After a great day of racing in Round 3, the drivers of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series returned to the Speedworld Off Road Park here in Surprise, AZ for Round 4. Once again the stands were packed to see the heroes of short course off-road racing, and the drivers put on a great show indeed. Beautiful warm, sunny weather greeted racers and fans alike, and at day’s end, all those in attendance would have many more great racing stories to share. In case you missed the action, here’s how it unfolded.
The final race before opening ceremonies was the Limited Buggy race, and it was Kyle Lucas who led the field past the start/finish line at the end of lap one. Second was Curt Geer in the #392 Green Army Lothringer, third was Kyle Quinn in the #311 Wilson Motorsports/Goodyear buggy, fourth was Justin “Bean” Smith in the #319 Menzies Motorsports/Bully Dog Fraley buggy, and fifth was Jeff Knupp in the #354 Volkspower Racing/General Tire machine. Lap three was full of action, as both Quinn and Smith bobbled and dropped to fifth and sixth places, which moved Knupp to third and Quentin Tucker to fourth in the #377 Brock Heger Racing/FAT Performance buggy. Smith recovered quickly, though and moved back up to fourth by the time the competition yellow came out. At this point, Lucas was still leading in the #325 Lucas Oil/mavTV machine, followed by Tucker, Knupp, Smith, and Quinn. On the restart lap, Tucker and Smith moved up again, taking over first and third spots. Tucker then slowed briefly and dropped back to third, sparking a three-way battle between himself, Lucas, and Smith for the lead. Smith got the lead and pulled away quickly, setting the fastest lap of the race at a 1:01.428. Tucker also got by Lucas to take over second, but after that, the top five spots remained unchanged. At race’s end it was Smith finally taking his first LOORRS win after finishing runner-up in the first three rounds. Tucker came across the line in second place, followed by Lucas in third, Knupp in fourth, and Quinn in fifth. Three young drivers, Dave Mason, Geoffrey Cooley, and Tatum Ronco, who all cut their teeth in the kart ranks, scored top ten finishes today, showing the real value of those classes for the future of off-road racing.
Pro 4 Unlimited
After a terrific opening ceremony, which included a touching tribute to the late off-road legend Jack Flannery (who lost a long battle with cancer on April 6th), it was time for racing action to get back underway, and the Pro 4 Unlimiteds got the action kicked off in fine style. Adrian Cenni and Kyle LeDuc started on the front row, and it was LeDuc who put his #99Rockstar Energy/Corona Motorhome Rentals Ford into the lead, ahead of Cenni in the #11 Atrium/BFGoodrich Tires Chevrolet, Carl Renezeder, Mike Johnson, and Johnny Greaves in the early going. The Toyotas of Greaves and Rick Huseman were on the move early, jumping up to fourth and fifth by lap three. Cenni then went over the burm coming into turn two, which dropped him to sixth and moved Johnson back into the top five in his #31 K&N Filters/Ironclad Chevrolet, which was built by the Flannery family. Further forward, yesterday’s winner Huseman was still on the march forward, moving into third and then second in his #36 Traxxas/Monster Energy Toyota. Behind him, Renezeder’s #1 Lucas Oil/General Tires Ford and Greaves’ #16 Monster Energy/MasterCraft Safety Toyota were locked in a great battle for third. As the competition yellow came out, Huseman had reeled in the leader LeDuc, and Renezeder was still ahead of Greaves in the battle for third, with Johnson sitting fifth. Greaves slowed and pulled off track on the restart, but a big gasp came from the crowd as LeDuc rolled in turn two and lost the lead. LeDuc was able to get re-fired, but not before dropping nearly a lap behind. Huseman now led, but only briefly as an out-of-shape landing off the jump out of turn five allowed Renezeder to move into the lead. On the very next lap, however, it was Renezeder’s turn to make an error, as he went up on two wheels in turn six, giving Huseman a chance to sneak back by on the inside. Huseman didn’t waste his second chance at Sunday’s win, crossing the line first for the third straight race, and taking the fast lap as well with a 54.195, the only driver under 55 seconds. Renezeder settled for second, with Johnson doing an amazing job to hold off Curt LeDuc in the #43 Makita/ Toyo Tires Ford for third, despite driving the last lap with a broken right front upper a-arm. John Harrah rounded out the top five in his #13 SuperLite/Goodyear Chevrolet, his first top five finish in this class since moving up from the SuperLite ranks at the beginning of this season.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
After narrowly missing out on a win on Saturday, Mike Dondel was out for redemption in the #998 Racer Engineering/BFGoodrich Tires buggy. Dondel made a great start to take the lead early on, followed by Jerry Whelchel in the #901 BFGoodrich Tires/Toyota Foddrill, Doug Fortin in the #996 Fortin Racing, Inc./Custom Decals Racer Engineering buggy, Cody Freeman in the #994 FCS Flooring/Wik’s Racing Engines Racer Engineering buggy, and Mike Porter in the #900 Team Porter/Goodyear AlumiCraft. Porter pulled off to the side and out of the race on lap two, handing fifth to Mike Halliday in the #904 Green Army/Delmar Commercial Real Estate Services AlumiCraft, but Halliday then went over the outside burm in turn four and dropped back to eighth. Up front, Dondel had opened a good lead by the time the competition yellow came out, at which point he was followed by Fortin, Whelchel, Freeman, and Cameron Steele in the #916 Menzies Motorsports/Metal Mulisha AlumiCraft. Steele jumped up to fourth on the restart lap, and further forward, Fortin was the only driver who could hang with the pace of the leader Dondel. Whelchel slowed to a stop, and though he re-joined later, it was Steele who was now third, with Freeman fourth and Bobby PeCoy fifth in the #973 Makita/Kartek Off Road AlumiCraft. Just before the finish, a red flag was brought out following a rollover by Halliday. Halliday was fine, and with a green-white-checkered finish being called for, the top five drivers all seemed to find another gear as they pushed their cars to the limits as green flag racing resumed. Steele missed a shift on the restart lap and dropped to fifth, and just ahead, there were two great battles for first and third places. Dondel’s pace was just a little more than Fortin could match, and Dondel held on to take a great win. Fortin finished second, and making it an all Racer Engineering buggy podium, Freeman held off a strong late charge from PeCoy, who had to settle for fourth. Steele rounded out the top five. PeCoy set the fast lap of the race at a 57.875, the only driver to run below 58 seconds.
Pro Lite Unlimited
After putting on a thrilling show on Saturday, the boys of Pro Lite Unlimited had a lot of fans counting on them for another great race on Sunday, and the fans didn’t go home disappointed. Matt Loiodice took the early lead in his #20 MasterCraft Safety/Jimco Ford, ahead of Brian Deegan, Rodrigo Ampudia, Marty Hart in the #15 Stronghold Motorsports/Maxxis Tires Ford, and Chris Brandt in the #82 Lucas Oil/mavTV Toyota. Hart went up in smoke in the early laps, which brought out a red flag and allowed Casey Currie into the top five in the Monster Energy/Kawasaki-sponsored Ford. On the restart, a three-truck tangle forced a second restart, and on that second restart, Deegan got a good jump to take the lead in his #38 Rockstar/Metal Mulisha Ford. Deegan quickly pulled open a small lead once moving into the top spot, while further back, a bicycle in turn four by Ampudia allowed Adam Wik to move into fourth in the #11 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Wik’s Racing Engines Chevrolet, and put Aaron Daugherty into fifth in the #23 Racin’ Dirty/Magnaflow Exhaust Products Ford. Ampudia quickly re-took fifth spot in the #36 Papas & Beer/Tecate Ford, and Brandt muscled his way by Loiodice for second just ahead of the competition yellow. On the restart, another tangle-up brought out a full course yellow, and on the restart, Loiodice moved back up to fifth after having being hit from behind and getting knocked back to sixth on the restart following the competition yellow. With the white flag now out, it was Deegan, Brandt, Wik, Ampudia, and Loiodice in the top five. On the final lap, Deegan and Brandt were side-by-side for nearly the entire lap, and just when it looked like Deegan had the win locked up, Brandt braked late in the final turn, got alongside Deegan, gave him a little nudge, and snuck by on the inside to pull off a cheeky win. Deegan had to settle for second this time around, just missing out on back-to-back wins this weekend. Third went to Wik, his first LOORRS podium, with fourth and fifth going to Ampudia and Loiodice. Fast lap went to Brandt this time around, with a 59.051 on the penultimate lap.
Pro 2 Unlimited
Every race weekend has to have one race that’s filled with incidents, and Round 4 of Pro 2 Unlimited was that race for this weekend. With 21 drivers all taking the green flag like men possessed, it was Rodrigo Ampudia in the #36 Papas & Beer/Fox Racing Shox Ford who led the charge after lap one. In second was Saturday’s winner Carl Renezeder in the #17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford, followed by Greg Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/AIRAID Ford, Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar/MasterCraft Safety Ford, and Jeff Ward in the #3X Speed Technologies/Goodyear Chevrolet. Chaos quickly took over the track, and following Adler’s retirement from the race and several other situations around the track, a full-course yellow was brought out to give crews a chance to take care of all the carnage. Once racing resumed, Mike Johnson jumped up to fifth in the #31 Ironclad/Swaghouse.com Ford. Then came another big incident. Renezeder and Ampudia got together coming into turn four, and Ampudia came away with a broken rear shock, which dropped him out of the running at the front. As Renezeder struggled to get around Ampudia’s suddenly-slowed truck, MacCachren snuck by on the inside to take the lead. Just afterwards, Robby Woods rolled between turns four and five, and after several trucks got caught up trying to avoid hitting Woods, another full-course yellow was brought out.
When the green came out again, Ricky Johnson moved the #48 Red Bull/KMC Wheels Ford into fourth after a big struggle to get by Mike Johnson. Bryce Menzies also moved his #7 Bully Dog/Super Clean Ford past Mike Johnson as Johnson incurred a flat right front tire. More chaos was still happening further back, and with trucks on fire in turn two and another being towed out from turn six, the race was again red flagged. This race was as much about survival as it was about raw speed, and no clear tactic seemed to be the best for getting to the front. Once the green flag waved again, it was still MacCachren, Renezeder, Ward, Ricky Johnson, and Menzies in the top five. On the restart lap, Ward bobbled in turn four and dropped to fifth. Things finally seemed to settle down a bit, and MacCachren held off Renezeder for the remainder of the race to take his first win of the LOORRS season, along with the fast lap of the race with a 56.132. Renezeder took second, with Ricky Johnson third, Menzies fourth, and Ward fifth.
Closing out the action for the weekend were the Mazda rotary engine-powered trucks of SuperLite. After seeing victory slip away just two turns from the checkered flag on Saturday, Colton Greaves was right back at the front of the pack at the end of lap one on Sunday. In second it was Jacob Person in the #29 Stand-Up MRI/Geiser Bros Design and Development truck, followed by Dawson Kirchner in the #16 Speed Technologies/Goodyear truck, Ricky James in the #24 So Cal Super Trucks/Bully Dog machine, and Chad Leising in the #17 Gatorwraps.com/Hart & Huntington truck. Kirchner dropped back to fifth on lap two, and was then overtaken by Saturday’s winner Chad George in the #42 Funco/Bull Outdoor Products Inc. machine on lap three. Up front, James had moved up to second, and was starting to reel in the leader Greaves, but bicycled in turn four, and in the process, must’ve broken something, because he took a long time to get going again, and he dropped out of the race soon afterwards.
The competition yellow came out now, and it was still Greaves up front in the #33 Traxxas/Oakley machine, followed by Person, George, Leising, and Brandon Ward in the #92 Troy Lee Designs/VP Racing truck. All drivers in the top five held their positions on the restart, but a few laps later, George was on the move, picking off Person for second, and then getting by Greaves for the lead with just over one lap to go. Greaves kept his head about him and didn’t repeat his mistake from Saturday, but had to settle for second this time, as it was George who took back-to-back wins this weekend, as well as the fastest lap on both days, taking that honor on Sunday with a 1:01.398. Behind George and Greaves were Leising, Ward, and Person, who dropped a few spots in the late running with a flat tire.
Once again opening the action were the always exciting Modified Karts. Saturday’s winner Mitchell DeJong once again took the early lead in his #524 Speed Technologies kart, followed by Brandon Vermillion in the #585 mavTV/Hart & Huntington kart, Bradley Morris in the #504 BME Motorsports/ K&N Filters machine, Trenton Briley in the #507 Kal-Gard Lubricants/Metal Mulisha kart, and Blake Lenk in the #521 Missing Lenk Motorsports/ McKenzie’s truck. Reigning class champion Sheldon Creed jumped up into fourth in his #522 Fab School/Fox Racing Shox machine on lap two, and then up to fourth on the following lap. Up front, DeJong was again in a class all of his own, setting the fast lap at a 42.232, and by the time the competition yellow came out, he’d opened quite a lead over Vermillion, Morris, Creed, and Briley. On the restart, Vermillion and Creed got caught together in turn one, and the two had to watch as most of the field passed by them. This moved Briley to third, Lenk to fourth, and Connor Pankratz in the #511 Dickerson Motorsports/MasterCraft Safety kart into fifth. The top five drivers held their positions through the end of the race, with DeJong taking back-to-back wins this weekend. Second went to Morris, third to Briley, fourth to Lenk, and fifth to Pankratz.
Junior 2 Kart
Using his pole starting position to full advantage, Dustin Grabowski led the field at the outset of the Junior 2 Kart race in his #472 Team Associated/Fiberwerx Offroad Fiberglass machine. In second was Maxwell Ries, followed by Paige Porter, Eddie Tafoya Jr., and Sheldon Creed at the end of lap one. After some good battling with Porter, Tafoya Jr. moved his #451 Specialty Fasteners/Canidae kart into third on lap two, then up into second on lap three. Behind him, Creed was also moving up in the #422 A.M. Ortega/Fox Racing Shox truck, picking up two spots to sit in third by the end of lap four. Tafoya Jr. only had one more spot to move up, and he did just that on lap five, taking the lead as the competition yellow came out. Behind Tafoya Jr. now ran Grabowski, Creed, Ries in the #474 ProAm Racing Products/Hoosier kart, and Porter in the #462 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats machine. On the restart, it was another Grabowski, Jack, who moved up to fourth in the #427 ProAm/Stronghold Motorsports kart, but after a mistake entering the moguls on the following lap, he dropped back to sixth position. Creed was now losing some pace, dropping two spots to Ries and Porter, and with one lap to go, he ran fifth behind Tafoya Jr., Dustin Grabowski, Ries, and Porter. On the final lap, Tafoya Jr. stopped in the mogul section, and his race was over. This handed the lead and the win to Dustin Grabowski, who was followed across the finish line by Ries, Porter, Jack Grabowski, and Creed. Although he didn’t get the win, Tafoya Jr. did get the fast lap with a 47.765, the only driver in the 47s.
Junior 1 Kart
Closing out this weekend’s action on the shorter kids course were the Junior 1 Karts, and after a pileup in turn one forced a full restart of the race, it was once again Brock Heger who took the lead and stayed there in his #212 Brock Heger Racing/ CMI machine. Close behind Heger came Jack Yeiser in the #244 Sway-A-Way Race Runner Shocks/Signpros kart, Cole Mamer in the #235 Mamer Racing/Racer X Motorsports truck, Eliott Watson in the #203 Watson Motorsports/Hoosier kart, and Jeremy Davis in the #285 Green Army/King Off-Road Racing Shocks machine. On lap two, Preston Roben moved his #210 Duggins Construction/Sunoco Race Fuels kart into fifth spot, where he sat behind Heger, Yeiser, Mamer, and Watson through the competition yellow. On the restart lap, Davis re-took fifth spot, but Roben got the position back just a few laps later. On the penultimate lap, Travis PeCoy then took that fifth spot in the #211 Makita/K&N Filters kart. On the final lap, Mamer spun in turn one and dropped one spot to fourth place, while up front, it was Heger who took his fourth straight win of the season, thus maintaining his undefeated season (Heger is the only driver who is still undefeated in LOORRS competition this season). Second went to Yeiser, who set the fast lap at a 51.107. Third place went to Watson, fourth to Mamer, and fifth to Roben, who grabbed that fifth spot again on the final lap.
First onto the full-length track were the two UTV classes, the 4wd Unlimited UTVs and the Yamaha R1-powered 2wd SR1s, running together once again. Corry Weller made a great jump at the drop of the green flag to shoot into the early lead in her #801 Tilted Kilt/Weller Racing Yamaha, followed by Tyler Herzog in the #844 Ivy Tanking and Grading/Canidae Yamaha, Austin Kimbrell in the #607 Monster Energy/ SouthernCaliWraps.com Kawasaki, Chad George in the #642 Monster Energy/Funco Kawasaki, and RJ Anderson in the #607 Walker Evans Racing/Goodyear Polaris. Doug Mittag moved his #848 Custom Off Road Designs Yamaha into fifth just as lap two got underway, but on lap three, Anderson re-took that spot. George also moved up on lap three, taking over third spot and the lead in Unlimited UTV. On lap four, it was now Josh Stechnij in the #800 Yamaha who took over fifth spot, and as the competition yellow came out, he was still fifth, with Weller, Herzog, George, and Kimbrell in the four spots ahead of him. Stechnij dropped out on the restart lap, putting Anderson back into the top five. Herzog also hit trouble, losing a sway bar and two shocks with under two laps to go. This moved George and Kimbrell into second and third spots, but in the late running, Kimbrell broke a front wheel off, and he crashed out while trying to finish the race on three wheels. Up front it was all Weller, who was now well clear of the field in a nearly flawless run. She went on to take a wire-to-wire SR1 and overall win, her first victory in LOORRS competition, and the first win by a female driver in any LOORRS adult class. Second was George, who grabbed the Unlimited UTV win, while third was Anderson, fourth was Robert Vanbeekum in the #664 Xtreme Machine and Fabrication/Muzzys Kawasaki, and fifth was Mittag. Weller set the fast lap overall with a 1:03.009, while George got those honors in Unlimited UTV with a 1:04.570.
That’s all from here at Speedworld. Be sure to join the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series stars again for Rounds 5 and 6 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 22-23. Get your tickets early, find tv listings for LOORRS racing, and follow the latest LOORRS news at www.lucasoiloffroad.com
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.