Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah played host to Rounds 7&8 of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. Without a drop of rain in over a month and temperatures into the triple digits, Rounds 7&8 were looking pretty unpredictable. Luckily for the Monster Energy Off-Road Team, overcoming obstacles isn’t anything they are afraid of.
Winning six consecutive rounds in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, Monster Energy Pro 4 Unlimited #99 of Kyle LeDuc looked to continue his win streak in Utah. Although LeDuc put down the fastest lap time during qualifying for round 7, his luck in the main event would run out. LeDuc had a mechanical issue early on in the race with the rear of his Pro 4 Unlimited and in true LeDuc style, he put on a show for the fans pressing hard to finish every lap in order to collect precious championship points and secure his lead in the Pro 4 Unlimited division. LeDuc would go on to finish Round 7 in ninth place.
While Round 7 wasn’t what the Monster Energy Pro 4 Unlimited #99 was used to, LeDuc made sure to bring the heat in Round 8. Starting in the third row for Round 8, Kyle LeDuc took the green flag and instantly found himself in a dog fight with Pro 4 Unlimited newcomer Eric Barron. LeDuc and Barron put on one of the most amazing displays of car control and raw talent that the sold-out Utah crowd at Miller Motorsports Park could hardly contain themselves. Able to avoid all of the carnage on the track, Kyle pressured Barron right down to the bitter end. Unable to make a pass for the lead, the Monster Energy Pro 2 Unlimited #99 of Kyle LeDuc would finish the weekend on a high note taking home a hard earned second place finish.
Rounds 7&8 were a wicked couple of rounds for the Monster Energy Pro Buggy Unlimited #16 of Cameron “PAB” Steele. Steele pulled into the Stronghold Motorsports paddock after completing six laps of qualifying for Round 7 feeling ecstatic about the way he drove, only to find out that he would have to start in the twelfth position come race day. When it came to the main event, things went from bad to worse as Steele would find himself battling fuel vapor-locking issues due to the insanely hot Utah temperatures.
Just as Kyle LeDuc’s luck changed in Round 8, Cameron “PAB” Steele would find a little luck of his own. Steele’s Round 8 played out almost exactly the way that of Monster Energy Off-Road Team member Kyle LeDuc’s day did. The Monster Energy Pro Buggy Unlimited #16 of Cameron Steele started in the third row behind some of the most talented drivers in the series. Steele took the green flag and before you knew it he was in the second place position fighting for the lead. Lap after lap and Steele was putting the pressure everywhere that he could. Crossing the finish line neck and neck, the Monster Energy Pro Buggy Unlimited #16 of Cameron Steele took the checkers with a very impressive second place finish.
The Monster Energy Pro Lite Unlimited’s would rage war against twenty-two hungry drivers looking to take down the current point’s leader; Monster Energy Off-Road Team member, RJ Anderson. Joining Anderson in the Pro Lite Unlimited division is fellow Monster Energy Off-Road Team member Casey Currie. Currie and Anderson are two of the favorites in the Pro Lite Unlimited division and definitely have a target on their back as far as the rest of the field is concerned.
“Round 7 sucked, I got stuck in the back of the pack and mixed in with a bunch of guys who will race you dirty. They all know that I’m the points leader and weren’t going to give me the respect that I feel I deserve. My goal for the day was to stay out of the carnage at the back of the pack, and I wasn’t able to do that and wound up finishing 9th. I need to be up front where I know the guys will race me clean and I know I can push myself without getting taken out. I’m not happy by any means but I retain my points lead and I’m going for a championship,” Anderson stated. Currie would also find himself getting caught in the carnage at the back of the pack and end Round 7 in the fourteenth position.
Just as the rest of the Monster Energy Off-Road Team, the Pro Lite Unlimited drivers would find themselves contending for a podium position in Round 8. Back running up at the front of the field, Anderson and Currie had an amazing battle going for the second place position until a competitor got loose in the whoop section; while Currie was able to hold his line, unfortunately he managed to get into the rear of the out of control competitor. Lucas Oil officials felt it necessary to black-flag Currie and send him to the back of the field. Had Currie not been black-flagged for what seemed to be a “racing incident” both Anderson and Currie would have finished the weekend on the podium. While Anderson was able to walk away with a third place finish, Currie wasn’t so lucky but still managed to fight his way back for a top ten finish.
Filling in for fellow Monster Energy Off-Road Team member Jeremy “Showtime” McGrath, RJ Anderson had some big shoes to fill in the Pro 2 Unlimited.
“Every single person sitting in these stands here at Utah knows who Jeremy McGrath is. Without a doubt, I was nervous for sure. Jeremy is my idol, he’s the guy I’ve always looked up and wanted to be like.” Anderson commented.
Joining Anderson in the Pro 2 Unlimited division is the 11 time X Games medalist; Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg. With fairly consistent finishes in the top 10 all season long, Monster Energy athlete “Twitch” ran his Pro 2 Unlimited on the ragged edge in Round’s 7&8.
“I’m feeling so comfortable in my truck now, I love it. Although I can run my truck hard, I still have to push it over the edge just a little bit more – for 20 complete laps. Racing trucks is way harder than riding my bike, I can go out and ride my bike everyday, but I only get the chance to hop in my truck once or twice a month. Without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
Stenberg would continue his consistent streak and complete the weekend finishing in the top 10 in both rounds and finished Round 8 with his best finish in the Pro 2 Unlimited division (6th place). RJ Anderson would also go on to finish within the top 10 for Rounds 7&8. Anderson commented “I’m really happy with my results, I hope MC (Jeremy McGrath) is happy and sees all the hard work that I have put in to show him I can do it.”
With round’s 7&8 as the tipping point for the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, the Monster Energy Off-Road Team makes their way back to Southern California for the second half of the series and round’s 9&10 at Glen Helen Raceway.
There is no quit in the Monster Energy Off-Road Team, just when you think they are down for the count, they claw their way back to the top.
Words by Adam “Gunnslinger” Gunn
Photography by Vincent Knakal of Mad Media