It was an exciting weekend of racing for the RJ37 team at Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City, UT for Rounds 7 & 8 of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS). Like every race this season so far, Rounds 7 & 8 had its fair share of ups and downs, but nothing could spoil the high of the weekend as RJ put the #37 Polaris RZR / Monster Energy Pro-2 on the box for the first time!
It has been a challenging season for the RJ37 team. RJ has ran pace with the best all year both in Pro-2 and in Pro-Lite, but it seemed that one thing or another has kept him from having the success he has worked so hard to achieve this year as a rookie in Pro-2 and as a champion in Pro-Lite. A lesser driver and person would succumb to the pressure that RJ has been faced with this year. He’s a rookie in Pro-2, the premier division in short course off-road racing, but he is also for the first time, operating his very own 2 truck race program. This is a big undertaking for anyone let alone a 21-year-old. But these challenges have been met with the same tenacity and commitment that has brought the young talent to the top on the track for so many years.
RJ has consistently qualified in the top 5 this year in his #37 Polaris RZR / Monster Energy Pro-2. On Saturday (Round 7) RJ would qualify 4th before taking the track and putting on one of his best performances all season. He kept the #37 Pro-2 in the top 4 the entire race, even making a charge to challenge for 1st and 2nd. In the end, and after one crazy final lap restart, RJ would put his truck on the box for the first time in his career in the coveted Pro-2 division. The podium is not a new place for RJ, he knows the winners circle well, but 3rd place and a first time podium finish in this class was a special moment for him, his team, family, friends and sponsors. The finish proved that he could live up to the expectations that have come with him moving into Pro-2. He doesn’t get the leeway most rookies would get, people expect to see RJ do well, and on Saturday he proved that he can handle the pressure.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Sunday (Round 8) was shaping up to be another monumental day for the Polaris RZR / Monster Energy Pro-2. RJ laid down the 3rd quickest time in qualifying and after the inversion would find himself sitting on the pole for the start of the race. All eyes were on RJ to see how he would handle the pressure having the sports best breathing down his neck right out of the gate. As the green flag waived RJ shot the #37 strait to the front and would not look back for 9 laps! Eventually Rob MacCachren would find enough room to overtake RJ’s lead but he wasn’t getting away that easy. After a yellow flag restart RJ would come flying across the start/finish realizing he had a flat right rear tire which would result in a hot pits stop. RJ went from leader to the back due to the flat. He would battle back and finish a respective 7th place despite being forced to make a pit stop. It wasn’t the finish the RJ37 team wanted, but seeing RJ drive for 9 laps in the lead was like a shot of adrenaline to where this driver, team and truck are going. Luck is going to come around and when it does look out!
The weekend in the #37 Loanmart / Walker Evans Racing Pro-Lite also had its highs and lows. RJ had a good run going in Saturday’s (Round 7) race finishing in the 4th position. Sunday’s (Round 8) race would not go as well. After qualifying first for that afternoon battle RJ would once again fall to the back due to a mechanical. A quick stop in the pits would get him back out on the track but it would result in him going from the lead pack back to the 20th position. He would make up ground but with only 3 laps to go he couldn’t do enough. In the end he would settle with a frustrating 15th place finish.
Despite finishing the weekend on a low point, the overall weekend has to be viewed as a success. The young team has proven that they can run with the veterans in Pro-2 and that the former Pro-Lite champ definitely has what it takes to get it done. Heading into the weekend RJ was sitting 6th in points in Pro-2. His strong finishes both days should bump him up in the standings. In Pro-Lite he entered the weekend 3rd in points so we will see where he shakes out once the updated standings are released.
RJ wants to extend a huge thank you to his sponsors who support the RJ37 program. Their involvement is monumental to the team’s success. RJ also wants to thank his crew, family and friends for supporting him on race weekends. And lastly RJ wants to thank his brother Ronnie Anderson who despite having to prepare for his own Mod Kart races, is always there for him. To all the fans, thank you as well and we will see you all in Southern California, in our backyard at Glen Helen Raceway on August 1st & 2nd!