Wheatland, MO (June 24, 2018) – It was a very successful return to action here yesterday at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, as the drivers took on Round 4 of the 2018 championship on this very unique and enjoyable track. It was a long haul for many of the series regulars to make it out here, but we were also joined by many midwestern drivers, who jumped onboard and competed very well here on their (relatively speaking) home turf. Today, the drivers were back at it for Round 5, and a major rainstorm before the day's action had gotten underway threatened to force the cancellation of proceedings here this afternoon. Kart classes were postponed, and the schedule was juggled to allow classes with relatively decreasing traction to compete on the track as it, hopefully, dried out over the course of the afternoon. Fortunately, the plan seemed to work pretty well, and despite some of the early classes finding themselves coated in mud, all the classes put on some spectacular racing, and it was a treat of a show for those who braved the conditions and stuck around to see the action.
After rain delayed the start of the kart classes until the end of the day, it would be the Turbo Production UTVs who would get things started here in Wheatland this afternoon. The track was still extremely sloppy, with the cars becoming nigh on indistinguishable from one another within a few corners, save for a few key items on a few of the machines- the track's manual scorers would definitely have their work cut out for them here this afternoon! Tim Farr led the way after lap one in the #4 CanAm, ahead of yesterday's winner Kyle Chaney in the #91 XPS Oils/Fox Racing Shox CanAm, Kyle Hart in the #741 CanAm, Paul O'Brien, and Myles Cheek. Cheek moved past O'Brien for fourth on lap two, but both Corry Weller and O'Brien each then got by Cheek for fourth and fifth on the next lap. Up front, Chaney had quickly reeled in Farr on the same lap, and seemed to definitely be quicker than the leader on the first half of the track. Farr was driving a bit more safely, though, opting to hold safe lines and keep his sliding as minimal as possible (relatively speaking), and that kept Farr up front through the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of lap four. Behind Farr, it was Chaney, Hart, Weller, and Eliott Watson in the top five at this point, with Watson then getting right up to Weller's back bumper on the second half of the restart lap. Watson got past Weller out of turn two on lap six, but Weller stuck right with Watson, and got back by into turn four. Track conditions meant that the race distance was cut from nine laps to seven, and so on what was now the final lap, Chaney again closed right in on the leader Farr, but couldn't get close enough to make a pass, and so it was Farr who drove a very well-judged race en route to a wire to wire win, his first in the series- congratulations Tim! Second went to Chaney, third to Hart, and with a last lap pass on Weller, it was Watson who regained fourth spot before the checkered flag in his #713 Tom Watson, Inc. CanAm; Weller would wind up fifth in her #748 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV CanAm.
Next up were the Production 1000 UTVs, and as if shot from a cannon, young Brock Heger fired away from the pack and solidly into the lead straight from the drop of the green flag. Still up front at the end of lap one, Heger led Robert Stout, Keith Brooks, Jason Weller, and Ronnie Anderson in the early top five, with Anderson then getting past Weller down the inside at turn four to take over fourth spot on lap two. As Heger continued to streak away up front in his #1 Maxxis Tires/Blue Media Yamaha, Brooks now moved past Stout for second, and it was looking like Brooks had found a set of conditions that perhaps suited him better than those around him. On lap four, Anderson made a nice sliding pass on Stout down the inside at turn one to take over third spot, but Stout stuck close to Anderson through the end of the lap, at which point it was time for the Competition Yellow. On the restart lap, Brooks over-rotated in turn four and dropped one spot to third, which put Anderson up to second, and in turn eight, Brooks then ran wide off the corner and lost momentum, allowing Stout to go by for third in the #915 Magic Dry Yamaha. The track was just beginning to seem a little more raceable now, as some drivers were starting to try some lines that were a little more aggressive, but unfortunately, sometimes the track bites back. On the final lap, Anderson caught a rut going into turn four, which shot his car off line and straight out wide up to the outside wall, costing him a lot of ground. The issue looked to simply be bad luck for Anderson, but that certainly didn't make it any easier for the young driver, who dropped from second to well out of the top five. Up front, Heger sped home to take a second consecutive victory for the weekend, ahead of Stout, Brooks in the #942 Yamaha, Weller in the #948 DragonFire Racing/Lucas Oil Racing TV Yamaha, and Robert Loire in the #52 Polaris.
First up in the Pro ranks were the Pro 4 Unlimiteds, and after lap one, it was defending champion and yesterday's winner Kyle LeDuc who led the way in the #99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Ford, ahead of Scott Douglas in the #27 AMSOIL/KC HiLites Ford, RJ Anderson, Adrian Cenni, and Greg Adler. Douglas and Anderson had a great battle going on lap one, and that continued into lap two, but unfortunately, Anderson then hit the left side of the tunnel between turns eight and nine while trying to keep off the back of Douglas, who'd gotten a little wild out of turn eight. The hit instantly ripped the rear end out of Anderson's truck, ending his race in a flash, and as the field went full course yellow, an understandably frustrated Anderson threw his steering wheel out the window before climbing out and heading back to the pit area. When racing resumed, the top five drivers (LeDuc, Douglas, Adler, Cenni, and Doug Mittag) held their positions through the end of lap four, when the Competition Yellow fell, marking the halfway point of this shortened, eight-lap race. After the restart, Mittag forced Cenni wide with some side to side contact in turn four, which allowed Mittag to make the pass for fourth in the #81 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Maxxis Tires Ford. Mittag also closed in on Adler, who was just ahead, but then struggled in the tight complex from turn six to turn eight, allowing Adler to get some breathing room. Up front, smoke was now streaming lightly from the right rear of LeDuc's truck, and what initially looked like a simple bit of tire rub on a sagging fender then started to seem more like a failing shock absorber, and the reduction in LeDuc's pace seemed to reflect that. Second-placed Douglas quickly closed on LeDuc, before passing for the lead between turns one and two on lap seven. Adler then got by in turn three, with Mittag quickly following suit off the same corner. The top three were now running very close, but when Adler got into Mittag (who'd just gotten by Adler down the inside at turn seven) in turn nine, it sent Mittag out wide with a cut left front tire, slowed Adler briefly, and allowed Douglas to get a solid gap up front as the white flag waved. Adler then got by Mittag out of turn two on the last lap, before Mittag then shot into the infield, seemingly out of pure frustration. Adler didn't seem to be wholly without issues, as Cenni then caught and passed him at turn five, while up front, Douglas brought it safely home to take a very savvy, patiently-driven win. Second was Cenni in the #11 pHit Alkaline Drink Mixer/Maxxis Tires truck, with Adler third in the #10 4 Wheel Parts/Odyssey Battery Ford, Mittag fourth, and LeDuc fifth. After the race, Adler received a black flag for rough driving in his incident with Mittag, sending him down to fifth in the results, and moving Mittag to third and LeDuc to fourth.
First amongst the two wheel drive classes out on the track this afternoon was Pro Buggy Unlimited, and with a three-race win streak coming into this one, it was once again Darren Hardesty Jr. out front in the #99 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Steel-It Alumi Craft, ahead of Eliott Watson, Bud Ward, Trevor Briska, and Trey Gibbs in the early top five. In-fighting between Watson and Ward allowed Hardesty Jr. to establish a bit of a gap over the first two laps, but Watson then started to close that gap down a bit on lap three. However, Ward was right back on Watson's tail, and alongside too, on lap four, as the track began to blue groove in slightly in some spots, allowing for some real racing to start happening. Late on lap four, Ward made a nice inside pass on Watson in turn nine, but as Ward then slid out wide with his own momentum, Watson hit Ward and bumped him out even wider, and Watson passed back into second once again, just ahead of the Competition Yellow. The contact was made tire to tire, so officials ruled it a no call, but on the restart lap, Ward was quickly trying to make a move on Watson once again. This time, Ward drove down the inside of Watson in turn three. Watson in turn tried to run up high and around Hardesty Jr., only to lose momentum in the fluff and drop back to third, before getting passed by Briska in the next corner and falling to fourth. On the next lap, Briska then over-rotated in turn two, and when Watson tried to dive down the inside to avoid contact, there just wasn't enough room to sneak by, and Watson piled straight into a huge tractor tire that lined the inside of the corner. The tire barely budged, and Watson wound up stuck in a very slippery water/mud puddle. Trying in vain to reverse out of the spot, Watson's tires couldn't find traction, forcing race officials to throw a full course caution. When racing resumed, it was now going to be a one-lap shootout, with Hardesty Jr., Briska, Gibbs, Chris Nunes, and Michael Meister now sitting in the top five after Ward dropped into the Hot Pits under yellow. These five drivers held their positions on the final lap, and so it was Hardesty Jr. who swept his second consecutive weekend to take his fourth straight win! Second went to Briska in the #59 Junior Diabetes Research Foundation/Mickey Thompson Funco, third to Gibbs in the #15 KB Engineering/Temecula Motorsports Alumi Craft, fourth to Nunes in the #2 Kicker Audio/Tekno RC Racer, and fifth to Meister in the #94 Ponsse/Michael Meister Logging Company Alumi Craft.
In Pro Lite Unlimited, Brandon Arthur would be your lap one leader, just ahead of Ryan Beat in the #51 Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Competitive Metals Chevrolet, Brock Heger in the #12 Maxxis Tires/Icon Vehicle Dynamics Ford, Ronnie Anderson in the #52 Rockstar Energy Drink/South Point Chevrolet, and Christopher Polvoorde in the #94 Steel-It/TIS Wheels Nissan. Both Arthur and Heger would run wide at turn one on the second lap, which allowed Beat to move up to the lead, with Polvoorde now second, Arthur third, Anderson fourth, and Heger fifth. Arthur then spun Polvoorde at turn seven, earning himself a black flag, which put Arthur out of the top five, and dropped Polvoorde to fifth, now behind Beat, Anderson, Heger, and Mickey Thomas in the #44 Maxxis Tires/Walker Evans Racing Chevrolet. Polvoorde got past Thomas at turn five on lap four, but Thomas passed Polvoorde right back between turns seven and eight to re-take the position, just ahead of the Competition Yellow, which fell at the end of that lap. On the restart lap, Anderson got by Beat very nicely at turn six, but Beat managed to stay alongside Anderson's right side over the next jump into the turn seven right hander, giving him the inside line on Anderson. Beat hit Anderson and forced him wide in the corner to re-take the lead, and as Anderson struggled, Heger was right there to get by for second. Lap six then saw Polvoorde hit Thomas a bit going into turn four, which helped Polvoorde to get by and up to fourth, and on the final lap, Heger suddenly closed quickly on Beat into the tight, technical section of the track, and was right on Beat at turn six. Beat held Heger at bay, though, and swept home to take the win, ahead of Heger, Anderson, Polvoorde, and Thomas.
The final Pro race of the afternoon was Pro 2 Unlimited, and following a win yesterday, it was Rob MacCachren who led the way again at the end of lap one here in this one in the #21 Rockstar Energy Drink/Makita Industrial Power Tools Ford; RJ Anderson ran in second spot, ahead of Brian Deegan in third, Bradley Morris in fourth, and Rodrigo Ampudia in fifth. Deegan and Morris collected in turn one and ran wide on the second lap, which allowed Jerett Brooks and Ampudia to move up to third and fourth, with Deegan now falling to fifth. Additionally, MacCachren and Anderson were now well clear of the rest of the pack, with over six seconds separating Anderson from third-placed Brooks in the #77 Rigid Industries LED Lighting/Bilstein Shock Absorbers Ford, but the action was really heating up from third through sixth places, as Brooks, Ampudia, Deegan, and Jeremy McGrath battled hard to fill out the podium. On lap four, Deegan got into Ampudia and spun him at turn two, which dropped Ampudia to sixth, while further forward, Anderson's pace seemed to slow, perhaps to simply conserve the truck a bit ahead of the Competition Yellow, as Brooks had then nearly caught Anderson as that halfway flag waved.
On the restart lap, MacCachren ran high in turn three and up into the fluff, perhaps trying a new possible line, but the move nearly proved costly. Anderson got alongside the leader off of the corner, and the two ran side by side over the Lucas Oil Leap tabletop, before MacCachren then forced himself back into the lead at turn four. Just behind, Deegan then got by Brooks for third, but ran wide at turn three on the next lap, making the same mistake as MacCachren, and that let Brooks slip between Deegan, who was up high, and Anderson, who was down low, and shoot up to second spot as the trio exited the corner. Three corners later, Deegan was then a bit slow and out of shape in turn six, and when Morris came into the corner hot, he used Deegan as his last bit of brakes to make the turn, spinning Deegan in the process. Morris moved up to fourth as a result, with McGrath still fifth, and soon after, a full course yellow emerged when Deegan came to a stop on the track. Visually very upset, Deegan was soon towed off, and racing resumed, with Morris then hitting Anderson hard door to door as he tried to slide low through turn two on the restart lap. Anderson spun as a result, but when race officials immediately threw a full course yellow, Morris was given the black flag (which he immediately served), and Anderson was allowed to restart in his previous third place. MacCachren, Brooks, Anderson, McGrath, and Danny Ebberts made up the top five for the restart, and these five held those same places as they crossed the start/finish line the next time around to begin the white flag lap. On the final lap, McGrath was all over Anderson in the early going, before putting himself firmly where Anderson would've wanted to be as the two sped into turn five. Anderson was forced, though not through contact, well wide and out to the wall, dropping him back outside the top five, and moving McGrath, Ebberts, and Kipp Mickles up to third, fourth, and fifth. Up front, MacCachren's truck had hardly a spec of mud on it, evidence of both how much the track had improved this afternoon, as well as the near-flawless run the 52-year-old veteran had turned in, as he brought home the win and the sweep of the weekend. Second was Brooks, third was McGrath in the #1 Maxxis Tires/Lucas Oil Ram, fourth was Ebberts in the #41 Honeydew Racing/Ebbco Ford, and fifth was Mickles in the #94 Ford.
That wraps up the action from this exciting weekend here in Wheatland. Up next, the series heads back west, for a one-night shootout at the high-speed Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV, just outside of Reno. July 21st will be the date for that one, Round 6 of the 2018 championship, and it will also mark the halfway point in this year's racing calendar. There's only four weeks between now and then, so start making your plans soon to join us under the lights at this track, with its deceivingly challenging layout and massive elevation gain and loss- it's sure to be a great night of racing!
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. Our events can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports Network, MAVTV, and Live all season long on LucasOilRacing.TV. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series