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The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, is back in the off-road Mecca of southern California, returning for the first time since 2009 to the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park for Rounds 3 and 4 of this year’s championship, the Rockstar So-Cal Shootout, presented by E3 Spark Plugs. The staff at Lucas Oil Off Road has created a fantastic all-new track, a track whose dominating feature is most certainly the substantial elevation change. Big jumps, blind crests, and a chunky, slippery, very unique surface are all helping to make some great racing this weekend, racing which fans are finding to be some of the best in series history. The competition was close and unpredictable in nearly every race of the day, keeping everyone in attendance on their toes throughout the afternoon.

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, is back in the off-road Mecca of southern California, returning for the first time since 2009 to the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park for Rounds 3 and 4 of this year’s championship, the Rockstar So-Cal Shootout, presented by E3 Spark Plugs. The staff at Lucas Oil Off Road has created a fantastic all-new track, a track whose dominating feature is most certainly the substantial elevation change. Big jumps, blind crests, and a chunky, slippery, very unique surface are all helping to make some great racing this weekend, racing which fans are finding to be some of the best in series history. The competition was close and unpredictable in nearly every race of the day, keeping everyone in attendance on their toes throughout the afternoon.

Junior 2 Kart

Kicking off the racing action at this all-new track would be the young guns of Junior 2 Kart. After an ugly-looking crash involving Trevor Briska and Parker Porter forced a full restart of the race, it was Shelby Anderson who took the lead on the second go-around. Behind Anderson and her #405 Walker Evans Racing/K&N kart, it was Darren Hardesty Jr., Eliott Watson, Travis PeCoy, and Dylan Winbury who ran in the top five. The leader Anderson had a quick rollover at turn three on lap two, which dropped her down to seventh place, and handed the lead to Hardesty Jr. in the #456 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/RC10.com machine. Anderson’s misfortune also moved Chad Graham (who is filling in for Jeremy Davis this weekend; Davis has an injured back) into the top five in the #485 Green Army/Gatorwraps.com entry, and Graham was doing Davis proud as he moved up to fourth spot on lap four. At the Competition Yellow, the running order was Hardesty Jr., PeCoy in the #411 Simpson/Lucas Oil kart, Winbury in the #469 Magnum Off-Road/Black Rhino truck, Graham, and Watson in the #403 Hoosier/Racer X Motorsports machine, but after a lot of shuffling on the restart, Winbury had moved up to second, PeCoy had dropped to third, Watson was up to fourth, and Anderson was back into the top five in fifth, with Hardesty Jr. still leading. Anderson picked up another spot after passing Watson at the stripe at the start of lap eight, and when PeCoy went wide at turn three, Anderson got by him as well. PeCoy then went wide again, this time in turn one, allowing Graham to pick him off for fourth. Up front, Hardesty Jr. was getting some strong pressure from Winbury, and on the final lap, a slip up in turn one cost Hardesty Jr. the lead, as Winbury got by and never looked back. Winbury snagged his second win of the season, and was followed to the finish by Hardesty Jr., Anderson, Graham, and PeCoy.

Junior 1 Kart

Next up were the Junior 1 Karts, and there were several drivers pulling double duty in both the Junior 2 and Junior 1 Kart ranks here this afternoon. One such driver was Darren Hardesty Jr., who was doing his best to improve on his second place finish in the Junior 2 race by taking the lead early here in Junior 1 in his #231 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Hoosier machine. Travis PeCoy and Broc Dickerson were also doubling up, and they ran in second and third after lap one, with Conner McMullen fourth and Parker Darland fifth. Hardesty Jr. ran wide at turn three, dropping him to second on lap two, but he got the position back on the next lap. Once he got the lead again, Hardesty Jr. began to open up a sizeable lead, while behind him, McMullen moved his #288 Monster Energy/Foddrill Motorsports kart up to second with a good run through the whoops section. At the Competition Yellow, Hardesty Jr. led for the second successive race, with McMullen second, Dickerson third in the #1 Dickerson Motorsports/Kar Tek Off Road truck, PeCoy fourth in the #211 CMI/Signpros entry, and Kamrin Dickerson (Broc’s younger brother) in fifth in the #223 Dickerson Motorsports/Sunoco Race Fuels kart. On the restart lap, there was a big tie-up involving several drivers, but the top four stayed clear of it as they opened up a gap over the rest of the field. Broc Dickerson had gotten by McMullen to take over second spot, and the top three, Hardesty Jr., Dickerson, and McMullen, were all running very close. On the penultimate lap, Dickerson got down the inside of Hardesty Jr. to take the lead in turn one, and from there, he held off any advance Hardesty Jr. could make as he brought it home for the win. Hardesty Jr. took second for the second race in succession, and was followed by McMullen in third, PeCoy in fourth, and Ricky Gutierrez in fifth in the #278 G Brother/VP Racing Fuels kart.

Modified Kart

Finishing off the short track racing in their typically spectacular fashion were the hotshoes of Modified Kart, and it was yesterday’s Super Lite top qualifier Sheldon Creed who got the early lead in his #574 Trophy Kart/RC10.com truck. Myles Cheek ran second in his newly-liveried #557 Rockstar/Metal Mulisha machine, with Bradley Morris third in the #504 Trophy Kart/K&N kart, Brock Heger fourth in the #511 Kacon Framing Inc./DASA entry, and Kyle Hart fifth in the #523 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/Duncan Racing truck. Heger spun in turn one on the second lap, a mistake that put him to the back of the pack, moving Hart to fourth and Cole Mamer to fifth in the #535 Simpson/Mamer Motorsports kart. Up front, Cheek was really putting the pressure on Creed for the lead, and at the end of lap four, Cheek moved by Creed to take the lead. The Competition Yellow then came out, and the running order in the top five was Cheek, Creed, Morris, Hart, and Mamer. Cheek got shuffled backwards badly on the restart lap, dropping from first to fifth, with Creed re-taking the lead up front. Once again, though, Creed was under pressure for the top spot, with the challenge now coming from Morris, and the two were side by side at the end of lap eight. Hart then rolled (with a little help from someone behind) at turn two, which brought out a full course caution, and when racing resumed, it was Morris in the lead, followed by Creed, Cheek, Mamer, and Blake Lenk in the #521 Team Associated/Redline Performance truck. On the final lap, things got very close in the last turn, with Cheek going high to try and take Creed on the outside. Creed tried to make himself wide and hold Cheek off, but lost a little momentum in the process, and not only did Cheek get by, but Mamer did as well. Up front, Morris had a clear lead as he got the win, with Cheek and Mamer taking second and third, Creed fourth, and Lenk fifth.

Limited Buggy

In the final race before Opening Ceremonies, a thick field of Limited Buggies took to the track, 20-strong. Young Zac Hunt took the early lead in the #334 Speed Energy/Fat Performance Alumi Craft, followed by Dillon Ayers in the #398 Gear One/Signpros Lothringer, Bruce Fraley in the #312 Race Fuel Energy Drink/BFGoodrich Tires Fraley, Bradley Morris in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N Alumi Craft, and Ron Carter in the #319 King Off-Road Racing Shocks/Rockstar machine. Fraley and Morris got by Ayers to move into second and third on lap two, with Fraley then moving up to challenge Hunt strongly for the lead. Over the next few laps, though, Hunt began to pull open a bit of a gap, and the top five drivers gradually began to space themselves even down the track. On lap six, Morris pulled off in the whoops with some smoke coming from the back of his car, while Fraley got by Hunt to take over the lead. Then the Competition Yellow came out, and the running order in the top five was now Fraley, Ayers, Jordan Poole in the #310 Riot Racing/Yokohama Fraley, John Fitzgerald in the #314 BFGoodrich Tires/Livestrong buggy, and Kevin McCullough in the #389 Gear One/Jimenez Racing Engines machine. After the restart lap, Fitzgerald got by Poole for third on lap eleven, with Poole then taking the spot back on lap twelve. The two continued their battle on lap thirteen, with Fitzgerald passing Poole back again, only to have Poole tangle with him in turn three, as the two got hooked together briefly, dropping them both back a few spots. Ayers pulled off on the same lap, and at the white flag, the running order was Fraley, McCullough, Fitzgerald, Poole, and Lindsay Geiser in the #395 Canidae/Fox Racing Shox Geiser. On the final lap, Poole had a half spin and a near-stall in turn three, which dropped him to seventh. Up front, Fraley was the big winner, followed by McCullough, Fitzgerald, Geiser, and John Proctor in the #362 McKenzie’s/P.C.I. Race Radios Lothringer.

Pro 4 Unlimited

After a two-row inversion of yesterday’s qualifying results, it was Kyle LeDuc who was luckiest of all, as the winner of both Rounds 1 and 2 started this afternoon’s race from pole. LeDuc and the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford grabbed the early lead, followed by Carl Renezeder in the #1 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan, Todd LeDuc in the #7 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Eric Barron in the #32 LAT Racing Oils/Dirt-Tech Toyota, and Josh Merrell in the #22 MavTV/Hart and Huntington Ford. Merrell tried to take Barron on the outside in turn three of lap two, held his line, and pulled off the pass to take over fourth. Travis Coyne followed suit, moving up to fifth before lap’s end in the #5 ProComp/Team Associated Ford. A few laps later, a full course caution was thrown after Corry Weller rolled in turn one (Weller was able to continue), and after racing resumed, Barron got back by Coyne to move up to fifth on lap nine. Coyne got back by when Barron went wide at turn two on lap eleven, and at the Competition Yellow, Kyle LeDuc still led, with Renezeder, Todd LeDuc, Merrell, and Coyne in-tow.

After the drivers’ crews went to work under the Mandatory Pit Stop, racing resumed, but with Renezeder making a return to the hot pits before the drop of the green flag, he lost his second spot, and was only able to re-join the fray about a half lap behind. The running order was now Kyle LeDuc, Todd LeDuc, Merrell, Adler, and Coyne after the restart, with Merrell then going wide at turn four and dropping to fourth. Coyne pulled into the hot pits, dropping him out of the top five, and a spin by Todd LeDuc dropped him down to fourth. Todd’s truck looked injured after his spin (perhaps the spin was caused by his truck’s issue?), and with the white flag now waving, the order was all changed around, though Kyle LeDuc was still out front, of course. Adler was now second, with Merrell third, Weller back up to fourth in her #18 Tilted Kilt/N-Fab Ford, and Todd LeDuc fifth. Up front, Kyle LeDuc had checked out on the field, and cruised home with a huge lead to pick up his third win on the trot. Second went to Adler, third to Merrell, fourth to Weller, and fifth to Todd LeDuc.

Pro Lite Unlimited

With so many trucks on track in Pro Lite Unlimited, today’s race was almost certain to be a good one. Our drivers didn’t disappoint, and they point on a fantastic race, and did so with very little in the way of actual damage or destruction, despite the tricky nature of this new track. Chris Brandt started up front in the #82 BFGoodrich Tires/National Concrete Cutting Toyota, and had the lead at the end of lap one. Behind Brandt, it was Casey Currie in the #2 Monster Energy/Hawk Performance Nissan, Justin “Bean” Smith in the #19 Competitive Metals/Alumi Craft Ford, RJ Anderson in the #37 Monster Energy/Walker Evans Racing Dodge, and Austin Kimbrell in the #88 Toyo Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford in the top five. Anderson got by Smith for third on lap two, before a full course caution was thrown on lap three when a truck came to a stop between turns two and three. Once the race restarted, Smith rolled in turn one on the restart lap, and although he dropped to the back of the field, he was able to continue. Brian Deegan moved his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford up to take Smith’s fourth spot, with Kimbrell still fifth. The running order remained the same through the Competition Yellow, at which point the running order was Brandt, Anderson, Currie, Deegan, and Kimbrell.

This race was now looking like as much of a battle between tire manufacturers as it was a race between drivers, with five different tire brands (BFGoodrich, Goodyear, General Tire, Maxxis, and Toyo, respectively) occupying the top five positions. On the restart lap, Anderson got around Brandt to take the lead, with Deegan following suit and slotting in second. Brandt dropped to third, with Currie now fourth and Matt Cook fifth in the #55 Supercross.com/Loctite Toyota. On lap thirteen, Deegan put together a great run through the whoops, and took the lead from Anderson going into turn four. Cook moved up to fourth on the same lap, with a spin by Currie dropping him back to twelfth on the next lap. Up front, Deegan and Anderson were just starting to get away in a battle for the lead, and while Anderson gave it his all to take the lead back, Deegan drove masterfully to take his first win of the season, as well as his first win in this class in his first race since converting his truck to a V8. Anderson took a close second, followed by the top-running 4-cylinder of Brandt in third, Cook in fourth, and Kimbrell in fifth.

Pro 2 Unlimited

T Following a terrific pair of races from Pro 4 Unlimited and Pro Lite Unlimited, it was time for a third great race in a row, this one in the form of Pro 2 Unlimited. Marty Hart and Rodrigo Ampudia started from the front row, with Ampudia taking the early lead over Hart, Carl Renezeder, Jeremy McGrath, and Rob MacCachren. On lap two, Brian Deegan moved his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford past both MacCachren and McGrath to take over fourth. A full course caution then came out on lap four when Justin Davis’ truck rolled and starting smoking in turn one, with a red flag of the race soon following. The issue was quickly resolved, and when racing resumed, Hart moved his #15 ReadyLift Off Road Suspension/GearUp2Go.com Ford past Ampudia to take the lead on the restart lap. On the next lap, Renezeder got his #17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Nissan by Ampudia on the inside at turn three, taking over second place shortly before the Competition Yellow/Mandatory Pit. The running order was now Hart, Renezeder, Ampudia, Deegan, and McGrath, and after the restart, a full course yellow was quickly thrown to allow crews to clear Evan Evans’ stricken truck, leading to another restart. On the restart lap, Deegan moved up to third with a good run down the whoop section, and three laps later, he got by Renezeder on the inside at turn two to take over second place. Now Deegan only had Hart between himself and his second win in as many races, but with Hart keeping a gap of three or four truck lengths between himself and Deegan, Deegan’s chances were looking slim. On the final lap, though, Deegan made an unbelievable move, coming from way back and diving really deep in turn three, then swinging extra wide to get in front of Hart. It seemed as though there was no way Deegan could’ve pulled the move off, and yet there he was, pulling it off perfectly as the crowd watched in awe. Deegan kept his cool as he came upon lapped traffic in the final corner, and kept Hart at bay to take a hugely-impressive win. Second went to Hart, third to Renezeder, fourth to Ampudia in the #36 Papas & Beer/Toyo Tires Ford, and fifth to McGrath in the #2 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford.

Pro Buggy Unlimited

Today’s Pro Buggy Unlimited race featured a strong field of 21 cars, headed at the green flag by Cameron Steele in the #16 Monster Energy/Yokohama Alumi Craft and Mike Porter in the #8 Mickey Thompson/Speed Energy Alumi Craft. Steele and Porter ran one-two after the first lap, with Jerry Whelchel third in the #5 General Tire/Camburg Foddrill, with Doug Fortin fourth in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Products Racer, and Garrett George fifth in the #71 Discount Tire/Yokohama Funco. Over the first few laps, Steele and Porter started to pull open a gap on the field, a gap which grew wider as the laps progressed. On lap six, though, a full course caution erased that gap, as Rino Navera’s car came to a stop at the exit of turn three. On the restart lap, several drivers were caught up in multiple accidents, which led to another full course caution, with drivers lining up again in their previous positions. Once the green flag came out again, Steven Greinke got a great dive into turn three, moving from sixth to fourth in his #23 SC Fuels/Concourse Racer. Greinke then got by Whelchel for third, before another full course caution stacked up the field yet again. On the restart lap, John Holmes had some great momentum in his #3 Prolong Super Lubricants/Eibach Springs Racer, moving up two spots to fourth with just the last lap remaining. As quickly as Holmes’ luck had been good, though, it suddenly turned bad, as he speared straight ahead in turn two on the final lap, running into and partially over the outside k-rail, quickly ending any hopes he’d had of a good result. Up front, Steele had a handful to fend off Greinke for the lead, but he kept his car wide enough to hold that lead, and came home the winner in his first race back in this class since 2010. Second went to Greinke, third to Fortin, fourth to Porter, and fifth to Geoffrey Cooley in the #22 Competitive Metals/Kar Tek Off Road Alumi Craft.

Super Lite

The final race of the day was Super Lite, and wow, this race was a weird one. Ryan Hagy got the early lead in his #5 General Tire/Valli Construction truck, and was chased by Drew Britt, Garrett Poelman, Cody Rahders, and Trenton Briley after the opening lap. Briley and Brent Fouch moved into fourth and fifth on lap two, with the top two then beginning to pull clear of the field as Poelman and Briley fought over third place. On lap four, Jessie Johnson got inside at turn four, passing both Poelman and Briley as they collected each other. The top five drivers were now Hagy, Britt, Johnson, Poelman, and Rahders, with Johnson then dropping to eighth with a mistake on lap seven, just ahead of the Competition Yellow. On the restart lap, Rahders moved up to third in his #16 SuperChips/K&N entry, with Sheldon Creed now fourth in the #74 BFGoodrich Tires/Trench Shoring truck after falling nearly a lap down with an issue on the opening lap. Rahders then passed Britt for second with a great run through the whoops on lap eleven, and got by Hagy on the inside of turn two to take the lead on the following lap. Behind him, Briley spun in turn four, collecting Creed in the process and dropping the two back to the last two spots. At the white flag, Rahders still led, followed by Britt, Hagy, Poelman, and Johnson, but the best lap was yet to come.

On the final lap, Rahders, Britt, and Hagy all hit each other exiting turn two, and Britt ended up rolling uphill (somehow) to the inside of the corner. Rahders didn’t get away unscathed, as his left rear tire starting coming off the rim, leaving him with a severe handicap as he tried to hang on for the last half lap. Rahders looked to catch a bit of luck in the next corner, nearly all the drivers behind him collected one another, leaving a mad scramble to get pointed in the right direction. Johnson came out the best from this group in his #15 So Cal Supertrucks/MasterCraft Safety machine, and as Rahders limped for home, the crowd willing him on, Johnson started to run him down. Rahders only had one corner left, but with a severe inability to steer well, it was one corner too many, as his truck turned itself in to the inside k rail, leaving him stuck. Johnson streaked by and took the checkered flag, but after review by the officials, he was docked two positions for rough driving earlier in the race. This handed the win to John Gable in the #99 General Tire/Justice Bros. truck, with Creed taking second, Johnson third, Hagy fourth, and Poelman fifth in the #62 Supercross.com/Lucas Oil entry.

With that, the events of Round 3 have come to a close. Join us again tomorrow for Round 4, right back here at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, as the drivers and crews throw caution to the wind in pursuit of victory. Gates will open to the public at 9:00 AM, with qualifying starting at the same time. Racing will begin at 12:30 PM, and Opening Ceremonies kicks off at 2:30 PM. The weather was surprisingly pleasant this afternoon, and should be warm and enjoyable again tomorrow, so get your tickets now and don’t miss out!

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