Cloudy skies and cool temperatures set the stage for a somber and emotional opening ceremony at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, as race fans and competitors alike paid their final respects to Rick and Jeff Huseman. Chaplain Steve Hanson led a prayer for the Husemans, who were taken from us in a small plane crash just a few weeks ago. Kevin Huseman led the Pro4 Unlimited field around the track as the pack stands saw the No. 36 Monster Toyota on the course for the final time. After visiting Las Vegas three times in 2010, LOORRS made their only stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, following the automotive orgy that is the annual SEMA Show. They raced on the 1.4-mile track featuring big table top jumps and sweeping 180-degree turns with multiple places to pass. Ten trucks showed up to battle in Pro4 Unlimited, including Mark and Mike Jenkins. With the TORC season complete and the SEMA Show in Vegas this week, the Jenkins brothers brought their TRAXXAS trucks out for some LOORRS racing.
Todd LeDuc and Josh Merrell started on the front row in the 4WD, 800 horsepower unlimited truck class. Merrell jumped out for a quick lead in the Hart and Huntington truck, building a big lead while Todd, his brother Kyle, and Carl Renezeder battled for second through the mandatory caution. Merrell slipped up after the field was bunched back up and much of the field got past him, putting Renezeder in the lead in the No. 17 Lucas Oil truck. Then with only two turns left in the race Kyle LeDuc made an aggressive pass on the inside of Renezeder to take the checkered flag for his third race in a row. Behind Renezeder, Josh Merrell came in third for his first Pro4 podium finish.
After the Pro Buggies ran, 19 Pro Lite Unlimited took the track for the most action-packed race of the day. TORC Pro Lite champion Andrew Caddell was in the house with his V8 Pro Light, as was RJ Anderson to even up the field with the four cylinder trucks. Caddell got spun after the first turn, pushing him way back in the pack right off the bat. RJ Anderson was up front to represent the V8s though, until Brian Deegan managed to make a clean pass at the back of the track in his Metal Mulisha Rockstar truck. Further back in the field the racing was less clean, with Kyle LeDuc rolling and Chad George shedding a tire. Matt Loiodice was back first his first race since he shattered his leg at Miller Motorsports Park back in June, but he got mixed up with other trucks as well. By the end, Deegan narrowed Brandt’s lead in the series points with only two races remaining. The finishing order alternated four cylinders and V8s as Deegan cruised to victory ahead of RJ Anderson, Chris Brandt, Andrew Caddell, and Justin “Bean” Smith in his Pro Lite Unlimited debut.
Next up were the spec-class Super Lites, with 17 competitors hungry for the win in their Mazda-powered trucks. 14 year old Sheldon Creed started on the front row next to Kyle Lucas, and Lucas jumped out to an early lead before being overtaken by RJ Anderson, fresh off his podium finish in Pro Lite Unlimited. The young, aggressive drivers in Super Lite often provide a lot of carnage, but even with the big car count there was less carnage than the preceding Pro Lite Unlimited race. Anderson held his lead to beat out Chad George and Brent Fouch by a comfortable margin.
The sun was setting as the Pro2 Unlimited trucks took the track for the final race of the day. Jeremy McGrath started next to Brian Deegan in a battle of the energy drinks, with Rockstar Energy’s Rob MacCachren on the second row next to Robby Woods in his specially-wrapped green and white graphics as a tribute to Rick Huseman. Jeff Geiser’s roll on turn one brought out the red flag, then Robert “Fig” Naughton got into Rodrigo Ampudia after Ampudia bicycled the Papas and Beer Ford. McGrath seemed comfortable up front while Deegan, MacCachren and Woods all battled for second. Woods made a nice pass on Rob Mac to move into third, but gave it all back in the second half of the race when he blew through a turn. MacCachren almost made a similar mistake on the last turn of the race as he bicycled his truck through the corner trying to pass McGrath for the win, almost giving away second place to Deegan. McGrath led flag to flag to take home his first Pro2 Unlimited win of the season for the Stronghold Motorsports Monster Energy team.
Brian Deegan still has a comfortable lead in Pro2 Unlimited season points, while Carl Renezeder leads Pro4 Unlimited. In Pro Lite Unlimited it is Chris Brandt up front and Funco’s Chad George is in first place in Super Lite. Now teams work frantically through the night in order to prepare their trucks for Sunday’s racing as the season nears its end and championship points are more valuable than ever.
Story by Harry Wagner
Photos by Vincent Knakal