Chandler, AZ (October 21, 2017) – After 12 previous rounds of competition this year in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, it would all come down to today, the thirteenth and final round of the championship, to crown this year’s champions. Some title races were closer than others, but all the Pro class titles were still up for grabs, and it was perhaps fitting that the championship would wrap up right back where it started this year, here at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ, just south of Phoenix. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be at the racetrack, and the action out there was tremendous; the droves of fans on-hand today were treated to quite a show indeed.
Following Opening Ceremonies, it was time for Pro 4 Unlimited. Kyle LeDuc was the points leader coming into this race, but for some strange reason, he dropped to the back of the pack from his initial front row starting position during the formation lap, with what, at the time, appeared to be a possible mechanical issue. Up front, Eric Barron led the way after lap one, ahead of Carl Renezeder, RJ Anderson, Rob MacCachren, and Greg Adler. Lap two saw Renezeder spin on his own into turn three, and he was forced to wait for the entire field to pass before he could get going again. Renezeder in fact remained stationary, so a full course yellow was thrown at the end of the lap, and under yellow, LeDuc again dropped to the back, even behind Renezeder. Renezeder’s spin put Anderson, MacCachren, Adler, and Doug Fortin up to positions two, three, four, and five for the restart, and along with Barron, these five frontrunners held their positions until lap seven, when Doug Mittag, who’d closed in on Fortin, then got alongside of Fortin out of turn one, before getting by in turn two to move up to fifth in the #81 Jhonlin Racing Team/Maxxis Tires Ford. Later in the lap, Barron then suddenly pulled off the track with a mechanical issue, handing the lead to Anderson. Anderson then over-rotated in turn three on the next lap, which put MacCachren up to first in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford. MacCachren led through to the Competition Yellow, with Anderson now second, Adler third, Mittag up to fourth, and Renezeder now fifth. Multi-truck contact at the exit of turn one on the restart lap allowed Renezeder to squeak past several other drivers on the outside and move up to second behind MacCachren, and at the end of lap nine, it was now these two, Morris, Mittag, and LeDuc in the top five.
These five drivers held station through lap 12, but on lap 13, Mittag spun on the landing off of the ski jump out of turn two, dropping him out of the top five. Just ahead, MacCachren over-rotated at turn three, and with nowhere to go, Renezeder stacked into him, forcing a full course yellow, and handing the lead to Morris. LeDuc in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, Adler in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/AMP Research Ford, Fortin, and Adrian Cenni filled out the top five for the restart, with Fortin then pulling off track between turns three and four on lap 14. A full course yellow fell early on the next lap for on-track debris, and on the restart lap, Renezeder got by Cenni for fourth out of turn two, with Mittag then passing Cenni at turn three for fifth. On the next lap, LeDuc rocketed past Morris on the straight between turns one and two to take the lead (Morris now had a right rear flat). As Morris dropped down the order, Adler, Renezeder, Mittag, and MacCachren moved up to fill out the top five behind LeDuc, but Renezeder then biked and rolled in turn two on lap 17. Renezeder did manage to come up on his wheels, but a full course yellow was thrown before he could even continue, which he then did soon afterwards. Mittag, MacCachren, and Morris each moved up a spot in the top five after Renezeder’s rollover, and on the restart lap, Mittag got past Adler for second at turn three. Morris dropped by the wayside on the final lap, moving Adrian Cenni up to fifth, and further ahead, MacCachren squeezed past Adler on the inside at turn four as Adler was focusing ahead on trying to pass Mittag (who was himself fighting a hood that’d blown up into his field of view). As the trio exited that final corner, MacCachren then sailed over the final jump to also squeak ahead of Mittag by a nose at the flag for second! Up front, LeDuc got the win and the championship, his fourth in a row and fifth overall in this class- congratulations Kyle! Second was MacCachren, third was Mittag, fourth was Adler, and fifth was Cenni in the #11 Maxxis Tires/Atrium Ford.
The final race of the afternoon was Pro 2 Unlimited, and in this one, points leader Jeremy McGrath would simply need to start the race and complete the first lap to wrap up his first-ever championship on four wheels. RJ Anderson led the way after lap one, ahead of Brian Deegan in the #38 Monster Energy/Mickey Thompson Ford, Patrick Clark in the #25 Budweiser/MoTec Ford, Rob MacCachren in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford, and Bradley Morris in the #24 K&N/ECXRC.com Ford. Clark got past Deegan down the inside at turn two to move up to second spot on lap two, and just afterwards, McGrath got by Morris mid-lap to move into the top five in his #2 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics truck. On-track debris forced a full course caution at the end of this lap, and on the restart lap, Morris got back past McGrath into turn two to re-take fifth spot. Four laps later, the leader Anderson suddenly slowed at turn four, and pulled off at turn two on the next lap, his race suddenly over. This put Clark into the lead, ahead of Deegan, MacCachren, Morris, and McGrath in the top five at the Competition Yellow. A few laps after the restart, Deegan ran wide out of turn three, giving him a sloppy entry into turn four, and that allowed MacCachren to get by for second. Over the next several laps, MacCachren then closed down on Clark, and on the final lap, he dove deep into turn three from way back. MacCachren caught Clark pretty good door-to-door, but Clark got away just fine, still in the lead. Then, as the two hit the final jump, MacCachren held nothing back, flying sky high in a last-ditch effort to sneak by. MacCachren fell just short, as Clark stayed ahead by just 0.06 seconds at the stripe to take his first victory of the season. MacCachren took second, Deegan third, Morris fourth, and McGrath fifth, which was more than enough for McGrath to secure the 2017 Pro 2 Unlimited Championship- congratulations Jeremy!
A big rollover for Justin Peck off of the ski jump out of turn two meant that the field would race back to the yellow flag at the end of lap one in Pro Lite Unlimited. Hailie Deegan led the field, with Brock Heger, Jerett Brooks, Brandon Arthur, and Ronnie Anderson filling out the early top five. Peck was alright, despite rolling over five and a half times, and when racing resumed, Arthur slowed coming out of turn one on lap three, and that put Anderson and Ryan Beat up to fourth and fifth. A full course caution then fell at the end of that lap, so that Arthur could be towed off, and after the restart, Heger was all over Deegan on lap four and early lap five, before he then lost ground after checking himself to avoid contact when the two were exiting turn one. After several laps, Heger closed back in on Deegan on lap nine, before Ray Griffith came to a stop on the track on lap 10, forcing a full course yellow. Deegan ran wide at turn one on the restart lap, dropping her back several spots, and at the end of the lap, it was now Heger, Anderson, Brooks, Deegan, and Cole Mamer in the top five. Beat got by Mamer for fifth soon after this, while up front, Heger began to pull away from the pack. At the stripe, Heger got the win in the #12 Icon Vehicle Dynamics/Traxxas Toyota, ahead of Anderson in the #52 Walker Evans Racing/South Point Chevrolet, Brooks in the #77 Rigid Industries L.E.D. Lighting/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Nissan, Deegan in the #38 Monster Energy/4 Wheel Parts Toyota, and Beat in the #51 Rockstar Energy Drink/Lunarpages Chevrolet. It would’ve been a tall order for Heger to take the championship, as Brooks came into today with a pretty comfortable margin, and third place was more than enough for Brooks to lock up his second straight title in the class- congratulations Jerett!
Darren Hardesty Jr. led the field in his #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Impact Safety Alumi Craft after the opening lap in Pro Buggy Unlimited, ahead of Bud Ward, Kevin McCullough, Sterling Cling, and Eliott Watson. On lap two, Trevor Briska got past Watson on the inside at turn two to take over fifth spot, and four laps later, a full course caution flew when Sammy Ehrenberg got high centered, length-wise, on the left side k rail after the ski jump out of turn two. After the restart, Cling got past McCullough for third, and at the end of lap six, McCullough slowed near the start/finish line, losing a few spots in the process, before then getting back up to speed. McCullough’s issue pushed Briska and Watson up to fourth and fifth, and two laps later, Cling then closed right in on Ward in a suddenly hot race for second. Cling got past Ward easily with a nice sliding inside pass at turn one on lap ten, and just afterwards, Briska lost his entire right rear tire between turns one and two, forcing him into the Hot Pits for a new tire. As Briska hit the pits, Watson and Matthew Brister moved up to fourth and fifth, with McCullough then getting by Brister for fifth a few laps later. Up front, Cling was now closing on Hardesty Jr., and was looking like he might even have something for the leader. As Cling closed in up front, McCullough slowed again, now suffering from a right rear flat tire, and so Brister got back by for fifth in the #5 Bink Designs/Redline Performance Funco. Brister picked up another spot on the final lap, as Watson now fought a left rear flat, while up front, Hardesty Jr. got the win, as well as the championship, his second in succession- congratulations Darren! Second was Cling in the #77 Cling’s Aerospace/KyleGreenFabrication.com Alumi Craft, third was Ward in the #17 Ramona Tire & Service Centers/Safecraft Safety Equipment Funco, fourth was Ward, and fifth was Watson in the #3 Fox Racing Shox/BFGoodrich Tires Alumi Craft.
The final race before Opening Ceremonies was Production 1000 UTV, and although Brock Heger had already wrapped up the championship at our last round back at Glen Helen (congratulations Brock!), there was still plenty of good racing to be had here today. Hot off of his first National series win one round ago, Paul O’Brien led the way after lap one in the #911 Slime/Specialty Coatings Yamaha, ahead of Brandon Arthur in the #906 Toyo Tires/Benchmark Performance Yamaha, Myles Cheek in the #957 CMI Precision Machining/Maxima Racing Oils Polaris, Mickey Thomas, and Ray Griffith. Heger got past Griffith at turn one to move up to fifth in the #921 Icon Vehicle Dynamics/Maxxis Yamaha on lap two, before a rollover in turn two then forced a full course caution at the end of lap three. Cheek and several other drivers jumped the restart, so the field was called back to try it again, and on the second go around, Heger got by Thomas at turn four to move up to fourth spot. The full course yellow came back out at the end of this lap, as George Hammel and Austin Weiland had collected and crashed going into turn four, and on the restart, Justin Peck crashed in turn one, forcing the yellow to come right back out. The field settled down a bit on the next restart, and the top five held their positions through the end of lap five, before Arthur then got past O’Brien at turn two to grab the lead on lap six. O’Brien may have been rattled by the pass, because Cheek, Heger, and Thomas all then managed to get by him on the inside at the next turn to move up to spots two, three, and four. Lap seven then saw another full course yellow after James Jaramillo had broken down near turn three, and on the restart lap, Thomas was now all over Heger in the battle for third. Ahead, Arthur and Cheek had started to get a bit of a gap over the rest of the pack, while Heger and Thomas were still battling hard for third. Thomas finally got past Heger coming out of turn one on lap ten, but then lost his entire right rear tire and wheel on the landing off of the big jump into turn one as he and the rest of the field began the final lap. Yet another full course caution came out, with Heger, O’Brien, and Griffith each moving up a spot to fill out positions three through five. On the final lap, no further passes were made within the top five positions, and so it was Arthur who got the big win to make it three wins from three races at this track so far this year. Cheek finished second, with Heger third, O’Brien fourth, and Griffith fifth in the #953 Gear 49 Motorsports Nutrition/Method Race Wheels Yamaha.
A very close championship race would be decided next, as Trey Gibbs and Cole Keatts came into this weekend separated by just two points in the title race. Gibbs added one point to his lead by qualifying first this morning, and despite a six-position inversion, Gibbs leapt from sixth to first by the exit of turn two. Gibbs still led the way after lap one in the #515 KB Engineering/Temecula Motorsports machine, ahead of Mia Chapman in the #537 MTRV8/Xtreme Machine & Fabrication entry, Keatts, Luke Knupp, and Brody Eggleston. Eggleston got past Knupp early on lap two to move up to fourth in the #514 ABC Supply Co. Inc./Above All Construction Inc. kart, with Keatts then passing Chapman for second going into turn three. On lap four, Ricky Gutierrez got into the top five after passing Knupp for fifth early on the lap, before Chapman then ran wide at turn two, which allowed Eggleston to pass her for third. Gutierrez then closed right in on Chapman at the end of the next lap, and ahead of him, Keatts then muscled his way past Gibbs at turn two on lap six to move into the lead. Keatts then spun coming out of turn three on the next lap, and with nowhere to go, Gutierrez piled into him. Gutierrez crashed and wound up on his side, and as the field circulated under the subsequent full course yellow, replays showed that it looked like Gibbs had gotten into and helped Keatts around on his spin. However, after review by race officials, the incident was ruled a no call, and as the causes of the yellow flag, both Keatts and Gutierrez had to re-join the field at the tail end of the pack. After the restart, it was Gibbs, Eggleston, Chapman, Trey Eggleston in the #590 Solaris Energy/Salazar kart, and Madix Bailey in the #517 MavTV/Stronghold Engineering machine in the top five, and these five drivers then held their positions over the remainder of the race. Brody Eggleston got very close to Gibbs in the race for the lead at the end of both laps nine and eleven, but was just too erratic to make anything happen, and so it was Gibbs who got the win, as well as the championship- congratulations Trey! Second was Brody Eggleston, third was Chapman, fourth was Trey Eggleston, and fifth was Bailey.
With that, the 2017 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Championship is done and dusted. Tomorrow, our drivers will truly be able to leave it all out on the track, as it’s time for the big money Lucas Oil Challenge Cup races. With no championship points on the line, it’s all about payouts and bragging rights, and tomorrow’s races will culminate in the ever-popular showdown between the Pro 2 Unlimiteds and the Pro 4 Unlimiteds. Get here early; gates open at 8:00 AM, with qualifying starting at 8:30, the first race of the day at noon, Opening Ceremonies at 2:30 PM, and the first Pro class race of the day, Pro Lite Unlimited, immediately following.
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.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series