While the battle for each respective class championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series has grabbed the spotlight through the first four rounds of the 2019 season, there’s also another exciting competition unfolding within each division as first-year drivers across eight classes are giving it their all in search of being named Rookie of the Year.
Amongst an array of drivers taking their turns battling at the front of the Turbo UTV field are two rookies that have asserted themselves at the head of the group of first-year drivers. Thanks to solid results throughout the season thus far, Trey Gibbs and Katie Vernola are locked in for a showdown to determine who will walk away with for Rookie of the Year honors.
Over the past three rounds Gibbs has really shown he has a bright future in the division. Back-to-back fifth-place finishes gave the California driver a boost in confidence that ultimately carried him to his first career podium finish in Ensenada, Mexico. The third-place effort gave Gibbs a boost in the championship standings, where he sits in a tie for sixth, but is also a mere five points out of fourth place. There’s no doubt Gibbs is on the upswing, and it could carry him to Rookie of the Year accolades.
As a rookie in two different divisions this season, Vernola is giving it her all this year in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. The California driver’s presence in Pro Lite appears to be providing a boost to her Turbo UTV efforts, where she’s spent quite a bit of time mixing things up around the top five. Her best result of the season thus far is sixth, and she’s been a consistent presence in the top 10. As a result, she holds down 10th in the Turbo UTV standings.
While Vernola has some ground to make up on Gibbs in their battle for Rookie of the Year, they’re still separated by just 12 points with five rounds remaining.
The most competitive and compelling Rookie of the Year battle is in Production 1000 UTV. A trio of up-and-comers have shadowed one another all season long, and at this point in the season it’s anyone’s guess as to who will prevail with the coveted award. Robby Hornsby, Ryan Lindsay, and Dallas Nord have spent a significant portion of 2019 battling one another as they each fight to string together top-five finishes.
Hornsby has collectively earned the best results of the season, but not by much. The consistency of the California native has been the difference maker thus far, anchored by three straight sixth-place finishes. As a result, he sits fifth in the Production 1000 standings.
In recent rounds, Lindsay has actually gotten the better of Hornsby. However, a slow start to the season at Glen Helen has forced him to erase a significant deficit to his fellow rookie. Nevertheless, the Washington native has done well to close the gap, thanks to finishes of fifth, fourth, and fifth over the past three races. He’s been the hottest rookie in the class, and has climbed his way up to sixth in the Production 1000 standings.
While Nord hasn’t quite been at the same consistent level of his two first-year rivals, he’s shown he has the speed to compete at the front of the pack. The Pacific Northwest racer boasts a season-best finish of fifth, but his pair of 10th-place finishes, while still impressive, aren’t on par with what his rookie counterparts have done. While Nord still sits right behind them in seventh in the championship standings, he’s got ground to make up over the rest of the season.
Currently, a total of 30 points separate all three of these rookies in the Production 1000 standings. Hornsby and Lindsday have an 11-point gap between them, while Nord is another 19 points back. All three drivers have been fun to watch thus far in 2019, and it’s still a wide open battle to see which of these three emerges as Rookie of the Year.