After a terrific opening day of our GEICO Dual in the Desert, presented by General Tire, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, was back at it for a second day, as Round 6 of the 2012 championship hit the track at Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, Arizona. With temperatures again soaring into the triple digits, drivers and their equipment were pushed to the breaking point and beyond, and through the carnage, several of our series’ most talented drivers stepped proudly to the top of the podium in their respective classes. In one case, one of our biggest names reached a historic pinnacle of success. Wanna find out who? Read on and learn about the big moment, and all the terrific action that unfolded out on the track today.
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Limited BuggyThe final race before Opening Ceremonies was Limited Buggy, and teammates Kevin McCullough and Dillon Ayers started side by side on the front row. John Fitzgerald got the better of them (and a few others, as well), though, as he came from the outside of row three to take the lead on the opening lap in his #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Livestrong buggy. McCullough ran second in his #389 Gear One/LAT Racing Oil Geiser, followed by Bradley Morris in his #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Alumi Craft, Jordan Poole in the #310 Yokohama/Fat Performance Fraley, and Dillon Ayers in the #398 Gear One/Racer X Motorsports Lothringer. The top five drivers spread themselves evenly over the opening lap, with a few car lengths lead between each driver, but by lap six, Fitzgerald was starting to open a more sizeable gap, and he led the field through the halfway Competition Yellow in first place. With the running order up front unchanged since the race’s start, the field resumed green flag racing on lap nine, and Fitzgerald again started to open up his advantage on those behind. On lap eleven, Ayers got by Poole through turns four and five, pulling ahead and into fourth as the two headed up the jump out of turn five. Ayers then picked off his teammate McCullough for third on lap thirteen, and at the white flag, it was now Fitzgerald, Morris, Ayers, McCullough, and Poole in the top five. McCullough survived a scary hit on the final lap, as his car got out of shape in the moguls, and his left rear looked like it hit the outside k-rail pretty hard. Fortunately the hit must’ve kicked up more dust than anything else, and despite a little pressure from Poole, McCullough held his position. Up front, Fitzgerald returned to the top step of the podium with his third win of the season, and like Winbury in Junior 2 Kart, maintains his streak of winning one race at each track so far this season. Yesterday’s winner Morris finished second today, with Ayers third, McCullough fourth, and Poole fifth.
Pro 4Kyle LeDuc had some added pressure on him today, as the possibility existed that he could break the all-time series record for most consecutive wins in any class, which coming into today, he co-held with Austin Kimbrell (Unlimited UTV, 2010), Brian Deegan (Pro Lite Unlimited, 2011), and Broc Dickerson (Junior 1 Kart, 2011). Kyle’s dad Curt LeDuc started up front and had the early lead in his #43 Zipfizz Healthy Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, with Josh Merrell second in his #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford, Corry Weller third in her #18 Tilted Kilt/Maxxis Tires Ford, Todd LeDuc fourth in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford, and Kyle LeDuc fifth in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford. Todd LeDuc got by Weller on the inside at turn four on lap two, with his brother Kyle then getting by Weller on the outside heading into turn six. Carl Renezeder also got his #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan by Weller, making the pass on the inside of turn two on the next lap, but with Todd LeDuc then pulling off at turn four, Weller was quickly back into the top five. On lap four, second-placed Merrell took a bad angle off of the jump out of turn three, landed awkwardly on the slope past the edge of the track, hit the k rail, and went over hard. Merrell was ok, but the race was red flagged until crews could put out a few small flames that had popped up just after his truck came to a stop. Merrell’s misfortune was a really tough break for both he and his crew, who’d worked all night following his serious onboard fire during yesterday’s race.
On the restart lap, Renezeder suddenly pulled off with a right front suspension failure, while Kyle LeDuc continued his march forward, passing his dad Curt for the lead. Eric Barron ran third in the #32 LAT Racing Oil/Fox Racing Shox Toyota, with Weller fourth and Greg Adler fifth in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, and Adler then pulled a great outside-inside pass on Weller at turn five to take over fourth on lap seven. Up front, Kyle LeDuc was now streaking away, with Barron and Adler now all over Curt LeDuc in the battle for second. Barron then suddenly pulled into the hot pits on lap eight, having raced at speed right up to his exit from the track. On the next lap, Adler muscled his way by Curt LeDuc coming out of turn five, and at the Competition Yellow, it was Kyle LeDuc, Adler, Curt LeDuc, Weller, and Travis Coyne in the #5 ProComp/Team Associated Ford in the top five. Barron re-joined under yellow, one lap down, while Adler pulled into the hot pits with a low right rear tire. On the restart lap, Weller was struck with rear suspension failure, which sent her to the sidelines, and there were now just four trucks left on the lead lap. Curt LeDuc then pulled into the hot pits on lap thirteen, making it just three trucks on the lead lap, while his son Todd re-emerged on track. In the closing laps, Kyle LeDuc was just cruising, with Adler tacked on behind him, albeit one lap down, and with a healthy margin over his closest competitor, Coyne. LeDuc cruised to his sixth straight win, a race finish that was almost anticlimactic, considering that he’d just broken the record for most consecutive wins in this series. All the same, a big congratulations to Kyle LeDuc on your outstanding achievement, way to go Kyle! Second went to Coyne, and third was Jerry Daugherty in his #23 E3 Spark Plugs/Racin Dirty Chevrolet; these two were the only drivers besides LeDuc who finished all 18 laps. Adler took fourth, one lap down, and rounding out the top five was Curt LeDuc.
Young gun and class rookie Geoffrey Cooley grabbed the early lead of the Pro Buggy Unlimited race this afternoon, and had Steven Greinke, Doug Fortin, Jerry Whelchel, and Larry Job hot on his heels. On lap two, both Greinke and Fortin got by Cooley to take over first and second, and on lap five, a full course caution came out so that track workers had a chance to clear Wade Wyman’s stricken buggy from the exit of turn six. This yellow flag doubled up as the Competition Yellow, and once racing resumed, the top six began to string out evenly, with just a few cars lengths between each racer. On lap nine, Greinke missed a shift in turn five, and Fortin got a bit into Greinke side to side as he went by and into the lead. On the next lap, Cooley also got by Greinke, making the pass stick after battling by from turns four to five, and into turn six. Whelchel then streaked past Greinke in the moguls on lap eleven, and on lap twelve, it became evident that Greinke had a left front flat, which may have been going down on the previous laps, making him an easier target for those who’d gotten by him. Up front, Fortin had a three or four second gap back to Cooley, which Cooley was closing down ever-so-slightly in the closing laps. On the penultimate lap, Whelchel pulled off at turn two, and Garrett George, who had then moved into the top five, did just the same on the last lap. At race’s end, Fortin made it a clean sweep of the weekend with back to back wins in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Products Racer, followed by Cooley in the #22 Competitive Metals/Impact Alumi Craft, Greinke in the #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer, Job in the #7 Supercross.com/Toyo Tires Alumi Craft, and Mike Porter in the #8 Mickey Thompson/Speed Energy Alumi Craft.
Pro Lite Unlimited
22 trucks took the start of today’s Pro Lite Unlimited race, with Ryan Beat leading the thundering pack after the first lap in his #51 Premiere Motorsports Group/Hart and Huntington Ford. Shannon Campbell ran second in his #5 ProAm/Currie Enterprises Ford, with Austin Kimbrell third in his #88 Toyo Tires/Xtreme Machine & Fabrication Ford, Noah Fouch fourth in his #52 Fouch Racing/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, and Casey Currie fifth in the #2 Monster Energy/Magnaflow Performance Exhaust Nissan. On lap three, Kimbrell got a good drive out of turn four, and got by Campbell to take over second at turn five. Behind these two, RJ Anderson had moved up to fifth, and on lap four, he got by Fouch at turn two to take over fourth. Currie also passed Fouch, two corners later, and Anderson got by Campbell on the inside at turn six, moving him into the top three. At the end of the lap, officials threw a full course caution to clear John Dempsey’s wrecked truck from turn two, and on the restart, Kimbrell got a great jump, moving past Beat and into the lead going into turn one. Anderson then passed Beat at turn four on the same lap, moving him up to second place. On lap eight, Fouch went wide and over the outside burm at turn four, dropping him back to eighth, and moving Bradley Morris up to fifth in the #24 GoldStar Asphalt!/Maxxis Tires Ford. The Competition Yellow then came out, and the running order in the first five was Kimbrell, Anderson, Beat, Currie, and Morris, with Brian Deegan lurking just behind sixth after starting nearly last.
On the restart lap, Kimbrell’s luck took a bad turn, as he rolled in turn four, losing the lead and a lot more ground when his truck didn’t re-fire right away, despite landing on his wheels. Kimbrell ended up a lap down, while yesterday’s winner Anderson inherited the lead. Behind him, Currie got inside of Beat at turn five, and edged ahead and into second heading into turn six on lap eleven. Morris followed suit, making the pass at turn four on the next lap as the frontrunners got into lapped traffic. Deegan also got by Beat, two corners later, and it seemed obvious now that something must’ve been a bit wrong with Beat’s truck. Up front, Anderson had a good gap back to Currie in second, and knocked the remaining laps down in short order. On the final lap, Deegan’s truck seemed to suddenly lose pace, as he was closed down on by several other drivers, all of whom got by him on the final lap. None of this concerned Anderson, who picked up his fourth win in six races so far this season, followed by Currie, Morris, Beat, and Chris Brandt in the #82 BFGoodrich Tires/Livestrong Toyota.
Next up was Super Lite, and the #62 Supercross.com/Loctite truck, running at the hands of Garrett Poelman, had the lead after lap one. Running close behind Poelman, it was Ryan Hagy in the #5 Valli Construction/Rockstar truck, Sheldon Creed in the #74 BFGoodrich Tires/Trench Shoring machine, Jessie Johnson in the #15 So Cal Super Trucks/Speed Energy entry, and John Gable in his #99 General Tire/Fiberwerx machine. At the end of lap two, Poelman rolled near the exit of turn six, but landed on his wheels, and continued in fourth spot. Creed inherited the lead, and Hagy and Johnson were now running second and third, with Johnson then getting past Hagy to take over second on lap four. Poelman bicycled in turn four and dropped to sixth on lap six, just ahead of the Competition Yellow, at which point the running order was Creed, Johnson, Hagy, Drew Britt in the #7 Mickey Thompson/Universal Technical Institute truck, and Kirchner. Creed had built up a solid lead in the first half, and quickly re-opened that lead in the first laps of the second half. Meanwhile, Britt bicycled at turn four, momentarily dropping him to fifth on lap nine. Britt re-gained the spot before lap’s end, but made the same mistake on the next lap, and this time, he was unable to make the spot back, and actually lost his fifth place as well, with Poelman going by him for that spot shortly afterwards. Up front, Creed was pounding out the laps, and with a strong lead over the competition, he came home the winner for the third time this season, followed by Johnson, Hagy, Kirchner in the #18 Method Race Wheels/General Tire machine, and Poelman.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of weekend was Pro 2 Unlimited, and it was “The General,” Brian Deegan, who headed the pack in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford after lap one. Nipping at Deegan’s heels, it was Marty Hart second in the #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford, Rodrigo Ampudia third in the #36 Lucas Oil/Toyo Tires Ford, Rob MacCachren fourth in the #21 Rockstar/Makita Ford, and Carl Renezeder fifth in the #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan. A temporary full course caution came out on lap two as Patrick Clark’s truck was cleared from turn four, but quick work by the track crew meant that racing went back to green at the end of the lap. On the restart lap, Jeremy McGrath got his #2 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford past MacCachren coming out of turn five, moving McGrath up to fifth. MacCachren got the position back through turns one and two on the next lap, and just ahead, Renezeder got down the inside of Ampudia through turn six, moving up to third in the process. Deegan was still leading, and was starting to pull away a bit, while several battles were waging behind him. McGrath got by MacCachren again on lap six, and after trying to find a way by Ampudia for several laps, McGrath was then able to get past him as well, just ahead of the Competition Yellow.
The running order was now Deegan, Hart, Renezeder, McGrath, and Ampudia in the top five, and on the restart lap, MacCachren got by Ampudia through turns one through three. Ampudia fought back, though, making a smart pass back in turn four to re-take the position. Lap twelve saw a full course caution for Jeremy Stenberg’s stopped truck in turn one, and on the restart, Hart got a great launch, moving past Deegan and into the lead into turn one. Deegan’s truck had been slow on the restart, and was apparently suffering from some sort of mechanical issue, because he was then bumped wide at the jump out of turn three by Renezeder.
Renezeder then lost a wheel in the next corner, and with nowhere to go, Deegan ran right into him. Both drivers’ days were done, and yet another full course yellow came out as crews moved both stricken trucks to safety.
The running order was now Hart, McGrath, Adler, Ampudia, and MacCachren, and after a few drivers jumped the restart, a second attempt was more successful. On the restart lap, McGrath’s strong run went a bit south, as he got way wide and out into the fluff in turn six, a mistake which cost him two spots as he dropped to fourth. Just behind, Rob Naughton was up to fifth in the #54 Lunar Pages Web Hosting/Hart and Huntington Ford, and at the white flag, it was Hart, Adler, MacCachren, McGrath, and Naughton in that order. Some crazy battling went on during the last lap between the next five drivers behind Hart, with MacCachren and Ampudia each emerging one spot better off than they were before, in second and fifth places, respectively. Up front, Hart was clear of all the mayhem, and he brought it home for his second win this season. MacCachren followed up yesterday’s win with a second place today, and Adler’s continued improvement in tenacity, consistency, and speed showed through again this afternoon, as he grabbed third spot. Fourth went to McGrath, who had a great race after his very unfortunate exit from the race yesterday, and rounding out the top five was Ampudia, who got knocked and bumped around by several drivers, yet continued to battle through to the end.
Our race weekend now comes to a close, but fear not. We’ll be back at it again in just five weeks’ time, as the series heads north to the spectacularly beautiful Miller Motorsports Park, just outside Salt Lake City in Tooele, Utah. With beautiful mountains surrounding the picturesque green valley in which the track is situated, this is one setting that is not to be missed on our calendar, so get your tickets now for Rounds 7 and 8, June 23-24.
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