Fans braved chilly conditions and the threat of rain as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, returned for Round 14 of the 2011 season here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and why not? With just two rounds left in this year’s championship, the title chases are coming right down to the wire, and that means that the action and the excitement are elevated just that little bit further. Tensions were high here in the high desert, and despite the cold weather, the rain stayed away and the spectators packed the stands, rewarded with the treat of yet another terrific day of racing. Did you miss it? Hopefully not, but if so, read on and find out what happened.
Pro 2 Unlimited
It’s no coincidence that Rob MacCachren has the #1 plate on his truck in Pro 2 Unlimited, and with drives like the one he put in today, he continues to do that #1 proud. MacCachren got the lead by turn one, besting none other than fellow front row start Carl Renezeder in the process, and quickly opened a comfortable cushion despite some very slippery, tricky conditions. Once he had a bit of a buffer over second-placed Rob Naughton, MacCachren settled in to a quick, consistent rhythm, and he hardly turned a wheel wrong as he led a stellar field wire to wire to get his fifth win of the season. Behind MacCachren, a couple of other drivers also drove races that were all but mistake-free, which helped them to podium finishes. Rob Naughton took second in the #54 Losi/ReadyLift Ford, and Rodrigo Ampudia recovered from a very rough day yesterday to get third place today in his #36 Lucas Oil/Tecate Ford. Fourth place went to Jeff Kincaid in the #4 Traxxas/Goodwin Competition Ford, who just edged out Brian Deegan by a nose at the line as Deegan tried to recover and straighten out from a near-spin in the final corner. Deegan lost the drag race to the line to Kincaid, and had to settle for fifth place in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford.
Points wise, there are now just two drivers left with a chance at the championship, and despite dropping an extra spot on the final lap today, Deegan still leads comfortably with 632 points. MacCachren has done a great job in battling back from a rough opening weekend, but must hope for some bad luck for Deegan if he wants to defend his title, as he sits a distant 34 points back with 598.
Pro 4 Unlimited
Kyle LeDuc scored the big win in Pro 4 Unlimited yesterday, stealing the top spot from Carl Renezeder on the final lap, and today, Renezeder was out to make sure that this didn’t happen twice this weekend. Curt LeDuc led for the first four laps, but after dropping three spots in less than a lap, a rollover wasn’t exactly the cap he was looking for in today’s race, despite the fact that his son Kyle was now running up front in the #99 Rockstar/Makita Ford. After the competition yellow, Renezeder managed to get inside of LeDuc and take the lead at turn three in his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Ford, but a bicycle in turn five handed the lead right back just two laps later. Renezeder was determined to get the win, though, and on the penultimate lap, he drove it deep into turn eight to get alongside LeDuc. The two stayed side by side through turn two on the final lap, but a half spin caused LeDuc to stall there, and Renezeder walked away from there to take his 98th career off-road win. LeDuc recovered and managed to re-pass his brother Todd, who’d gotten by while Kyle was trying to get going after his stall, getting alongside in the final corner and edging his brother by a nose as the two jumped and collided door to door at the finish line. Todd LeDuc finished third in the #4 Rockstar/Makita Ford, with Greg Adler fourth in the #5 ProComp/Team Associated Ford, and Kent Brascho rounded out the top five in his #8 K&N/KMC Wheels Ford.
In the championship chase, Carl Renezeder becomes the first driver to wrap up a title this season, as his grand total of 674 points so far is mathematically enough to lock it up. Congratulations Carl on your eighth short course off-road championship, you are a deserving winner!
Pro Lite Unlimited
After taking the points lead yesterday, Brian Deegan’s recent dominance of Pro Lite Unlimited continued today, as Deegan again went right to the front from the outset in his #38 Lucas Oil/Gibson Performance Exhaust Ford. Chris Brandt, having lost the points lead yesterday, was still lurking close behind in the early going, with Corey Sisler running between them, and when Sisler’s machine came to a stop on lap four, it looked like a great battle for the win would break out between the top two points contenders. Unfortunately, Deegan was already well out in front by this time, and even though the competition yellow bunched the field back up and erased Deegan’s lead, “The General” again drove a flawless race, giving Brandt no daylight and no room to try and make a move. In the end, Brandt made some valiant dives into turn eight, but some mistakes in other parts of the track cost him dearly, as Deegan came home the winner, scoring more valuable points in the quest for his second points title in three years. Brandt is still seeking that elusive championship, and finished second today, with RJ Anderson third in the #37 Walker Evans Racing/Polaris Dodge, Cameron Steele fourth in the #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Ford, and Casey Currie fifth in the #2 Monster Energy/Magnaflow Nissan.
In the points hunt, Deegan’s sweep of the weekend gave him the championship lead yesterday, and expanded that lead today. Deegan now has a six-point edge over Brandt in the championship, 659 to 653, with just one round left to go. These two are the only two drivers who are mathematically eligible for the title, and you can be sure that with so few points between them, nothing will be left on the table at Firebird in December.
In Super Lite, young Sheldon Creed again showed why he is certainly one of the stars of the future, grabbing the early lead in his #74 A.M. Ortega/Simpson truck. Creed lost the lead to Austin Kimbrell in the early going, and ran second for the middle of the race, waiting in the wings for a chance to re-take the lead. Creed’s chance came on the restart lap after the competition yellow, and he dove inside of Kimbrell in turn one to take the lead back. From there, Creed drove beautifully, and held his lines perfectly to keep Kimbrell at bay. Kimbrell tried hard to get the lead back, but it was to no avail, as Creed picked up the win in just his fourth race in this class- his fourth race ever in a pro class! On top of that, at just 14 years of age, Creed becomes the youngest-ever pro class winner in Lucas Oil Off Road history- congratulations Sheldon! Second went to Kimbrell in the #88 Kimbrell Racing/Xtreme Machine & Fabrication entry, with Chad George third in the #42 Yokohama/Lazer Star machine. Fourth place was Ryan Beat, who filled in terrifically for Jason Ellis in the #89 Dethrone Racing/MavTV truck, and fifth went to Patrick Clark in the #25 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels machine.
In the title chase, George was the best finisher of those still mathematically eligible, and has padded his leading cushion by four points to take his lead to 12 over Clark, 626 to 614. RJ Anderson is also still in the running, but is now a real outside shot at 589.
With that, the weekend’s action has come to a close here in Las Vegas.
Join us again in just five weeks’ time, as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series returns for its final weekend of action for 2011. The final regular season race, Round 15, will take place December 10th at Firebird International Raceway in the southern Phoenix suburb of Chandler, and will be followed on December 11th by the big money race: The Lucas Oil Off Road Challenge Cup! Get your tickets now, you won’t want to miss this one!
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