With the combination of a new track, new winners, and a capacity crowd, today was a special day in the history of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by Geico Powersports. It was standing room only here at Miller Motorsports Park, as Round 7 got going under what has undoubtedly been the best weather in the history of this series. No fewer than seven drivers picked up their first wins of the season, and for four of those drivers, it was the first victory of their careers in Lucas Oil Off Road. Hopefully you were here to be a part of it all, but if not, here’s what you missed…
Yesterday’s top UTV qualifier, Dan Kelly, again blitzed into the lead from the drop of the green flag in today’s race. Code Rahders ran second in the #816 SuperChips/Frostyburger Yamaha, with John Dempsey third in his #855 Dempsey Construction/Custom Off Road Design Inc. Kawasaki, Robert Vanbeekum fourth (first in Unlimited UTV) in his #664 Monster Energy/Muzzys Kawasaki, and Ryan Beat fifth in the #851 Black Rhino/Hart and Huntington machine. As Kelly was quickly gapping the field up front in his #824 OffRoadMagnet.com/Maxxis entry, Beat moved up to fourth in his brand-new UTV. Corry Weller was also on the move, and after starting further back, she was up to third by lap four in her #810 Tilted Kilt/Weller Racing Yamaha. Rahders then stopped on track at turn three, and with his race being over, it was Kelly, Weller, Dempsey, Doug Mittag in his new #848 Gear One/Kar Tek Kawasaki, and RJ Anderson (Unlimited UTV leader) in the #637 Walker Evans Racing/Kroyer Racing Engines Polaris in the top five. Dempsey’s machine sounded like it had a drivetrain issue as it crossed the start/finish line at the competition yellow, and he pulled off track under yellow. After the restart, Kelly still led, but Weller was now finding the pace to keep him within range. Mittag ran third, but then dropped out, moving Anderson into that spot, with Tyler Winbury now fourth in the #694 UTVUnderground.com/King Shocks Kawasaki, and Bryan Osborn now running fifth in the #854 Black Rhino/DWT Yamaha. On the final lap, Kelly’s race nearly fell to pieces at the last second, as he pitched his chain as he exited the final corner. Weller saw her chance instantly, and gave it everything to sneak by before the checkered flag, but Kelly had just enough momentum (and had come out of the corner with enough of a lead) that he held tough to take the win by just over two tenths of a second! Kelly’s win is his first in Lucas Oil Off Road competition- well-done Dan! Weller was an oh-so-close second, with Anderson third, first in Unlimited UTV. Winbury was second in Unlimited UTV, just ahead of Osborn, who was third in SR1, fifth overall. Rounding out the podium in Unlimited UTV was Robert Vanbeekum, who managed to limp around with broken rear suspension to snag some valuable points.
Junior 2 Kart
As a myriad of Utah families packed the new grandstands, the boys and girls of Junior 2 Kart got the racing off to a start. After lap one, it was Preston Roben in control up front, leading Chad Graham, Shelby Anderson, Brock Heger, and Maxwell Ries in the top five. Heger charged hard in the first half of the race, moving up to third as he drove deeper than Anderson into turn four on lap three, then up to second through turn two on lap five. At the competition yellow, Heger’s #411 Kartek/Signpros kart ran second, behind the leading #414 DCI Duggins Construction/King Off-Road Racing Shocks machine of Roben, and ahead of the #410 MavTV/Hart and Huntington entry of Graham, Anderson in the #405 Walker Evans Racing/Anderson’s Nu Power truck, and Ries in the #474 McQueen Prototype Design/Hoosier kart. On the restart lap, Heger was on the move again, and briefly re-took the lead as he went by Roben through turns two and three. Roben wouldn’t be beaten that easily, though, and he got the position right back as he made a cleaner exit out of turn five, assuming the lead once again. Behind them, Ries was hounding Anderson for fourth position, and he finally made the pass on lap nine as he swept by through turn two. Ries picked up one more spot on the final lap as he got by Graham in turn three, giving him a podium position finish. Up front, it was Roben who held off a last-minute charge from Heger to pick up the win, his first ever in Lucas Oil Off Road- good job Preston! Heger finished a close second, while Ries wound up third, Graham fourth, and Anderson fifth.
Junior 1 Kart
Eliott Watson made the most of his front row starting position to grab the hole shot on the opening lap of the Junior 1 Kart race, and he led a top five of Preston Roben, Travis PeCoy, Darren Hardesty, and Broc Dickerson after the first lap. On lap two, PeCoy spun in turn five and dropped two spots down to fifth, but he re-gained one of those spots on the following lap. Both PeCoy and Dickerson had gotten around Hardesty, and shortly afterwards, Hardesty pulled off the track briefly, before re-joining well back in the pack. Up front, it was a heated battle between Watson and Roben for the lead, and at the competition yellow, Watson still led in his #203 Eibach Springs/Fox Racing Shox machine, ahead of Roben in the #210 DCI Duggins Construction/RC10.com kart, Dickerson in the #223 Rockstar/Racer X Motorsports entry, PeCoy in the #211 K&N/Sunoco truck, and Gavin Harlien in the #232 Full Tilt/Racer Services kart. On the restart, Dickerson got a great jump and moved right up to second place, and was quickly shadowing Watson in a quest for the lead. PeCoy also moved up, getting past Roben with a great drive through turn three. Roben re-gained that spot on the next lap, while up front, Dickerson was looking everywhere he could for a way past Watson. Watson wasn’t giving Dickerson many options, but on the last lap, Dickerson got alongside in turn three. Dickerson had less momentum now, and as he was also set up for the outside line into turn four Watson managed to keep him at bay, and held tough to take his fifth win of the season. Dickerson came home second, ahead of Roben in third, who picked up back-to-back podium finishes in the first two races of the day. Fourth went to PeCoy, and Harlien rounded out the top five.
Rounding out the day’s action on the shorter “kids'” track were the always-exciting Modified Karts. Mitchell DeJong got off to a blazing start in his #1 Traxxas/Red Bull machine, and grabbed a convincing early lead after the first lap. Sheldon Creed ran second, with Scotty Steele third, Brock Heger fourth, and Kyle Hart fifth. Points leader Mitch Guthrie Jr. had big crash between turns three and four, but was able to continue at the back of the pack. The order up front went unchanged for a few laps, but as the top two caught the first lapped driver, Creed used the slower driver to his advantage as he got the preferred line over DeJong as the two went past, and Creed took over the lead in his #522 Kartek truck. Creed led through the competition yellow, with DeJong second, Steele third in the #548 Simpson/DeJong Off Road Cars entry, Heger fourth in the #511 Signpros/CMI kart, and Hart fifth in the #523 GearUp2Go.com/Duncan Racing machine. On the restart, Creed dropped several spots down to fourth, while Hart moved up to third as he and Steele helped make it a three-way battle for the lead with DeJong. The young drivers went three-wide into turn six, and out of the chaos came Hart in the lead. Hart’s lead was short-lived, though, as he and Steele got together shortly afterwards, and the two crashed into the outside wall out of turn one. Hart’s race was over, but Steele was able to continue, albeit further down the order. In all the confusion that occurred as drivers scrambled to miss joining Hart and Steele’s crash, Creed got back to the front before a full course yellow was thrown, and as the field bunched behind the Can Am Commander pace UTV, it was Creed, DeJong, Blake Lenk, Cole Mamer, and Jeff Hoffman in the top five. Only one lap of racing was slated as the flagman prepared to throw the green flag, and Creed made the most of it as he drove perfectly up front to take the win, his first since win in the class this season. Second went to DeJong, third to Lenk in the #521 Walker Evans Racing/P.C.I. Race Radios machine, fourth to Mamer in the #535 Full Tilt Trophy Karts/Fox Racing Shox entry, and fifth to Hoffman in the #547 BRT Signs/Cactus Asphalt kart.
As the day’s racing action quickly raced towards the halfway point, it was time for Limited Buggy. Quentin Tucker grabbed the early lead in his #377 General Tire/McKenzies buggy, with Bradley Morris, Bruce Fraley, Geoffrey Cooley, and Curt Geer running close behind. Several drivers moved around in order on lap two, with Fraley, Geer, and Dave Mason all moving up to take over second, fourth, and fifth spots. Mason then bicycled in turn three, dropping him four spots to ninth on the following lap. This promoted Kevin McCullough to fifth, while just ahead, Geer picked up another spot as he got by Morris for third. McCullough’s time in the top five was short-lived, as he pulled into the hot pits briefly, dropping him to the back of the pack. The competition yellow was now out, and the Blanco Basura Toyota Tundra pace truck picked up a top five of Tucker, Fraley in the #312 Freeman’s Carpet Service Motorsports/Dave Folts Transmissions Fraley, Geer in the #385 BDI Bowden Development, Inc./BFGoodrich Tires Lothringer, Morris in the #304 K&N/Lucas Oil AlumiCraft, and John Fitzgerald in the #314 Aero Motorsports/Wik’s Racing Engines buggy. The top five held their positions through the restart, and for several laps afterwards, with the top five running in a rocketing train, nose-to-tail. On the penultimate lap, teenager Morris was the driver who finally found a way to make a pass on his more experienced competitors, as he got by Geer to move up to third. From there on in, the top five stayed unchanged, with Tucker taking a great wire-to-wire win, his first win of the season despite being the points leader coming into today’s race. Second went to Fraley, who showed great form after a missing the last four rounds, with Morris finishing third, Geer fourth, and Fitzgerald fifth.
Pro 4 Unlimited
After Opening Ceremonies, it was time to return to racing, and as usual, it was the big boys of Pro 4 Unlimited who got things started with a bang. The three drivers with wins this season ran in the top three spots after lap one, as Kyle LeDuc led Carl Renezeder and Rick Huseman after the first lap, with Curt LeDuc and Josh Merrell just behind in fourth and fifth. Renezeder made a courageous move down the inside of LeDuc in turn two on the second lap, moving past the leader to take over top spot in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Ford. With LeDuc still a little out of shape, Huseman also managed to squeeze by for second by turn three, with Todd LeDuc also moving up a position to fifth on the same lap. Up front, the top three were locked in a great battle, as were the runners in fourth through seventh, fighting it out amongst themselves for fourth place. The battle up front was soon cut by one, however, as Huseman suddenly slowed dramatically, forced by a mechanical issue to limp around the track in the hopes of salvaging some decent points. This moved Curt LeDuc to third, Todd LeDuc to fourth, and Adrian Cenni to fifth in his #11 Atrium Payroll/Maxxis truck. Cenni then got around Todd LeDuc for fourth, and at the competition yellow, it was Renezeder out front, ahead of Kyle LeDuc in the #99 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Curt LeDuc in the #43 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Cenni, and Todd LeDuc in the #4 Rockstar/Makita Ford. On the restart lap, both Cenni and Todd LeDuc made their way past Curt LeDuc to take over third and fourth. The order up front then settled in for a few laps, until Kyle LeDuc, left with no other option, made some door-to-door contact with Renezeder in an attempt to get the lead. This track is really tough to pass on, so a move like this is almost inevitable, and LeDuc did his best to be respectful about it, but he wasn’t about to put the move on Renezeder without making it stick. Stick it did, and LeDuc was now in the lead, and quickly opened the smallest of gaps on Renezeder. Further back, LeDuc’s dad Curt suddenly slowed, which brought Merrell back up to fifth in his #22 Hart and Huntington/MavTV Ford. From there on in, the order remained the same, and despite a last-ditch charge by Renezeder in the final half lap, Kyle LeDuc maintained his lead and made it two wins in a row. Renezeder was a close second, and was followed by Cenni, Todd LeDuc, and Merrell in the top five.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
In Pro Buggy Unlimited, front row starters Mike Porter (#8 Redline Performance/Speed Energy AlumiCraft) and Steve Greinke (#23 SC Fuels/BFGoodrich Tires Racer) were running one-two after the first lap, ahead of Doug Fortin, Justin Smith, and Bobby PeCoy. PeCoy dropped down to ninth on lap two after getting out of shape through the rhythm section and blowing turn five, which promoted Jerry Whelchel to fifth in his #5 ProAm/Action Auto Racing Foddrill. Up front, Porter, Greinke, and Fortin all went into turn five as a big clump on the following lap, and Greinke came out ahead to become the new race leader. Fortin then caught the inside barrier in turn four and got slowed down, dropping him back to sixth. This moved Smith to third, Whelchel to fourth, and Cody Freeman to fifth in his #2 Race Fuel Energy Drink/Freeman’s Carpet Service Racer. The lead then changed again, as Porter went down the inside of Greinke in turn five. Just behind, Smith had picked up a good line through the rhythm section, and charged his #19 Metal Mulisha/Competitive Metals AlumiCraft past Greinke through that section to move up to second, just ahead of the competition yellow. The running order was now Porter, Smith, Greinke, Freeman, and Fortin in the top five, but on the restart, Freeman slowed and pulled off track, moving Fortin to fourth and Whelchel to fifth. Fortin then made a pass on Greinke for third, while just ahead, Smith again used a great run through the rhythm section to make a pass, this time on Porter for the lead. Everything was clicking for Smith, and once in the lead, he quickly opened up a comfortable gap over his pursuers. Smith flew to the finish, picking up his first win in the Pro Buggy Unlimited class, ahead of Porter, Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Products Racer, Greinke, and John Holmes in the #3 Prolong Super Lubricants/DWT Racer.
Pro Lite Unlimited
Pro Lite Unlimited was up next, and Cameron Steele grabbed the hole shot in his #16 Stronghold Motorsports/Yokohama Ford, with Kyle LeDuc, Brian Deegan, Corey Sisler, and Chris Brandt tucking in behind. Early on, LeDuc was pushed wide in turn four, and he was forced to wait for the whole field to pass before he could get going again. This moved Deegan, Sisler, and Brandt up, as well as Rodrigo Ampudia, who now ran fifth in the #36 Papas & Beer/Lucas Oil Ford. Ampudia then got spun in turn four, just ahead of a major end-over-end crash in the rhythm section by Matt Loiodice, which brought out a full course yellow; Loiodice suffered a broken ankle and a badly-damaged truck, but was otherwise ok. Once the wreckage was cleared, racing resumed with Steele, Deegan in the #38 Maxxis/Gibson Performance Exhaust Ford, Sisler in the #19 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford, Brandt in the #82 Aero Motorsports/National Concrete Cutting Toyota, and Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan running in the top five. Currie moved up to fourth on the restart lap, before another big crash in the rhythm section, this one by Sisler, brought out another full course yellow. Sisler was ok, but his truck was apparently unable to get re-fired, and his race was over. Green flag racing resumed again, and on the restart lap, Ampudia made a great mid-air pass on Brandt as the two sailed off the big jump on the back straight, moving Ampudia up to fourth. Up ahead, Deegan was putting the pressure on Steele, and got alongside in turn three, but was unable to make more headway than that. Then, on the penultimate lap, Deegan came blazing into turn four, and got into Steele’s right rear corner, spinning him instantly. Deegan was shown the black flag, but Steele’s shot at victory was gone as Currie became the de-facto leader. Currie held off Ampudia on the final lap to pick up his first win in Lucas Oil Off Road, and made it the first win for a V8-powered Pro Lite Unlimited- nice work Casey! Ampudia finished in second, Brandt third, Steele fourth, and Jimmy Stephensen fifth in the #33 Discount Tire/Ironclad Energy Nissan.
The penultimate race of the day was that of the Super Lites, and Patrick Clark, yesterday’s fastest qualifier, moved right to the front on the opening lap in his #25 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels machine. Jessie Johnson ran second in the #15 Lowe’s/MasterCraft Safety truck, with Austin Kimbrell third in the #88 Kimbrell Racing entry, Jacob Person fourth in the #92 Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Inc./Geiser Bros Design and Development truck, and Luke Johnson fifth in the #14 Bosch Power Tools/KMC Wheels machine. Chad George and Person swapped positions in the early going, moving George to fourth and Person to sixth, with Luke Johnson still fifth, until RJ Anderson passed him for that spot in his #37 Walker Evans Racing/So Cal Super Trucks entry. Person re-gained his lost spots, and picked up another one to move into third, so that by the competition yellow, the running order was Clark, Jessie Johnson, Person, George, and Anderson in the top five. After a botched restart, the field got it right on the second go-around, and it was RJ Anderson with a great jump who moved up to fourth, with Luke Johnson following suit to take over fifth. George quickly re-gained the spot he lost to Luke Johnson, while up ahead, Person picked up another spot to move into second. After Person had passed Jessie Johnson, Anderson did the same, getting by on the inside of turn three. Johnson tried to battle back, but ended up with a slow exit out of turn four, which allowed George to get alongside and make the pass down into turn five. Just afterwards, Person bicycled in turn four, leaving Anderson the perfect chance to sneak by for second spot. At the white flag, it was Clark, Anderson, Person, George, and Jessie Johnson up front, and on the final lap, George drove deep into turn three, and muscled by Person on the inside to take over third in his #42 Yokohama/Kawasaki truck. In the end, a trouble-free run made Clark’s win look easy, but the reality is that his speed kept him ahead of all the battling behind, and he’s now got his first career Lucas Oil Off Road win- way to go Pat! Second went to Anderson, third to George, fourth to Person, and fifth to Jessie Johnson.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the day was now upon us, as the Pro 2 Unlimiteds rolled out on track. After the inversion from qualifying, Rob Naughton got the pole starting position, and he moved right into the lead in his #54 ReadyLift/Stronghold Motorsports Ford. Rodrigo Ampudia ran second in the #36 Tecate/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, with Robby Woods third in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/General Tire Chevrolet, Jeremy McGrath fourth in the #2 Monster Energy/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, and Brian Deegan fifth in the #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford. A big crash by Phil Bollman brought out a full course caution, which eventually turned into a red flag as crews worked to move Bollman’s truck from a precarious position. Bollman was alright, and once his accident was cleared, the top five drivers held their positions after green flag racing resumed. Ampudia then caught a little too much air off the jump out of turn three, and couldn’t get on the brakes soon enough for turn four, giving Woods an easy pass on the inside for second spot. Up front, Naughton was hitting his marks and driving quick and consistent to hold the lead, and at the competition yellow, he led Woods, Ampudia, McGrath, and Deegan in the top five. On the restart lap, there was side-by-side-by-side contact between Woods, Ampudia, and McGrath, which dropped Woods well back, and moved McGrath up to second. Ampudia was still fourth, with Carl Renezeder now fourth in the #17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford, and Greg Adler now fifth in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Performance Exhaust Ford. Deegan had scrambled to avoid the contact that had gone on right in front of him, and although he briefly lost a couple of spots, he got right back around Adler to re-take fifth. From there on in, the order up front went unchanged, and it was Naughton who picked up the win, his second of the season. McGrath’s second place made it a Stronghold Motorsports one-two, just as it was at Firebird when Naughton got his first win this season! Third went to Ampudia, fourth to Renezeder, and fifth to Deegan.
That wraps up the day’s action from here in Utah. Join us again tomorrow when the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by Geico Powersports, returns to Miller Motorsports Park for Round 8. Gates open at 10:00 am, just in time for the final morning practice sessions of all the full-size race classes; racing then commences at 12:30 pm. Of course, if you can’t be here in person, there is live timing available at motorsporttiming.com, and stay tuned for all the latest news at lucasoiloffroad.com.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the Midwest tradition of short course off road racing infused with a West Coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door to door action to challenging, fan friendly tracks. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course. For more information please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series