Round 3: Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing from Lake Elsinore
The Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series made its return to Lake Elsinore for short-course off-road with a brand-new track and facility. Housed at the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park is a new short-course off-road track for the Lucas Oil series that boasts high-speed sections, whoop/rhythm sections, and the jumps are highlighted with a large, 30-foot jump on the back straightaway of the course.
The sun was beaming and the stands packed, and the competitors put on a great show for the Southern California race fans. After opening ceremonies, the Pro 4 Unlimited racers took to the track. Kyle LeDuc looked to increase his win total to three in the class after sweeping both races at the opening weekend at Firebird Raceway in Arizona. LeDuc picked up right where he left off, jumping out to the early lead and never relinquishing it to earn the wire-to-wire win.
“We’re sweating and you’re sweating but hopefully we’re putting on a great show,” LeDuc said to the crowd enduring the warm temperatures for the race. He also credited his team for his third win of the season.
Although Carl Renezeder gave LeDuc good chase in the first half of the race, he was forced to pull off again after the 2-minute pit stop at the halfway point in the race. He tried to return to the action but was unable to finish the race. With Renezeder out of the picture, this allowed Greg Adler to move into second after starting the race in the back of the pack. Adler was pleased with the finish, noting that taking jumps at just the right angle was important as he continues to learn the changes his team made to the truck.
Finishing in third place was Josh Merrell, who said on the podium he was without brakes for the final few laps of the race. Finishing an impressive fourth place was the lone female racer in the class Corry Weller, who rebounded after flipping her truck in a turn earlier in the race. Finishing in fifth place was Todd LeDuc, who pressured brother Kyle early on before a tangle in one of the turns pushed him back in the pack.
The Pro Lite class was up next, packing the Lake Elsinore track with a massive field of 24 trucks. Early on, class veteran Chris Brandt jumped out to the lead and held it despite a few caution flags that forced two restarts of the field. After the midway pit stop, however, a hard-charging AJ Anderson, who was battling with Casey Currie the previous few laps, was able to get by Brandt to take the lead.
Anderson was able to hold onto the lead for a few laps until local fan favorite Brian Deegan, who started 13th off the line, was able to edge by Anderson in a tight to turn take the lead. Deegan also performed this feat after recently swapping in a new V8 motor in his Pro Lite truck.
“It was an awesome race – it’s why I do it,” he said after the race. “We put that V8 in and it was game on.”
Anderson, who jumped up from the spec Super Lite class to Pro Lite in 2012, gave credit to his team for working hard on his new truck while also giving credit to the veterans in the field he battled with.
“Brian Deegan and Chris Brandt, they’ve been here for a while so you’ve got to give it up to them,” he said.
Finishing in third place was Brandt, who was disappointed he didn’t finish high on the podium but has been around long enough to know that good finishes pay off over the course of the season.
The 18-truck field for Pro 2 Unlimited was up next, and Rodrigo Ampudia and Marty Hart took advantage of their front-row qualifying positions to hold off the field the first few laps.
After Justin Davis’ truck nearly caught fire and was towed off the track to end his day, the field was restacked and restarted again. Renezeder was able to move up from his third-place spot into second, though Hart was able to hold off both Renezeder and Ampudia for the most part.
As was the case in the Pro Lite race, Deegan started to make a serious late-race push. He first got past Renezeder to move into second and then set his sites on the leader Hart. Deegan was unable to get by Hart until he made a last-ditch effort on the last few turns, passing Hart in the final seconds of the race to earn his second race win of the day. While Deegan his great battles with Hart in the Pro Lite class, Hart also credited Deegan for a clean pass and great win.
Rounding out the podium in Pro 4 was Renezeder, who noted that he was biding his time early in the race to make a push later because “the track was slick at the start of the race,” which was something Hart noted as well.
In Pro Buggy, Cameron Steel earned the win at round three after leading the entire race but nearly losing it at the end to Steven Greinke, who finished in second place after jumping up a number of spots in the final few laps of the race. Rounding out the podium for Pro Buggy was Doug Fortin.
Concluding the action on Saturday was the Super Lite spec class. John Gable earned the win, holding off Sheldon Creed and Jessie Johnson, who finished in second and third place respectively.
Check back tomorrow for coverage of Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series from the new Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park.
Other 2012 Lucas Oil Off-Road Races: