Rounds 5 & 6 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series played host to another full house with many thousands of fans in attendance. The Lucas Oil construction crews did a number on the Glen Helen venue making the race track very exciting. New accommodations throughout the facility presented the Hart and Huntington friends and family with live rock music, other fun activities and our stocked VIP area which posted our guest up high and close to the action with great views.
No matter where you set up to watch the action, the weekend was full of spectacular racing seen nowhere else. Premiere Motorsports Group and hundreds of other race teams put on a great show that entertained all and was well worth the affordable tickets.
Round 5 Opening Ceremonies was especially moving as the Lucas Oil Off Road Series celebrated the larger than life Jeff “Ox” Kargola who recently passed away on a Baja Mexico Dirt Bike “Rip To The Tip”. Premiere Motorsports Group and General Tire passed out many special T-Shirts and stickers in his memory which were placed on most of the vehicles racing. It was truly a moving dedication.
The Hart and Huntington / MAV TV Trophy Kart Team represented well on and off the track and paid tribute in their own ways. Chad Graham leads the team with the most wins and podiums of the season. This last weekend he started out on the JR-2 pole and would dominate Round 5 taking the first race win of the weekend and an impressive top speed reaching 54 MPH. Isabella Busnardo has really taken to her JR-2 Race car and finished 12th. Dean Duro was able to mix it up pushing the #222 JR-1 into 5th before getting crossed up and falling back. The Trophy Kart Team makes up 60% of the Hart and Huntington / MAV TV Race Trucks on the track so we are proud to have them out there doing well.
#89 SuperLite – Jason Ellis
An early lap crash in Round 5 left Ellis on a mad scramble catching up to the rest of the field traffic. Jason laid down some decent lap times and made for good competition until a bizarre pile up in Turn 3 which collected #89 SuperLite and at least four other trucks. The Premiere Motorsports Group / Blake Wilkey prepped Dethrone truck was up-righted and after a full restart Ellis was able to finish with no further problems in 12th position.
During Round 6, the Dethrone truck would take another wild spill in Turn1 and yet again was able to continue until a hard slam off the front stretch table tops damaged a rear drive axle and reduced vehicle control to impossible. Ellis was spun around in Turn 2 and would then limp the truck off the track and accept his first DNF. Despite the rough weekend, Jason Ellis is pumped up on short course off road racing. The topic often comes up on his popular Sirius Satellite Radio Show and Ellis is drawing new fans to the races & motorsport. The team is working hard to develop the new driver, build vehicle control and racing know-how. Jason has spent time at the Cory Kruseman Driving School in addition to multiple test sessions with the #89 Dethrone SuperLite.
#88 Pro-2 Unlimited – Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg
Jeremy would qualify 12th for Round 5 and would battle high up into the top five before getting tangled in the chaos that is short course off road racing. Twitch finished 10th on Saturday.
During Sunday’s Round 6, Stenberg would qualify 10th and shortly after the race started, the #30 truck of Robbie Pierce was banging into the other Pro-2 field like pin balls. The chaos and contact left Jeremy Stenberg’s Hart and Huntington Pro-2 with a caved in passenger side and collapsed lower trailing arm. From here, Twitch was lucky to make the top 10 despite the truck tracking sideways badly. Oddly enough, the driver from the #30 Truck must have felt bad for wrecking so many expensive vehicles in one weekend, he was kind enough to lead the pit crews out of the hot pits with distinguished hand gestures. Stenberg, a rookie in the Pro-2 Division, has consistently ran in the mid pack mixing it up with highly skilled professional drivers, and is not too far off the pace of the leaders. Danny Ebberts and the Premiere Motorsports Group always has the #88 Hart and Huntington / MAV TV Pro-2 in race ready condition. “We expect to break into the top five every time. If we can get a clean race, we know Jeremy will get that first podium,” stated Ebberts as he inspected the carnage from the weekend. “There are a lot of good teams out here. We have all the right pieces and equipment in place. This is just a hard game to play.”
#22 Pro-4 Unlimited – Josh Merrell
When the #22 Pro-4 was unloaded off the trailer and drove onto the track for the first time of the weekend, it was quickly revealed there were some issues. Between Friday’s early practice and qualifying Josh was only able to squeeze off 6 laps total and yet would score the 8th fastest lap time of the day. The PMG Team would get to work and meticulously went over every detail on the 800HP Four Wheel Drive Race Truck preparing it for race day. Josh would start 8th but dropped back to 10th on lap two. Merrell pointed the Hart and Huntington Truck on a mission tearing around the track with no brakes and sliding the trucks momentum through the very technical and tight Glen Helen Track. This was especially difficult in Turn 3 directly after the rough and high speed un-rhythm whoop section which would often knock any trucks out of shape. Josh was relentless and flawless to bring the #22 Hart and Huntington / MAV TV Machine around for a fourth place finish, his second of the year.
Pro-4 Round 6 Qualifying
The Premiere Motorsports Group has progressively dialed in the Pro-4 Machine and Josh Merrell is driving faster than ever. Despite the destruction from Round 1 and a toasted transmission among other repairs, #22 Crew Chief Steve Drew and company delivered another race ready truck. Quite impressively Merrell was able to land the 6th fastest qualifying lap time just two seconds off the pace of #1 Qualifier Rick Huseman’s Monster 43.1 second lap time.
Pro-4 Round 2 Race
The Round 6 Pro-4 Event played out to be one of the most exciting of the weekend with a spectacular show of heated competition, wide open racing, and incredible crashes. As the green flag dropped and signified the race start, Josh Merrell quickly maneuvered the Pro-4 machine up into position. By lap three, he had secured 5th place and was fending off Daugherty while trying to close the gap and overtake Todd Leduc when the front rear tire became low on air. This early in the race the decision was made to bring him in for a tire change. The fiberglass hood was shredded and to avoid any driver view obstructions the hood was removed. This pit delay moved the #22 truck to the back and Merrell put the Pro Power down on 4 wheels throwing down some impressive lap times to catch up to the rest of the field. It was then on Lap 7 when front brake line became pinched and Josh essentially lost control resulting in a gnarly barrel roll inside Turn 3. Landing back on the wheels, Josh was able to drive off unassisted. At this point Merrell was lap traffic for the leaders and bowed out to the outside line. Still driving wide open and on a terror with no brakes to set the truck up, the last lap saw Merrell ripping through corners with bravado and fearlessness. The last corner before the straightaway leading to the finish had become deteriorated with deep ruts which caught the #22 machine spinning it wildly into the air and again landing on its wheels where Josh would go on to cross the finish line.
Next up for the Premiere Motorsports Group:
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Rounds 7 & 8 on June 25th – 26th at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Till then, tune into CBS, SPEED, VERSUS, and MAV TV for all the exciting coverage of short course off road racing. The CBS Sports Spectacular will from Glen Helen will air on Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM EST featuring the Pro-2 and Pro-4 Races. Don’t miss it!
This professional motorsports organization is the product of numerous individuals and support of strong companies brought together to create an off road racing powerhouse. The brands like Hart & Huntington, General Tire, Lucas Oil, Baileigh Industrial, Odyssey Batteries, Miller Welders, Torchmate, Liquid Graphics, K&N Air Filters, and Simpson Race Products will ensure a number of achievements throughout 2011. Additional support from King Shocks, VP Racing Fuels, Kicker, Powerbuilt, Method Wheels, Magnaflow Exhuast, Screen Works, sustains our effort.