Persistent drivers rewarded in Round 14
After an exciting first day of racing yesterday here at Wild West Motorsports Park, just outside Reno in Sparks, NV, the drivers of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, returned for a second go around on this titanic track here this afternoon. Today saw this ultra high speed track host Round 14 of the 2015 championship, and after a relatively subdued run of races yesterday, things were certainly more eventful here today. Some may attribute the increased number of passes that went on today to the high inversion numbers drawn after many of this morning’s qualifying sessions, while others may simply put it down to the fact that the drivers won’t have to be racing again tomorrow. Whatever the case may be, the races here this afternoon were spectacular, and provided the local fans, who packed the stands in droves, with excitement that will certainly have them telling their friends to come out and see the races next year. Some drivers seemed to have it all their own way here today, yet even they had to survive multiple restarts, which gave the competition more opportunities to make passes than they otherwise would’ve had. Other drivers had to fight their way to the top, clawing their way forward and making passes on a track where passes are very hard to come by. Either way, today’s winners overcame some serious challenges in order to pick up their first place trophies.
Kicking off this afternoon’s action were the always-exciting Modified Karts. As was the case yesterday, Trey Gibbs got off to a fantastic start, slotting into the lead in his #515 KB Engineering/FT1 Trophy Karts machine, ahead of Hailie Deegan in the #538 4 Wheels Parts/Makita kart, Travis PeCoy in the #573 Action Sports Canopies/Adidas truck, Broc Dickerson in the #523 X-15/Racer X Motorsports entry, and Christopher Polvoorde in the #594 The Palms River Resort/Horizon Solar Power Racing machine. Polvoorde got right up to the back of Dickerson’s kart at the end of lap two and into lap three, but then gave up a spot to Nathan Barry after pushing wide at turn six and allowing Barry to slip by on the inside. The top five then held station over the next couple of laps, but on lap six, Deegan cut a little too close on the inside at turn six, and ended up just caught against the tractor tire that marked the corner’s apex. The field streamed past and crossed the start/finish line to pick up the Competition Yellow, and at this point, it was now Gibbs, PeCoy, Dickerson, Polvoorde, and Barry in the #528 CBR Performance Products/Bazzaz kart running in the top five. Racing was held up for a couple of laps while Amanda Sorensen was towed off after breaking down, but when it picked up again on lap 10, a full course caution came out just one lap later after three karts got tangled up with one another at turn six.
Racing resumed on lap 13, but again, a full course yellow came out just one lap later, as two separate two-kart incidents forced officials to put a pause to the action. When racing picked up again on lap 16, it was more of the same, as two more separate incidents on lap 17 forced the yellow out yet again. Racing resumed again on lap 18, and this time, the field didn’t even manage one lap without an issue. Cole Keatts got by Barry for fifth on the restart, and Barry was then forced into a rollover coming down the hill out of turn three, halting the action yet again. The field took the green flag again on lap 21, and by now, there was only one racing lap left to run. On that final lap, Keatts ran wide at turn five, allowing Ronnie Anderson to get alongside in the battle for fifth. Keatts had the inside line for turn six, but Anderson got a great run around the outside, and the two got together as they exited the corner. This slowed the two, and several other drivers moved right up to challenge for that fifth spot. A huge bunch of drivers barreled into the final turn, and it was a drag race between all of them coming out of that final corner. Chris Nunes came out on top of that drag race, and just ahead, Polvoorde managed to sneak past Dickerson coming off of that corner as well. At the line, nobody was able to catch Gibbs, who led the race wire to wire in a very dominant fashion, and this got him his maiden win in the series- congratulations Trey! Second went to PeCoy, third to Polvoorde, fourth to Dickerson, and fifth to Nunes in the #502 Black Rhino/Maxima Racing Oils machine.
First out onto the full-length track were the Pro 4 Unlimiteds, and after a six-position inversion of this morning’s qualifying results, it was Greg Adler and Carl Renezeder who started on the front row. Renezeder led the way at the end of the opening lap in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Ford, with Doug Fortin second in the #96 General Tire/Fox Racing Shox Toyota, Adler third in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Red Kap Ford, Bryce Menzies fourth in the #7 Red Bull/GoPro Ford, and Brian Deegan fifth in the #38 Rockstar Energy/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford. Menzies got by Adler on the inside at turn four on lap two, but Adler passed him back coming down the hill out of the corner. Further back, points leader Kyle LeDuc was charging forward after starting sixth and getting knocked further back on the opening lap. LeDuc passed Deegan for fifth coming out of turn one on lap three, and while Deegan briefly got back by at turn two, LeDuc passed back by for good coming out of turn three. LeDuc then passed Menzies on the inside at turn four on the next lap, moving he and his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford up to fourth in the process. Adler then over-rotated at turn two on the next lap, and as he was already committed to the inside line where Adler was, Menzies had nowhere to go and slid to a stop, all while LeDuc swept past Adler and up to third on the outside. Adler recovered quickly to slot in fourth, while Brian Deegan moved up to fifth as Menzies took longer to get going again. As the top three drivers started to tighten the gaps between one another, a really good race began to develop between these three, as both Fortin and LeDuc were looking for somewhere to make a move on the man ahead of them (in Fortin’s case, Renezeder, and in LeDuc’s case, Fortin).
Menzies got by Deegan to re-enter the top five early on lap 10, and at the end of the lap, Fortin suddenly slowed dramatically, before coasting to a stop just at the entrance to turn one, the victim of an untimely mechanical issue. This brought out a full course yellow, and when racing picked up again on lap 13, it was now Renezeder, LeDuc, Adler, Menzies, and Deegan in the top five. Menzies passed Adler for third coming out of turn one on the restart lap, an Deegan was then slow out of turn three on the same lap, allowing Rob MacCachren to get by him for fifth in his #21 Rockstar Energy/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford. Adler then slowed on the next lap, and both MacCachren and Deegan got by him for fourth and fifth, just before an uncharacteristic rollover by Menzies up in turn four forced a second full course caution. A bit of smoke from the Menzies machine caused officials to briefly red flag the proceedings, but with the issue quickly subsiding, both Menzies and Adler (who’d buried himself in the soft dirt on the inside of the track just out of turn four, all in a completely separate incident) were towed off, and the green flag flew again on lap 17. On lap 18, LeDuc got alongside Renezeder through turn three, and after a bit of rubbing door-to-door, LeDuc moved ahead and into the lead going up the hill to turn four. Deegan suffered a right rear flat at the end of the lap, sending him into the Hot Pits with just two laps to go, and that put Eric Barron up to fourth, with Jerry Daugherty now fifth. From there on in, the top five held station, and it was LeDuc who showed that he can win from anywhere on the starting grid, as he picked up his twelfth consecutive victory of the year. Second went to Renezeder, third to MacCachren, fourth to Barron in the #32 Tonka/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Toyota, and fifth to Daugherty in the #23 E3 Spark Plugs/K&N Chevrolet.
Next up were the Pro Lite Unlimiteds, and in this one, it was Ryan Beat, yesterday’s man on the move late in the running, who led the way at the end of lap one in his #51 Rockstar Energy/Lunarpages Dodge. Brandon Arthur ran second in the #6 Competitive Metals/Toyo Tires Chevrolet, with Sheldon Creed (filling in again for Brad DeBerti) third in the #70 Traxxas Ford, Jerett Brooks fourth in the #77 General Tire/Maxima Racing Oils Nissan, and RJ Anderson fifth in the #37 Loan Mart/South Point Nissan. Creed got by Arthur at turn one on the second lap to take over second place, before getting alongside Beat going up into the same corner on the next lap to challenge for the lead. Creed came out of the corner ahead to take over the front spot in the running order, with a full course caution then coming out on the next lap after Cole Mamer came to a stop in an unsafe spot near the edge of the track. Racing resumed on lap seven, and it was now Creed, Beat, Arthur, Brooks, and Anderson in the top five, with Anderson then passing Brooks for fourth coming out of turn three on the restart lap after the two had run side by side from turn one to turn three. Anderson then moved up again on the following lap, passing Arthur going into turn one to grab third spot. Just ahead, Beat then appeared to lose his rhythm somewhat, and after he, Anderson, Arthur, and Brooks had jockeyed for position coming out of turn two, Arthur, Anderson, and Brooks all managed to pass Beat in turn three, sending Beat from second to fifth in one fell swoop. Arthur came out ahead in the exchange, and after a rollover a turn two by Ray Griffith forced a full course caution on the next lap, the running order was now Creed, Arthur, Anderson, Brooks, and Beat in the top five.
The green flag flew again as lap 13 began, and again, Arthur, Anderson, and Brooks were still battling one another. The young guns ran three wide coming out of turn one, but no permanent passes were made here. Mikey Lawrence then rolled in turn two on the next lap, forcing a third full course yellow, and after a somewhat lengthy righting process, racing picked up again on lap 18. On the restart lap, Casey Currie got by Beat coming out of turn two, but Beat passed him back shortly afterwards to hang on to his fifth spot. Just ahead, Arthur and Anderson ran door-to-door from turn four on lap 18 until the same corner on the next lap, with Anderson finally getting by on the inside at turn four to move into second. Brooks then passed Arthur as well, this time on the inside going into turn one on the next lap, while ahead, Anderson moved right up to challenge Creed for the lead. Quite quickly, he actually got a pass in on the inside at turn three, but Creed powered back by on the uphill run to turn four. Brooks had quietly snuck in to sit just behind the Creed-Anderson battle, patiently waiting to pick up the pieces should either driver ahead of him make any mistakes. At turn one on the next lap, both Anderson and Brooks got by Creed for first and second, while further back, Beat got around Arthur to grab fourth spot. Creed passed Brooks back with another solid pull up the hill to turn four, and as the field started what should’ve been the final lap, it was Anderson, Creed, Brooks, Beat, and Arthur in the top five. Action was put on an untimely pause just as the final lap began, though, as Lawrence had come to a stop in turn two. After he’d been towed off, racing resumed again, with the drivers now facing a one-lap shootout. Beat and Arthur collected in turn one on the restart, dropping the two back to the last two positions in the running order. Up ahead, Creed again powered up the hill to turn four to challenge Anderson for the lead, but in an absolutely brilliant move, Brooks dove to the inside at turn four, and passed both Creed and Anderson in one move, edging ahead and holding his rivals at bay coming down the final hill and onto the front straight to the checkered flag. Brooks may have only led for a moment, but it was the one that counted, as he grabbed the win, his third of the season. Second went to Creed, third, to Anderson, fourth to Brock Heger in the #12 Spy Optics/Bruce Nogrady Racing Engines Dodge, and fifth to Jeremy Stenberg in the #88 Toyo Tires/Ethika Ford.
After being dealt a very tough hand in yesterday’s race, Mike Valentine was looking for some redemption here in Round 14 this afternoon. Valentine led the way, just as he did yesterday, at the end of lap one in his #78 VP Racing Fuels/OMF Alumi Craft, ahead of Taylor Atchison, Kevin McCullough, Chad George, and Darren Hardesty Jr. in the top five. Both McCullough and George got by Atchison on the inside at turn two on lap two, moving themselves up to second and third in the process. Atchison got back by George going up the long hill to turn four, but George got by once again early on the next lap, again taking over the third spot. George then moved up to challenge McCullough briefly late on lap four, but McCullough held George at by, and then managed to pull out just a little breathing room shortly afterwards. The top five then held their positions for several laps, but on lap 10, McCullough spun himself at turn one, and collected George a bit in the process, allowing Atchison to go back by them both. McCullough dropped to sixth, while George set out to try and pass Atchison again, which he did on the inside at turn four, and this put George up to second. Atchison then over-rotated at turn one on the following lap, causing him to lose further ground to George, and two corners later, Hardesty Jr. then passed Atchison on the inside to take over third place. Atchison got back by coming down the hill out of turn four, and with Garret George now having closed right in on these two, the three drivers ran three-wide at turn one on lap 12, with George coming out ahead and picking up two spots in one corner. The end of this lap then saw a full course caution, as one of inflatable banners in the infield had been blown over by an unusually strong gust of wind, before coming to rest just at the edge of the track at the bottom of the hill leading away from turn four. Track crews made quick work of clearing the potential hazard, and when racing resumed on lap 16, it was now Valentine, Chad George, Garret George, Atchison, and Hardesty Jr. in the top five. McCullough got by Hardesty Jr. coming out of turn one on the restart lap, and he then got past Atchison for fourth heading up the hill to turn four on the same lap. On the final lap, McCullough nearly spun a second time at turn one, and with nowhere to go, Atchison did spin, dropping him out of the top five, and moving Hardesty Jr. back into it. McCullough then lost his entire left front tire and wheel in the latter part of the lap, but held on to not only finish, but to do so without giving up any positions! Out front, Valentine bounced back from an untimely rollover yesterday to take the win today, ahead of Chad George in the #42 Mickey Thompson/FK Rod Ends Funco, Garret George in the #71 LAT Racing Oils/Baja Designs Funco, McCullough in the #62 Stapleton Roofing/Power Steering Solutions Foddrill, and Hardesty Jr. in the #99 Bilstein/Competitive Metals Alumi Craft.
In the final race of the weekend, Bryce Menzies and Brian Deegan led the Pro 2 Unlimited field away from the drop of the green flag. These two ran one-two at the end of lap one, and were followed by Rob MacCachren, Sheldon Creed, and Jeremy McGrath in the top five. McGrath got alongside Creed coming up the long hill between turns three and four on lap two, and got by Creed for fourth coming out of turn four. Three laps later, though, McGrath bicycled badly at turn two, and while he did manage to set the truck back down on all four wheels, he dropped clear down to tenth spot after his error. Creed and RJ Anderson moved up to fourth and fifth places as a result, and on the following lap, Anderson got alongside Creed coming out of turn one. Anderson battled his way past from turns two to three, and finally moved ahead and up to fourth in his #37 Polaris RZR/South Point Ford. A full course yellow then came out after Eric Fitch and Myan Spaccarelli collected just out of turn two; the field raced back to the yellow flag at the end of the lap, and both Fitch and Spaccarelli were able to get going on their own. After racing resumed, Creed got alongside Anderson at turn one on lap 11, but after the two ran side-by-side from turns two to three, Anderson edged back ahead going up the hill to turn four. Lap 12 then saw a second full course yellow, as Fitch came to a stop at the bottom of the hill out after turn four, having lost his entire left front tire and wheel. While under yellow, Deegan also came to a stop, himself a victim of some kind of mechanical gremlin, though he was later able to re-join without losing a lap. A third victim at this time was Anderson, who dove into the Hot Pits having just been stricken with a flat front tire, and when racing resumed on lap 15, it was now Menzies, MacCachren, Creed, Patrick Clark, and Carl Renezeder in the top five.
McGrath got into Renezeder as they charged into turn four on the restart lap, and after the two continued to bang on each other coming down the hill and onto the front straight, things suddenly turned ugly when the duo clipped the first k rail heading up the next hill into turn one. McGrath was sent for an ugly ride, and both trucks received damage that put them to the sidelines for the remainder of the race, but fortunately, both drivers were able to walk away. The race was red flagged thanks to the aforementioned k rail having been pulled 90 degrees into the track, but thanks to quick work by the track crews, the barricade was quickly put back in place, and racing picked up again on lap 21. On the restart lap, Clark got by Creed for third, while just behind, Robby Woods got around Myan Spaccarelli to take over fifth. Spaccarelli then passed Woods back coming out of turn two on the next lap, but he then fell back a couple of spots after carrying less momentum out of turn three for the long uphill run to turn four. Clark then over-rotated at turn three on lap 23, allowing both Creed and Woods to get by, and from there, the top five drivers held their positions. Up front, it was Menzies who scored his seventh win of the season to pick up the weekend sweep in his #7 Red Bull/KMC Wheels Ford, while MacCachren finished second in the #21 Rockstar Energy/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, and Creed rounded out the podium in the #74 Traxxas/Method Race Wheels Ford. Fourth went to Woods in the #99 Carlyle by NAPA/General Tire Chevrolet, and fifth was Clark in the #25 Budweiser/Amsoil Chevrolet.
With that, our race weekend here in Sparks has come to a close. Now, the drivers and their crews will have a bit of a break (compared with what they’ve been getting recently), as they will have four weeks to prepare for our next event, Rounds 15 and 16, some 450 miles to the south, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. September 18 and 19 are our next race dates, and once again, we will bring the action back under the lights, with racing Friday night and Saturday night. Be sure to join us then; with only three regular season races left to run, our championship battles are getting hotter than ever.
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