Las Vegas, Nevada—The Red Bull Off-Road Racing Ford F-150s driven by Ricky Johnson and Barlow Motorsports team owner, Steve Barlow earned two second place finishes and a first in the final weekend of Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL racing. The performance capped an impressive season for the Red Bull Off-Road team with Johnson finishing second in PRO 2WD points, just four points behind Rob MacCachren.
The Red Bull trucks were exceptionally fast all season as evidenced by both Ricky Johnson and Steve Barlow winning Oakley Bomb Run awards for the fastest lap during a race, posting a team total of seven Oakley Bomb Run awards for the season. Ricky Johnson also took the year-end award for the most Oakley Bomb Runs in the PRO 2WD class.
Racing under the lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in final two rounds of the 2009 TORC season was made more challenging by difficult track conditions. In Friday night’s round 15 race, dust and low visibility were a problem as the desert soil refused to hold moisture from watering. The track crew ripped the surface and watered constantly throughout the night and Saturday daylight hours to minimize dust for Saturday night’s race action. Dust was less of a factor for round 16, but the heavy, sticky mud created a whole new challenge.
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In Friday’s PRO 4×4 race, Steve Barlow started on the pole and held the number one position for the first six laps. A rock cut the sidewall of the left front tire on lap four and Steve ran on the inner-liner until the mid-race mandatory yellow. Barlow pitted under the yellow so the Red Bull crew could change the tire, but that put him at the back of the field for the restart. The dusty conditions caused more contact than usual and Steve Barlow finished the race with a flat rear tire as well.
Ricky Johnson fared better in the PRO 2WD race, starting in the third row on the grid. In the opening laps, Johnson settled into sixth and looked for openings to pass in the dust. That opportunity came on the restart after the mandatory yellow when Johnson moved from fifth to third. The race was stopped again for dust control and Ricky Johnson worked his way up to second. The closing laps were a battle for the lead, with Rob MacCachren crossing the finish line first, followed by Ricky Johnson in second.
Johnson turned the tables in the final round 16 race on Saturday night, winning his fifth race of the season and eleventh podium finish. Johnson led the race wire-to-wire after a dramatic pass of the four trucks starting in front of him in turn one. Unfortunately for the Red Bull team, Rob MacCachren finished second behind Johnson and even with the 2-point bonus for leading the race at the halfway point, the victory wasn’t enough to take the season championship. It was a tight points battle all year, with Johnson leading until the last few races.
The final race of the 2009 TORC Series season was the PRO 4×4 class race on Saturday night. Steve Barlow again had the pole but a slick and muddy turn-one produced mayhem that moved Barlow back to fourth. It was a wild race, filled with yellow flags and action that didn’t disappoint the race fans. Barlow lost all his tear-off shields on lap five and struggled with a mud-impaired view for the rest of the race. That didn’t seem to slow him down too much– Steve took over the lead in the closing laps only to find himself behind Mike Jenkins under yellow with
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one lap to go. Barlow pushed hard for the lead on the restart, but Jenkins wasn’t going to give up the top spot easily. In the final turn coming onto the front straight, Steve made a run on the inside and pulled up alongside Jenkin’s door as the pair crossed the line in one of the closest finishes of the 2009 TORC season.
Steve Barlow’s second place finish in round 16 combined with Rick Johnson’s first and second give the Barlow Motorsports Red Bull Off-Road Racing Team momentum that will carry into the 2010 Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL season. Special thanks to Red Bull, Kumho Tires, Bosch Power Tools, RoushYates Engines, AMSOIL, Fox Racing Shox, KMC Wheels, Motive Gear, Fortin Racing, MasterCraft, MSD, McKenzie’s, PWR, and Alpinestars for the talent and support that made 2009 a winning season for Barlow Motorsports. The Las Vegas race will air Sunday November 8th at 1:30 pm on ABC.