason Jr., and the trio went three-wide in turn four, with Morris coming out of the corner in third, Fortin in fourth, and Mason Jr. in fifth. Up front, Greinke was really putting the pressure on Fitzgerald, and he briefly got by on the inside as the two came through and out of turn three on lap four. Fitzgerald fought back to re-take the lead in the next corner, and as these two really started to turn the screws on one another, their in-fighting allowed Fortin and Morris to start closing the gap on them. Further back, Mason Jr. was slow out of turn two on lap six, which allowed Geoffrey Cooley to sneak by and up to fifth spot. Mason Jr. got him back at turn four, but with Larry Job and Randy Minnier also mixing it with these two young guns, theirs was quickly becoming the most contested battle on the track. At the head of the field, Greinke got alongside Fitzgerald out of turn four on lap seven, and nosed ahead and into the lead into turn one on the next lap. Fortin was right behind these two now, and as he came up to make his bid for second spot, he and Fitzgerald touched on the landing into turn three, sending Fitzgerald into a spin that put him back to fourth. The incident was ruled a “no call,” and with Mason Jr. now having dropped well down the order, it was now Greinke, Fortin, Morris, Fitzgerald, and Job in the top five. On lap eleven, Job got by Fitzgerald (who was now suffering with a left rear tire that was going down), and Cooley quickly followed suit at the end of the same lap. After that, the top five drivers held their positions for the balance of the race, and it was Greinke who put in a near-perfect weekend by sweeping both wins here at Wild West, adding hugely to his series-leading points tally. Fortin got his second consecutive runner-up finish, and hauled in valuable points for driver of record Fitch in the #97 Parts On A Shelf/Fox Racing Shox Racer. Morris was third in the #24 K&N/DH Graphics Alumi Craft, with Job fourth in the #7 Loctite/Toyo Tires Alumi Craft, and Cooley fifth in the #22 Competitive Metals/Jackson Motorsports Group Alumi Craft.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The penultimate race of the weekend was Pro Lite Unlimited, and after a rollover by Aaron Daugherty in turn one forced a full restart (Daugherty landed on his wheels and was able to continue), it was Bradley Morris who got out front right away in his #24 K&N/Kicker Ford on the second go around. Brian Deegan ran second in the #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford, ahead of Sheldon Creed in the #74 Traxxas/BFGoodrich Tires Dodge in third, Kyle Lucas in the #25 Speedco Truck Lube & Tires/Lucas Oil Ford in fourth, and Justin “Bean” Smith in the #19 Metal Mulisha/Impact Ford in fifth. Creed got by Deegan out of turn one on lap two, and between turns one and three, Deegan was suddenly getting eaten up by the competition. Some mad scrambling assumed in that span, with Deegan battling back heading up the long hill into turn four. At the end of the lap, it was still Morris out front, with Lucas now second, Deegan third, Casey Currie fourth, and Ryan Beat fifth. Creed had fallen back to sixth, but got by Beat for fifth coming out of turn three on the next lap, before passing Currie on the inside for fourth in the next corner. Beat got by Currie at turn one on lap four, just before a rollover by Trenton Briley at turn two forced a full course caution. After safety crews got Briley uprighted, he was able to re-fire and continue, and when racing resumed, it was reigning champion RJ Anderson who got by Beat at turn two to take over fifth on the restart lap. Further forward, Creed got by Lucas out of turn three to move back up to third, and on the next lap, Anderson got by Lucas on the inside at turn two to move into fourth. Creed was now challenging Deegan for second, before a second full course caution came out after an incident involving Eric Hunter and Jimmy Fishback (filling in this weekend for Chris Lawrence) was blocking the course up in turn one. On the restart lap, Lucas got by Anderson at turn one, but after Noah Fouch got rolled up and over the right side barrier out of turn two, a full course caution was thrown, and Lucas had to give the position back to Anderson due to the “last completed lap” rule. Fouch had landed on his wheels, and after a few moments under yellow, he was able to re-fire, head to the hot pits, and then re-join the race. After the restart, Anderson got inside Creed at turn two and moved up to third on lap 14. Creed got back alongside Anderson up the long hill, but then slowed into turn four, and was still slow coming out of the corner, where Lucas ran into his back bumper and was unable to get by. Both drivers lost a lot of positions, and that allowed Beat and Chris Brandt to move up to fourth and fifth as a result. Beat over-rotated in turn two on the next lap, which let Brandt get by and up to fourth, while up front, Morris had now opened up a good gap over the rest of the pack. Morris held that gap to the checkered flag, where he picked up his fourth straight podium, and his third win in the last four races. Deegan was second again today, just as he was yesterday, adding to his points lead as he hunts down his third championship in the class. Anderson moved up one spot from where he finished yesterday, and rounded out the podium in his #1 LoanMart/Maxxis Tires Dodge. Brandt equaled his best finish of the season by taking fourth in his #82 BFGoodrich Tires/Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery Toyota, and Beat picked up fifth in his #51 Lunarpages Web Hosting/General Tire Dodge.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and in this one, polesitter Bryce Menzies got to start out front thanks to a zero draw for the post-qualifying inversion. Menzies took full advantage of his hard work and good fortune, jumping out to the early lead in his #70 Loctite/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, with Brian Deegan, Marty Hart, Carl Renezeder, and Mike Porter filling out the top five. An incident in turn one caught out both Rob MacCachren and Robby Woods, but no call was made for a restart, so these two were left to try and chase their way forward. Woods struggled to get re-fired, and though he managed to do so just as the field started to cross the start/finish line, a full course yellow had already been thrown because he’d been blocking turn one. On the restart lap, Porter continued his impressive early run, as he moved his #9 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats Chevrolet past Renezeder out of turn one and up to fourth. Down the order, points leader MacCachren was charging through the field, and was up to ninth by lap three, before picking off two more on the next lap. Up front, Menzies was opening up a small gap over Deegan on lap five, and just a bit behind, Kyle LeDuc was now up to fifth after getting by Renezeder out of turn four. LeDuc then passed Porter on the outside out of turn three on the next lap, and just behind, MacCachren was now up to sixth. MacCachren then got by Porter on the inside at turn three on lap seven, moving himself up to fifth in his #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford. At the head of the field, Deegan was closing in on Menzies again, before a full course caution for debris on the track at the end of lap nine helped everything to close right up. On the restart lap, MacCachren got a great run around the outside of turn one, and moved from fifth to third in the process. Renezeder passed LeDuc to re-enter the top five on the same lap, and two laps later, Deegan was now right on Menzies’ back bumper in a great race for the lead. LeDuc was hounding Renezeder to get his fifth place back, but Renezeder was also focusing forward, as he got by Hart on the inside at turn three to move up to fourth. LeDuc got by Hart as well on the next lap, and at the white flag, it was Menzies, Deegan, MacCachren, Renezeder, and LeDuc in the top five. Menzies pulled away from Deegan a bit on the final lap, while further back, LeDuc made his second pass of the race on Renezeder at turn four, moving up to fourth in the final corner. Menzies got his second win in just six races with his new Stronghold Motorsports team, with Deegan finishing second in the #38 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Power Tools Ford. MacCachren put in a champion’s drive to come up to third after such bad luck in the first corner, with LeDuc taking fourth in the #98 Monster Energy Drink/Toyo Tires Ford, and Renezeder rounding out the top five in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan.
After scoring a big win yesterday on behalf of his driver of record Gavin Harlien, Sheldon Creed hit trouble this afternoon, as his kart lost power on the formation lap, forcing track crews to push his machine up to the hot pits and off the track. His crew worked furiously to get him re-fired, and although he missed taking the start in his original spot on the outside of the front row, he was able to join the action just a few seconds behind the tail of the field- excellent quick work by his team! Up front, it was Cole Mamer who grabbed the early lead in his #535 Simpson/T.I.S.I. Racing machine, with Brock Heger second in the #511 LGE/CTS Motorsports/ZLT kart, Preston Roben third in the #514 Duggins Construction, Inc./Fox Racing Shox entry, Parker Steele fourth in the #549 TrophyKart/Martori Farms truck, and Myles Cheek fifth in the #1 Metal Mulisha/CMI machine. Roben pulled off a very nice outside-inside pass on Heger to move up to second at turn seven on lap three, with Cheek and Jeff Hoffman then getting by Steele for fourth and fifth at the same corner on the following lap. Up front, Mamer was already stretching out a sizeable lead, and he was still out front at the Competition Yellow, ahead of Roben, Heger, Cheek, and Hoffman in the #547 Hoffman Motorsports/RC10.com kart in the top five. On the restart lap, Cheek and Hoffman both got by Heger at turn six to take over third and fourth spots, and just afterwards, Mamer slowed briefly (he may have missed a shift) coming out of turn one on the next lap. Mamer’s brief faltering allowed Roben to get by and into first place, but he then bicycled and ran wide off the track at turn six, dropping him seven spots down the running order. Mamer re-took the lead, and stayed out front to the checkers to take his third win of the season; Mamer is now also the winningest driver of the season in this class. Second went to Cheek, who came back very strong today after taking a huge hit against his lead in the points yesterday, while third went to Hoffman, fourth to Heger, and fifth to Steele.
That wraps up the action from here at Wild West Motorsports Park. In just four weeks’ time, the drivers and crews of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, will be back in action, just a hop, skip, and a jump south down in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway will play host to Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2013 championship, which will have an extra element of excitement: nighttime. That’s right, this will be our second night race weekend of the season, and this time, we’ll be under the lights on Friday and Saturday night, September 20th and 21st. With just three rounds to go, this championship is coming down to the wire, and every point is going to be of ever greater importance, so you won’t want to miss a moment in Las Vegas!
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.