Lucas Oil Off-Road - Round Four Event Report
Lake Elsinore, Apr. 24, 2012: After a spectacular return to the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park yesterday, the drivers of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, were back for more today, as Round 4 ran rampant in southern California. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with cooler air coming in from the coast and a stiff breeze acting as nature's air conditioner, and the fans packed the grandstands to take in a great afternoon of racing. Yesterday's races were great, and if anything, today's were even better. Without worry of "tomorrow's race to come," drivers drove to their limits and beyond, and fans were treated to race after race of thrills. Some drivers continued their fine early season form today, others had their first tastes of real success, and some saw their hopes dashed when their luck ran out, so read on to find out all the ins and outs of the day's events.
Junior 2 Kart
Opening up the action once again were the Junior 2 Karts, with Travis PeCoy and Darren Hardesty Jr. starting up front. PeCoy got the early lead in his #411 Hoosier/Lucas Oil kart, with Jeremy Davis second in the #485 Green Army/Jamar machine, Shelby Anderson third in the #405 Walker Evans Racing/Bud's Tire and Wheel truck, Eliott Watson fourth in the #403 Racer X Motorsports/Sunoco Race Fuels entry, and Hardesty Jr. fifth in his #456 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Hardesty Motorsports machine. On lap two, Davis got a good run into turn two, taking the lead from PeCoy. On the next corner, Anderson moved inside of PeCoy in the same corner to take over second spot, and the top five were now running nose to tail. On lap five, Dylan Winbury, who'd moved up to fourth, turned what looked like a bit of a scare into a great move. He and PeCoy were battling well, but he got forced wide and into a bit of a tank-slapper. Winbury quickly got straightened out, and ducked down the inside at turn one to take third spot from PeCoy.
With the Competition Yellow now out, the running order up front was Davis, Anderson, Winbury in the #469 Wagon Burners/Black Rhino machine, Watson, and PeCoy. Drivers got close to one another on the restart lap, but managed to hold their positions, until lap eight, when Anderson got a good run out of turn three, and moved past Davis for the lead through the whoop section. Hardesty Jr. also got back into the top five on lap eight, and on lap nine, he bumped PeCoy a bit wide at turn four, and moved up to third when Winbury went a bit wide as well in the same corner. Up front, Anderson was moving clear of the field, and brought it home perfectly to take a great win, followed by Davis, Hardesty Jr., Winbury, and PeCoy.Junior 1 Kart
Next up was Junior 1 Kart, and after an accident involving Allie Spaccarelli and Christopher Polvoorde before turn one, officials called for a full restart. On the second start, there was a big tie-up at turn one, with only a few drivers getting through ahead of the incident. Broc Dickerson headed the field in his #1 Dickerson Motorsports/Kar Tek Off Road truck, with Conner McMullen second in the #288 Monster Energy/RC10.com machine, Travis PeCoy third in the #211 Simpson/CMI entry, Ricky Gutierrez fourth in the #278 G Brothers/King Off-Road Racing Shocks kart, and Polvoorde fifth in the #294 Horizon Solar/Racer X Motorsports truck. With the field somewhat spread out due to the early incident, the running order in the top five stayed the same through the Competition Yellow, and that order stayed the same for several laps afterwards. On lap eight, though, Darren Hardesty Jr. had finally caught up to the tail end of the top five after being caught by the lap one tie-up. As Hardesty Jr. pulled alongside Polvoorde for fifth, he got into Polvoorde a little bit, and the two veered left and into the inside k rail near the start finish/line. Polvoorde lost many positions, and Hardesty Jr. was unable to get re-fired, leaving Barrett Nunley to move into fifth. From there, the running order up front went unchanged, with Dickerson taking the win, ahead of McMullen, PeCoy, Gutierrez, and Nunley in the #215 Nunley Racing kart.
Rounding out the racing this weekend in the kids' ranks was Modified Kart, and today's race had Kyle Hart and Cole Mamer starting from the front row. However, it was Bradley Morris, starting from row two, who moved up to take the lead in his #504 Trophy Kart/K&N machine after lap one, with Hart, Sheldon Creed, Myles Cheek, and Brock Heger in tow. Cheek moved up to third after getting inside of Creed at turn four, and with Creed now suffering from a right rear flat and dropping back through the field, Heger and Blake Lenk moved by and into fourth and fifth. Cheek then got by Hart to move into second, and at the Competition Yellow, the running order was Morris, Cheek, Hart, Heger, and Lenk in the top five. On the restart lap, the running order stayed the same, with Hart then getting back by Cheek for second on lap ten. A full course caution was then brought out when a pile-up at turn two required the help of track officials, and when racing resumed, Hart was running up front, as he'd been in the lead at the start/finish line on the last scored lap. With one lap to go, the running order was Hart in the #523 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Duncan Racing truck, Morris, Cheek in the #557 Rockstar/Metal Mulisha machine, Heger in the #511 Kacon Framing Inc./DASA entry, and Lenk in the #521 Team Associated/Reedy kart. On the final lap, Morris got back by Hart to take the lead, and he kept that lead to the checkered flag to get the win, followed by Hart, Cheek, Heger, and Lenk.
First out on the full-length track today were the Limited Buggies, with Jordan Poole and Jeff Richards taking the green flag from the front row. Poole led after the first lap in the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley, followed by Bradley Morris in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Alumi Craft, John Fitzgerald in the #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Wiks Racing Engines buggy, Dillon Ayers in the #398 Gear One/BFGoodrich Tires Lothringer, and Richards in the #315 ABC Muffler/King Off-Road Racing Shocks machine. On lap three, Morris moved up to the lead at turn two, but the competition clear back to fifth place was all running very close. Fitzgerald got a good run through the whoops to move past Poole for second on lap five, with Ayers also passing Poole for position on the following lap. At the Competition Yellow, the running order was Morris, Fitzgerald, Ayers, Poole, and Zac Hunt in the #334 Speed Energy/Bowden Development, Inc. Alumi Craft, with that order staying the same on the restart lap. On lap ten, Hunt got by Poole for fourth, and on lap twelve, a rollover at turn four by Bruce Fraley brought out a full course yellow. With only one lap to go when green flag racing resumed, there were several drivers who all still had a shot at the win. In turn three, Ayers tried to dive deep and make a move for the lead, but started to get into Morris in so doing. Morris was slowed slightly, and Ayers ended up spinning out, leaving several drivers behind him struggling for a way past. Fitzgerald was the big benefactor in all this, sweeping past both Ayers and Morris on the outside and into the lead. Fitzgerald kept the lead through the checkered flag to get the win, followed by Morris, Hunt, Poole, and Richards.
Pro 4 Unlimited
After Opening Ceremonies, it was time for Pro 4 Unlimited. Triple winner Kyle LeDuc would have his work cut out to make it four in a row, as he started from row three this afternoon, but after the first lap, he was already up to third, behind Josh Merrell and Todd LeDuc, and ahead of Greg Adler and Curt LeDuc. On lap two, Curt tried to make a pass on Adler for fourth, but when he hit Adler, he ended up spinning himself out and dropping back to seventh. On the next lap, Kyle LeDuc got by his brother Todd into turn two, and two laps later, he moved to the lead coming into turn one. From this point, Kyle controlled the pace and kept clicking off the laps, and still held the lead at the Competition Yellow/Mandatory Pit in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford. Todd LeDuc ran second in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford, followed by Merrell in the #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford, Eric Barron in the #32 LAT Racing Oils/Dirt-Tech Toyota, and Adler in the #10 Affliction/4 Wheel Parts Ford. That order remained the same after the restart, with Barron now giving Merrell a real run for his third place. Further back, Curt LeDuc got back into the top five in his #43 Zipfizz Healthy Energy/Truxxx Lift and Leveling Ford, while out front, Kyle LeDuc was once again well in control, setting a smooth and consistent race as the laps clicked by. In the closing laps, Patrick Clark, who was filling in for Jerry Daugherty in the #23 E3 Spark Plugs/Racin' Dirty Chevrolet, was starting to shadow Curt LeDuc for his fifth place, and despite it being his first race in the class, Clark managed to put the moves on the veteran LeDuc and take that spot away. The battle for third was also still close, but on the final lap, Barron over-rotated at turn three, and ended up stuck against the inside k rail, and was unable to get re-fired. Up front, Kyle LeDuc made it look easy as he got his fourth win in as many races; the rest of the field must be wondering what they can do to beat this kid. LeDucs went one-two this afternoon, with Kyle's brother Todd finishing second, followed by Merrell, Curt LeDuc, and Adler.
Pro Lite Unlimited
Next up was Pro Lite Unlimited, and in what looked like a repeat of yesterday, it was Brian Deegan and RJ Anderson running one-two after lap one. Behind them, Noah Fouch was running third in the #52 Fouch Racing/VP Racing Fuels Ford, followed by Austin Kimbrell in the #88 Toyo Tires/K&N Ford in fourth, and Chris Brandt in the #82 BFGoodrich Tires/National Concrete Cutting Toyota in fifth. This running order stayed the same for the first five laps, with Anderson making a few small runs on Deegan, but nothing serious. On lap six, though, Anderson got a great run through the whoop section, seemed to see an opportunity, and braked late into turn four, getting past Deegan on the inside for the lead. Anderson held the lead through the Competition Yellow and Mandatory Pit, but on the restart lap, Deegan got by again and into the lead by turn one. A big pile-up in turn two then caught out most drivers behind the top four, which helped move Matt Cook up to fifth in his #55 Supercross.com/Loctite Toyota. Anderson had re-taken the lead, but Deegan battled back by once again, and the two exchanged first place several more times over the next few laps. On lap twelve, though, Fouch tried to dive by Deegan at turn four, but ended up hitting him and nearly spinning him, which dropped Deegan and Fouch to third and fourth. Fouch got the black flag for his actions, and at the white flag, the running order was Anderson, Brandt, Deegan in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Bradley Morris in the #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Lucas Oil Ford, and Doug Mittag in the #81 Supercross.com/Maxxis Toyota. On the final lap, Deegan slowed heading down to turn three, and with smoke coming from his engine bay, he tried to nurse his truck home, but to no avail, as his truck ground to a halt in the whoop section. The field streamed by, and up front, Anderson got the win in his #37 Monster Energy/Polaris Dodge, followed by Brandt, Morris (who got his first podium in the class), Mittag, and Fouch, who roared back through the field after serving his black flag penalty.
Pro 2 Unlimited
Following yet another spectacular Pro Lite Unlimited race, it was time for the stars of Pro 2 Unlimited to shine, and wow, did they ever. Marty Hart put his front row starting position to good use, moving to the head of the field in his #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford on the opening lap. Rob MacCachren ran second in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, followed by Brian Deegan in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Robby Woods in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/General Tire Chevrolet, and Jeff Geiser in the #44 Tap It Brewing Co./Canidae Chevrolet. Carl Renezeder got his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan by Geiser at the start of lap two, before a full course caution was thrown to allow crews to tow Nick Tyree's stricken truck to safety. After the restart, Hart began to pull away up front, and with the next four drivers also holding their positions, the running order in the top five remained Hart, MacCachren, Deegan, Woods, and Renezeder until the Mandatory Pit. After the restart, the order continued to remain unchanged for many more laps, but as the track was drying, things were starting to look up for MacCachren. He began to close down on the leader Hart, and on lap sixteen, he came from an impossibly-long way back heading into turn four, dove down the inside, and made the pass stick to take the lead. Hart fought back, and got by on the inside at turn two to take the position back on the next lap, but MacCachren forced his way back by with a little door-to-door contact in the next corner, grabbing the lead once again. At the white flag, the running order was MacCachren, Hart, Deegan, Woods, and Renezeder, but on the final lap, a couple of incidents shook that order up significantly. First, Renezeder got into Woods and pushed him off after turn one, then spun himself heading for the step up jump, causing both drivers to plummet down the order. One corner later, and smoke began pouring out of Deegan's truck, as his motor looked to be letting go with a grand finale, and after failing to reach the checkers after falling just one corner shy of the finish line in Pro Lite Unlimited, Deegan was again forced to do all he could to keep his truck moving. Several drivers had been forced to scramble out of the way to avoid Woods' and Renezeder's spinning trucks, and now they were having to fight through thick smoke to find a clear path down the track. For a moment, Deegan's smoke screen looked like it might just hold the pack at bay, but Rodrigo Ampudia finally found some clean air and roared by after the final turn, with Greg Adler then literally jumping past Deegan to also beat him for position at the line. Up front, MacCachren took his first win of the season, followed by Hart, who had two oh-so-close runner-up finishes this weekend, Ampudia in the #36 Tecate/Toyo Tires Ford, Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Airaid Ford, and Deegan.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Today's Pro Buggy Unlimited race featured a strong field of 21 cars, headed at the green flag by Cameron Steele in the #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Alumi Craft and Mike Porter in the #8 Mickey Thompson/Speed Energy Alumi Craft. Steele and Porter ran one-two after the first lap, with Jerry Whelchel third in the #5 General Tire/Camburg Foddrill, with Doug Fortin fourth in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Products Racer, and Garrett George fifth in the #71 Discount Tire/Yokohama Funco. Over the first few laps, Steele and Porter started to pull open a gap on the field, a gap which grew wider as the laps progressed. On lap six, though, a full course caution erased that gap, as Rino Navera's car came to a stop at the exit of turn three. On the restart lap, several drivers were caught up in multiple accidents, which led to another full course caution, with drivers lining up again in their previous positions. Once the green flag came out again, Steven Greinke got a great dive into turn three, moving from sixth to fourth in his #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer. Greinke then got by Whelchel for third, before another full course caution stacked up the field yet again. On the restart lap, John Holmes had some great momentum in his #3 Prolong Super Lubricants/Eibach Springs Racer, moving up two spots to fourth with just the last lap remaining. As quickly as Holmes' luck had been good, though, it suddenly turned bad, as he speared straight ahead in turn two on the final lap, running into and partially over the outside k-rail, quickly ending any hopes he'd had of a good result. Up front, Steele had a handful to fend off Greinke for the lead, but he kept his car wide enough to hold that lead, and came home the winner in his first race back in this class since 2010. Second went to Greinke, third to Fortin, fourth to Porter, and fifth to Geoffrey Cooley in the #22 Competitive Metals/Kar Tek Off Road Alumi Craft.
In the final race of the weekend, Ryan Hagy and Drew Britt started at the head of the pack in Super Lite, with Hagy taking the early lead in his #5 General Tire/4 Wheel Parts machine. Garrett Poelman ran second in the #62 Supercross.com/Loctite truck, followed by Jessie Johnson in the #15 So Cal Supertrucks/Speed Energy entry, Britt in the #7 Mickey Thompson/Quick Lane truck, and Cody Rahders in the #16 Superchips/K&N machine. On lap two, Britt dropped to seventh after a wild run through the whoops sent him from one side of the track to the other, but he picked off four guys to move all the way up to third on the next lap. Further forward, Johnson had moved into second, and after getting inside of Hagy at turn one, he took over the lead on lap five. The top six drivers were now running pretty close together, and at the Competition Yellow, the first five places were held by Johnson, Hagy, Britt, Rahders, and Trenton Briley in the #17 Kal-Gard/Black Rhino entry. On the restart lap, Rahders rolled at turn three, forcing officials to throw a full course caution while track workers got Rahders righted and back underway. Green flag racing resumed again, and this time, Johnson quickly opened up a gap as those behind fought over second place. At one point, four drivers went four-wide at turn four in a battle for the second step on the podium. Hagy fell away from that battle when he went wide at turn one and dropped to sixth, and at the white flag, it was Johnson all alone out front, followed by Britt, Creed, Brent Fouch in the #21 Fouch Racing/General Tire truck, and Larry Linkogle in the #24 Metal Mulisha/General Tire entry. These drivers held their positions on the final lap, with Johnson scoring some major redemption after missing out on what would've been his first career Lucas Oil Off Road win following a post-race penalty for rough driving yesterday. Johnson came up with the goods big time today, taking that first win in fine form- congratulations Jessie! Second went to Britt, with Creed third, Fouch fourth, and Linkogle fifth.
With that, our second weekend of racing has come to a close. The drivers and teams of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series will have little chance to catch their breaths, though, as racing will resume in just four weeks' time at the Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, AZ. Rounds 5 and 6 will take place on the weekend of May 19th and 20th, so get online and get your tickets now before they're gone! As the only track that has been on the calendar every year in series history, this track is always a favorite for both drivers and fans alike, and you won't want to miss the show our drivers will put on next month... see you in Arizona!