By JIM SHORT
We’re two-thirds of the way through the season, and in the sports like baseball and football and basketball that’s when everyone starts figuring out what so-and-so has to do to win the rushing title or what has to happen for Team A to take the championship away from Team B. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be the same in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series presented by GEICO. We have star drivers and championship teams and just like their counterparts in the stick-and-ball sports they watch the standings and wonder if they have enough time to put together a late-season rally. The fans want to know, too. So, as a public service, here’s a look at the standings in each class and some historical perspective on the tasks facing those trying to catch the leaders as everyone prepares for the next two rounds of racing (Rounds 11 and 12 of 15) at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nevada, August 23-25.
Rob MacCachren went into the most recent event at Glen Helen Raceway Park (July 26-28) with an 8-point lead over Carl Renezeder. He came out of it 16 points in front of Renezeder, 30 ahead of Brian Deegan and 32 up on Marty Hart, who had the best weekend at Glen Helen with a win and a second.
This is the third time in four years MacCachren has been the leader at this point in the season. The first time, in 2010, the Rockstar/Makita Ford driver from Las Vegas entered the stretch 53 points ahead of Bryce Menzies, won three of the final five rounds, and finished comfortably ahead of Renezeder and Menzies. Last year, MacCachren led Deegan by 15 and Hart by 17, but had three finishes outside the top 5 and wound up behind Deegan and Hart.
Deegan had proven himself a good front-runner in 2011, when he began the stretch run 9 points ahead of Renezeder and wound up beating MacCachren by 47 and Renezeder by 70.
With four proven drivers in the title fight, the final 5 races are guaranteed to be exciting, and the championship could hinge on the bonus points (two are available per race, to the top qualifier and halfway leader). MacCachren has accumulated 9 of them, Hart 5, Deegan 3 and Renezeder 1.
Renezeder had his worst weekend ever in Pro 4 at Glen Helen, finishing last both days, and has now gone three races without a victory after winning seven in a row to open the season. He’s still the points leader, however, by 29 over MacCachren, 49 over Kyle LeDuc and 50 over Greg Adler and Eric Barron, and if history is an accurate guide he will be the champion.
In each of the past three seasons the leader after 10 rounds – the late Rick Huseman in 2010, Renezeder in 2011 and LeDuc last year – never has been caught and only in 2012, when Kyle LeDuc beat older brother Todd by 14 points, has it been close.
A poor finish (17th) on the first day of Glen Helen cost Deegan much of his lead so he’ll take a 16-point advantage over reigning champion RJ Anderson into the final five races. Sheldon Creed (-38), Casey Currie (-46) and Bradley Morris (-58) round out the top five.
Deegan was fourth going into the final five races in 2010 and finished third behind Hart and Chris Brandt despite winning the last four races. A year later he opened the stretch run 16 points behind Brandt and won the title – and all five races – by 9 points. Brandt is sixth this year, 78 points behind Deegan and 20 behind Morris.
Anderson, who has two wins, two seconds and a fourth in his past five starts, went into the last third of the 2012 season 53 points ahead of Ryan Beat and won the title by 42 points.
Steven Greinke took the lead in the class with a pair of seconds at Glen Helen, and that gives him the inside track on a second straight championship. Last year he went into the final five trailing Doug Fortin by 25 points, took the lead with two races remaining and won the title by 15 points over Fortin.
This time, Greinke is 28 points ahead of former leader Dave Mason and John Fitzgerald and Bradley Morris are close behind. The question is whether Greinke will emulate 2011 champion Mike Porter, who easily maintained his top spot, or whether one of Greinke’s pursuers will emulate Cameron Steele, who was third after 10 races in 2010 and took the championship away from Larry Job with a victory in the final race.
Myles Cheek got the points lead for the first time this season with a pair of runner-up finishes at Glen Helen, but has six drivers within 60 points of him. Cheek, who hasn’t finished lower than fifth since the second weekend of the season, also led after 10 races a year ago and held off a strong challenge from Brock Heger to win the title.
Jeff Hoffman (-18) is closest to Cheek at the moment, but Heger is just 25 back and Preston Roben trails by 29.
Junior 2 Karts
Brian Deegan isn’t the only one in the family who can drive. His daughter Hailie is the leader here after a win and a second at Glen Helen. She may need a lot of dad’s support and advice down the stretch, though, because the No. 2 driver on the points list, 30 behind, is Broc Dickerson.
Dickerson was second at this point in 2011, but won the final four races and the championship. He was second after 10 races last year as well and won the final two races, but lost the title to Conner McMullen by 1 point.
Junior 1 Karts
Ricky Gutierrez won both races at Glen Helen to vault from fourth to first in the standings, but has Blaze Nunley, Daely Pentico, Madix Bailey and Kali Kinsman all within 17 points of him.
This class has had just one lead change in the final five races over the past three seasons, which is good news for Gutierrez. But the standings have never been as close, either, and all the drivers except Pentico have at least one win.
It’s definitely going to get interesting.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series presented by GEICO is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include Lucas Oil Products Inc., E3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, Canidae All Natural Pet Food, MAVTV-American Real, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, Optima Batteries, Toyota, iON Cameras, LoanMart and Protect The Harvest. Additional sponsorship is provided by Rockstar Energy, 4 Wheel Parts, Lunarpages, ReadyLIFT, Mickey Thompson Tires, Team Associated and Magna Flow.
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.