Lucas Oil Off-Road - Stronghold Motorsports Battles With The Best At Riverside
Riverside, May 25, 2011: A standing room only Glen Helen Raceway crowd , including hundreds of supporters from their parent company, Stronghold Engineering, were on hand as Stronghold Motorsports confirmed that they are a force to be reckoned with in the explosive world of Lucas Oil Off Road Racing. While the throng of fans in attendance was treated to some of the best racing of the season, the Stronghold Team of Jeremy McGrath, Rob Naughton, Cameron Steele and Brandon Bailey battled for positions on one of the tightest and most challenging tracks on the short course off road racing circuit.
The Pro 2 Unlimited tandem of #2 Jeremy McGrath and #54 Rob Naughton both fought from a Round 5 mid pack starting position to insert themselves into the middle of the action. As McGrath was fighting traffic to establish position, Naughton was able to negotiate the narrow course and found himself at the front of the pack challenging for a podium spot. Unfortunately, it was not to be as a combination of mechanical difficulties and an intense midair collision with another driver in the final turn, sent the #54 off the track and out of podium contention. Naughton recovered to take a fifth place finish, followed by McGrath in sixth. "We had it," said a disappointed Naughton. "We drove hard and passed some incredibly talented guys to get into position to put this truck on the podium. This team works so hard to put this truck on top and unfortunately today, it just didn't turn out that way."
Crew Chief Dave Clark and the Stronghold crew worked diligently the entire weekend to battle the notorious Glen Helen track. "Glen Helen is a short, rough track," said Clark. "With these tough conditions, being a hard charger is a necessity. When you race hard on a tight track you're going to see a lot of guys banging on each other for position and so attrition is inevitable."
Regrouping for Round 6, the #54 of Naughton began the race in the back of the pack after a mechanical issue compromised his morning qualifying effort. McGrath in the familiar #2, once again initiated his charge from the middle of the group. As McGrath was working his way to the front in the early laps, Naughton, patiently picked off his competitors one by one eventually capturing the fifth position on the track near midrace. With McGrath now in second, stalking the leader and Naughton just a few trucks behind, the crowd was on its feet poised for a Stronghold dominated podium. But, once again, the vicious Glen Helen track took its toll on the team as first Naughton was retired with mechanical complications followed by McGrath pulling off the track just a few laps later.
"You have to take some chances to get by guys here," said McGrath. "Saturday, I took some risks to make a move and it didn't work out. Sunday, I pulled my belts a little tighter and put on my race face and just went for it. I really felt like we had a winning package out there for Round 6 and we were in a position to take it. This can happen though when you race hard on a track that is known for being brutal on equipment."
For the #16 ProLite of Cameron Steele, the transition from the open wheel buggies to the "mini" truck class continued with a pair of top ten finishes. Steele's run through the pack during Round 5 was derailed as another driver collided into his truck in a caution area and the subsequent penalty from the officials forced both drivers to the back of the field. He then pounced on his competitors and fought his way all the way back to take seventh. Sunday, starting from the pole, Steele was immediately thrust into a battle to maintain the lead but the immense amount of early contact cut a tire sidewall. Having to pull off the track for the tire change, Steele returned to the field to battle back to an eighth place finish.
Brandon Bailey continues to impress as he is gaining more seat time and experience in the open wheel ProBuggy division. Taking the Round 5 green flag with his best qualifying position of the season, Bailey was fighting towards the front when an electronics issue caused him to pull off the track. Round 6 saw Bailey running alongside the fastest in the class, consistently passing to gain positions. While avoiding a number of multi-car incidents, Bailey was able to race to a career best fourth place finish.
Next up for Stronghold Motorsports: Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Rounds 7&8 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.