The 2013 season is quickly coming to an end and the final night race of the summer took place under the lights of Las Vegas. Team JCRI and Kyle LeDuc arrived in Vegas to set up and it wasn’t long before the #98 Monster Energy/JCRI Pro2 was out on the course and getting some seat time. This is the second time this season that the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series has come to the track at the Las Vegas Motor speedway. LeDuc had great results his first time on this track in the JCRI built Pro2, with a 5th place finish. However rounds 13 & 14 wouldn’t see the same outcome for the team.
Thursdays practice would put LeDuc in the middle of the pack and qualifying didn’t go as planned when LeDuc pulled off the course on the first lap with issues plaguing the truck. The team would not be able to get the truck up and running in time for the two back to back qualifying session’s and LeDuc would have to start the races in the back. The disappointed team did not let this hinder their drive to get onto the podium and come race time as the light of the sun faded behind the mountains and the track lights brightened up the course, LeDuc staged for Friday nights race.
The green flag was let loose and the 17 Pro2 trucks were set free and off into turn one. As the #70 of Menzies would spin out and numerous trucks piled up, LeDuc avoided the chaos and went on the outside of turn one and made up valuable positions. LeDuc was now on the rear bumper of Beat and attempted to pass just when a flat tire cursed the driver and he had to pull into the hot pit. LeDuc came out of the pit a lap down but still continued to put the pressure on those in front of him. Despite being a lap down, LeDuc finished round 13 in seventh place.
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The crew prepped the truck late into the night and made sure it would be able to stand another night of racing from the back in round 14. Saturday would see high winds in the Vegas valley and due to safety concerns, round 14 would be delayed 45 minutes. A last minute schedule change would also move the Pro2 race to the opening race of the night. Fans stayed on their feet after the National Anthem, the Pro2′s paced behind the Lucas Oil pace truck and as soon as the flag was dropped, the trucks went barreling into turn one. Coming out of turn one and over the tabletop jump, LeDuc was side by side with Drew Brit as they landed and pushed into turn 2. Holding his line, LeDuc went into the final turn and continued to gain positions but it would be Porter that would hold LeDuc off from making a pass for numerous laps. Finally completing the passes, LeDuc was now hunting down Ampudia but the laps were quickly winding down and with no full course cautions, the race would see a large gap between the field. LeDuc moved up a position as he passed Ampudia in the final turn and would be returning to the pit with another 7th place finish.
The final round will take place in Lake Elsinore, CA when LOORRS returns for round 15 and following the championship races, you can find the Pro classes returning to the course on Sunday for the Lucas Oil Challenge cup.
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Photos by Jenn Hell