Lucas Oil Off-Road - Big Points Gained and Lost In Round 8
Junior 2 Kart Junior 2 Kart was the first event of the day, and a big crash by Carlye Lenk in turn one led to a full restart of the race. Despite losing a front bumper and doing a little cosmetic damage, Lenk was able to join the pack is it re-formed for the restart. On the second try at a green flag, yesterday's winner Preston Roben shot into the early lead in his #414 DCI Duggins Construction/Mad Graphix kart, ahead of Brock Heger, Shelby Anderson, Chad Graham, and Myles Cheek. Anderson and Graham were virtually side by side as the crossed the start/finish line after the first lap, and it was Graham who moved ahead and into third as they entered lap two. Cheek then made a pass on Anderson to move up to fourth in his #457 CMI/Streight Edje entry, and it wasn't long after that Anderson suddenly lost drive and stopped on track out of turn five, race over. This promoted Weston Schuck to fifth in his #404 Eibach Springs/Foddrill Motorsports machine, and at the competition yellow, the running order up front was Roben, Heger in the #411 KarTek/Racer X Motorsports truck, Graham in the #410 MavTV/Hart and Huntington kart, Cheek, and Schuck. On the restart, a great jump by Cheek helped him move up to third, with Maxwell Ries also picking up a spot to take over fifth in his #474 McQueen Prototype Design/King Off-Road Racing Shocks machine. Roben gradually opened a small gap over those behind over the next few laps, but on the final lap, Heger, Cheek, and Graham closed right in again. Roben held tough, though, and after taking his first Lucas Oil Off Road win yesterday, he followed it up by taking win number two today. Heger finished second for the second consecutive race, with Cheek taking third, Graham fourth, and Ries fifth.
Junior 1 Kart Junior 1 Kart had one of its most eventful races of the season here in Round 8, and it was Preston Roben, fresh off his win in Junior 2 Kart, who led the field in his #210 DCI Duggins Construction/RC10.com machine after lap one. Behind Roben came Eliott Watson, Broc Dickerson, Darren Hardesty, and Jack Yeiser, with Dean Duro swapping spots with Hardesty to take over fourth on lap two. Duro and Yeiser then got caught up with one another in turn six, which allowed Wolfgang Ries and Gavin Harlien to move up to fourth and fifth. Up front, it was a very close race between the top three drivers, and Watson and Dickerson managed to simply drive past Roben on the front straight, with Dickerson then moving past Watson to take over the lead in his #223 Rockstar/Dickerson Motorsports kart. Shortly after getting passed by on the front straight, Roben then looped it in turn six, dropping him well back. At the competition yellow, Dickerson was still out front, ahead of Watson in the #203 Parker Pumper Helmets/Lucas Oil machine, Ries in the #273 McQueen Prototype Design/KarTek truck, Harlien in his #232 Racer Services/Full Tilt Trophy Karts entry, and Philip Winbury in the #220 Magnum Off Road/Simpson kart. On the restart, Ries and Harlien got together in turn one, and Ries came out the worse of the two, dropping all the way back to eleventh place, with Harlien three or four spots ahead of him. The running order was now Dickerson, Watson, Winbury, Hardesty in the #231 Hoosier/AlumiCraft truck, and Corey Geiser in the top five, with Hardesty and Roben taking over third and fifth on the following lap. As the field entered the final lap, Dickerson looked to have the race all wrapped up, but he blew the final turn and went too wide, allowing Watson to pounce and drive by on the inside. Watson only led for one short straight, but that's all he needed to get his second win of the weekend, his sixth out of eight races this season. Dickerson finished second, with Hardesty third, Winbury fourth, and Roben fifth.
Modified Kart In Modified Kart, the little speed demons got off to a clean and relatively chaos-free start, saving the big excitement for the final laps this time. Yesterday's winner Sheldon Creed grabbed the lead again today, heading the field after lap one in his #522 Fox Racing Shox kart, with Blake Lenk second in the #521 Walker Evans Racing/iTi Performance Motorsports truck, Kyle Hart third in the #523 GearUp2Go.com/Fiberwerx entry, Mitchell DeJong fourth in his #1 Traxxas/Red Bull machine, and Scotty Steele fifth in the #548 DeJong Off Road Cars/Foddrill Motorsports machine. Despite racing at a very quick pace, the top five kept cool and held their positions through the competition yellow. After the restart, the order up front was still unchanged, and stayed that way until lap ten, when second-placed Lenk looped it in turn four, dropping him out of contention for a good finish. Two corners later, Steele and DeJong got into each other, dropping DeJong down several spots before he pulled off at turn four on the following lap. The order was now Creed, Hart, Steele, Bradley Morris, and Mitch Guthrie Jr. as the field took the white flag. Creed looked to have his second consecutive win all locked up, but he got a little squirrelly out of the final corner and went a touch wide, giving Hart just the chance he needed to make a run down the final straight to the finish line. Hart pulled alongside, and as the two crossed the finish line in a dead heat, it was just 19 THOUSANDTHS of a second! Hart's win may be the closest in Lucas Oil Off Road history, and is his first ever in this series- way to go Kyle! Creed had to settle for second, with Steele third, Morris fourth in the #504 K&N/Lucas Oil machine, and Guthrie Jr. fifth in his #555 Kar Tek/Walker Evans Racing entry.
UTV The SR1 and Unlimited UTVs were first out onto the full-length track, and after a botched start on the first drop of the green flag, it was Code Rahders who grabbed the hole shot on the second go-around in his #816 SuperChips/Racer Tech Yamaha. Corry Weller ran second in her #810 Tilted Kilt/Lucas Oil Yamaha, with Doug Mittag third in the #848 Gear One/Custom Off Road Design Kawasaki, Dan Kelly fourth in the #824 OffRoadMagnet.com/Xtreme Machine and Fabrication Kawasaki, and Robert Vanbeekum fifth, first of the Unlimited UTVs, in the #664 Monster Energy/R-N-R Steel Kawasaki. On lap two, Weller briefly slowed coming out of turn five, allowing Mittag to get by for second spot. Soon afterwards, Vanbeekum picked up one spot overall to take over fourth place on track. A few laps later, Kelly pulled off the track after turn two; an apparent mechanical failure meant the end of his race. Kelly's misfortune moved John Dempsey up to fifth on track in his #855 Dempsey Construction Inc./FineLineTShirts.com Kawasaki, and at the competition yellow, the running order was Rahders, Mittag, Weller, Vanbeekum, and Dempsey in the top five overall. On the restart lap, Rahders slowed and pulled off the racing line, forced to try and salvage all the points he could by limping around the track for the remainder of the race thanks to some type of mechanical issue. Mittag inherited the lead, and at the tail end of the top five, it was now Tyler Winbury in the #694 Deviate Films/C&G Performance Kawasaki. Up front, Mittag had opened up a sizeable lead, and was simply flying in his newly-built ride, and he knocked down the remaining laps in short order to pick the SR1 and overall win. Second in SR1 was Weller, with Dempsey rounding out the SR1 podium after finishing fourth overall. Vanbeekum grabbed the win in the Unlimited UTV division, with Winbury getting second and RJ Anderson taking third in the #637 South Point Las Vegas/Kroyer Racing Engines Polaris.
Limited Buggy Geoffrey Cooley started from the pole position in Limited Buggy today, and went right to the front in his #322 Competitive Metals/ECP Powder Coating AlumiCraft on the opening lap. Bruce Fraley ran second in the #312 Freeman's Carpet Service Motorsports/MSD Ignition Fraley, with Dave Mason third in the #365 SR Performance/RSC Equipment Rental AlumiCraft, John Fitzgerald fourth in the #314 Aero Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires buggy, and Curt Geer fifth in his #385 Lakeshore Homes and Stables/Gatorwraps.com Lothringer. Mason went wide and lost momentum through turns one and two on the second lap, dropping him two spots to fifth, which brought Fitzgerald and Geer up to third and fourth. Quentin Tucker then picked up fifth spot on the next lap in his #377 General Tire/Fox Racing Shox machine, while further forward, Cooley was having some kind of intermittent issue, which caused him to slow dramatically but briefly a couple of times. Each time, Fraley was following close behind, and was forced to check up to avoid rear-ending Cooley. Fitzgerald, placed a little better behind Fraley, was the big beneficiary, as he got around Fraley on lap four, then into the lead on the following lap. Cooley's issues continued, and he had soon dropped out of the top five, just ahead of the competition yellow. The running order was now Fitzgerald, Fraley, Geer, Tucker, and Mason in the top five, but as the field took the green flag again, Tucker was caught out in traffic and suffered a tremendous rollover as the racers rushed through turn one. Tucker landed on his wheels and got re-fired, and after a quick stop in the hot pits to allow his crew to give the car a once-over, he jumped right back on track, without even losing a lap! Tucker's rollover moved Mason up to fourth, and Zac Hunt was now fifth in his #334 Speed Energy/King Off-Road Racing Shocks AlumiCraft. From this point on, the top five drivers held their positions, with Fitzgerald getting his fourth win of the year; he now has one win from each race weekend this season! Second place was Fraley, for the second race in a row, with Geer taking third, Mason fourth, and Hunt fifth.
Pro 4 Unlimited Following Opening Ceremonies, racing resumed with Pro 4 Unlimited. After the inversion from qualifying, Josh Merrell found himself on the pole for the start, and he held off the likes of Carl Renezeder, Adrian Cenni, Kyle LeDuc, and Curt LeDuc to grab the lead from the outset. Cenni clipped the inside rail at turn five in the early going, dropping him to fifth, and moving Kyle and Curt LeDuc into third and fourth. The top three were now running really close, and Merrell was doing a stellar job of holding the lead in his #22 Hart and Huntington/MavTV Ford- this was the best race he'd driven yet! Behind the top three, Cenni got back around Curt LeDuc to move up to fourth in the #11 Atrium Payroll/Maxxis truck, then picked up two more spots following a convoluted incident on the next lap. Merrell got into the inside rail at turn three, and with nowhere to go, Renezeder and LeDuc had to check up to try and avoid a big crash. Renezeder got by and into the lead, with Cenni and Merrell just behind, while LeDuc got the worst of it after smashing the rail with his front bumper. LeDuc was stopped long enough for the whole field to go by, and then some, but got going again and was able to run quickly despite the degraded outward appearance of his truck. The running order was now Renezeder, Cenni, Merrell, Rick Huseman, and Curt LeDuc, but on the next lap, Merrell nearly came to a complete stop when he backed it into turn four a little too aggressively, and with nowhere to go, Huseman came piling into Merrell, causing more damage to Huseman's truck than to Merrell's. The order was shaken up again, and the competition yellow, it was Renezeder, Cenni, Merrell, Curt LeDuc, and Todd LeDuc in the top five. With Renezeder leading at the halfway mark, he picked up the one bonus point that put him equal with Huseman in the points chase.
On the restart lap, Todd LeDuc moved his #4 Rockstar/Makita Ford past his dad to take over fourth spot, but a right rear flat then slowed Todd and sent him to the hot pits for a change. Meanwhile, Kyle LeDuc was charging back through the field, and when his brother's flat caused him to slow, Kyle got by his brother and his dad to move up to third. Soon Kyle was putting big pressure on Merrell for third, but a spin in turn four sent him back down to sixth. On the next corner, Merrell's great run ended in a flash as he caught a rut and was sent for a big rollover that ended when his truck hit the catch fence on the outside of turn five. The race was red flagged, and although Merrell was ok, his truck was not, and Merrell's run was over. When action resumed, it was to be a green-white-checkers finish, with Renezeder, Cenni, Curt LeDuc in the #43 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Travis Coyne in the #5 ProComp/Team Associated Ford, and Kyle LeDuc in the #99 Rockstar/Makita Ford who filled out the top five. On the restart lap, a spin in turn three dropped Cenni out of contention, and caught out Curt LeDuc, who was forced wide and over the outside k rail. Up front, it was clear sailing for Renezeder, who grabbed the 96th win of his career in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Ford. Kyle LeDuc went from the back to the front twice this race, and wound up second today, with third going to Kent Brascho in the #8 K&N Filters/KMC Wheels Ford, fourth to Jerry Daugherty in the #23 Magnaflow/General Tire Chevrolet, and fifth to Coyne.
Pro Buggy Unlimited A stacked field of Pro Buggy Unlimiteds was up next, and it was Cody Freeman, competing in his first weekend of the season, who grabbed the early lead in the #2 Race Fuel Energy Drink/Wik's Racing Engines Racer. Justin Smith ran second, with Jerry Whelchel third, Mike Porter fourth, and Travis PeCoy fifth. John Holmes got by PeCoy for fifth as the field started into lap two, and just afterwards, Porter got a better run than Whelchel out of turn five to take over third spot. At the head of the field, Freeman had opened up a sizeable gap by lap five, and continued to lead through the competition yellow. At this point, Smith was still second in the #19 Metal Mulisha/Competitive Metals AlumiCraft, with Porter third in his #8 Redline Performance/Mickey Thompson AlumiCraft, Whelchel fourth in the #5 ProAm/BFGoodrich Tires Foddrill, and Holmes fifth in the #3 Prolong Super Lubricants/JG Transwerks Racer. Doug Fortin had a great restart to move up two spots and into fifth in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer, before sliding inside of Whelchel into turn four to grab fourth spot a few laps later. Whelchel then had a brief issue in the next corner, stopping him long enough to drop back to last place. This moved Holmes back into the top five, while up front, the top three drivers were running nose-to-tail. Porter then began to fall away from this battle slightly, and with Smith getting a bit out of shape approaching the start/finish line to take the white flag, Freeman now had enough breathing room to bring home the win after leading the race wire to wire in just his second Lucas Oil Off Road race of the season. Smith picked up second place, and was followed by Porter in third, Fortin in fourth, and Holmes in fifth.
Pro Lite Unlimited Pro Lite Unlimited, as it was yesterday, was again the site of much action and drama today. Chris Brandt grabbed the early lead in his #82 Aero Motorsports/BFGoodrich Tires Toyota, ahead of RJ Anderson, Cameron Steele, Jacob Person, and Brian Deegan. Anderson slowed dramatically and soon pulled off the track in the early going, moving Steele, Person, Deegan, and Casey Currie up to second through fifth spots. At the front of the field, Brandt had already opened a good lead, and was really pulling away as the laps clicked off towards the halfway mark. Behind him, Deegan was now up to third, with Rodrigo Ampudia moving up to fifth after working on Currie for several laps. A rollover out of turn four by Person brought out a full course caution on lap seven, with Deegan having just moved up to second before the incident. Person re-fired and continued, albeit further back, and on the restart lap, a spin in turn four by Ampudia dropped him down to last place. The running order was now Brandt, Deegan in the #38 Metal Mulisha/Maxxis Ford, Steele in the #16 Stronghold Motorsports/Yokohama Ford, Jimmy Stephensen in the #33 Discount Tire/Ironclad Energy Nissan, and Corey Sisler in the #19 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford. Stephensen and Sisler were having a close battle, and as the two exited turn five, Sisler started to come by on the outside, so Stephensen moved out to keep him at bay. Stephensen got too wide, though, and started to drive up the outside wall, which got him out of shape for the big jump at the start/finish line. Stephensen got sideways off that jump, hooked in, and rolled on the front straight, putting him out of the race with crash damage (Stephensen himself was just fine). This left us with a running order of Brandt, Deegan, Steele, Matt Cook, and Stephan Papadakis in the top five. A green-white-checkered finish followed, and on the final lap, while looking good for a podium finish, Steele's truck suddenly died coming into the final corner, dashing his hopes within sight of the finish for the second day in a row. Up front, Brandt got the win over Deegan, with Sisler taking third, Cook fourth (his best finish ever in Lucas Oil Off Road) in the #55 Aero Motorsports/Oakley Toyota, and Stephan Papadakis fifth in his all-new #4 Mickey Thompson Tires and Wheels/AEM Honda.
Super Lite Brent Fouch grabbed the lead after the opening lap of the Super Lite race in his #21 Forgiven Energy/Racer X Motorsports truck, with Wyatt Kirchner, Patrick Clark, Dawson Kirchner, and Jessie Johnson in hot pursuit. Just a few laps into the race, Ron Duncombe's truck died in a precarious spot, and a full course caution was thrown to allow crews to tow him to safety. On the ensuing restart, Jacob Person bicycled in turn one, collected Austin Kimbrell in the process, and the two crashed over the top of the outside rail between turns one and two. Kimbrell landed on his wheels and was quickly able to re-join the race, but Person's truck was a little worse for wear; Person was ok, but his day was done. The race was red flagged (which also served as the competition yellow) to clear Person's truck, and when the green flag waved again, Clark and RJ Anderson moved up to second and fifth on the restart. Clark hounded the leader Fouch for several laps, until the two got together coming out of turn five, forcing those behind to scramble by while trying to avoid getting caught out too. This moved young Wyatt Kirchner into the lead in his #26 Bull Outdoor Products Inc./General Tire truck, with Anderson now second in the #37 Walker Evans Racing/Polaris entry, Dawson Kirchner third in the #16 Torchmate/Speed Technologies machine, Kimbrell fourth (amazingly) in the #88 Kimbrell Racing truck, and Ryan Hagy fifth in the #0X Metal Mulisha/Boost Mobile machine. The top three were running very close, while further back, Chad George got by Hagy for fifth in his #42 Kawasaki/Bull Outdoor Products Inc. truck. Up front, Kirchner was driving very maturely despite his young age, and only had one lap left between himself and his first win in Lucas Oil Off Road. On the final lap, Anderson made a run down the inside at turn three, but Kirchner held his line and maintained the lead, bringing it home to get that big win- nice going Wyatt! Anderson took second, behind Wyatt and ahead of Dawson in the Kirchner brothers sandwich, as Dawson rounded out the podium. Clark picked up two spots on the last lap to take fourth in the #25 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels entry, ahead of George in fifth.
Pro 2 Unlimited The final race of the weekend was now upon us, as it was time for Pro 2 Unlimited. Greg Adler led the field early in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Ford, ahead of Rodrigo Ampudia, Rob MacCachren, Rob Naughton, and Brian Deegan after lap one. Engine failure sidelined Ampudia on the second lap, which moved MacCachren, Naughton, Deegan, and Carl Renezeder up to second, third, fourth, and fifth. A full course yellow gave crews a chance to extinguish the fire that resulted from Ampudia's motor failure, and once the green flag returned, the leader Adler bicycled in turn one on the restart, dropping him all the way down to seventh. MacCachren inherited the lead in his #1 Rockstar/MasterCraft Safety Ford, with Naughton second in the #54 ReadyLift/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, Deegan third in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Renezeder fourth in the #17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford, and Robby Woods fifth in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/SuperChips Chevrolet. These five raced hard and fast, but maintained their positions all the way to the competition yellow, and continued to do so after the return to green. On lap fifteen, a sudden mechanical issue for MacCachren forced him to slow way down and try to cruise to the finish and get some points. On the same lap, Woods got into Renezeder at turn four, and Renezeder ended up with a broken tie rod after getting pushed into the outside k rail. With Renezeder's truck stricken in an unsafe place, a full course caution was brought out. After Renezeder was safely back in the hot pits, racing resumed with Naughton, Deegan, Jeff Geiser, Woods, and Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg in the top five and just three laps to go. Geiser bicycled on the restart and dropped back to fourth, while Stenberg had a mechanical issue and slowed way down as the field approached the white flag. Deegan was close to Naughton up front with just one lap to go, but Naughton really opened up the gap on the final lap, and carried that lead all the way to the checkers to make it a clean sweep of the weekend. Deegan finished second, ahead of Woods in third, Geiser fourth in the #44 Canidae/BulletProofDiesel.com Chevrolet, and Adler in fifth.
That wraps up the weekend's events from here in Utah. Thank you to all the staff here at Miller Motorsports Park, and to all the Utah fans who came out to cheer and enjoy the gorgeous weather- you've been very gracious hosts, and we look forward to seeing you again next year. Join us again when the series re-fires from Glen Helen Raceway, with nighttime short course off-road racing coming to southern California on the weekend of August 6-7