Another beautiful day played host to Round 7 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series here at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT. Some of the usual winners were again victorious, but there were also several drivers who took their first trips to the podium’s top step. A great crowd was on hand to experience excitement, action, and history first hand, and this terrific facility has been everything this off-road traveling circus could ever ask for. In case you weren’t here to enjoy it in person, here’s how the action broke down.
Utah fans got their introduction to short course off-road racing from the always exciting kids of Modified Kart. Sheldon Creed and Mitchell DeJong started on the front row, and it was Creed in the #522 The Fab School/Hoosier machine who took the early lead ahead of DeJong in the #524 Speed Technologies/Bull Dog kart. In third came Zac Hunt in th#534 Creative Fabrication and Design, Inc. truck, followed by Brandon Vermillion in the #585 mavTV/Hart and Huntington kart, and Bradley Morris in the #504 K&N Filters/Kicker machine. Creed and DeJong quickly pulled a gap on the rest of the field, while behind, JR Guthrie had moved up to third in the #555 Guthrie Racing/Gatorwraps.com kart, with Morris now fourth and Hunt in fifth. Hunt recovered his lost spots, and was back up to third at the competition yellow, behind Creed and DeJong, and ahead of Guthrie and Morris. Morris picked up one spot on the restart lap, and up front, Creed was absolutely flying. Creed pulled clear of the rest of the field, and went on to take a great win, followed by DeJong, Hunt, Morris, and Guthrie. Creed also took the fast lap with a 50.450.
Junior 2 Kart
Fans who were in attendance for the Junior 2 Kart race were witnesses to a piece of history. Chad Graham got the early lead in his #410 Bulletproof Suspension/Cornwell Tools Racing machine, followed by Shelby Anderson in the #405 Walker Evans Racing kart, Sheldon Creed in the #422 A.M. Ortega/Fox Racing Shox truck, Maxwell Ries in the #474 ProAm/Kartek machine, and Bowen Brooks in the #477 Synergy Electric Racing kart. The top five immediately pulled away from the field in a strong train, with Creed briefly moving up to second before dropping two spots to fourth. The top three, Graham, Anderson, and Ries, then pulled a bit further ahead, and at the competition yellow, they still held the top three spots, followed by Creed and Brooks. Brooks dropped out on the competition yellow lap, which promoted Micaela Cheek to fifth in the #457 CMI machine. After the restart, Anderson really came to life, taking the lead and pulling Graham and Ries with her for second and third places as they moved ahead of the rest of the pack. Graham lost it in turn one, which let Ries get by for second. Ries was now the only threat to Anderson, but Anderson held tough to take her first win, the first win for a girl in any LOORRS kart class. Anderson is also only the second female driver ever to win in any LOORRS class! Oh, and did I mention that she set fast lap with a 58.912? Second went to Ries, who was followed by Graham in third, Creed in fourth, and Cheek in fifth.
Junior 1 Kart
Capping a fine series of kart races for Round 7 were the boys and girls on Junior 1 kart, and without points leader Brock Heger in the field, the race was wide open for the first non-Heger winner of 2010. Preston Roben jumped out to the early lead in the #210 Duggins Construction machine, followed by Cole Mamer in the #235 Mamer Racing kart, Jack Yeiser in the #244, Wolfgang Ries in the #273 ProAm kart, and Broc Dickerson in the #223 Dickerson Motorsports truck. The top three drivers pulled away from the rest of the field in pretty short order, and from these three, Roben and Mamer pulled even further ahead in a great battle for the lead. Further back, Travis PeCoy jumped up two sports to fourth in the #211 Download Action Video truck, with Dickerson holding on for fifth. Yeiser was able to close down the gap on the two leaders, and as the competition yellow came out, it was still Roben, Mamer, Yeiser, and PeCoy in the top four, with Ries back up to fifth. After the restart, Ries lost it and went off the track, dropping him well back in the order, and promoting Corey Geiser to fifth in the #245 Canidae machine. Up front, Mamer’s persistence in battling for the lead finally paid off, as he got by Roben to take the lead through the moguls. Geiser then got around PeCoy to take over fourth, while Yeiser moved up a spot to second. From there on in, the top five drivers held their positions, and at race’s end it was Mamer who took the win, followed by Yeiser, Roben, Geiser, and PeCoy. Yeiser finished just out of a win, but did snag the fast lap with a 1:02.810, over two full seconds quicker than any other driver!
For the first time this year, the UTVs were elected to run the shorter kart track, in an effort to keep the action closer to the fans. This tighter track made for a great race, and really put the 4-wheel drive Unlimited UTVs at an advantage over the more technical terrain, with the top six spots in qualifying going to the Unlimited UTV drivers. RJ Anderson and Robert Vanbeekum started on the front row, and after a big collision in turn one forced a full restart, it was Anderson who took the lead in the #637 Walker Evans Racing/South Point Polaris when the track went green for the second start. Behind Anderson came Vanbeekum, Austin Kimbrell, Tyler Winbury, and Chad George. Kimbrell was on the move, jumping up to second and then to the lead in his #607 Monster Energy/UTVUnderground.com Kawasaki. Chad George was close behind, moving his #642 Monster Energy/Funco Kawasaki up to second as Anderson went wide on the alternate line around the moguls. Anderson then slowed a bit, dropping out of the top five, which put John Dempsey up to fifth in the #655 Custom Off Road Designs/Racin’ Dirty Kawasaki. The top two drivers were gapping away from the rest of the field, with George being virtually glued to Kimbrell’s back bumper in the battle for the lead. As the competition yellow came out, these two were still at it out front, followed by Winbury in the #694 Funco/King Off Road Racing Shocks Kawasaki, Vanbeekum in the #664 Xtreme Machine and Fabrication/Muzzys Kawasaki, and Dempsey. The top five held their positions after the restart, with Kimbrell and George still very close, but with just a couple laps left, Winbury threw in the fast lap of the race with a 1:01.220, and made it a three-way battle for the top step on the podium. Kimbrell drove brilliantly, however, and was too strong for George and Winbury to beat in the end. Kimbrell took a great win in a thrilling battle, followed by George, Winbury, Vanbeekum, and Dempsey. The SR1s weren’t quite up to the pace of the Unlimited UTVs, but it was Greg Frantz in the #877 Lonestar Racing/Simpson Yamaha who took his first career win, finishing sixth overall. Second in SR1 went to the #844 Ivy Trucking and Grading Yamaha of Tyler Herzog, and third in SR1 was Gary Thompson in the #802 Thompson Roofing Yamaha. Fast lap in SR1 went to Frantz with a 1:02.418.
First out onto the full-length track were the Limited Buggies, and it was a strong front row of John Fitzgerald and Kyle Quinn who headed the field at the drop of the green flag. Fitzgerald took the early lead in the #314 mavTV/Lucas Oil machine, followed by Bruce Fraley in the #312 Freeman’s Carpet Service Fraley, Curt Geer in the #392 Green Army Lothringer, Kyle Lucas in the #325 Lucas Oil buggy, and Dave Mason in the #365 Western Motorsports AlumiCraft. Despite taking the early lead, Fitzgerald seemed slightly off the pace throughout the race, and he was soon passed by both Fraley and Lucas. Behind them, Justin Smith was now up to fifth in the #319 Bully Dog Fraley, and after Lucas spun and dropped to fifth, Smith moved up to fourth. Smith continued moving forward, taking over third and then second, while up front, Fraley had opened a sizeable lead on the rest of the field. At the competition yellow, Fraley was still out front, followed by Smith, Fitzgerald, Geer, and Lucas. After the restart, Lucas began to recover some of the spots he’d lost with his earlier spin, picking up fourth and then third. Just ahead, Smith was really giving Fraley a run for his money, laying down the fast lap with a 1:13.829. and eventually Smith took over the lead as Fraley picked up a flat right rear tire. Fraley soon ducked into the hot pits, dropping him well back, and moving Quentin Tucker into fifth behind Smith, Lucas, Fitzgerald, and Geer with one lap to go. On the final lap, Smith was unchallenged for the win, and he took home the checkers for the second time this season. Lucas’ engine starting to smoke a little on the last lap, slowing him enough to allow Fitzgerald and Geer to get by. Fitzgerald just edged Geer for second, while Lucas took fourth and Kenny Freeman made a late charge to sneak up to fifth in the #302 Freeman’s Carpet Service buggy.
Pro 4 Unlimited
This weekend has seen the return of one of the all-time great off-road drivers, Rob MacCachren, to the Pro 4 Unlimited ranks, this time with the newly-formed Stronghold Motorsports team. MacCachren’s #21 Rockstar/Stronghold Motorsports Chevrolet started outside of Travis Coyne’s #5 ProComp/Toyo Tires Ford on the front row, and it was Coyne ahead of MacCachren in the top two spots at the end of lap one. Behind these two came Curt LeDuc in the #43 Rockstar/Kal-Gard Ford, Kent Brascho in the #8 BFGoodrich Tires Chevrolet, and Josh Merrell in the #22 mavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford. Rick Huseman, who’d started well back and been slowed while avoiding an early spin out that happened ahead of him, moved up to fifth on lap two. Huseman soon moved up to fourth, then third in fairly quick order, while ahead, MacCachren had gotten around Coyne to take the lead. Huseman then got around Coyne for second, and was quickly up to MacCachren’s back bumper to challenge for the lead. With the competition yellow now out, it was MacCachren and Huseman nose-to-tail in first and second, followed by Coyne, LeDuc, and the #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Ford of Carl Renezeder. Huseman quickly got around MacCachren on the restart, while Renezeder had an even better lap, getting from fifth to second and putting himself in with a real chance of grabbing the win. Further back, Adrian Cenni was now fourth in the #11 BFGoodrich Tires/Atrium Payroll Chevrolet, while Coyne had dropped to fifth. Coyne and Brascho then got around Cenni for fourth and fifth, and although Cenni was able to re-grab fifth briefly, he soon pulled off the track and out the race. Up front, Renezeder was doing everything he could to put pressure on Huseman, but Huseman eventually opened a small gap on Renezeder, and with one lap to go, Renezeder’s luck got a whole bunch worse. His truck caught fire briefly and continued to smoke as he crossed the start/finish line to begin the final lap, and he pulled off in turn one, climbing out of the truck as it sat, still smoking. Huseman was now in the clear, and his battered truck came home victorious for the fifth time in seven races this season, taking the fast lap as well with a 1:03.824. MacCachren had a good re-introduction to Pro 4 Unlimited action with a second place finish, followed by Coyne, whose luck seems to finally be turning around a little. Fourth went to Brascho, and rounding out the top five was the #31 K&N Filters/Alpinestars Ford of Mike Johnson.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
Pro Buggies were up next, and Rich Ronco in the #999 Tatum started alongside Cody Freeman in the #994 FCS Flooring Racer on the front row. Ronco got a good start to take the early lead, followed by Cameron Steele, Jerry Whelchel, Cody Freeman, and Larry Job. Steele and Whelchel soon got around Ronco to take over the top two places, and with his car slowing somewhat, Ronco dropped out of the top five shortly afterwards. This moved Bobby PeCoy into the top five in his #973 downloadactionvideo.com AlumiCraft. Freeman was the next to hit trouble, as he pulled off the track with engine troubles, moving PeCoy up to fourth and Doug Fortin to fifth in the #996 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer. Up front, Whelchel’s #901 Foddrill Motorsports Toyota was hounding Steele’s #916 Menzies Motorsports/Metal Mulisha AlumiCraft for the lead, and Whelchel finally managed to sneak by just before the competition yellow. At this point Steele was now second, with his teammate Job third in the #907 BFGoodrich Tires/Rusty AlumiCraft, PeCoy fourth, and Fortin fifth. On the restart lap, Fortin got up to fourth, while Ronco was back up to fifth. Fortin then got a flat left rear tire, dropping him out of the top five and moving PeCoy back into fifth. With one lap to go, Whelchel had command at the head of the field, followed by Steele, Job, Ronco, and PeCoy, who all held their positions through the checkered flag. Whelchel’s win is his second in three races since joining the Foddrill team, and he took the fast lap to boot: a 1:10.580 on lap ten.
After taking a great win in last night’s Grill ‘N’ Thrill Super Lite race, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg was once again at the front of the pack for much of today’s Super Lite main event. Stenberg took the early lead in his #88 Rockstar Energy/Metal Mulisha machine, followed by Dawson Kirchner in the #16 Speed Technologies truck, Ricky James in the #24 Rockwell/Bully Dog truck, CJ Greaves in the #33 Traxxas/Monster Energy machine, and Chad George in the #42 King Shocks/Kawasaki-sponsored truck. James hit a brief issue and dropped to sixth, but was quickly back up to fifth. Up front, Stenberg was pulling clear of the field, while Chad George was also moving forward to take over third place. At the competition yellow, Stenberg still led, followed by Kirchner, George, Greaves, and James. On the restart, Kirchner nearly spun in turn one and dropped down to fifth. As trucks swerved to avoid Kirchner, the order got shuffled thoroughly, and with Kirchner quickly back up to third, it was now Stenberg, Greaves, Kirchner, Johnny Harrah, and James in the top five. Stenberg then hit truck trouble, losing the lead to Greaves and then pulling off the track and out of the race. Greaves led with one lap to go, and after missing out on wins with last lap dramas on two occasions this year, Greaves was able to seal the deal this time, taking his first career LOORRS win. Second went to Kirchner, third to Person, fourth to Harrah in the #9 Speed Technologies truck, and fifth to James. Stenberg was able to salvage a best lap, a 1:14.593.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The always exciting Pro Lite Unlimiteds would be the penultimate race of the day, and it was Stephan Papadakis in the #4 Magnaflow Exhaust Nissan and Sean Geiser in the #16 ReadyLift/Slednecks Toyota who started on the front row. Neither driver, however, was able to hold the lead, as both Chris Brandt and Jimmy Stephensen slotted in first and second at the end of lap one, ahead of Papadakis, Geiser, and Marty Hart in the #15 Stronghold Motorsports/Maxxis Tires Ford. Lap two and three saw more shuffling, with Hart moving right up to second, Jacob Person into fourth in the #92 Stand-Up-MRI of Arizona/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, and Brian Deegan into fifth in the #38 Rockstar Energy/Etnies Ford. Person then got around Stephensen, and at the competition yellow, Brandt still led in the #82 mavTV/Lucas Oil Toyota, followed closely by Hart. Person sat in third, with Stephensen fourth and Deegan fifth. On the restart lap, Person rolled in turn one, while Deegan came to a stop on the outside of the turn. Both drivers were able to continue, but with Geiser also crashing out near turn three, a full-course yellow was brought out. Once action resumed, Brandt and Hart continued their battle for the lead, with Stephensen third, Adam Wik now fourth in the #11 Wik’s Racing Engines/King Off Road Racing Shocks Chevrolet, and Matt Loiodice now fifth in the #20 MasterCraft Safety/Competitive Metals Ford. Brandt and Hart were well clear up front, and although Hart was really putting the pressure on Brandt (he set the fast lap at a 1:11.469 on the penultimate lap), he couldn’t force Brandt into a mistake. Brandt came home the winner, followed by Hart, Stephensen in the #33 Yokohama Tires/Racin’ Dirty Nissan, Person, and Wik.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the day was certainly one of the best. Todd LeDuc in the #8 Rockstar Energy/Airforce Ford and Rodrigo Ampudia in the #36 Papas & Beer/Lucas Oil Ford started on the front row of the Pro 2 Unlimited race, and it was LeDuc who led Ampudia at the end of lap one. In third was Ricky Johnson in the #48 Traxxas/Red Bull Ford, followed by Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar/MasterCraft Safety Ford, and Rob Naughton in the #54 Stronghold Motorsports/Maxxis Tires Ford. As Johnson, MacCachren, and Naughton all hounded Ampudia for second place, LeDuc was able to edge out a little bit of an advantage, but Ampudia soon found a little breathing room from those behind, and quickly closed down on LeDuc again. Soon after, Johnson closed back in on Ampudia, then passed him and took over second place. Further back, Carl Renezeder was on a charge in his #17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford after being caught out by a crowded turn one. Renezeder passed Naughton for fifth, then got by MacCachren for fourth, where he sat behind LeDuc, Johnson, and Ampudia at the competition yellow, with MacCachren still fifth. On the restart lap, however, Renezeder again got into a swarm of trucks, and this time it went even worse. Renezeder endo’d his truck in the big rollers after turn three, thus ending his run. After his fire in Pro 4 Unlimited and now his first big crash in recent memory, this just wasn’t Renezeder’s day.
Renezeder’s accident was cleared without the need for a yellow flag, and soon afterwards, Johnson finally found his way around LeDuc to take the lead. His lead was short-lived, however, as he pulled off the track coming into turn one, leaving the race with unknown issues. LeDuc re-assumed the lead, with Ampudia now hot on his heels. Naughton was up to third, with Bryce Menzies now fourth in the #7 Bully Dog/Super Clean Ford, and MacCachren fifth as his battle-beaten truck seemed to be slowing a little bit. Ampudia put solid pressure on LeDuc, and he eventually found his way by and into the lead. Further back, MacCachren was now out, putting Greg Adler into fifth in his #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Ford. From here on out the top five held their positions, and at race’s end it was Ampudia who took his first career Pro 2 Unlimited win, finally getting the monkey off his back after countless near-misses. Second went to LeDuc, third to Naughton, fourth to Menzies, and fifth to Adler. The always-quick Adler grabbed the fast lap with a 1:06.561.
With the sun still hi in the sky at racing’s end, there was plenty of time for the team’s to savor their victories and ponder their misfortunes. Of course there will be a whole second day of action here in Tooele, so be sure to get to here and see it for yourself. Also, be sure to stay tuned to lucasoiloffroad.com for all the latest LOORRS news.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.