Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Wraps Up First Weekend in Arizona
The opening weekend of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series is in the books for 2011, and it’s clear that some great short-course off-road racing is on tap for 2011. The opening weekend looked more similar to last year’s Lucas Oil Rockstar Energy Cup Challenge for much of the weekend with its frenetic pace that saw great battles being waged in just about every class.
The purpose-built short-course off-road track at Firebird Raceway just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, played host for the weekend of racing. For Round 1 racing on Saturday, there were some familiar faces on top of the podium, but Sunday had some new faces clinging to trophies at the end of the day, proving that sport is growing and there’s plenty of hungry racers ready to tackle the dirt.
If you missed any of the Round 1 action, check that out here.
In the Pro 2 Unlimited class, Brian started out on the front row again and led the field for much of the race. It wasn’t until a few laps in that he was passed by the Stronghold Motorsports Team of Rob Naughton and Jeremey McGrath. Deegan was still able to hold on for third place to finish off the weekend on the podium.
“It was a great battle, you know,” Deegan said. “Fortunately I got to start out front and just try to set the pace and ,you know, I had a few pushes here and there, and it allowed those guys get under me. You know, I’m still learning so I had a chance … I’ll have nightmares about this race for sure.”
Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath was able to hold on for second at round two, as the team was able to make changes on Saturday night to get the trucks better prepared for Sunday’s race.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, we came testing a few weeks ago and we thought we were pretty good,” McGrath said. “And yesterday we came out and we had to take some pretty big swings with the truck there. I have to hand it to the crew … we were doing some thinking last night for sure. Rob and I were questioning ourselves, so tonight’s turnaround, hats off to the crew, and just a group effort … I’m just pumped, I can’t believe it.”
A very excited Naughton came in after the race very excited. As was noted during the podium interview, he finally got that win in Pro 2 after making the jump up from Pro Light.
“I came out of Pro Light as the guy to beat, and I thought, ‘I can do this in Pro 2,’ but last year was a struggle, man,” Naughton said. “It was up and it was down. I can’t thank the Stronghold guys enough. They gave me another opportunity this year and last year was a little shaky.”
The Pro Lite class saw some great battles, and much like Pro 2, Deegan jumped out to an early lead in the race that he held until the halfway point. But on the restart, Deegan appeared to have some engine issues, allowing Chris Brandt to get by him for the lead. Brandt held on to take the win, with Jimmy Stephensen taking second, while Jacob Person took home third.
“Yeah, you know we didn’t get the one we wanted yesterday, but we’re here to show ‘em that there’s a reason we’re always up here,” Bradnt said of yesterday’s second-place finish. He also tossed a little gas on the fire with his in-class rivalry with Deegan. “When we started the day, we had a plan. We were going to get the point for qualifying … I didn’t even think about Deegan until after the race, but he didn’t even have a chance anyway.”
The Super Lite class featured more great racing, with the top three shuffling around a good amount in the early going. On the restart at the halfway point, Jeff “Ox” Kargola took the lead and never looked back, as he was able to keep his truck hooked up and in control to stay in front.
“I think I really owe this win to the General Tire Grabbers and the Method Wheels,” he said. “The combo seems to be really working perfectly out here. It’s kind of slick for everyone else, but I’m grabbing, hooking up and taking it away.”
CJ Greaves worked his way through the pack during the race and was able to overcome traction issues that plagued him at the start of the race.
“The early part of the race was real slick, and I had too much front braking and just couldn’t get the truck set and we put some rear brake into it and we started moving forward,” Greaves said.
RJ Anderson round out the podium in third place, coming back out to the track in Super Lite after having a hard crash in his earlier UTV race.
“Typically my crew pats me on the back for keeping things together and not tearing anything up, but I don’t know, something got into me today and I ruined one car and put the other one on its lid,” Anderson said. “Speaking of my guys, I got to thank them for getting me out here.”
In Pro Buggy, Mike Porter was able to start off where he did round one’s race out in front of the pack. Although he was leading for a good chunk of the race yesterday, he wasn’t able to hold on and fell back in the pack. But on Sunday, after his daughter Paige earned a third-place podium position in the Kart Jr. class, he was able to hold on for the win after fight off Doug Fortin.
“She seems to be the one setting the standard. If she does good then I seem to follow not to far behind,” said Porter, as he and daughter had similar same-day success last season. “Racing with these guys … I mean, clean racing. Doug’s been all over my rear bumper all weekend long, adding a little more stress to my program. But today we ended up coming out ahead.”
Fortin wasn’t able to pass Porter on Sunday, but he still held on for a hard-earned second place after taking home the victory the day before.
“Yeah it looks like we’re going to see some great racing this year in Pro Buggy,” he said. “Mike ran a great race both days, and I got by him yesterday and today I didn’t.”
In the Pro 4 Unlimited class, Rick Huseman just continued his dominance in the class, earning a back-to-back victory at Firebird Raceway.
“I can’t believe this. I think we got every point possible,” Huseman said after his second win of the weekend. “I’m so happy this is just amazing.”
Johnny Greaves had a solid second-place finish on Sunday. Greaves looked good at points in Saturday’s race, but Sunday he was able to put it all together and finish strong.
“Yeah, I really threw it away in the beginning there,” Greaves said. “It was like magic in that second turn up there when I just happened to slide into the lead and I thought, ‘This is going to be nice.’ I hope everyone had fun watching it. It was fun from where I was sitting.”
Carl Renezeder round out the Pro 4 podium on Sunday, taking a moment on the podium to note that he wasn’t pleased with the driving of fellow Pro 4 competitor Curt LeDuc.
“He hit me a couple of times, and it seemed like he wasn’t trying to make the turn he was just trying to take me out,” Renezeder said. “Whatever, we made it from the back of the pack back to the front. I’m proud of this team. I wanted to say thank you to Johnny to showing me a good line today. It worked for me after you got me.”
In Limited Buggy it was Curt Geer who was able to take home the win after holding off a packed field, noting on the podium that he was happy his open-wheeled buggy stayed intact.
“I was thinking about what I said to you yesterday when I only had three shocks and today I had four,” Geer said of his Fox Shox he repaired for Sunday’s race while on the podium
The issue at Firebird Raceway for the Limited Buggy racers is they just seem to struggle with the double jump on the back of the course, as they don’t quite have enough horsepower to clear the jump and they tend to land on its face.
“Yeah, it definitely is [tough] but you just have to buckle down and go hard,” said second-place racer Dave Mason.
Quentin Tucker was happy to round out the podium in class at round two, noting that he hopes to do it more often.
“Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been up here,” he said. I mean, it feels so good I wish I could be up here every race. I’m planning on it.”
If you missed round one coverage of the start of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, check out that story here.
The next race in the series will be April 16-17 in Surprise, Arizona. Click here to view the full Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series 2011 schedule.