Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Wraps Up at Lake Elsinore
The new Lake Elsinore Motorsports Complex had Southern California off-road racing fans buzzing again for Round 4 of the 2012 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. The new facility has a lot to offer off-roaders in 2012, as the motocross track at the new facility will play host to the finale of the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship later this year, but for now race fans filled the grandstands to check out the newly designed short-course track. The racing definitely did not disappoint.
The rest of the Pro 4 field has been unable to slow down Kyle LeDuc, who’s won the first three races of the season. Sunday’s race would be no different, as LeDuc worked up a few spots to grab the lead from Josh Merrell in the early going. LeDuc held his lead until the halfway point, and he retained it on the mandatory restart to earn his fourth win of the season in as many races.
“I got out front and wanted to stay clean in the beginning but it’s a slick track,” LeDuc said after the race, later describing the truck his crew prepared as “stupid fast.”
With LeDuc earning another win the battle was on for second place, and it was a good one between Merrell and the winner’s brother Todd LeDuc. The two racers kept it close until the end, but it was Todd who came away with second place while Merrell finished with his second podium of the weekend. Finishing just off the podium was LeDuc patriarch Curt, who just missed a full LeDuc podium at Round 4.
In the packed Pro Lite field, Brian Deegan looked determined to earn his second win for the weekend in the class. He jumped out to an early lead but was quickly pressured by yesterday’s second-place finisher RJ Anderson. At the halfway point as racers entered the two-minute pit stop, it was Deegan out front, Anderson in second and Chris Brandt in third – the same podium finishers from yesterday.
After the restart, Deegan was able to retain his lead but only for a short time, as Anderson moved into the lead and never relinquished it. Brandt was able to move into second place with Deegan falling to third, though Deegan’s truck began to smoke on the final lap and he started losing places just a few turns from the finish. This left the door open for young Bradley Morris to take the final podium spot, marking an impressive day for the 15-year-old who also won the Kart Modified race and took second in Limited Buggy.
Morris wasn’t near the front of the pack at the start of the race but worked methodically through the pack. “We were way back and just started picking people off,” he said after the race.
Brandt also showed great patience, as he waited for his opening to move into to the top three and eventually into second. “There was just chaos out there for the longest time,” he said of Deegan and Anderson battling hard for most of the race.
As for Anderson, he credited his team’s hard work on his vehicle, saying “I think it’s going to put us at the top a lot more this season.”
The Pro 2 Unlimited class kept race fans on their toes up until the end. For the first half of the race, Marty Hart used his good starting position to grab the early lead and hold off Rob MacCachren and Brian Deegan. Robby Woods and Carl Renezeder also stayed in striking distance while battling for the fourth-place spot. Local favorite and Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath got off to a rough start and had a tough day in the class, getting tangled early in the race and falling back in the pack and later spinning out in a turn after connecting with another truck later in the race.
After the restart, Hart again settled into the lead, but MacCachren was waiting for the right moment and he jumped past Hart by taking a tighter line in a turn to take over the lead. This left Hart with the task of holding off Deegan for second place.
One of the most exciting moments was the battle for fourth place between Renezeder and Woods, who were driving side by side into the first few small jumps on the back straightaway from Woods got out of shape and his truck shifted sideways in front of Renezeder’s while both trucks were midair. The two trucks connected briefly, with Renezeder spinning off but steering clear of oncoming tracks, whereas Woods was shoved up onto the side bank of the track, where he proceeded to hit the gas and ride off the sideways on the bank of the hill (and the banner posted on said hill) and back into the race.
Shortly thereafter, Deegan, who was running in third place, started having truck issues mechanical issues as a huge plume of smoke came from his engine compartment. MacCachren’s had the win in hand while Hart had second locked up, so Deegan tried his best to limp his heavily-smoking truck around the final turn and to the finish line for the final podium spot. The engine trouble created a literal smoke screen that looked to potentially blind the other racers, but Rodrigo Ampudia was able to swing around the smoking truck to finish third place. Greg Adler also snuck by to earn fourth, but Deegan miraculously crossed to finish in fifth place before his truck completely quit on him.
After the race, Ampudia said he was almost blinded by Deegan’s smoking truck. “I couldn’t see anything – I was just hoping for the best,” Ampudia said, noting he thought he was taking the outside line around Deegan when he realized he was to the inside of him.
Hart was happy to hold onto second after he started losing power from one of his cylinders during the race. MacCachren was able to earn his second podium of the season after getting around Hart, who got the best of him when he had to settle for second place at the season opener.
“I tell you what, Marty was running a heck of a race and I was just trying to chase him down,” he said. MacCachren said the win shows that he and the team are getting close to getting this new truck dialed in for the season.
In the Pro Buggy class it was Mike Porter earning the wire-to-wire win in the class. Doug Fortin finished in second in the class.
In Super Lite, Jessie Johnson took the win over second-place-finisher Drew Britt, while the final podium spot went to Sheldon Creed.
Although Southern California race fans will have to wait until August for the series to return to the area for the Glen Helen races, next up is action from Speedworld Off-Road Park in Surprise, Arizona, May 19-20. For more information, visit LucasOilOffRoad.com.
Other 2012 Lucas Oil Off-Road Races
Round 3: LeDuc and Deegan Top the Podium
Round 4 – Lucas Oil Off-Road Results
1. Rob MacCachren
2. Marty Hart
3. Rodrigo Ampudia
4. Greg Adler
5. Brian Deegan
1. RJ Anderson
2. Chris Brandt
3. Bradley Morris
4. Doug Mittag
5. Noah Fouch
1. Kyle LeDuc
2. Todd LeDuc
3. Josh Merrell
4. Curt LeDuc
5. Greg Adler
1. Mike Porter
2. Doug Fortin
3. Geoffrey Cooley
1. Jessie Johnson
2. Drew Britt
3. Sheldon Creed
4. Brent Fouch
5. Larry Linkogle
1. John Fitzgerald
2. Bradley Morris
3. Zachary Hunt
4. Jordan Poole
5. Jeff Richards
1. Bradley Morris
2. Kyle Hart
3. Myles Cheek
4. Brock Heger
5. Blake Lenk
Kart Jr. 1
1. Broc Dickerson
2. Conner McMullen
3. Travis Pecoy
4. Ricky Gutierrez
5. Barrett Nunley
Kart Jr. 2
1. Shelby Anderson
2. Jeremy Davis
3. Darren Hardesty
4. Dylan Winbury
5. Travis Pecoy