Under the beating sun of the Arizona desert, fans and drivers alike braved near-triple digit temperatures to be a part of Round 5 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO. This weekend, Speedworld Off Road Park hosts the GEICO Dual in the Desert, presented by General Tire, in the northwest Phoenix suburb of Surprise, AZ, and the action in the first of two rounds this weekend was certainly spectacular…
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Following a very exciting Junior 2 Kart race, the Junior 1 Karts were next, and another great race for the win was had here, as well. Travis PeCoy, fresh off of a podium finish in Junior 2, was the early leader in the #211 Simpson/Signpros kart, followed by Conner McMullen in the #288 Monster Energy/Kevin McMullen Fabrication & Transaxles machine, Junior 2 winner Broc Dickerson in the #1 Walker Evans Racing/Driscoll’s Surf N Skate entry, Darren Hardesty Jr. in the #231 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/RC10.com truck, and Parker Darland in the #241 Alexander Ford*Lincoln/Street GraFX.com machine. McMullen and Dickerson both got around PeCoy on lap two, moving into first and second places, respectively. Hardesty Jr. then got by PeCoy as well, moving up to third on lap three, with the running order then going unchanged in the top five through the Competition Yellow. At this point, it was McMullen, Dickerson, Hardesty Jr., PeCoy, and Darland in first through fifth, but on the restart lap, Hardesty Jr. rolled in turn three, dropping him out of the running for a top finish. Hardesty Jr.’s misfortune moved Darland up to fourth and Lauren Knupp up to fifth in her #254 Knupp Racing/Hoosier kart, while up front the battle for the lead was really heating up. McMullen’s kart had simply looked the fastest of the field early on, but Dickerson had now found some extra speed, and with a pair of outside-inside moves in turns two and three, Dickerson got around McMullen to take the lead on lap eight. On lap nine, Ricky Gutierrez moved by Knupp to take over fifth in his #278 Simpson/Patrick’s High Performance Graphix machine, and on the final lap, a bicycle in turn three by McMullen sealed the win for Dickerson. Dickerson swept the top step of the podium in both Junior 2 and Junior 1 Kart this morning, with McMullen taking second, PeCoy third, Darland fourth, and Gutierrez fifth.
Sometimes you can forget just how quick the Modified Karts really are, but as the field swept down the front straight at the start of the race, these young drivers were an immensely impressive spectacle. Brock Heger led in the early going in his #511 Kacon Framing Inc./DASA kart, followed by Cole Mamer in the #535 Simpson/T.I.S.I. Racing truck, Blake Lenk in the #521 Team Associated/Redline Performance machine, Myles Cheek in the #557 Rockstar/ThyssenKrupp Motorsports entry, and Sheldon Creed in the #574 Lucas Oil/Kar Tek Off Road truck. Cheek moved up to third on lap two, but was then bounced back to fifth on lap three, before, rolling at turn one on lap four, dropping him to the tail end of the field. This moved Kyle Hart up to fifth in his #523 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Duncan Racing machine, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Heger, Mamer, Creed, Lenk, and Hart in the top five. Creed and Hart each had good restart laps, as the two moved up to second and third, respectively, while Mamer and Lenk dropped back to fourth and fifth. Mamer re-gained one of his lost spots on the next lap as he passed Hart for third, but he then bicycled and stalled coming out of turn one after he had some contact while trying to pass Creed. This dropped Mamer well back, while up front, Heger was pulling out a gap on the rest of the field. Behind him, Creed got a bit wild coming out of turn three, allowing Hart to sneak by and move up to second. The running order was now Heger, Hart, Creed, Lenk, and Bradley Morris at the white flag, with these five drivers holding their positions through the race’s end. Heger, the 2010 Junior 1 Kart Champion, picked up his first win in Modified Kart this morning- way to go Brock! Second went to Hart, third to Creed, fourth to Lenk, and fifth to Morris in the #504 Trophy Kart truck.Limited Buggy
Driving his new #389 Gear One/Broken Cartel Geiser, Kevin McCullough got the early lead in Limited Buggy, followed by Jordan Poole in the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley, Bradley Morris in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Alumi Craft, Dillon Ayers in the #398 Gear One/Fat Performance Lothringer, and Tatum Ronco in the #303 No Fear/King Off-Road Racing Shocks Tatum. Pole-sitter John Fitzgerald moved up to fifth at the end of lap two in his #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Simpson buggy, and on the following lap, a bobble in turn three dropped McCullough from first to third. McCullough lost another spot by the end of the lap, and the running order was now Poole, Morris, Ayers, McCullough, and Fitzgerald. This order stayed the same through the Competition Yellow, but on the restart lap, Fitzgerald got by McCullough for fourth, while Morris got the lead from Poole. After that, the top five drivers gradually strung out, and at race’s end, their positions hadn’t changed, as Morris took the win, followed by Poole, Ayers, Fitzgerald, and McCullough.
Pro 4 Unlimited
After Opening Ceremonies, it was time for Pro 4 Unlimited, and defending champion Carl Renezeder had the lead after the first lap in his #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Kyle LeDuc ran second in his #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, with Eric Barron third in the #32 LAT Racing Oil/Fox Racing Shox Toyota, Todd LeDuc fourth in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford, and Josh Merrell fifth in the #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford. Barron was slow coming out of turn four on lap two, and dropped to sixth as Todd LeDuc, Merrell, and Corry Weller got by him. Todd LeDuc then dropped to fourth after bicycling turn four on lap four, and Barron moved back up to fifth on lap five. Up front, Renezeder and Kyle LeDuc had a great battle going for the lead, and with a good gap back to third place, they only had each other to worry about. The two got door-to-door several times, with Renezeder hanging on to the lead each time, but on lap nine, LeDuc got inside through turn six, and took the lead just when it counted for that extra, “leading at the Competition Yellow” championship point. As the field came across the stripe to bunch up behind the Toyota Tundra Pace Truck, an huge fire erupted onboard Merrell’s truck, sending him quickly to the sidelines. Merrell got the truck stopped and climbed out quickly, and though he was ok, his race was done.
The race was red flagged to give crews a chance to put out the fire, and when racing resumed, the order was Kyle LeDuc, Renezeder, Todd LeDuc, Barron, and Curt LeDuc in the #43 Zipfizz Healthy Energy/Truxxx Lift and Level Kits Ford. On lap twelve, a big rollover by Adler at turn five brought out a full course yellow, with the order in the top five still the same at the restart. On lap fifteen, Kyle LeDuc and Renezeder exchanged the lead twice between turns one and three, with Renezeder then bicycling at turn four and dropping to third. Kyle LeDuc then bicycled as well in the next corner, and in less than a lap, we had our third different leader, which was now Todd LeDuc. At the end of the same lap, Ryan Beat, Weller, and Travis Coyne came across the start/finish three wide, with Beat getting sideways and coming across Weller’s hood. Beat pulled off a crazy landing, and somehow all three came through without crashing. A full course caution then came out to give crews a chance to clear Curt LeDuc’s rolled truck from turn four, and on the restart lap, leader Todd LeDuc over-rotated off to the inside of the track at turn two, dropping him back to third. The white flag then came out, with Renezeder, Kyle and Todd LeDuc, Beat in the #46 eBay Motors/Hart and Huntington Ford, and Weller in the #18 Tilted Kilt/N Fab Ford in the top five. On the final lap, Renezeder threw away his chance to break Kyle LeDuc’s four-race win streak, as he bicycled and rolled over the outside burm at turn four. Kyle LeDuc sped into the lead, and brought it home for his fifth straight win, tying our series’ record, which was set by Rob Naughton in Pro Lite Unlimited back in our 2009 inaugural season. Kyle’s brother Todd finished second, and with Beat fighting a mechanical issue coming to the checkered flag, Weller sped by to pick up third place, her first podium in the class. Fourth went to Beat, and Barron rounded out the top five.
Next up was Pro Buggy Unlimited, and Cameron Steele put his front row starting position to good use, taking the early lead in his #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Alumi Craft. Doug Fortin ran second in the #96 Fortin Racing Inc./Fox Racing Shox Racer, with Garrett George third in the #71 Yokohama/Anenberg Funco, Mike Porter fourth in the #8 Mickey Thompson/Speed Energy Alumi Craft, and Larry Job fifth in the #7 Supercross.com/Toyo Tires Alumi Craft. On lap three, a full course caution was thrown to allow crews to clear Eric Fitch’s rolled car out of turn five, and after the return to green, George moved up to second after getting under Fortin in turn six. Fortin got the spot back with a good drive out of turn five on the next lap, and two laps later, he took the lead when Steele’s left front suspension suddenly broke coming into turn four. At the Competition Yellow, Fortin was the new leader, followed by George, Porter, Geoffrey Cooley in the #22 Competitive Metals/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft, and Steven Greinke in the #23 SC Fuels/Redline Performance Racer. Greinke’s run was especially impressive, as he’d been knocked down to nearly last place on the first lap, and had passed his way through this sizeable field to re-enter the top five. After the restart, Greinke moved up again, taking over fourth on lap twelve, before picking up two more spots on lap fifteen, moving up to second place! Out front, Fortin had a good gap on the field, and was too far away for Greinke to get to, as he came home the winner, converting his pole yesterday into a win this afternoon. Greinke finished second, with George taking his first podium in third. Porter finished fourth, and Jerry Whelchel, who’d also been caught up in the incident that dropped Greinke back on lap one, finished fifth in the #5 ProAm/General Tire Foddrill.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The largest field of the day was up next, in the form of 23 Pro Lite Unlimiteds. Chris Brandt and Chad George led the field away from the front row, with George holding the early lead after lap one in his #42 Discount Tire/Traxxas Ford. RJ Anderson ran second in his #37 Monster Energy/Walker Evans Racing Dodge, with Brandt third in the #82 BFGoodrich Tires/ThyssenKrupp Materials NA Toyota, Justin Smith fourth in the #19 Competitive Metals/Metal Mulisha Ford, and Casey Currie fifth in the #2 Monster Energy/General Tire Nissan.
Anderson got the lead from George going into turn one on the second lap, with Currie also moving up to take over fourth on the same lap. A full course caution was then thrown when two trucks came to a stop at turn five, and when racing resumed, it was Brandt and Sheldon Creed who were now moving up in the top five, with Brandt now second, and Creed fifth in his #74 Papas & Beer/A.M. Ortega Ford. The top three were now well clear up front, and at the Competition Yellow, the order in the top five was Anderson, Brandt, George, Currie, and Creed. That order stayed the same on the restart lap and the two subsequent laps, but on lap twelve, things really heated up at the head of the field. Brandt suddenly closed in on Anderson, who’d previously seemed to have just a bit more pace than anyone else, and after forcing Anderson wide at turn three, Brandt briefly took the lead. Anderson grabbed the position right back, though, driving inside at turn five and pulling ahead up the jump at the exit of the corner.
Another full course caution came out when Kyle Lucas had a heavy rollover in turn four, and when racing resumed, the running order was Anderson, Brandt, George, Currie, and Doug Mittag in the top five. Currie got by George between turns one and two on the restart lap, and a spin by George at turn four dropped him down the order. On the penultimate lap, Mittag rolled over the outside k-rail at turn five, but with no immediate danger to Mittag or the other racers, the track stayed green for the final lap. At race’s end, Anderson picked up his third win of the season, followed by Brandt, Currie, Austin Kimbrell in the #88 Toyo Tires/Hughes Performance Ford, and Jimmy Stephensen in the #33 No Fear Energy/JS Pest Control Nissan.
The penultimate race of the day was Super Lite, and it was Drew Britt in the #7 Mickey Thompson/Majerle’s Sports Grill truck who took the early lead. Sheldon Creed ran second, with Dawson Kirchner third, Ryan Hagy fourth, and Garrett Poelman fifth. Hagy moved up to third on lap two, while Jessie Johnson got under Poelman to make a pass for fifth at turn six on the same lap. Up front, the top two were battling closely, and were also well clear of the field already, but their gap was erased when a full course caution was thrown after Johnson stalled in turn four and was unable to get re-fired. Johnson was towed, then got going again, and re-joined at the back of the pack when green flag racing resumed. Creed then came to a stop between turns two and three on lap eight, and unlike Johnson, he was unable to continue right away (he did re-join later on, two laps down); a crushing blow for the points leader. The running order was now Britt, Hagy in the #5 Valli Construction/Metal Mulisha machine, Kirchner in the #18 General Tire/Method Race Wheels entry, Poelman in the #62 Supercross.com/Loctite truck, and Brent Fouch in the #21 Fouch Racing/General Tire entry. This order held up through the finish, and it was Britt who, after several near-misses both last season and this season, finally brought home his first career Lucas Oil Off Road win- congratulations Drew! Second went to Hagy, third to Kirchner, who drove very well after a year-long absence from any kind of racing, fourth to Poelman, and fifth to Fouch.
Pro 2 Unlimited
If someone asked me what happened in today’s Pro 2 Unlimited race, I’d say that it’d be easier to tell them what didn’t happen. Rob Naughton led the race after lap one in his #54 Lunar Pages Web Hosting/Hart and Huntington Ford, and was followed by Jeff Geiser, Marty Hart, Rodrigo Ampudia, and Robby Woods. Hart moved up to second on lap two, while on lap three, Woods stopped briefly coming out of turn one, dropping him to the back of the pack. Geiser then started to drop back through the field for some reason, and when right rear flat struck Hart heading into lap six, those behind scrambled to get by him as he struggled around the track to the hot pit entrance. Up front, Naughton had a comfortable lead over those behind, with Jeremy McGrath now second in his #2 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, Rob MacCachren third in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Ampudia fourth in his #36 Lucas Oil/Papas & Beer Ford, and Carl Renezeder fifth in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. Renezeder got into Ampudia coming out of turn six on lap seven, and Ampudia then dropped back to sixth. Up front, McGrath and MacCachren were closing on Naughton, and when Naughton bicycled in turn five on lap nine, the two behind were right on him. Naughton kept the lead, and at the Competition Yellow, the running order was Naughton, McGrath, MacCachren, Renezeder, and Patrick Clark in the #52 VP Racing Fuels/King Off Road Racing Shocks Chevrolet.
When green flag racing resumed, the top five held their order on the restart lap, but on lap eleven, it was Renezeder, now driving very aggressively, who pulled two great moves on MacCachren and McGrath, passing them both in the space of two corners from turn two to turn three, and moving up to second in the process. Naughton then bicycled in turn four, and with MacCachren getting the better line around the incident, he took the lead ahead of Renezeder. Greg Adler then joined the race for the lead, which was remarkable considering he’d spun and dropped from first to last on the first lap. Adler passed McGrath at turn five, and the running order was now MacCachren, Renezeder, Naughton, Adler, and McGrath. A full course caution was then thrown to allow crews to clean debris from the track, as well as tend to Ryan Hancock’s stopped truck, and when racing resumed, things really came to a head on the restart lap. Adler and Renezeder hit in turn five and were slow coming up the jump at the exit of the corner, and as McGrath tried to jump his way by them both, he landed ON TOP of Renezeder, flipped, and wrecked his left front suspension. Both drivers were ok, and while Renezeder’s truck was relatively unscathed (aside from a busted fiberglass roof), McGrath could not continue.
Following another full course caution to clear McGrath’s wreck, racing continued with a green-white-checkers being called for. MacCachren continued to lead, but had a strong challenger in the form of Adler and his #10 4 Wheel Parts/Airaid Ford. Adler gave it his best, and even got alongside MacCachren on the final lap, but after a little side to side bumping, MacCachren edged back ahead, and came across the stripe first for the win. MacCachren is now the first multi-race winner in the class this season, while Adler nearly was, but had to settle for second. Third went to Renezeder, fourth to Nick Tyree in the #91 Donald D. Diffenbaugh Construction, Inc./PAC Racing Springs Ford, and fifth to Naughton.
This weekend’s action will conclude tomorrow, with Round 6 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, right back here at Speedworld. Gates will open to the public at 8:00 am, with the first race at 9:30 am. Opening Ceremonies will take place at noon, so don’t fear the heat, just prepare for it (and a great day of racing, too!). Bring the water, the sunscreen, and your friends and family, and come out and make a day of it!
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