Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Round 5 from Las Vegas
MacCachren, Renezeder and Hart win at Round 5
Short-course off-road racing has seen its share of changes in recent years, but fans and racers are glad to have some stability in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS), which has cemented itself as the premier series on the West Coast. It's only previous competition last year was the TORC Series, which recently went through an ownership change and moved its previously scheduled West Coast events all back east.
Lucas Oil also seems to have found a great new venue at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as this is the second race of the year at the newly designed track in 2010. The big news from the racetrack was the announcement that Glen Helen will be the racetrack hosting the August 7-8 race in Southern California, which is good news to So Cal residents waiting to hear what track would replace the Lake Elsinore racetrack used last year.
The weather for Saturday's Round 5 race was sunny but windy. Fortunately for the spectators, the wind was blowing away from the track. Everyone in attendance was treated to some great short-course racing.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Carl Renezeder went out and laid down the fastest qualifying time yesterday, showing he had one of the fastest trucks in the class coming into the race. For Round 5, he showed why he is one of the craftiest racers in the class, as this was the first weekend the crew was debuting a new truck and some issues made him late to the starting line. But, as he has done so many times before, he picked off racers one by one and put himself into contention. When the opportunity arose, Renezeder was in a position to capitalize on it and take the win.
"I was still in disbelief that I was even on the track," Renezeder said of the issues that plagued his truck prior to the race. "We had problems I pulled onto the track barely making it. I didn't make the start and started in the back. I took it easy on the first few laps, and it felt good so I let her go. I really have to thank my team for getting it together."
Rick Huseman was in solid command of the lead the first half of the race after grabbing the holeshot and pulling away from second-place Johnny Greaves. Kyle LeDuc was not far off the pace and moved into third by the end of the first lap, but he forced to pull off the track after only a few laps with mechanical issues. Adrian Cenni moved through the pack into third behind Greaves, and he eventually overtook Greaves on the fourth lap.
With over four laps complete, Huseman and Cenni were putting a sizeable gap on the field. At the halfway point, Huseman held first, Cenni second, Travis Coyne third, Greaves fourth, Michael Johnson fifth, and Renezeder had worked up into sixth.
Once the flag dropped, Cenni made his move and passed Huseman by flying into the lead on the large jump in front of the grandstands. Cenni pulled a few car lengths ahead of the field, but Huseman started to reel him in. Renezeder waited patiently in third. As Huseman closed the gap and started to push Cenni for the lead, the two trucks got tangled and slowed, providing just the opening that Renezeder needed to snatch the lead. Huseman finished in second and Cenni took third.
"It was a horrible deal, but that's racing," Huseman said of his tangle.
Cenni was pleased with his podium finish, and he shared a little secret with the fans.
"Got a chance on the restart of getting around Rick, which I took and that was great, but then Rick and I got tangled up," Cenni said. "I also wanted to thank Elvis Presley because I put on my blue suede shoes to try and win in Vegas and I almost came up with one. Maybe we'll get it tomorrow."
Notes: Carl Renezeder was the fastest in qualifying yesterday followed by Jeremy McGrath, Johnny Greaves and Rick Huseman, respectively.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
The competitive Pro Buggy Unlimited class appeared to be up for grabs for much of the race, with the lead changing hands a number of times before the checkered flag waved. Bobby Pecoy took the holeshot and converted it into a solid lead, which he held until lap five when a hard-charging Doug Fortin passed him for first place and held it until the yellow flag came at the halfway point for the mandatory restart.
After the restart, Jerry Whelchel, who was running in fourth at the time, was able to get by Fortin and take the lead and hold it until the end of the race. He simply looked faster than the rest of the field after the restart.
"I finally found fifth gear I was looking for it all weekend," Whelchel said on the podium. "I almost flipped it in turn one, and I don't know how I saved it. At that point I just wanted to make it to the finish line, so I was trying not to hit all of the big ruts and just make it to the finish."
Pecoy was able to get back up into second place, and Justin Davis was able to work through the pack to finish in the final podium spot.
"I was just trying to keep my nose clean at the beginning and let it all out at the end," Davis said.
Saturday's Super Lite race came down to a photo finish. As was the case in Pro Buggy, the lead in Super Lite changed a number of times during the race, and race winner Chad George actually never held the lead until the final second when he jumped ahead of second-place finisher Dawson Kirchner.
During the first half of the race it was Jacob Person who held a commanding lead over the field. Following behind in second was Colton Greaves and third-place George.
After the restart, Greaves jumped into the lead with a great holeshot, with Person falling to second and George getting hit in turn one and falling back in the pack. Within a lap, there was a major shakeup at the front of the pack, and all of the sudden the front order changed considerably and it became anyone's race. Coming into the final few turns, the frontrunners were now Kirchner, George and crossover freestyle motocross Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg. Kirchner had a slight lead on George in the final turn, but George closed the gap heading to the finish line jump and took the lead in air while crossing the finish line. It was the first time he led all race.
"When I got tagged I knew I still had a lot of tire under me," George said of his spin after the restart. "I waited for stuff to play out and it played out how I thought it would. If you couldn't get excited about that race, I don't think you can get excited."
Kirchner thought he had enough to hold off George but just couldn't maintain the lead.
"I was in third gear pinned and he still got past me," he said. "I was so disappointed."
Stenberg has liked his transition to short-course off-road racing.
"I'm pumped," he said on the podium. "It's a big transition to go from two wheels to four."
Notes: Jacob Pearson was the fastest Super Lite racer in qualifying yesterday, as he was followed by Chad George, Colton Greaves and Dawson Kirchner.
Pro Lite Unlimited
Marty Hart took the lead in Pro Lite Unlimited and never looked back, earning the wire-to-wire win in a race where he was never really challenged. His closest competitor at the start of the race was freestyle motocross rider Brian Deegan. Deegan struggled his first year of short-course racing, but he seems to have come into his own lately. He posted the fastest time in qualifying yesterday, which put him on the second row inside since they invert the top four qualifiers. Deegan started fourth but had moved up into second by the second lap. Unfortunately, he was forced to pull off due to mechanical issues after a few laps. Hart did have some heat from Chris Brandt, who ran in second for much of the race, but he was also forced to pull off into the pits.
With much of Hart's competition falling out of the race, he was able to pull away from the field, though the restart did give him a bit some trouble.
"The restart got super interesting," he said. "I got super drilled at the start that made it interesting but I had a good time racing."
Adam Wik was able to work his way through the pack to finish in second, while Jimmy Stephensen rounded out the podium in third.
Notes: Brian Deegan was the fastest driver in Pro Lite Unlimited qualifying yesterday, besting second-place qualifier Jacob Person, third-place Marty Hart and fourth-place Adam Wik.
Pro 2 Unlimited
Pro 2 Unlimited was the final race of the day for Round 5, and it was a Rockstar-led race throughout. Todd Leduc pulled the holseshot at the start of the race, holding yesterday's fastest qualifier Rob MacCachren off for the first four laps. MacCachren kept the pressure on and was able to pass his Rockstar-sponsored teammate to take the lead, which he held until the yellow flagged waved signaling the halfway point restart.
After the restart, MacCachren maintained the lead and LeDuc retained second. Rodrigo Ampudia moved into third place and was closely tailed by Bryce Menzies, who unfortunately tried to maneuver around Ampudia but was forced to turn too sharp and spun out.
MacCachren maintained his lead and LeDuc continued to hold off Ampudia until the end of the final lap, as Ampudia was able to get past him and ruin the one-two Rockstar finish.
"Todd is a Rockstar teammate and we wanted to go one-two, but Rodrigo snuck in there," MacCachren said. "Both Todd and I checked out and we were just trying to run a clean race."
LeDuc was disappointed in finishing third, but he was happy to just finish.
"I barely finished that race," LeDuc said. "I was giving it full throttle and we were barely moving. We'll go back and fix the cars and we'll try to win it tomorrow."
Ampudia, who has been recovering from a broken leg, was happy to get out of the house and race.
"It feels so good to be on the podium right now," Ampudia said.