Dominant driving under the lights in Round 4
After a wild night here at the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park last night, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, was back at it again here tonight for Round 4 of the 2014 championship. We certainly had some scary moments, most notably the crashes of Travis Pastrana and Eric Barron, and while Pastrana came away with some broken bones and a concussion, Barron, who endured what is almost universally agreed to be the worst crash in the series’ history, walked away with just a broken pinky finger. More importantly, both men will live to fight another day, and thanks to the generous, family spirit of our field of drivers, one of these two would be right back at it tonight. As the rain clouds of last night cleared off, they made way to a cold night here, but nothing seemed to faze the drivers, who put on a spectacular display of skilled driving here tonight. Several drivers put in some simply crushing performances, and the close-quarters maneuvering up and down the running order reminded us why some people liken this show to a ballet on wheels.
Junior 2 Kart
Joining the action for their once-a-weekend appearance, the two Junior kart divisions got the action underway here tonight, and as usual, the Junior 2s were up first. Timmy Moran started from pole and took the early lead in his #416 P.C.I. Race Radios/Parker Pumper machine, ahead of Dylan Plemons in the #424 BND Performance/PAC Racing Springs kart, Hailie Deegan in the #1 4 Wheel Parts/Dirt Princess truck, Mia Chapman in the #437 Pink Motorsports/Foddrill Motorsports entry, and Ricky Gutierrez in the #478 G Brothers/Wiks Racing Engines machine. Gutierrez got by Chapman on the inside at turn one, moving up to fourth on lap two, and by the next lap, he and the rest of the top five runners had already started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, as they all ran hard in a tight little group. On lap three, Deegan got by Plemons for second coming out of turn four, but Plemons passed her back on the inside at turn one two laps later. At the Competition Yellow, it was now Moran, Plemons, Deegan, Gutierrez, and Chapman in the top five, but with a great jump on the restart, Gutierrez moved by Deegan and up to third. Deegan, on the other hand, dropped several spots down the order, and by the end of the restart lap, it was now Allyssa Fortin in fourth in her #496 Fortin Racing, Inc./Fox Racing Shox kart, and Bryce McDaniel fifth in the #425 Off Road Warehouse/Ntensetees entry. Gutierrez picked off Plemons for second coming off of turn one on lap nine, while further back, Chapman re-entered the top five after passing McDaniel for fifth spot. On the final lap, Plemons set up those ahead with an inside run down into turn one, and went into the lead with his brilliant move. Moran later admitted that there was nothing he could’ve done, and it was Plemons who held on to take the win, ahead of Gutierrez (who also got by Moran in the same move), Moran, Chapman, and Fortin (Chapman just edged Fortin by a nose at the line).
Junior 1 Kart
Next up were our youngest drivers, the Junior 1s, and it was Kali Kinsman who shot into the lead right out of turn one, and she held that lead through the end of lap one, ahead of Mason Prater, Nicholas Plemons, Ricky Gutierrez, and Niko Lopez. Gutierrez accidentally got into Kinsman at turn three on lap two (after Kinsman had already dropped down two spots to third), and Kinsman rolled, bringing out a full course caution. After Kinsman’s kart was cleared, racing resumed on lap four, and a dynamite restart by Gutierrez helped him move past Prater and into the lead before the two had reached the start/finish line. These two weren’t the only ones trading positions on that restart lap, and by the end of lap four, it was now, Gutierrez, Prater, Plemons, Bryan Morris, and Bronsen Chiaramonte in the top five. These five held their positions through the Competition Yellow, but on the restart it was a racy-looking Morris who got a great jump, only to lose his momentum by running wide into turn one, forcing him to hold position. Morris had a better run through that corner on the next lap, though, and he got by Plemons on the inside to move up to third spot. On lap nine, Prater then bicycled in that same corner, and that moved Morris up to second, with an ecstatic crowd of his local family and friends going berserk all the while, as their cheers drowned out the noise on the track. Out front, Gutierrez was running strong, too strong to be caught, and he came home the winner in his #1 G Brothers/Lone Kid Racing machine, ahead of Morris in the #224 K&N/Kicker kart, and Plemons in the #262 Deegan 38/BND Performance entry, both of whom were first-time podium finishers in second and third. Fourth went to Lopez in the #233 Custom Rim & Tire/Eibach Springs truck, and fifth was Chiaramonte in the #274 A.M. Ortega/Black Rhino machine.
The final race out on the shorter track was Modified Kart, and once again, these amazing young drivers put on a fantastic race. Parker Steele was the early leader in his #505 Northland Motorsports/Martori Farms kart, ahead of Broc Dickerson in the #523 Walker Evans Racing/GMZ machine, Isabella Naughton in the #554 Steele Racing/Fox Racing Shox truck, Brock Heger in the #511 Spy/DASA entry, and Christopher Polvoorde in the #594 Horizon Solar Power Racing/The Palms River Resort kart. Dickerson got by Steele at turn three for the lead on lap two, before a full course yellow came out after someone suffered a hard rollover near turn two (sorry, this reporter couldn’t see who). Under yellow flag conditions, race officials reverted the running order back to the last completed lap’s running order, and that put Steele back out front for the restart, which was on lap seven. Unfortunately for Steele, he didn’t stay there for long, as he dropped back to seventh by the end of the restart lap, while his teammate Naughton had a much better run, as she moved up to the top spot coming out of the first corner. Behind her, it was now Dickerson in second, Heger in third, Eliott Watson fourth in the #503 Fox Racing Shox/Kar Tek Off Road entry, and Polvoorde fifth. On lap nine, a double pass went down in turn one, as Dickerson got by Naughton on the inside, only to have Heger go by him on an even tighter inside line. Heger made it a two-for-one pass, and jumped into the lead, with Dickerson now second. These two Imperial Valley boys battled hard for the lead on lap ten, leaving a little gap back to Naughton in third. Just behind her, another good race was on between Watson and Polvoorde for fourth, and by the Competition Yellow, Polvoorde finally managed to get by Watson. On the restart lap, Watson started to fall back just slightly, and Darren Hardesty Jr. was right there to put pressure on him. One lap later, and Dickerson suddenly pulled off with a mechanical issue, and that left Heger all alone out front. Naughton was now second, Polvoorde was third, and after passing Watson in turn one, Hardesty Jr. was fourth in the #599 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Ogio kart, with Watson now fifth. Polvoorde really hounded Naughton over the final three laps, yet despite have her hood blow up into her field of view on some jumps, she drove very well and kept him behind her to the checkers. Way out in front, it was Heger with the win, ahead of Naughton, Polvoorde, Hardesty Jr., and Watson.
Pro 2 Unlimited
Following Opening Ceremonies, the first Pro class race of the night was Pro 2 Unlimited. As was the case last night, Brian Deegan put his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford straight into the lead, and this time, it was a formidable train containing Bryce Menzies, Jeremy McGrath, Rob MacCachren, and Carl Renezeder that ran right behind him. Lap two saw an early full course caution after Greg Adler had a rollover in turn three, and when racing resumed, the running order up front was as yet unchanged. On the restart lap (lap five), RJ Anderson got by Renezeder heading up the step-up into turn two to grab fifth, only to then run wide at the next corner, which dropped him back to seventh. The next lap saw another full course yellow, after Rodrigo Ampudia broke in turn four. On the ensuing restart lap, McGrath spun himself out while trying too hard to pass Menzies down the inside at turn three, and while those just behind managed to sneak through, a noticeable stack-up occurred due to the incident. Everyone did get going again, though, and it was now MacCachren running third, Renezeder fourth, and Robby Woods fifth. MacCachren then bicycled at turn three on the next lap, dropping him one spot to fourth, just ahead of another full course caution, brought out by Marty Hart’s rollover in the same corner.
Lap 12 saw the return of green flag racing, and as Renezeder tried hard to box MacCachren out going down the inside into turn one, Woods took full advantage and past them both on the outside. Renezeder was equally impressive in the next corner, though, as he made a huge, deep drive up and over the step-up to get back past Woods and into third spot in turn two. MacCachren got back by Woods as well, but Woods got MacCachren again out of turn on the next lap, just ahead of a red flag due to an onboard fire on Myan Spaccarelli’s truck. Spaccarelli was out quick and ok, and racing resumed on lap 16. Up to this point, Deegan had looked untouchable in the lead, but now, Menzies was alongside going up the step-up to turn two and challenging for the lead. Deegan battled back by to re-gain the lead at turn three, while just behind, MacCachren was back up to fourth after passing Woods once again on the restart lap. On the next lap, Woods got by Deegan on the inside at turn one, and this time, he made the pass stick. Deegan tried valiantly to get Menzies again in turn two, but Menzies hung tough and held his line, forcing Deegan to drop back to second. Lap 20 saw yet another full course caution, this time for excessive on-track debris, and when racing resumed on lap 22, it was Renezeder who was now looking very racy, as he seemed like he might have something to challenge Deegan for second. Further down the order, Anderson was really challenging Woods for fifth, and on lap 25, the two exchanged positions twice in turns two and three, with Woods coming out ahead and holding on to his fifth spot. Over the final lap, the top five drivers failed to make any inroads on one another, and at the checkers, it was Menzies who picked up the win in his #7 Red Bull/GoPro Ford. Deegan was second tonight, with Renezeder third in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, MacCachren fourth in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, and Woods fifth in the #99 General Tire/Carlyle by NAPA Chevrolet.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
In Pro Buggy Unlimited, it was Dave Mason Jr. who, as he did last night, shot right into the top spot in his #65 LoanMart/B&R Buggie Alumi Craft. Tonight, Eric Fitch was running second at the end of lap one in his #97 Parts On A Shelf/BFGoodrich Tires Racer, with Chad George third in the #42 Mickey Thompson/ASL Builders Inc. Funco, Steve Greinke fourth in the #1 SC Fuels/Redline Performance Racer, and Garrett George fifth in the #71 Performance Utility Supply/Lazer Star Lights Funco. Lap two saw Bradley Morris move up to fifth in his #24 K&N/Maxxis Alumi Craft, and lap four saw the race’s first full course caution, which came out after Eddie Tafoya spun out and stalled in turn three. In a case of poor timing, Tafoya managed to get going again just as the field was about to reach him, but fortunately, that meant racing could get back underway even quicker. On the restart lap, Morris got by Greinke for fourth early on, but missed a shift out of turn three and dropped back to fifth once again. Four laps later, the leaders were now catching Tafoya on lap nine, and rather than let them by easily, he was really impeding them as he appeared to try and race with them. While his speed was impressive, the leaders did manage to get by Tafoya, but just after having done so, Greinke suffered a major front suspension collapse, which put him into the Hot Pits on lap 10. Out front, Mason Jr. had opened up a bit of a gap, only to have that erased after Brandon Blyth got stuck against the inside k-rail at turn two, which forced a full course caution.
As the field lined back up to go green once again, it was now Mason Jr., Fitch, Chad George, Morris, and Sterling Cling in the #77 Cling’s Aerospace/KyleGreenFabrication.com Alumi Craft in the top five, with Greinke also re-joining the fray thanks to some stellar work by his crew in the Hot Pits (Greinke was, however, no longer on the lead lap). On the restart lap, lap 14, George got by Fitch on the inside at turn one, and on the next lap, Morris was up to challenge Fitch for third. Morris moved ahead going past the start/finish line as the field started lap 16, just before a full course caution came out following a three-car pile-up at turn four. When racing picked up again, George did just what he did last night, as he pulled Mason Jr. out of turn one to take the lead with just a couple laps to go. Just behind, Fitch pulled off halfway up the step-up, suffering the same, early retirement fate as last night in just the same spot as last night. On the final lap, Morris was really trying to get past Mason Jr. for second, and as the two exited turn three side-by-side, they hooked wheels, and Mason Jr. came away with broken left front suspension. In a very gutsy drive, Mason Jr. actually kept his foot in it, and managed to keep Morris at bay through the final corner and over the final jump to the line. Ahead, it was Chad George who backed up his first career Pro Buggy Unlimited win in the national series (last night) with another one tonight- congratulations Chad! Second went to Mason Jr., third to Morris, fourth to Garrett George, and fifth to Lonny Hart in the #66 KC HiLites Alumi Craft.
Pro Lite Unlimited
After dominating early in Pro 2 Unlimited, Brian Deegan was back out front again at the end of lap one in Pro Lite Unlimited. Behind Deegan’s #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Sheldon Creed ran second in the #74 Traxxas/Trench Shoring Dodge, with Myles Cheek third in the #57 ThyssenKrupp/Fox Racing Shox Nissan, Bradley Morris fourth in the #24 K&N/Kicker Ford, and Jimmy Fishback fifth in the #48 AVT Inc./General Tire Nissan. Fishback got by Morris from turns two to three on lap two, but then dropped to sixth at turn four, allowing Morris to re-take fourth, and RJ Anderson to move up to fifth in his #37 LoanMart/South Point Nissan. On the next lap, Cheek bicycled at turn three and dropped to fifth, before landing oddly off the mid-corner jump in turn one and losing enough momentum to drop back a few spots on lap six. Ryan Beat moved up to assume fifth spot in the #51 Lunarpages/Mutoh Dodge, and at the head of the field, Creed had now moved up to make it a serious race for the lead between himself and Deegan. Morris and Anderson were also having a good scrap over third spot, and when Morris was a bit slow coming out of turn three on lap seven, Anderson was able to get alongside and muscle his way by in the next corner. Morris was determined to get his spot back, though, and after running side-by-side with Anderson for all of lap eight, he finally re-took the third spot in turn two on lap nine. The top four runners were in an obvious class of their own, and by lap eleven, the pressure between them had backed off noticeably, as each of them had a little breathing room between them. However, the relative calm didn’t last long, as Morris began reeling in Creed on lap 12, only to then have Anderson close them both down before the end of the lap. Morris tried a very deep dive on Creed from way back going into turn three on lap 13, but he wasn’t quite close enough to make it work. With the white flag now waving, Morris then did get past Creed at turn one on the next lap, just before a full course caution came out after Scotty Steele had come to a stop in turn two with some smoke coming from his engine bay. The racers were given a second shot at their final lap, as it would now be a one-lap sprint to the checkers. Morris made the most of his chance, as he got by Deegan on the inside at turn one to take the lead. Deegan battled back and muscled by again at turn two, and just behind, the race for third between Creed and Anderson was equally as exciting. Anderson moved right into Creed’s protective inside line in the final corner, and after forcing Creed wide with what looked like a relatively forceful yet clean pass, Anderson moved up to third. At the stripe, Deegan grabbed the win, ahead of Morris, Anderson, Creed, and Beat. Anderson, though, was handed an immediate penalty for rough driving (he’d already been warned multiple times earlier in the race), and that dropped him out of the top five, and promoted Creed to third, Beat to fourth, and Gavin Harlien to fifth in his #55 A3/Simpson Ford.
Pro 4 Unlimited
The final race of the weekend was Pro 4 Unlimited, and in a tremendous show of good will and sportsmanship, Eric Barron was back out on track thanks to fellow competitor Jerry Daugherty. After Barron’s truck was burned badly in his horrific crash last night, Daugherty stepped in and handed Barron his backup truck for the night. At the head of the field, Kyle LeDuc took the early lead in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, ahead of Carl Renezeder in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Ricky Johnson in the #48 Red Bull/KMC Wheels Ford, and Doug Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./Tilton Toyota. On lap two, Todd LeDuc got by Fortin for fifth going into turn two, and on lap four, a rollover by Rob MacCachren in turn three led to a red flag after his truck had a brief but nonetheless alarming flash fire. MacCachren had landed on his wheels, and started to jump out when the fire hit, but wound up staying in after the fire flamed out, and was able continue once the field got rolling again, though he now ran down in tenth spot. Racing resumed on lap six, with Kyle LeDuc, Renezeder, Johnson, Todd LeDuc, and Fortin now running in the top five. Todd LeDuc broke his right front suspension and was therefore suddenly quite slow coming out of turn one on lap seven, and as the field scrambled to get by without hitting him, a charging Rob MacCachren moved all the way back up to fourth. At the end of the lap, Fortin kissed the wall on the right side of the track just before the start/finish line, and while he managed to save it, the incident was a scary reminder of the event that triggered Barron’s crash last night. Greg Adler got by Fortin thanks to that error and moved up to fifth in his #10 ProComp/G2 Ford, but then spun at turn three on the next lap, and dropped back to last place before he was able to re-fire and continue. Several laps followed without any change of positions within the top five, but by lap 15, Renezeder was starting to make a little headway on Kyle LeDuc, after LeDuc had gone basically unchallenged up to that point. Renezeder closed in quickly over the final three laps, and although he was still a bit too far back to make a realistic move on LeDuc, he did dive very deep into the final corner to try and make something happen. Unfortunately for Renezeder, something did happen: his steering broke. Coming out of the corner, Renezeder stood on the gas, and his truck went straight ahead, sending him veering towards the catch fence. Renezeder was able to get on the brakes, but after nosing against the wall, he suffered a somewhat embarrassing slow rollover, one from which he emerged unharmed, giving the crowd in the far grandstands a bow for his part in the incident. Up front, LeDuc got his second win in as many races, making him the second driver to sweep the weekend in his respective class. Johnson came home second, and MacCachren recovered very well from his early rollover to round out the podium in third. Fortin stuffed his front end into a hole and suffered front suspension damage on the penultimate lap, which slowed him substantially, and allowed Adler to move up to fourth, with Brandon Bailey also getting by on the last lap to finish fifth in the #72 MavTV/Solar World Ford.
A unique and exciting weekend here in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, has now come to a close, and we now turn our attention forward to the upcoming rounds of racing. Next on the calendar, the series heads due north, as the Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV will host its first-ever nights races. With the most dramatic elevation changes of any track in our series, this should be a good one to see at night! In just five weeks’ time, we’ll be back in action, so start making your plans now to join us again soon.
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